Judging the Judges' Save on American Idol: Did Justice Prevail?
Hooray! Not so much? This week, American Idol's voters grew a pair and almost eliminated a dude. But before that pig could fly, the judges whipped out a pocket veto and fired it square at the showstopping vest of Michael "Big Mike" Lynche, who sang a decent "Eleanor Rigby" this week and still scored the lowest number of votes. The new father Lynche, whose wife enjoyed a very famous cervix during Hollywood Week, lives to meet mentor Adam Lambert. Are we happy for Big Mike's triumph?
After being declared the lowest vote-getter, Lynche sang for his life with a rehashing of "This Woman's Work," which made Kara DioGuardi blubber like a Ted Bundy mistress during the semifinals. He bookended his performance with weird falsettos, and let me confirm: This man is not Minnie Riperton. Why does he go there? Why does he coo little "Dreamlover" squeals? It's cloying and phony and put on and insert your own DioGuardi parallel here.
For the rest of the performance, Michael kept the televangelist harrumphs to a minimum and crooned in tune. It was less a 30-second Cool Whip ad -- Michael's usual domain -- and more a minute-long Jell-O spot set in a film noir cabaret. A step up, in my estimation. Truth be told, Michael deserves to stay more than Tim Urban and Katie Stevens, and on those grounds his save is not unexpected. My issue with his comeback is the judges' fixation on Michael and his potential in the competition. Because that punchline's as glaring as Rihanna's laminated catsuit.
For all of the judges' hooting, hollering, and weeping, Michael is the least contemporary performer in the Top 9. Even Lacey Brown and her wretched "Landslide" rendition were more radio-ready in 2010 than Lynche, whose wheelhouse of über-dated soul (He's exhumed Percy Sledge and James Brown, plus a dud India.Arie ballad.) is even less in touch with the Billboard world than doomed semifinalist John Park. And he made John Mayer's "Gravity" sound like an Amy Grant deep cut! Hilarious! Also frustrating: Simon Cowell's continued harangues of contestants like Didi Benami and Andrew Garcia for "dated" song choices when their Hellman's Lite acoustics are far more saleable than Lynche's soul shtick. For those who may have forgotten, the three vocalists with soul chops to win American Idol are Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, and Taylor Hicks. Slow clap for those memories. We'd all be dears and magical idiots not to consider their careers foreshadowing for Michael's post-Idol trajectory.
Worst of all: Did you take a trip to the vomitroium when the judges hugged and kissed each other after saving Michael? It looked like Kara had dialed 1-800-GO-RICKI and finally reunited with estranged relatives after a will dispute. Maybe jilted nephew Randy called her a ho and they just moved to different parts of Wisconsin after that, you know? Anyway. Their self-congratulatory embraces uglied the episode for me. The judges were applauding their own willingness to save an underdog, not Michael himself. Disappointing -- especially from Kara, the hit-making brains of the group who understands how Pussycat Dolls work.
At this point, the show's actual underdog is a focus on who has an honest chance of winning airtime alongside the Ke$has, Ushers, and Taylor Swifts of our tightly choreographed radioland. But who knows. If Jason Derulo can moonwalk on American Idol and seem "current," maybe Michael's ancient tastes aren't as hopeless as this show's history implies.