Alicia Keys served as the guest mentor on American Idol, which aired live Tuesday on Fox. Keys worked with the Idol contestants to bring out the meaning of the songs they were performing.
Casey James’ performance of Don’t Stop kicked off inspirational week on Idol. The resident heartthrob brought the crowd to their feet with a rousing performance, which included his trademark guitar. James got a mixed reaction from the judges. Simon Cowell in particular came down hard on James by questioning whether the song was inspirational.
Lee DeWyze upped his game this week with the Simon and Garfunkel song The Boxer. DeWyze is proving to be one of the main contenders and by the judges’ response, they agree. Kara DioGuardi called it his “moment” and Cowell had only praise for DeWyze, who is quickly becoming a frontrunner.
Tim Urban chose Better Days as his inspirational performance. Urban, who’d found favor with the judges over the past couple of weeks, came up short this time. Ellen DeGeneres compared him to the soup of the day. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t, and for DeGeneres and the rest of the judges, this was an off day.
Aaron Kelly performed the R. Kelly hit, I Believe I Can Fly, a song the teenager has been singing since the age of five. Randy Jackson gave Kelly high praise, saying he has vocal talent and did a great job with such a big song. DioGuardi and DeGeneres agreed wholeheartedly. Cowell was only partially convinced, saying he would’ve turned it off if it were on the radio, but finally admitted Kelly made the song quite good.
Siobhan Magnus chose to perform the Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston duet When You Believe. Any longtime Idol watcher knows the judges often try and steer contestants away from imitating the likes of Carey or Houston. And as might be expected, the judges weren’t impressed. Cowell even managed to take her outfit to task. Although Magnus is undeniably talented, she could be in trouble this week.
Michael Lynch performed Hero, originally performed for the Spider Man soundtrack by Chad Kroeger. He made the song his own, and his performance drew a mixed bag from the judges. For the second time during the evening, Cowell questioned whether the chosen song should be considered inspirational.
Crystal Bowersox closed out the night with a unique version of People Get Ready. She began the song a capella, a risky move that paid off. Bowersox, showing a rare outburst of emotion, broke down in tears at the end of the song. When questioned, Bowersox explained her tears were because it was the first time her dad was in the audience. The judges couldn’t give her enough praise, with Cowell saying she was in a league of her own.
Wednesday, April 21 will be a busy night for American Idol. Not only will one contestant be sent packing, but it will also be the star-studded Idol Gives Back event. The show airs live on Fox at 8/7 c. Slated to perform include Elton John, Carrie Underwood, The Black Eyed Peas, and many more.