Having Harry Connick, Jr., work with the final five and arranging the contestants’ versions of Frank Sinatra songs was inspired: He’s hilarious (“you think Shania Twain was up in here doing this?”) and insightful, and gave them good advice while entertaining us, which is a challenge for many mentors.
Alas, his on-stage big band thing failed the five finalists, three of them in particular, as it didn’t give them a chance to “do their thing,” to paraphrase the judges parroting themselves. And, okay, Lee was good, and Mike was good, and Crystal wasn’t bad, but this wasn’t anywhere close to Adam Lambert’s “Feeling Good”, or for a more direct big band comparison, Kris Allen’s “The Way You Look Tonight” or Allison Iraheta’s “Someone to watch over me”, all of which were part of last year’s final five Rat Pack episode.
This is a weak, unbelievably weak, final five, but again, the big band thing didn’t help them at all. “I wouldn’t see you singing this kind of music,” Kara told Crystal, and that sums up the whole night: they were forced to sing in a genre that was old and not their own. Ellen joked about all this when she said to Casey, “I don’t know whose idea it was, but I thought it was a bad idea to have the piano on-stage. Not good.” After Lee’s performance, she said, “At first I was distracted by Harry’s organ.” Funny, but also kind of an (unintentionally?) well-placed jab.
Oh, and the show ran over by a minute or so, which is understandable since there was only 12 minutes of obviously necessary filler before anyone sang an actual song, including Frank Sinatra’s daughters offering Simon “one of dad’s hankies.”