Wednesday, April 29, 2009

American Idol Season 8
Top 5 Results

Bottom 3:
Matt Giraud
Kris Allen
Adam Lambert

Kris is safe!

Eliminated: Matt Giraud

We're down to the Top 5, and aside from Alexis Grace being the first finalist eliminated, we've had no shocks. So it's time to get America scared. And how do the producers do that? By making everyone think that Adam is actually in jeopardy of leaving. C'mon, ratings are down. Do you really think the producers are going to let their lightning in a bottle escape before the finale? No way! But they want to make sure you're not too bored to tune in for the next three weeks, thinking you already know who has won.

Ryan Seacrest tells us there were 47 million votes this week, the most they've had all season. He introduces the Ford commercial which features the Ford Fusion and is set to "Energy" by The Apples in Stereo. In actuality, the video has the least energy of any all season. It really looked like a commercial -- any commercial. Boring!

Watch video of Ford commercial set to "Energy"

Next was the Group Number. It was a medley of "It Don't Mean a Thing" (or, as Ryan called it, "I Don't Mean a Thing," which, perhaps, was what Matt was singing) and "I Got Rhythm." There wasn't much in the way of choreography, but the Top 5 sounded pretty good together.

Watch video of the Group Number, "It Don't Mean a Thing/I Got Rhythm"

Yet more video filler, which will push the show over by 6 minutes. It features the Top 5 making cakes for Danny Gokey and Allison Iraheta, who both celebrated their birthdays during the past week. Their gift from the producers voters this week will be that they are declared safe and not in the Bottom 3. Of course, a food fight erupts in the mansion, no doubt encouraged by the film crew. (Is it just us? We hate it when reality shows feature destruction in the mansions they rent. Why is frat house behavior considered acceptable behavior?) Ryan asks who started the food fight and all hands point toward Danny. Ryan hands Danny an envelope which, he says, contains "a gift for you, from all of us here." It is a $6,000 bill from the company that cleaned up the mansion after the food fight. Danny asks Ryan, "You mean 'American Idol' doesn't pay for this?" Ryan says, "Maybe we'll take care of it ... if you win." Is this a clue of what's to come?

Watch video of Idol mansion food fight

Speaking about Tuesday night's show, Simon Cowell says that when he watched it back he decided everybody was good and that it was the best show yet. Later, when the Bottom 3 is revealed, he will be chided by Ryan on how wrong his critiques were on Matt and Adam -- he loved both, whereas Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi had some issues with their performances.

It's time to get down to the results. We're playing the Top 7 game, but with five contestants. Ryan asks Matt to step to stage left, then Danny to stage right. Allison goes right, Kris left. Ryan asks Adam to pick which group he thinks he belongs in. Adam says, "I love everybody. Why'd you do that to me?" then "Based on last night?" Ryan says, "Sure." Adam turns right, and pointing to Allison and Danny, says, "Probably that group." Ryan sends Adam over to them, then joins him and says, "Adam, Allison and Danny, not your Bottom 3." Taking Adam by the arm, Ryan leads him over to Matt and Kris and says, "This is your Bottom 3." Shock! Dismay! Producers' fix! Actually, for our money, we think Matt, Kris and Adam deserved to be the Bottom 3. Allison and Danny look stunned as they are declared safe.Ryan asks the judges for their reactions. Paula says it's crazy, but someone has to go. Simon says it's not crazy, America has decided who they like and let's not take anything away from Allison and Danny, Randy says no matter what happens all five are unbelievably talented. Ryan says, "Kara, when I said that Adam was in the Bottom 3, I saw your jaw drop," something Kara says she always does when Adam performs. Uh-huh. Kara: "Yeah, my mouth went open again. That's what happens with Adam." Randy "coughs." Kara: "Yeah, I know. (laughs) You know what I mean, Randy." Yeah, Kara, only too well.

Later, for dramatic effect, Ryan will release Kris back to safety first.

Watch video of Matt, Kris and Adam becoming theBottom 3 and Kris being released back to safety

Performances, we've got (too many) performances. First, to evoke the week's theme, Natalie Cole sings "Something's Gotta Give," from her 2008 CD "Still Unforgettable." Lean, long and fit in a gold tunic dress, she looks fantastic, but is (sorry) occasional pitchy. In spite of her enthusiasm, the band is better than she is. So it goes.

