“American Idol” is really heating up, as we’re now getting down to the real talent, and this season boasts at least five and maybe seven with a serious chance to win it all. Last night after the ridiculous booming voice introductions and the annoying banter between Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell that just never seems to end, the nine remaining contestants were asked to sing anything they wanted, so long as it was a popular iTunes download. Pretty easy, right? Well, not when there are a few singers in this thing who just simply don’t get the art of song choice. Some do, though, and they do in a big way. But more on that in a minute. Here is your Top 9 America, in my take of the good, the in-between, and the bad:
THE REALLY GOOD
Danny Gokey has an amazing ability to connect with the audience, and he picks the right song week after week. We all know the back story, that Gokey lost his wife at way too young of an age recently. And he smartly draws from the grief and channels it effectively through song, as he did last night with Rascal Flatt’s “What Hurts the Most.” And if dude gave Mrs. Mike as well as judge Kara DioGuardi goose bumps, I imagine he did that for many of you as well. Paula said that type of song is where Danny thrives (what?), Simon said no one else so far (he went third) was in the same class and that it was Danny’s best performance yet, Randy said “the show starts here,” and Kara correctly pointed out that Danny moved everyone in the room emotionally.
Scott McIntyre stripped down his performance last night to take on Billy Joel’s classic “Just the Way You Are” and it was easily his best showing yet. I actually didn’t find anything wrong with it this time, and I’m not a huge Scott fan. Kara said it was a smart decision to strip the song down, Paula said the best part about Scott is that everyone forgets about his “challenge,” Simon said it was Scott’s best performance by a mile, and Randy said it was the best of the night. Um, hello Randy…Danny Gokey?
Kris Allen had the pimp spot last night and this week he chose to play the piano instead of the guitar for the first time. Kris did a super cool arrangement of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and to me, it was just a notch below Danny Gokey. Mrs. Mike doesn’t agree, but I think Kris is a dark horse to win it all. Randy said it was one of the best performances of the night, Kara said “that is artistry!” Paula said that song could be the first cut off Kris’ album, and Simon said he showed the confidence Simon suggested last week and that it was a stellar arrangement. All good comments and well-deserved.
Adam Lambert keeps changing things up, and this week he did a pseudo-rock arrangement of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music.” To me, it was annoying and and I just don’t get what everyone sees in Adam. His heavy metal screams are nails on a chalkboard and totally unnecessary because he does have a great natural vocal ability. But the judges heap praise on Adam like he’s the second coming of Elvis. America is going to prove them wrong in the coming weeks, I guarantee it. Paula said, and I quote, “True genius, and unique, like Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler.” Holy crap, did Paula just say that? Mick and Steven should be insulted. Simon said it was brave and not karaoke-ish at all, Randy said Adam worked it out, and Kara said she can’t wait to see what Adam does each week. Next week I expect Paula to dress like a dog and start humping Adam’s leg.
Allison Iraheta dolled herself up like a rocker, complete with spiky hair and a weird dress. And she even played guitar a bit on No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak.” But it was not her best, and in fact Allison appeared to be trying too hard this time. Randy said she was ahead of the beat and he added, “What the hell are you wearing?” Kara said the outfit was distracting because the rocker girl comes out of her naturally, Paula said Allison’s vocal prowess rivals singers twice her age, and Simon said it was a bit precocious and shouty and that the outfit resembled something out of The Addams Family.
Matt Giraud positioned himself and his keyboard in the middle of the audience and sang The Fray’s recent hit, “You Found Me.” It wasn’t nearly as bad as when Matt sang Coldplay recently, but not his best either. Paula said Matt aborted what we love about him, namely the R&B side, and that it was a bit “soundalike”…actually that was a good take from Paula. Simon said he didn’t get it and that it sounded uptight, Randy said it was the wrong song but that he loves The Fray, and Kara said she likes that Matt keeps changing things up and that he still is talented enough to stick around a few weeks.
Lil Rounds took a big risk with Celine Dion’s “I Surrender.” I am not a Celine fan at all, but I respect her vocal ability big-time. And Lil is no Celine, which makes it maddening that she thought this was a smart choice. It wasn’t bad but clearly not Lil’s best. Randy said it wasn’t the right choice but that Lil sang it well, Kara said the choice surprised her, Paula said adult contemporary is not the right genre for Lil, and Simon said it was safe and almost like a wedding performance.
Anoop Desai kicked the night off, always a bad spot. But he didn’t help himself with a pretty bad version of Usher’s “Caught Up.” It was weird and not at all the right song choice. I know Anoop wanted to pick up the tempo after two weeks of ballads, but this was not good. Randy said it wasn’t the right song but that Anoop’s vocals were still pretty good, Kara said Anoop played it safe and she wondered if his frat boy friends dared him to pick the song (the frat boys were there shouting his name), Paula said it was a good vocal but not great stage presence, and Simon called it a complete and utter mess.
Megan Joy Corkrey sang Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” and she said in her pre-interview that she thought that the judges “would feel me this time.” Wrong, Megan. It was absolutely horrible. Kara said she likes Megan but that she could be in trouble this week, Paula said Megan needs to take everyone by surprise at this stage of the competition, Simon said it was boring, indulgent and monotonous, and Randy said it was like watching paint dry. Ouch, but very true. This is likely Megan’s plane ticket home, finally and mercifully.
So tonight is the results show and I don’t think they announced any big performances because there was no mentor this week for the contestants. Hmmm…I wonder what’s in store. But I can tell you that Anoop and Megan are guaranteed to be in the Bottom 3. Other candidates are Matt and maybe Lil. Otherwise I’m banking on Danny, Allison, Scott, Adam and Kris to all be safe. Now, I’m going to go download Danny’s and Kris’ performance on iTunes. I thought they were that good.
And can someone please tell me what the obsession is with Adam, particularly from Paula? I’m curious to see if anyone agrees with me or if I’m just a poor judge of talent. Anyway, see you tomorrow with the results!