The best is still yet to come.
Or we hope so, at least, because Frank Sinatra week sure didn't bring out the best in the American Idol top five tonight, and time is running out.
Despite being schooled by crooner extraordinaire Harry Connick Jr. in the standards made famous by Ol' Blue Eyes, most of the remaining lucky lads and lady couldn't quite get a grip on what was necessary to make those oldies but goodies relevant in today's iTunes-driven world.
Connick was a full-service mentor this week, too: He helped update the arrangements and even brought a few members of his own band and sat in on piano tonight, contributing both moral support and some much-needed big-band credibility.
So who benefited most from the three-time Grammy winner's commanding stage presence?
Aaron Kelly: The 17-year-old must have been thrilled to tackle Sinatra, considering he already likes to skew older on a regular basis. But while he actually had the vibe down, and kinda resembled a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt celebrating love in (500) Days of Summer, his voice wasn't rich enough to make his performance of "Fly Me to the Moon" a knockout. Randy Jackson spent way too long unnecessarily reminding everyone how great Sinatra was, then said, "Dude, you did a really good job." Ellen DeGeneres agreed ("I thought the piano was a little pitchy," she joked), but both Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell felt Aaron lacked charisma up there.
Casey James: After inexplicably being in the bottom two last week, it was do or die tonight, with no guitar standing between his voice and the audience as he crooned "Blue Skies." And, even more so than Aaron before him, Casey showed he doesn't have the pipes for such things. "This was like, for me, your worst performance, dude," Randy said bluntly. "I thought you came over a bit embarrassed, and a bit awkward," Simon said. And Kara, who's really hot and cold when it comes to the hottie, actually compared him to a lamb—and she wasn't talking sheepishness. She actually bleated.
Crystal Bowersox: Luck was not a lady tonight. "Summer Wind" was a breath of fresh air as far as we were concerned. Her voice was throaty and sultry, and she got into character. Simon, of course, complained that it was too nightclubby. But hey, in Sinatra's heyday, it was all about Vegas and nightclub chanteuses! And we'd like to know, what is the point of the judges pointing out that the contestants are "out of their element"? Of course they are! They're not all training to be Michael Bublé! "The first half was too jazzy, too small nightclub. The second half got a lot better," Simon observed. "I'm not going to lie and say it's one of your strongest performances."
Michael Lynche: He sounded great and looked completely comfortable crooning "The Way You Look Tonight." Did he do anything newfangled with it? No, and it worked just perfectly, from the top of his fedora to the bottom of his memorable closing note. "Mike is in it to win it!" raved Randy, and everyone agreed. "It all just clicked," Simon said, a major compliment coming from him, considering Sinatra's one of his faves. Earlier in the night, Frank's daughters, Nancy and Tina Sinatra, presented the Brit with a monogrammed handkerchief that belonged to their dad.
Lee Dewyze: Lee was more king than pauper or pirate doing "That's Life," and he looked like he was having a blast roaming the stage in his swaggalicious suit and tie. Kind of the way a drunk cousin has fun taking over the mic at a wedding, but still. He hit some very big, spot-on notes and did a very believable Michael Bublé impression (because that's what they were all expected to do with this genre tonight, right?). "At first I was distracted by Harry's organ," Ellen offered, getting in one last shot at her old friend. "I think if this was the last night of performances, you would have just won the whole thing."
So who made you want to haul out the record player and blast "My Way"? And who deserves to go home?
One of these honorary Rat Packers will be eliminated Wednesday.
(Originally published May 4, 2010, at 6:35 p.m. PT)