That's just the start of Big Mike

Each week, "American Idol" viewers have marveled at the talent of Michael Lynche -- and have suspected there's a lot more under the surface.

There is. This guy ranges from rock to Broadway, from classical to love songs. I hated to see him go Wednesday (see previous blog), finishing No. 4. Here's the story I sent to papers today:


When Michael Lynche fills up a room,
people have expectations.

“They see me, they see how I look,
they expect R-&-B,” Lynche told reporters today. “It's a
little jarring if they see something else.”

So Lynche stuck mainly to
rhythm-and-blues on “American Idol.” That got him to the final
four, before he was ousted Wednesday.

Still, that may be just the surface. He
sings Broadway, sings classical, sings sweetly.

“I love love songs,” he said.
“That's what's really special to me ... when it's really raw.”

That might conflict with the outer
image. Lynche stands 6-foot-1, weighs 300 pounds, bench-presses 505.
He looks like a football lineman, which he was at the University of
Central Florida. By the final three tames of his sophomore year, the
school says, he was starting defensive tackle; in his two seasons, he
made 70 tackles, 14 for losses.

Then he gave it up to be home with his
mother, who had pancreatic cancer. “It was super-important to me,”
Lynche said. “We'd sit up late at night and watch infomercials.”

She died at 53 and he returned to
music, not sports.

That had been important to him when he
got into a magnet arts program inside his St. Petersburg high school,
Lynche said. “I got my classical singing training …. We could
take dance classes, photography classes …. It opened me up to many
things besides sports.”

He did musicals and thrived. Then, four
days after graduation, he and his now-wife Christa moved to UCF. “I
didn't have anything to decorate the room, so I took as many posters
as I could from the football office.”

In the five years since his mother's
death, Lynche has learned the guitar, worked with kids, become a
trainer and moved to an apartment in Queens. His daughter Laila was
born in January, during the Hollywood round of “Idol” try-outs.

That focused him, he said. “It wasn't
about hoping to do well – I HAD to do well.”

He did, surviving a close call when
viewers ousted him (at No. 9) and judges saved him. On Wednesday, he
was out. He sang, then held Laila. “This really helps your heart
out, in a tough time.”