‘American Idol’: The Top 4 Sing The Songs Of ‘Batman,’ ‘Free Willy’ And Other Cinematic Masterpieces

Becky Bain | May 12, 2010 6:42 am

It was movie night at American Idol, and in honor of the contestants singing the hits of the silver screen, we’re breaking out our Roger Ebertometer to judge the contestants, pairing our review with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” Did we say hooray for Hollywood while watching the Top 4 perform, or would we rather just stay in and rent a DVD? Now that our movie metaphor has totally exhausted itself, find out below!

Mentor Jamie Foxx (who also mentored last year’s movie theme night) spent a few bucks over at Cafe Press making t-shirts that read “Contestant” and “Artist” with the intention of giving each Idol the t-shirt they deserve. It’s like those Team Jolie and Team Aniston shirts from a few years ago! Except even more meaningless. Let’s get onto the individiual and duet performances:

Lee DeWyze – “Kiss From a Rose” (from Batman Forever) Roger Ebertometer: Thumbs down. Lee gets an “artist” shirt from Jamie, which may have been a little bit too premature. Danny Gokey sang this last year during the Hollywood rounds, you may remember, and while Gokey put some soul into his acapella version, Lee… well, okay. We like Lee. We really do. But we are worried about him as a live performer—even if he makes a killer album, the man cannot stay on pitch to save his life. He is always right under or right over the note, and it’s often wince-inducing. Pair that with the fact that every other week his confidence seems to waver, and we have somebody who needs more experience on stage before we trust him as our Idol winner. Or before we would ever pay money to see him perform live.

Michael Lynche – “Will You Be There” (from Free Willy) Roger Ebertometer: Thumbs sideways? Okay, that’s not a thing. We’ll give him a thumbs up then, because we a) love this underrated Michael Jackson song, and b) Big Mike always gives 100% while performing, even if said performances don’t blow us away. Simon at least gives him props for feeling the song, although he has never heard of Free Willy. “It’s about a whale,” Mike tries to explain. “And they gotta save it.” Yep, that’s pretty much the plot of the movie (and all its sequels).

Casey James – “Mrs. Robinson” (from The Graduate) Roger Ebertometer: Thumbs up. Casey performs while sitting on the side of the stage, playing the tiniest guitar we’ve ever seen. (Or is that a cheetah-print ukelele? Either way we want to put a bow on it and cuddle all night long.) We really like this subdued version of this classic Simon and Garfunkel song—Casey changed it up enough to make it his own, and he didn’t even bother going in a vocal range he wouldn’t be comfortable in, making the song fit his voice. It was a great, controlled little number, and the judges don’t care for it at all. And, it turns out, Simon doesn’t know what The Graduate is about, either. Dear God, Simon, have you never seen a movie in your life? I’m decades younger than you and I’ve seen The Graduate. These contestants aren’t singing songs from Lars Von Trier movies, you should know the plot of The Graduate and Free Willy.

Crystal Bowersox – “I’m Alright” (from Caddyshack) Roger Ebertometer: Thumbs up. Crystal does another great job, though we’re finding ourselves un-wowed with this version of the Kenny Loggins song—maybe because we just expect this from her every week, and she keeps delivering, and there’s a lack of drama (besides her crying during her final note during Inspiration week)? The most interesting part of this segment is Crystal’s boyfriend Tony stands in the audience, wearing American flag parachute pants (we’re hoping ironically).

Michael Lynche and Casey James – “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” (from Duan Juan DeMarco) Roger Ebertometer: Thumbs down—we’ve seen this all before. They might as well be chilling in front of a campfire wasting time. Also, this movie is 15-years old. There wasn’t any other more recent songs they could throw on the list for the contestants to choose from? We seriously wish Casey and Michael had attempted Oscar-winning “Jai Ho,” because then at least it would have been interesting to watch (if not a spectacular mess).

Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze – “Falling Slowly” (from Once) Roger Ebertometer: Thumbs up. Kris Allen killed this song last year during the same theme night, you may recall, and Crystal and Lee do it justice as well—plus the song was originally recorded as a duet, so it fits being split between a woman and man. But, again, do we really need to hear it again? Last year it felt much more fresh since it was closer to the film’s release date. Honestly, we can’t blame Crystal or Lee for picking this song—they did sing it pretty well (Crystal must have helped Lee stay on pitch) and the chemistry was there, and, most importantly to remember, they have no control over what songs they have to choose from. The judges lap up their duet, and Ellen calls them the new Captain and Tenille. Is that a compliment? Nobody under 17-years old has any idea what Ellen is talking about.

Best of the Night: We really enjoyed Casey’s laid back but unique interpretation of the 1968 Simon and Garfunkel song.

Worst of the Night: Lee DeWyze. We’d say we hope a bagpipe can play you off, but we’re pretty sure you’re not going anywhere. (Sorry, Big Mike, you’re on borrowed time, anyway.)

Quote of the Night: “Yes, as a matter of fact, I have loved a woman.”—Ellen after Casey and Michael’s duet. Funny… unfortunately she didn’t follow it up with an actual critique of their performance.

Final Thoughts: Do we really need repeat mentors? No offense to Jamie Foxx, who is actually pretty engaging as a mentor, but the show stops being fresh when we feel like we’ve seen the same thing over and over again. Aren’t there enough people out there experienced enough in their respective field of music or entertainment (and with projects that need promoting) that producers can book so we can get some variety year to year? Or even this season alone – sorry, Shania, you’re great, but a guest judge and a mentor in one season? Victoria Beckham posing as guest judge twice? Was there no one else to approach? 

Same goes for song choices. There are tons more recent songs they could have let the Top 4 choose whether to sing or not: “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted, “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2, “Save Me” from Magnolia, just to rattle off a few Oscar-nominated songs. How about going way, way out of the box and actually choosing a song from a Lars Von Trier movie Simon would have never heard of, “I’ve Seen It All” from Dancer in the Dark? (My God, if somebody succesfullly covered Bjork on this show we’d die of shock.)