The theme on Tuesday night's "American Idol" was inspirational songs, but with the exception of Crystal Bowersox's tearful "People Get Ready," many of the night's performances were uninspired at best. While that might make picking who could be eliminated during Wednesday night's (April 21) "Idol Gives Back" charity extravaganza harder, for MTV News' "Idol" expert Jim Cantiello, the choice is clear.
" 'Jealous Guy' notwithstanding, Casey James' performances have all been the same thing over and over again," Cantiello said of the ponytailed Texas guitar slinger, who has carved out a blues-rock niche on the show. "It was only a matter of time before America grew impatient with his lack of growth. Furthermore, it was a night that was supposed to inspire, and thanks to passionate performances from Lee Dewyze and especially Crystal Bowersox it definitely did uplift the spirit at times, but Casey left me stone-cold."
Cantiello said he didn't have a visceral reaction to James' cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" the way he did to equally shaky performances from Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly, who he also predicted would land in the bottom three alongside James. "It's never a good thing to go first and deliver a forgettable sound-alike performance," he said of James. "But what tipped me off to Casey's impending departure? The crowd didn't boo Kara, Randy or Ellen when they panned his performance. You could hear a pin drop. Casey had obviously put the entire studio audience to sleep."
The view was a bit cloudier for MJ Santilli, founder of the "Idol" fan site MJsBigBlog.com. She thought "Teflon" Tim Urban got ambitious with his cover of the Goo Goo Dolls' "Better Days," which got universal pans from the judges' panel for failing to live up to his more solid performances over the past two weeks.
"But I still think he's amassed enough of a following to keep him safe this week," she said, adding that she thinks Michael Lynche "is probably not long for this world, but he performed near the end of the lineup, and when Simon Cowell makes statements like 'You'll probably still be here next week,' they usually come true."
And while she found James to be "safe and boring," she thought his fanbase was strong enough to keep him in it, so it was perennially on-the-bubble teen Aaron Kelly who she targeted as this week's boot-ee. "[He's] been on the cusp the past couple of weeks," she noted of the sometimes awkward high schooler, who failed to deliver sufficient emotion on his take of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." "Once again, he bit off more than he could chew last night. And even though he gave it a good try, it was a mediocre vocal and an awkward performance. I think he'll be heading back to smalltown Pennsylvania very soon."
One thing is for sure, MJ said: After coming close to seriously turning off "Idol" hard-cores with news that she was on the verge of quitting the show, Bowersox's bravura performance brought her all the way back into their good graces. "She came back with a fantastic performance, showed some vulnerability — finally — and even wordlessly made amends with Seacrest," said MJ. "Honestly, she's going to be hard to beat at this point. And it's not as if any one of the remaining seven comes close to her talent, confidence and performance skills."
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