Sinatra tunes a challenge on ‘Idol’

NEW YORK — Even though he’s no longer around, Frank Sinatra can still intimidate.

Three of the five “American Idol’ contestants had trouble interpreting the crooner’s biggest hits on Tuesday’s show, even with the encouragement, arrangements and piano playing of Harry Connick Jr.

They included 17-year-old Aaron Kelly of Sonestown, Pa., who seemed grounded on “Fly Me to the Moon.”

“If (Sinatra) was a lion, you were just a mouse,” judge Simon Cowell said on the Fox show.

Similarly, Casey James of Fort Worth, Texas, and Crystal Bowersox of Toledo, Ohio, couldn’t stand up to the Chairman of the Board, at least in the judges’ determination. Bowersox, 24, looked elegant in an evening gown singing “Summer Wind,” but judge Ellen DeGeneres thought she needed to loosen up a little more.

James, a 27-year-old construction worker, mentioned before singing “Blue Skies” that a friend who doesn’t watch “American Idol” had offered him a $50 gig on Tuesday night. Maybe he should have taken it.

Cowell said he thought James looked embarrassed trying the song. James, who just missed being voted off last week, admitted Sinatra wasn’t in his wheelhouse.

To salvage a dismal evening, Michael Lynche and Lee Dewyze took different routes to impress the judges.

Lynche, a 26-year-old personal trainer from New York, sang a soulful version of “The Way You Look Tonight” that led enthusiastic judge Randy Jackson to say that he had thrown down the gauntlet with his performance.

Dewyze, a 24-year-old paint sales clerk from Mount Prospect, Ill., put his all into the big, boozy “That’s Life.”

“What I really loved was you gave it 110 percent,” said judge Kara DioGuardi.

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