‘Idol’ Guest Blog: Elliott Yamin Reviews The Sinatra Covers By The Top 5 — His Way

May 5th, 2010 // 36 Comments

The news hardly needs spreading: American Idol is down to five contestants, and this week producers offered them the chance to perform classics from the Chairman Of The Board himself, Frank Sinatra. This week’s mentor, Harry Connick Jr., did his best to help the would-be Idols get in touch with their inner Frank (and did a reasonably good job, in our view — “Do you think Shania Twain was up in here doin’ this?”). But if you really want to know whether the Idols displayed Sinatra-style class, you should ask the classiest former Idol contestant we know — Elliott Yamin. We’re excited to say that Elliott’s back with his final guest post of the season, a review of Idol‘s Top 5.

A lot has changed since his last visit to Idolator — the Idol pool is half as big as it was when he last reviewed the singers’ performances. Elliott pulls no punches this time, and we love him for his honesty, among many other reasons. See his review of last night’s Idol below, and be sure to visit his official site to hear his performance of “Can’t Stop Loving You” and see video of his recent return to Angola with Idol‘s Kara DioGuardi.

Elliott’s Review:

I can remember Top 5 week on Season 5 being a pivotal one, because the pace of the show turned up a notch, and our weekly responsibilities were intensified. We had to learn two songs, so our workload doubled. Me, Paris, Tay Tay, Chris and Kat were really missing home, and probably emotionally drained by this point. But somehow, we barreled through it, and I managed to hang on another couple of weeks! Now before I go any further, I’d just like to express my gratitude to those who donated to Idol Gives Back last week. Please know that your contributions are truly helping to make the world a better place. I know, because I’ve seen it first hand!

Let’s get it on, shall we?

1) Aaron Kelly – “Fly Me To The Moon”

I thought Aaron looked great, and was confident. When he’s on, his voice is really smooth. But I still feel he lacks swagger and conviction. I just wish he’d emote a little more. all in all, it was a fair performance, and I still believe Aaron has a ton of potential.

2) Casey James – “Blue Skies”

I honestly thought this was pretty bad, and a bit patronizing. I guess we know that this style/genre doesn’t fit well with Casey’s voice. It was awkward and just plain uncomfortable. I feel like he mailed it in. But why would one do that this late in the competition? (Scratching my head.) Casey may have a touch of what I like to refer to as Idol-itis — thinking you’re golden, and on top, when really, the work has only just begun!

3) Crystal Bowersox – “Summer Wind”

This definitely wasn’t Mama Sox’s best performance. It was a bit boring and contrived. Although she sounded good, she just wasn’t in her element and never really found a middle ground in the pocket of the song. That being said, my fellow diabetic should still be here next week, and I can’t wait to hear what she has in store for us.

4) Michael Lynche – “The Way You Look Tonight”

At first I thought, maybe Mike is playing it too safe with this song choice. Then he opened his mouth… how about that arrangement!!! He is a real singer. And real singers sound good singing the alphabet. Mike has this melodramatic quality about his voice that makes you hang on to every word. If I’m being super-technical, however, I’d say that I would’ve liked to hear him use a little more back phrasing for this style. Otherwise, super job, well done!

5) Lee Dewyze – “That’s Life”

Man, I really didn’t like this vocal at all. Lee just doesn’t seem too comfortable up there. He always appears to be he trying to remember the lyrics and the phrasing in his head while he’s singing. He kinda got lost with this pitch with that core progression in the middle of the song. I really don’t mean to diss Lee here, or be so hard on him. But I absolutely had no clue what performance the judges were watching and listening to. Didn’t understand where they were coming from.

The two best performers of the night for me were:

1) Michael Lynche
2) Aaron Kelly


Does Elliott know his stuff, or what? Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and you can read his wisdom every day.


