'American Idol' Recap: Clouds Gather For Casey James After "Blue Skies"

Casey James performs on American Idol.

I'm looking forward to Frank Sinatra night -- not just because it's mentored by the awesome Harry Connick Jr., but because the retro/big band theme nights generally give someone unexpected a chance to shine. (Howdy, Kelly Clarkson!) I also will try to make it through this entire recap without making any "My Way" puns. Don't put money on it, though.


1) Aaron Kelly, "Fly Me To The Moon"

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High school student Aaron Kelly gets the opening spot of doom on a night where he probably hasn't heard the music before. For me, this was kind of a Katie Stevens-esque pageant performance: he went for a song that's too big for him, he wavered through it, and it wound up sounding like his parents cajoled him into performing it. Eeesh. I don't know what Randy and Ellen were talking about when they gave him props - pity props? (And Aaron weirdly looked like Eric Roberts when he was spiffed up, though, didn't he?)

2) Casey James, "Blue Skies"

The goat was in full effect for Casey James tonight - I can't believe this was the first time Kara brought it up as a negative - and he seemed kind of low on energy. Maybe he was nervous? No guitar/crutch and Harry Connick backing you up? That could freak a guy out. Or maybe Casey would have actually preferred to get the free dinner and play a gig with his friends? His chuckling during the commentary reinforced the impression that he knew he blew it. Double plus ungood.

3) Crystal Bowersox, "Summer Wind"

Let me paraphrase Harry: "What I like about Crystal's interpretation is that unlike the rest of these fools, she can actually interpret the song." Broken record: Crystal was great, and it was interesting to see that she could even perform in a genre that could sell something to the PBS crowd. I think the judges are underselling her so people rise up and vote for her. (On another note - it's funny that Simon is such a Frank Sinatra fan with his constant yammering to the contestants to be current. It seems at odds.)

4) Michael Lynche, "The Way You Look Tonight"

It's interesting to see some of the comments that Harry gives the contestants - I don't know if it's because he arranged the music, but he's much more targeted and specific in his critiques. It maybe doesn't make for the most soundbitey of television, but I think Big Mike was really helped by Harry to channel his sort of crazy, manic emotion into the song instead of spazzing and mugging all over the stage. Nicely done and great final note. And I liked the fedora.

5) Lee DeWyze, "That's Life"

Wow, supermodel wife of Harry Connick - Ellen Goodacre - thinks Lee DeWyze is hot? Jackpot, dude! This was probably the most comfortable we've seen him on stage, but I thought it was kind of plodding and without the verve this song should have. I just think he does better on faster paced songs, but maybe I'm just seeing him in the Nickelback mode they've crafted for him so far. Am I cranky? The judges certainly seem to love him to bits.

So who's gonna go? I think it's buh-bye for Casey James. You can't perform Sinatra week with the demeanor of someone who knew he just blew an Aerosmith song at karaoke because he was two beers shy of being confident enough to sell it.

Check back with Billboard after every "American Idol" performance night for our recap and predictions, and follow us on Twitter @billboarddotcom for our live blow-by-blow of each episode.

Previous 'American Idol' Recaps:

Top 6: Big Mike Shines on Shania Twain Night

Top 7: Crystal Bowersox Inspires, the Rest Backfire