This is a no-brainer, isn't it?
Definitely the best--okay, the standout--performance from last night's American Idol
is Michael Lynche's take on Maxwell's (or, if you want to go further, Kate Bush's) "This Woman's Work."
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Sure, the guys' performances were much better than the slumber party that was Tuesday night. Lee Dewyze took on a song I normally hate and made it listenable. (Congratulations, Abbey, for your computer is still functioning after that "Fireflies" cover.) Todrick Hall finally decided to focus on the singing. Heck, even Tim Urban took a risk with "Hallelujah" and did a pretty good job.
Michael's performance, on the other hand, was oozing with authenticity. You can see (and hear) that he really feels the lyrics, that he's singing like everything is at stake--not to mention that his vocals have been as impressive as his performance last week.
After all, if you consider how that song was used in previous instances, you'll see where Michael is coming from. Kate Bush's original
was used in the film She's Having A Baby
. I remember Maxwell's version
in the film Love and Basketball
. Both scenes were pretty powerful ones: moments of vulnerability and emotion, of letting go and staying strong. And, of course, there's the "breast cancer dance" off So You Think You Can Dance's fifth season
, a routine so powerful that it brought the judges--including guest judge Ellen DeGeneres--to tears.
But judging from some of the reactions to the performance, not everybody was impressed. I remember one of the comments on the forums, saying that the whole thing was overrated--the judges heaped too much praise (and that's counting Kara's waterworks), the overplayed I'm-having-a-baby back story returned, and the vocals weren't that great.
And listening to it again, indeed, it isn't perfect. But still, it was the best of the night. "This Woman's Work" is a very tough song, and Michael's performance holds up to the originals.
But perhaps praise is also due to the song itself. Let's presume that Michael chose this song simply because it fits his style perfectly, rather than because he wanted to play up his story again. If he chose a different song, it wouldn't have elicited the same reaction. It would've been like last week's performance: solid and consistent, but nothing that earth-shattering. Not that I'm belittling Michael's channeling of his passion and pain. He just wouldn't be able to do that without this specific song.
So last night's standout? "This Woman's Work" as performed by Kate Bush, and later by Maxwell, and last night, by Michael Lynche. It's just the song that does, in Ellen's words, what music is supposed to do: captivate you. But perhaps not in the Kara-channeling-her-inner-Paula way...
(Image courtesy of Fox)