  1. Carol

    Finally!!! Someone with whom I totally agree with about Lee!
    I totally didn’t get it either. To me Lee always seems as if someone just woke him up out of a sound sleep

  2. stlrgrl64

    hmmm E, thinking you are bit too harsh on Casey…dont think the boy has a idolitis bone in his body even if he is gorgeous.—-he is humble and not full of himself at all so not sure why you would say he thinks he is golden on top. Not everyone can sing every genre. that simple. My guess, much to my dismay cause i will be losing my eyecandy, is that he will probably be going home tonight regardless.

    still Lovin ya E! :-)

  3. danielle notaro

    It’s funny Elliott, for me, I’m an actor/writer. usually Aaron has solid conviction emotionally-wether he can execute that vocally, depends on his health and ability.- Either I have poor audio on tv or hearing is going, the thing that has been lacking with him is his vocal connection- it’s like his voice/throat/larnyx isn’t totally hooked up- he was sick for a while though and maybe he is still going through vocal changing thing that boys particularly go through-it’s like the notes are not reaching the back of his throat down into his diaphragm

    For once Lee didn’t offend me -I didn’t think he was the best of the night, Mike was- and am wondering WHY the judges over-praised Lee-are they trying to manipulate votes?

    Crystal did a competent job

  4. danielle notaro

    Oh yeah, I would have loved to hear Siobhan’s take on a Sinatra song-think she has huge talent which she needs to grow into…

  5. I was with you on three out of the five. Casey was definitely the worst and should go home, but Aaron should be next IMO. He’s the one I don’t get at all. I have no idea what people are seeing with him. Normally I lump Lee in with that assessment, but this was the first time I actually saw him physically relax, and it opened up his vocals. I dunno, E. I guess we’ll see! :)

  6. *grumbles* why do people think that looking good is more important than singing well?? That aggravates the crap out of me. Anyway.

  7. sk8888

    ^^ I for one really enjoyed both Big Mike and Lee DeWyze. But if certain contestants keep getting told how great they are, and no one takes them to task on how they phrased something or their song choice or whatever, they won’t grow or progress, so Elliott’s take on Lee is interesting, if nothing else.

    And is no one familiar with the term “bedroom eyes?” That is Lee DeWyze! That used to be considered “dreamy” back in the day. For me, it’s just flat out sexy.

  8. I’m not sure what back phrasing is, but yes… Mike was very good although he needed a little something more.

    Elliott, thanks for being honest about Lee. Someone needs to say these things, and you are immensely qualified for the job. I know it was not pleasant for you to write his critique, but maybe Lee can learn from your words for him.

    “I still believe Aaron has a ton of potential” – yes, I agree, but potential doesn’t win this thing. You had potential when you started your season, E. Then you grew to within a millimeter of taking the crown. What is wrong with this season? Why aren’t the finalists growing each week? Some even got worse as the weeks went along. Is something being said or done backstage to put them in a funk?

  9. Ann

    I agree with most of Elliott’s observations. I thought Lee was much more comfortable and better than he was last week so I liked it because of that. I love Lee but do think he is “overrated” by the judges at times. I’m not big on Big Mike’s personality on stage – a bit arrogant I think but I do agree that he’s got a great voice and did a real fine job last night. Crystal has a great voice but the last two weeks have been bad for her. Nothing really wrong last night – just boring. I am not a big Aaron fan but agree with Elliott that he’s got a lot of potential – he probably should have been on this show two years from now. Casey was not good . . . I totally agree with E on this. . . presentation and vocals were both plain bad.

    I want Elliott to mentor one week – or be a guest judge – he’d be GREAT!!

  10. Lindsay

    I just want to say that Elliott totally would have KILLED on a Frank Sinatra night, if he’d had the opportunity. And since I’m on the subject, I think Elliott would have won the whole darn thing had he been a competitor this season…they are severely lacking impressive singers this year.

  11. While I agree with Elliott, and BTW, he too can sing the alphabet, I cast a vote for Crystal — the first time I have actually voted for anyone since Elliott–to help ensure her position next week. I still think she should win. I thought Elliott should have won as well.

  12. Great job Elliott! I really enjoyed Aaron and Lee. I have a hard time with “Big Mike” because of his attitude. It really blocks my ability to really hear what he has to sing. Loved Harry Connick, Jr. as the mentor! He seemed to really connect with the contestants. I wish that you had the opportunity to sing last night. You killed that Frank Sinatra song a few years back!
    Nancy from RVA

  13. JC

    First I got to say….I’m a huge Elliott fan, even though I don’t always agree with him….but totally love his candor and authenticity! Most of all….totally hooked on Elliott’s voice. Can’t fully explain it…..but have to listen to it daily. Ok…with that said….I agree with Elliott that all of these contestants lack that “it” factor. But I totally agreed with the judges last night who gave best of the night accolades to Lee. Big Mike is listening to fingernails on the chalkboard for me……I just don’t feel him. I would give Aaron and Crystal a tie for second place. Casey needs to go home…..Elliott’s right, he’s trying to get by on looks….not much effort….consistently boring actually. Elliott…sorry to not fully agree with you…..but I also, think you’ve made bad choices around which of your songs are hit worthy. Pls release “You” and “Apart from Me” , “You Say” and “Doorway”….these are the true hits on your album. Don’t get why you released “Fight for Love” first…..and why you left “When I’m Gone” off of the American release. It also could be a huge summer hit. Dude, you’ve got great bonus songs…..put them on the core album….and release them!

