Praise from the "American Idol" judges is one thing, but tears? That's when you know you've really nailed it.
And Michael Lynche definitely brought down the house Wednesday night (March 10) when he closed the top eight men's live performances with a seductive, between-the-sheets cover of one of British singer Kate Bush's most iconic tunes, "This Woman's Work," that made judge Kara DioGuardi openly weep.
Wearing a black suit coat with a red pocket square, black tie, jeans and a white dress shirt, the brawny Lynche opened with a fragile, operatic falsetto vocalization over piano that sent chills. The choice was a bold one, as Bush is a beloved figure and the song is a tricky-to-sing modern classic that has been used to dramatic effect in a number of TV shows over the years ("Felicity," "Alias," "Party of Five"). It was also famously covered by soul singer Maxwell on his 1997 MTV Unplugged album and later on his 2001 Now studio album, a version that clearly informed Lynche's take on the song.
Bush wrote it specifically for a sequence in the 1987 John Hughes film "She's Having a Baby," during which Kevin Bacon is pacing outside the delivery room where his wife is having their first child and he's fretting about the changes they're about to face and the rush of emotions he's feeling.
Making expert use of his breathy falsetto, Lynche, a new father whose firstborn arrived while he was toiling during Hollywood Week, wrenched every bit of emotion from the lyrics about life-changing events. "Ooh, it's hard on the man/ Now his part is over/ Now starts the craft of the father," he crooned in a clean, clear voice. On a night when the judges said some of the singers didn't connect with their chosen lyrics, Lynche astutely picked a song that mirrored the tumultuous adult changes he's going through in his personal life, helping to give the performance an added gravity and believability.
As he leaned into the second verse, Lynche came out from behind the mic stand and began laying a gospel edge on the song, shaking his head and shoulders, bobbing up and down and waving his hands as if giving a Sunday sermon. With a long, sustained note on the line "Oh, darling, make it go," Lynche provided the night's much-needed "wow" moment and easily punched his ticket to the top 12.
How good was it? DioGuardi was literally brought to tears. "I've never cried after hearing something like that," she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "It's amazing. You were amazing. And it's so relevant for you, and I can feel it. It's your life right now. It's your respect for your wife, what you've gone through ... and as a woman who doesn't have a child, I can relate to it so much and it brought me to tears."
All Randy Jackson could say was, "Really?" telling Mike he was going to put Maxwell on notice that he should watch his back. "For everybody that doesn't know, it was dope, it was unbelievable," he said. "I wanna call Maxwell and tell him, 'Yo, Big Mike is knockin' on the door, dog, be ready!' But the last note? ... I was like, what?"
Ellen DeGeneres said it was so good it felt like the show had just begun and Lynche was suddenly the one to beat. "This was so needed tonight," Simon Cowell said of the breath of fresh air on an otherwise-boring show. "You come out with an incredibly difficult song to sing and you 100 percent nailed it. Not just the best performance of the night, it's the best performance we've had of all these live shows so far."
What did you think of Big Mike's performance? Were you just as moved as Kara was? Let us know!
Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.