You can tell something is wrong with last night's episode when the best performance I can find is Casey James' take on Bryan Adams' "Heaven".
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And no, it's not because of all the comedy bits in between--of Randy forcing Kara to wave her arms, of Ellen stated that Kara was "undressing [him] with her eyes", of Kara blushing all throughout as she reaffirmed her love for her husband. In fact, you can say that didn't help Casey at all: the laughter distracted him at the beginning, and the shenanigans distracted me from watching his performance the first time around.
But it was a disappointing night for the guys. You can tell when Simon himself called Andrew Garcia's performance "disappointing". Michael Lynche and Aaron Kelly also did well, but they didn't do enough. The former picked up an otherwise "depressing" night but held back rather than pushing on. The latter was overrun by his nerves, although he still gave a pretty solid performance. Otherwise, the rest of the night was chock-full of contestants who want to be what Glee's writers call a "miva" (hello, Jermaine Sellers and Todrick Hall) or a train wreck (hello, Tim Urban and Alex Lambert).
What about Lee Dewyze? He also got props from the judges for his little rework of Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars". It's a performance that will split opinion, at least from my perspective. I thought he overworked the song the same way Todrick axed "Since U Been Gone" and his voice was a bit nasal. However, many of you thought his vocals were great and his arrangement was wonderful. I'll give you that--perhaps it's just the wrong song, and perhaps he could've picked a song that's a little more rough.
So why Casey? Amongst a sea of averages, he was first. He knew what he can and can't do, and didn't push himself to places he knows he can't be in. He played his usual game, knowing that he'll be noticed that way--in fact, you can say he's smart enough to know that attention towards his performance will be diverted to Kara's fawning.
But will he make it far? It's too early to tell. I doubt he'll be a one-trick pony, but he can't hold on to what he did last night forever. Andrew (and to a certain extent, Big Mike) may have underwhelmed last night, but they'll be back. And then there's Lee, who some consider as this season's male dark horse. Casey has a lot more work to do if he's to make it far this year.
(Image courtesy of Fox)