Did you see Casey Abrams slay Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" on American Idol last night? Wasn't he rad? No? What are you trying to say? That Casey Abrams isn't that great of a singer? Wait, that's exactly what you're trying to say?

Look, I kind of like Casey Abrams (as much as you can like anyone in this clunky old competition). He reminds me of someone who I would have gone to high school with back in Madison, WI. You know the type- he's the guy who wears a wide-brimmed hat and walks around in checkered old man pants. He probably plays trumpet in the jazz band, but also has a band of his own that plays once a month at the local teen center. You go with all of your friends and shout over his weird brand of funk-punk about what a talent and genuine guy he is. When it comes time to go to university, he announces that he's off to study music theory at Columbia College in Chicago and you nod your head because, yes, that sounds about right. Years later, after you've graduated from a state school, you find his CD in a box of old things and decide to have a listen, only to realize that he wasn't so great after all and, really, you only clung to him because, at 17, all you wanted was to feel connected to something important. You feel worried about this person and decide to Google him just to make sure he's doing okay. Turns out he's living in Minneapolis and working successfully as a sound engineer. You breath a sigh of relief, think maybe you should send him a Facebook message, then promptly forget and go back to living your life.

That's the way this story should go. Your hypothetical friend from high school does not, should not, appear on American Idol and yet here he is, embodied by Casey Abrams. I want to say good on him except Casey Abrams is not a very good singer. The judges love to praise his bluesy growl, but really they're only complimenting strained yowling. This week, being Motown week, could have been his time to shine seeing how Motown is the genre he's most attempted to align himself with. However, shine he did not (unless showing up with a "Serial Killer Goes to Court" hairdo and weaving gracelessly through the audience counts as shining?). One thing I will say in favor of Mr. Abrams is that he is one of this season's few Idol performers who doesn't look horrifically self-conscious while performing (it's all that practice from his Teen Loft gigs) and actually seems to feel what he's sing-yelling. Simply for that, he shouldn't be sent home, but what does that say about a singing competition if that's all it takes to stay?


One more thought about Motown Week and it's directed at contestant Stefano Langone. You had the entire Motown catalogue to choose from and you chose "Hello" by Lionel Richie?