Idol: Long Twain Running
This week’s show opened with a weird Village People vibe, as Ryan introduced the contestants by their Official Barbie Occupation Designations. Glass blower! Mother! Construction worker! But this week’s theme is not ‘bring your work to Idol day’, which is a shame, as that would be amazing. Siobhan could sing Blow, Gabriel, Blow!
No, the theme is ‘the songs of Shania Twain’. You will remember Shania Twain as one of the guest judges this season. She was moderately decent at it, though she seemed to be working from a singing teacher bingo card. Little known fact: Shania Twain was also a popular musician back in, like, the 80s, or something. I think she was in Heart.
Anyway, how many Shania Twain songs can you name? I came up with three; You’re Still the One. Man I Feel Like A Woman. That Don’t Impress Me Much. So, with six contestants left, expect to hear each of those songs twice.
This week I’m listing the contestants not from least to mostest, but in order of performance. Why? Because, honesly, there’s not much to choose between them this week. No-one was amazing. No-one was terrible. There was no Twain wreck. (Stick around; my Twain jokes are way better than Ellen’s.)
Lee DeWyze, aka Freight Twain
I’ve heard that Lee is considered the likeliest contender to join Bowersox in the top two. I suppose that makes sense, but for all the worst reasons. Mike is unpopular; Casey is pedestrian; Siobhan has lost her magic; and who even remembers who the other one is? So Lee is number two by default, not because he rose to the top, bu because he rose to the middle while everyone else was sinking. He sang You’re Still the One, and started it too low, and never brought any intensity to it, but, hey, he didn’t kill anyone, did he? So, that’s good.
Big Mike Lynche, aka Midnight Twain
Mike sings a Shania song I’ve never heard of, and he sang it rather beautifully, with that effortless smooth soul voice of his. But, no-one cares, do they? Mike has a great voice, but it’s so early ’90s R&B that anything he sings sounds like it was ripped from the closing credits of a Tia Carrere movie. He’s out of fashion, which means he’s doomed, never mind that he’s talented. (Shania Twain thinks this song is so emotional that it makes her cry. Shania Twain wrote this song. Shania Twain needs to get over herself.)
Casey James, aka Boxcar Twain
While Casey was singing, I went off and checked my e-mail and forgot to pay attention. It sounded nice. The judges seemed enthused. I’m not rewinding for this guy.
Crystal Bowersox, aka Soul Twain
Crystal sang another twangy Twain obscurity, which only highlighted the wasted opportunity of an all-Shania week in place of country week. I like country music. I don’t especially like country week on Idol, because it’s usually full of blue collar pomposity and disturbing Christian intensity, spiced with an abortive rendition of Jolene. But this year there are a few contestants who could have done something good with a wider country music selection, and Crystal is top of that list. The judges were lukewarm, and Simon said it lacked ‘conviction’, but the same could be said for their judgements; there was nothing wrong with the performance. The judges just needed to shake up the narrative a little bit.
Aaron Kelly, aka Toy Twain
The most interesting thing about the little one’s performance is that he changed the lyric, “It’s in the way we make love”, to, “It’s in the way you show me love”, and he changed “want me” to “know me”, because… he was singing it to his mother. The audience said, ‘awww’. I said, ‘ewww’. On some vestigial, subsconscious level, he just sexed up his mother, and no lyric switch can ever change that. But he sang it prety decently, and I’m coming to realise that Shania writes rather well for singers. It’s pablum, but it’s very singable pablum.
Siobhan Magnus, aka Crazy Twain
We expected too much of Siobhan Magnus. She looked like she had the potential to be Lady Lambert, but she just doesn’t have his control or his artistry, and she really doesn’t have his balls. This was her best performance in a few weeks, but it still felt like a performance any good singer could give; it didn’t feel like the Magnus Opus I’ve been waiting for. Only in the final seconds after her slightly botched big note did Ms Magnus show a bit of grit.
Who goes home this week? Mike or Casey, I would guess, but really it could be anyone. Except Crystal. All hail Crystal.
Are we sick of Crystal yet?