  14. MissDreadLox

    Elliott, you always “hit the nail on the head” with your reviews. Thank you for taking the time, and giving your HONEST feedback. I appreciate that & I agree with you 100%. Man, I wish you were on the Idol stage singing to me again . . . that would be a dream come true!! (make it happen American Idol!!!!)

  15. Nickyey09

    I love you to death Elliott and no one else could judge the contestants better than you IMHO but I just saw things a little differently from you this time. For the first time Lee really impressed me IDK what it was but he was the best for me last night. Big Mike can sing but he doesn’t blow me away. Aaron is good but he needs more experience. I have always liked Crystal but I wasn’t too impressed. What can I say about Casey…he looked good and I usually like him but that definitely wasn’t his style. What do I know? Thanks Elliott for your take. American Idol just hasn’t been the same for me since Season 5 and 6.

  16. MissDreadLox

    OMG, JC!!!! I agree w/ you about Elliott’s unreleased songs (hits). I absolutely, positively Love-Love-Love “Apart From Me”. THAT IS A HIT SONG. All of my family & friends like that song – THE FIRST TIME THEY HEAR IT. It doesn’t have to “grow” on them. Its definitely a hit. Yeah, shoulda been released as a single … “Doorway” too. Hopefully, its the record label, and not Elliott’s fault. Gosh, I wanna hear more/new Elliott. I LOVE ELLIOTT YAMIN!

  17. thetruth

    When are you and Taylor Hicks going to reunite on Idol and do a soulful duet? Show these amateurs in Season 9 how 2 soul brothers do it – correctly – !


  18. I didn’t care for Aaron’s performance at all, though he looked the part. Don’t know why the judges didn’t point out the “pitchiness” I heard. Anyway, I think AI will never be the same after Elliott and Adam Lambert. Now THOSE are some gorgeous voices! No one this year can compare IMO.

  19. michelle b

    I agree 100% with you comments especially the ones about Lee And Casey. I don’t get Lee at all. What are the judges hearing that I’m not.

  20. Kathy

    I love reading your reviews, Elliott, but I’ve got to say that I disagree with you about Lee Dewyze. I love his voice, and he is improving weekly, getting more comfortable on stage every week. This is why I watch Idol – to watch people develop.

    And I agree with JC who posted about what a great song Apart from Me is. I’ve given up on radio because they just cater to the big-label performers. I won’t even call them singers, if you know what I mean.

  21. Anne

    I agree with most of your assessment, Elliot. What I disagree with is that Casey thinks he’s golden and doesn’t need to try. I thought he was nervous as hell without his guitar because, let’s face it, the guy isn’t a great mover. He’s also very aware he was in the bottom two, for two weeks in a row now. That doesn’t really engender over-confidence, IMO. I think he just choked.

  22. Me

    I definitely thought Lee was the best of the night (we so do not agree there), followed by Aaron and then a distant Crystal…

  23. Harley

    Hey Elliott, good review. We have to disagree on Lee though, loved him last night. But you are so good at this. :) I love Crystal and thought she did good and like you cannot wait to see what she’ll do next.

  24. Debbie (Yellin')

    I have to say I agree 100% with Elliott on Lee. He is such a sweet guy, handsome, but I just do not at all get the praise he gets from the judges. I frequently go back and listen to performances every week and if you just listen to Lee…I don’t know. I think maybe the judges think he is the best “package” and would maybe sell the most and that is why they feel the way they do, or it is just a differing of opinions. Aaron still needs to grow, his vibrato just sounds all over the place, and I see him having a tough time in the spotlight. Mike and Crystal are definitely the most comfortable in their own skin, and on stage, and are vocally the strongest with the best range. Everyone that knows me knows how I have said from day one that I think Casey sounds exactly like Bob Seger and I think he could do well in that genre. Great job Elliott, and maybe you should take Simon’s place up there…while STILL making brilliant music! ;)

  25. Lilly

    Elliott….. you are so honest and humble in your review. I agree with you totally. You can tell it like it is without being harsh.

