In this post, we will see Casey’s American Idol performances as he went from Top 10 to Top 5. This was when Casey really shined — going from rock ballad to blues to pop to country showing off his great, rugged vocals and his unparalleled guitar playing.
Top 10 week was notable as the first time since Week One that Simon complimented Casey without any hesitation. The theme was perfect for Casey and he delivered a dynamic cover of the Sam and Dave song Hold On, I’m Coming. He was in his element and his joy was palpable. It was a rare opportunity for the audience to catch a glimpse of the real Casey James.
The next week was the single most memorable performance this year on American Idol. When the cute guy who loves to jam on the guitar stood stick straight and delivered a heart-wrenching performance of John Lennon’s emotionally-charged Jealous Guy, everyone who witnessed it was mesmerized. His legion of fans grew exponentially and many who had not noticed him before were impressed, and a little surprised. It was also the best example to date of the difference between “hiding behind a guitar” which many on AI do, and someone using the guitar to accentuate the song and deliver more pathos, more heart than the vocal alone could do. Since then, that song has been repeatedly listed as one of the most memorable in the history of American Idol. He should have been handed the title American Idol right then.
But the show must go on and so there were more performances after that one. Casey followed up the tender, vulnerable performance with a rollicking, soulful version of the Elvis-covered Lawdy Miss Clawdy. His voice was terrific — just the right growl, a rough and raw sound that fit the song perfectly. I’ve heard since that there were some problems with Casey’s guitar or amp, but as a viewer I couldn’t tell. I also couldn’t tell until I checked the original just how much Casey had changed up the song and how much better his version was than the original. By performing such an obscure song, the audience (and apparently even the judges) did not realize the extent of his musical creativity and ingenuity.
Top 7 week was also America Idol Gives Back week and so the theme was uplifting/inspiring songs and Casey brought back visions of the Clintons with Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop. It was another song choice, like Power of Love, that baffled me, but it was also another example of a tired old cliche of a song that he nailed. Loved his vocals and especially enjoyed his rocking out on Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar.
Casey’s performance of Shania Twain’s Don’t was not just a reminder of how he held the audience spell-bound with Jealous Guy, it was the song that convinced any doubters that he was the real deal, as adept performing a restrained, country ballad as he was rocking out to bluesy/soulful songs.