Adam, as viewers know, is all show biz, all the time, and said he wanted to make sure the singers put some zip into their performances -- and his advice, in general, was much more specific than that of most mentors. This made me nervous. Adam, after all, lost to spectacularly unflamboyant Kris Allen.
But it was a comeback week for Michael Lynche, who sang “In the Ghetto.” Adam thought he should make it more theatrical, but that was part of Michael’s stumble last week when he sang “Eleanor Rigby.” Apparently he went with his gut and kept his performance melodically subdued, thoughtfully strumming a guitar on the stage steps. “I’m glad we saved you,” Ellen said. “A million billion times better” than last week, said Simon.
And it was a bad week for Siobhan Magnus, who might have been expected to be among the best. An admitted Elvis fan, she’s been compared to Adam because of her over-the-toppiness. Performing “Suspicious Minds,” she sped up the opening tempo -- Adam’s idea -- then slowed down to do some major-league belting (and, yes, a piercing high note). Randy and Ellen preferred the belting portion, while Kara said she was confused by the split personality of the performance. Simon thought it started terribly, and ended only so-so.
Siobhan fielded his criticism very shrewdly: “I can’t pinpoint who or what I am,” she said, “and I’ve always taken pride in that.” The crowd loved that.
Crystal Bowersox, counseled by Adam to play electric guitar, did a nice, rootsy rock number with “Saved.” She has yet to stumble, which causes a viewer's attention to wander. “It could have been the second coming of Bonnie Raitt,” raved Randy. Ellen, rather than repeat her usual praise, asked whether anyone in the audience was celebrating their birthday.
Adam told Andrew Garcia his cover of “Hound Dog” was boring in rehearsal and needed more of a personal stamp. Well, Andrew sang it slowed down, almost as a cha cha, and the judges were bored anyway. Technically he has the best voice of the men, but Randy sighed and dismissed the number as “not-good karaoke.” Simon told him: “All your coolness has been sucked out.” Ouch!
Like Michael, Tim Urban -- “Turban,” as Ryan called him -- sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” just sitting there and playing guitar. Adam encouraged him to end on a falsetto, but -- again like Michael -- he took the simpler approach. For the second week in a row, the once-stern judges were pleased. “This may surprise you,” said Randy. “I actually like it.” Ellen compared her feelings about him to getting drunk on tequila, before ditching that allusion and saying he has a beautiful voice. Kara said it was his best performance yet. And Simon? “You have managed to go from zero to hero,” he said.
And hey, Mr. Seacrest -- what’s up with you, dancing with some guy in the audience while Tim was performing? What is it with you and your grandstanding this season? You even made a cheap joke about Brian Dunkleman, your uncharismatic cohost from the first season.
Adam was worried about Lee DeWyze’s inexpressiveness -- he told him he needed to smile more, even though that’s not Lee’s character. So Lee did smile ... a bit ... performing “A Little Less Conversation.” The judges were very pleased -- he’s the dude version of Crystal. “You really went for it,” said Kara, “and I loved it.” She thought he still needed more playfulness, at which point Simon asked her what she expected -- kittens? “That was on the money,” he said, “full stop.”
Aaron Kelly sang “Blue Suede Shoes,” shifting very awkwardly with the rhythm and embarrassed to sing a lyric about liquor. “You’re out of your comfort zone,” said Kara, “and I liked it.” Randy and Simon were less enthusiastic. Simon said it sounded like something from a high-school concert, and compared him unfavorably to Tim. Whoever thought Aaron would fall behind Turban?
Adam coached Katie Stevens to put a little more fire into “Baby What Do You Want Me to Do.” And she pulled it off, even working a couple of howls and sharp notes into her vocals. “You just showed us judges,” said Kara. Simon didn’t like it, but time was running out, and he just shrugged and smiled and let it go. Ellen made one of her jokes: She said the song was “horny,” then explained that she was referring to the brass in the arrangement.
Casey James ended the night with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” Ellen told him, “You look comfortable surrounded by a whole sea of women.” But Simon and Kara agreed that, with his rock skills, he had wasted an opportunity on Elvis Night. --Tom Gliatto
Tell us: Which performances did you love? Who's in danger of going home? And what did you think of Ryan's antics?