I was impressed with Usher as this week's mentor; his advice was specific to the contestant and to the song that person was singing. The issue is that some contestant's took his advice and others did not, and in every case his advice was correct.
Siobhan started the show off with "Through the Fire" by Chaka Kahn, and she appeared to be quite nervous meeting Usher. Randy said it was not her best by any means. Simon said it was so all over the place, it sounded like she was running a marathon, singing, and running out of breath. Simon also did not like the fact that she screamed at the end of the song. I agree, overall, I felt like this had the potential of being an amazing performance and instead it was just ok. Score (in my opinion): 3.9 (out of 5)
Casey found an r&b song that perfectly suited his bluesy style, "Hold On, I'm Coming" by Sam & Dave. Randy said it was another hot night for Casey. Kara said she feels he has more range than he displayed in that song and she hopes that he is able to show it. Simon told Casey that it was his strongest performance thus far. Score: 5
Big Mike displayed sensitivity singing "Ready for Love" by India.Arie, another song by a female singer/ songwriter, but it needed more. Randy loved his sensitivity and said he is in the zone and Randy is loving all his performances. Ellen said it was beautiful and she loved it. Kara said he did an incredible job with the song and it was one of her fave Mike performances. Simon said he can finally take him seriously and he believed the performance. Usher loved it and said he connected with the audience.
Didi's rendition of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffin left me feeling like I was at a Broadway show; I was overcome with the theatrics of the entire performance, including the shouting. Randy found it flat from start to finish. Ellen thought it was too dramatic. Kara called it overdone, and said Didi has lost her way. Simon agreed and added it was like swimming in jelly, off melody and all. I think she is in trouble tonight. Score: 2.9
Tim didn't do much better with an almost mumbled version of "Sweet Love" by Anita Baker. Usher gave Tim amazing advice, he told him to picture the woman he loves standing in front of him while singing the song. Randy said it was too flat, and he didn't add enough to the song to make it special. Ellen said he shouldn't have chosen that song because it was too tough for him. Kara called it Vegas and Broadway and said he took the soul out of the song. Simon said that what he says doesn't matter because he will be voted to stay. I am annoyed because I think Tim is capable of this, and I tire of him choosing silly songs.
Andrew's acoustic take on "Forever" by Chris Brown put him back in the mix this week for the first time since Hollywood week! Randy said Andrew is back, best performance in a long time. Kara said it was a great leap in the right direction. Simon told him it was miles better than so many of his other performances but encouraged him to show his personality because that is what is selling at this point of the competition. Score: 4.75
Katie sang the Aretha classic, "Chain of Fools" and received a real range of comments from the judges. Randy and Kara thought they were some of the best vocals of the night. Simon said it was ridiculous of Randy to compare Katie to Christina Aguilera vocally because she is miles from there and he found her performance "cold and robotic". I am leaning more towards Simon's opinion, I didn't love it as much as I should have.
Lee had a breakout night with "Treat Her Like a Lady" by the Cornelius Brothers. Usher was impressed with Lee's voice and told him to believe in himself. Randy called it unbelievable, and Ellen said it was the best performance of the night. Kara said you brought the song into your own, and it could be on your record now; amazing. Simon said he always believed in him, and that he should watch his performance back later because this may be the night that changes his life forever.
Crystal sang her own version of "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips; her vocals impressed the hell out of me, and I continue to be surprised by her. Randy said he loved it and it was another great performance. Ellen loved the whole idea, and Kara said she was happy she took the risk playing the piano. Simon said the backing vocals should not have been there, and told her not to change who she is.
Aaron closed the show with a safe performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers. Unfortunately I was thinking about the Kris Allen version of this from last season, and so this was just too safe for me. Randy said it was all right and it got better as it went on. Ellen and Kara both liked it. Simon said it was not as good as some other versions he has heard on the show, but there is no chance of him being voted off. Score: 4