  26. evelyn

    i feel the problem with all of the remaining 5…is that they are (except for crystal) all
    one dimensional. every song sounds the same…in the same tone. even the high notes sound the same . they are very boring!!!! there is no excitement in them OR their music. big letdown, this season.

  27. Just call me Moo

    Lee was bad? Seriously? Aaron was good?

    Fortunately America got it right

  28. MamaVieth

    What??? Elliott could’ve won THIS year?!? Do you think so little of him?? Hell, Sanjaya woulda had a shot THIS season! Elliott could’ve and should’ve won his OWN season!! Season 5 is still, by far, the most talented, most successful season EVER! Not sure why I even watch any more..DWTS has become more entertaining! Bah!!

  29. MamaVieth

    The above comment was my reply to Lindsay…just sayin’..oy..

  30. shastamaia

    Great review. I have been skeptical about AI for a few seasons. I feel alienated from this year’s group…no chemistry or something. Maybe there will be a reunion of the outstanding contenders someday…of course, Elliott would be there.

  31. Elliott I remember being on the phone for 1 to 2 hrs. straight calling to keep you in the competition. I really do feel you have Casey all wrong. Listening to his interviews
    he is not an “I’m entitled” kind of person. To me he let his nerves get the better of
    him on Tues. 5/4/10, but listening to the Studio Version of Blue Skies and seeing
    him give his all on 5/5/10, here is a young man really trying his best to understand
    his craft–LIKE YOU!!!

  32. Couldn’t agree with Elliot more. I think they want another rocker like daughtry or David Cook, and Lee isn’t even in the same league. Elliot is still my favorite, looked forward to him every week

  33. Sheila

    I love Elliott and he is, by far, my favorite singer ever (not just AI singer). That being said I think Lee was good, Big Mike’s ai’right, it’s just the whole “Check Me Out on i-tunes” thing and the clowning on stage that has turned me away from him. Sorry. No one can call out Lee DeWyze on sounding the same every week without saying that the same is true of Crystal, Casey and B-Mike. I’m just sayin. IMHO that is why we like certain artist, because they sound like themselves so this whole sounding the same argument is moot. I so agree with JC on the release of some of Elliott Yamin’s music. The Fight For Love bonus tracks were fantastic, and I have listen to some of the leaked tracks (i.e., Torn Down) on you tube and wonder why they weren’t chosen to be on the album or released.

  34. Carl

    That’s what so sexy about him. Bedroom eyes and morning smile. He can just stand there and not sing a word, the girls will still vote for him.

  35. Mackenzie

    I certainly agree with some of your comments, Elliott…particularly about Lee. I get the exact feeling about (from) him every week. Everything about Michael Lynche is so, well, BIG …big guy, big voice, big talent but toooooo much toooooo often just doesn’t work for me. I prefer the nuance and sublety that Crystal works into her songs in such an interesting and delicious way. I think Casey appeared to phone it in because he was so far out of his comfort zone that he couldn’t deal with it. He may have even given up. He had made comments in several interviews Tuesday and Wednesday that he deserved to be the one to go home. So no. I do not think he sees himself as the golden boy at all. Casey didn’t earn 4th place because of Sinatra week, he earned it because it was his only sub-par performance all season and that he had at least 2 real moments of the season with “Jealous Guy” and “Don’t” .

  36. LucyPR (Big Fan of Elliot)

    It’s funny how the 2 idols you thought were good ended up being the 2 with the lowest votes. I think none of them did a good job. For some reason these contestants are not giving it their best or the emotional connection a listener wants to hear when you see a singer perform.
    I think Simon hit it on the nose when he told Crystal that she needs to be better and not sing to herself. Don’t get me wrong she has a beautiful voice but her attitude that night was not good. Simon knows the business and was trying to help her and she just wasn’t listening. It’s not about the big notes but the convincing ones that will get you far on idol.
    As a fan of Idol since Season 3, I hope all reach their dreams to become great performers and will help shape the music business that is being dominated by bad singer and giving bad images and messages to the young people out there.

    BTW, Elliot you are one of my favorite idols and I support you 100% and wish you all the best! :-)

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