Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Curious Case of Casey James

If you haven't been watching Amer1can Id0l Season 9, and do not know who Casey James is, please go ahead and google.

Casey did not have a good start on American Idol. During his audition in Denver, Simon said he didn't have a good voice, Kara thought he did, Posh Spice made him untie his ponytail and said he had a 'good look', and I think Randy had to say yes because the 2 lady judges got him (Casey, not Randy) to take off his shirt.
So you would be forgiven if you thought he was just the male version of the bikini-girl.

During Hollywood week though, he wow-ed everyone with his bluesy voice and guitar playing. Suffice to say he got through to Top24. First week, he made all the girls swoon with his rendition of 'Heaven' in a white cowboy shirt, and he continued to do so, week after week, culminating into the emotionally electrifying performance of 'Jealous Guy' during Lennon-McCartney week.
Tall and lanky in tight jeans and cowboy boots, with his flowy blonde hair and shiny smile, he would surely be a favourite among the ladies. His talents are nothing to be scoffed at either. Randy called him "the best guitar player this show has ever seen". But is he good enough to win American Idol?
If the past 2 weeks' performance is anything to go by, I think not.

Contrary to popular belief, Amer1can Id0l is not merely a singing competition. Looking at past winners, you will notice that they had more than a good voice and star quality. They had talent in turning any song into their own and making us believe that it is their own. Doing that is not as easy as it looks or sound. You have to pick a song that you not only can perform well, but that you believe in, so that when you perform it, you perform it with your heart and soul, and audiences will not only enjoy it, but they will believe in it.

Take David Cook for instance. Every single week, irregardless of whether it's his 'genre' or not, he manages to pick a song that he can work with and that he can sing with all his heart, and you can see it in his eyes when he does put his soul in it. That's how he made Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" become a David Cook song, and not a Mariah song.

Has Casey James done that? Maybe on a few of the weeks. Several times, he has chosen songs that were kinda obscure, so no one could really tell. His latest performance of "Don't Stop" was perhaps his most disappointing because, even though I hate using this Simon Cowell catch-phrase, it sounded very karaoke. There was nothing unique, nothing that was identifiably 'Casey' in it. I have an inkling that Casey might be a little scared and is playing it very safe. He would rather choose songs that he knows he can perform well, than choosing songs that he believes in with all his heart but is a little difficult to pull off.

Everyone knows 'playing it safe' will not cut it anymore. Not after they've seen Adam Lambert. I'm not saying Casey needs to start wearing eye make up and trade his jeans for leather pants, but he really needs to realize that after people have been wow-ed week after week by Adam Lambert's ever changing persona and passionate performances, it would be what everyone expects from future Id0l contestants. It's not enough to entertain. They want to be knocked off their seats. Casey doesn't even dance when he plays fast songs (probably the most 'passionate' thing he ever did was roughly pull out the amp jack out of his guitar at the end of a song). He needs to be more rawkin'!

Comparing Casey James to Crystal Bowersox, I think MamaSox has a better chance at being the Id0l this year. We see her changing things up week after week. We see her baring her soul week after week. Her emotionally charged rendition of 'People Get Ready' brought me to tears.
I think, if Casey really wants to win , or at least wants show the audience all he's got, next week (if he's still around), he needs to put down the guitar. Pick up a tamborine or something. Pick a song he believes in, then sing it with all his heart.
And for gawds sakes, move around a little!

Good Luck, Casey!