“American Idol” judges often rail on contestants for not making the right song choices. But on Wednesday night, personal trainer and new dad Michael Lynche provided a textbook example of how to pick the perfect song.
The 26-year-old Florida native, whose wife gave birth their firstborn while he was performing during the show’s Hollywood Week, moved judge Kara DioGuardi to tears with his sensitive take on British singer [artist id="902"]Kate Bush’s[/artist] “This Woman’s Work.”
On a night when the judges criticized some singers for not connecting with the words they sang, Lynche astutely picked a song that mirrored the tumultuous changes in his personal life. The combination of Lynche’s velvety, gospelized vocals and the song’s connection to his life’s journey made for dramatic TV.
DioGuardi felt the emotion, tearfully telling Lynche, “I’ve never cried after hearing something like that. 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.”
“This Woman’s Work” is one of Bush’s most beloved tunes, and the biggest commercial success from an artist who has always followed her peculiar muse. Bush’s career began in the late 1970s, when Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour turned label EMI on to the then-teenaged songwriting prodigy. In 1985, she released her most celebrated album, Hounds of Love. That album featured the hits “Running Up That Hill” and “Cloudbursting,” and it helped cement her reputation as an enigmatic pop poet.
In 1988, Bush provided “This Woman’s Work” to director John Hughes for his coming-of-age drama “She’s Having a Baby.” The song, reportedly written specifically for the film, plays during a scene in which new father Kevin Bacon is pacing outside the delivery room where his wife is having their first child, fretting about the changes his family is about to face.
Bush’s self-directed video for “Work” parallels the story of the film. The primly dressed singer, seated at a grand piano, plays the haunting melody, and shots of her are intercut with images of a nervous man in the waiting room of a hospital. A ghostly image of Bush stands behind the man and hugs him as he breaks into tears and stares ominously into the dark. A flashback then reveals Bush collapsing and being rushed to the hospital as the man wails in agony. At the end of the clip, a smiling nurse comes over to the man and puts her hand on his shoulder, appearing to give him good news as Bush quietly shuts the lid on the piano.
“Work” later appeared on Bush’s 1989 album The Sensual World, which contained a number of tunes about the perils and pitfalls of love (“Love and Anger,” “Between a Man and a Woman”) and a title track inspired by Irish author James Joyce’s epic “Ulysses.” In the years that followed, the song underscored dramatic scenes in a number of TV shows (“Felicity,” “Alias,” “Party of Five”).
In 1997, it was covered by Maxwell during his MTV Unplugged appearance. He later included a studio version of the track on his 2001 album Now, and it peaked at No. 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year.
Bush has rarely toured, and she took a lengthy break between her 1993 album The Red Shoes — which featured contributions from Prince, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton — and her 2005 double album Aerial to raise her family.