Watch video of Natalie Cole singing "Something's Gotta Give"

Next up is returning Season 5 champion Taylor Hicks, singing "7 Mile Breakdown," the second release from his new CD, "The Distance." As with Cole, Taylor is looking long, lean and fabulous. His hair is short (a good idea), but he is trying to sneak in those Taylor bangs again (not a good idea). Although we loved the first release off "The Distance," we're not crazy about this one. But he sounds good and throws in a little harmonica. We can only imagine how Simon must be cringing. When he finishes, he gets a standing O from the audience and judges, including Simon, who, we're sure, did it out of courtesy only. Taylor can't get over the standing O from the judges, especially Simon. Their lack of love for one another is epic. Ryan asks Taylor to give advice to the finalists, and as he does, the camera pans back to Simon. The look of disgust on his face is priceless.

Watch video of Taylor Hicks singing "7 Mile Breakdown"

Finally, in what seems to be a tit-for-tat arrangement for his agreeing to "mentor" at the last minute, Jamie Foxx gets to perform "Blame It," his current No. 1 hip-hop release from his latest CD. Simon also calls him "my best friend" as Ryan introduces him. Hmmm, now that's an interesting friendship.

Watch video of Jamie Foxx singing "Blame It"

It's time for the moment of, ahem, "truth." Matt or Adam, Adam or Matt? Seriously. OMG, it's Matt! Who would have guessed? Er, everybody. For one teeny, tiny second Adam does a real good job of trying to convince us he thinks it's him when Ryan says his name first. Heh, nice acting skills, Lambert. We watch Matt's journey video, he sings "My Funny Valentine" again. It starts out a thousand times better than Tuesday night and with great phrasing, then plunges into horrible pitchiness as he tries to riff. But Matt pulls it back in time for a killer ending. Then Ryan inexplicably and intentionally stretches the show an extra two minutes talking with the judges and discussing next week's theme and guest mentor. Running out of things to say, he even plugs the local news, all this when the program is already 5 minutes into OT. If that wasn't intentional, what is?

Watch video of Matt Giraud being eliminated

Next week, the theme is rock 'n' roll, with guest mentor Slash from Guns N’ Roses. On Wednesday, Daughtry performs a song from their new album. Gwen Stefani returns to the Idol stage with No Doubt to perform as well.

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© 2009

American Idol Season 8
Top 5 Jazz Standards Week

We were so looking forward to this week's theme, originally announced as, to quote the Fox press prelease, "standards made famous by members of the original Rat Pack, a group of legendary performers that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr." By the time the show aired on Tuesday, Ryan Seacrest announced that the finalists would be singing "songs from the Rat Pack era." Hmmm, not quite the same theme. In fact, the music really even fit the second set of parameters. The Rat Pack era is generally recognized as the mid 1960s, while this week's music was popularized from the '20s to the '50s. In fact, only "Feeling Good," sung by Adam Lambert actually came from the correct era. Fittingly for Adam, the song was introduced in the 1965 Broadway musical "The Roar of the Greasepaint — the Smell of the Crowd."

Which is not to say we don't like the genre. In fact, we would have liked to have heard more of it -- as in twice as much -- like in previous years, when the Top 5 sang two songs each. Because the producers added a fourth judge this season, and because those judges' comments can't be reined in effectively by the show's director, what has been sacrificed is performance time. We don't know about you, but we'd much rather hear two songs by each finalist than watch useless videos and listen to inane comments by Kara DioGuardi.

Finally, it needs to be asked: With the huge catalog of jazz standards that exists, can't the producers take a teeny tiny piece of their gazillions of dollars to buy the rights to more of them? Five contestants, five songs and every single one of them is a retread from seasons past:

David Radford and Jasmine Trias sang "The Way You Look Tonight"
Katharine McPhee and Diana DeGarmo sang "Someone to Watch Over Me"
Melinda Doolittle and Constantine Maroulis sang "My Funny Valentine"
Katharine McPhee sang "Come Rain or Come Shine"
A.J. Tabaldo and Leslie Hunt sang "Feeling Good"

C'mon, give us a break.

This week's guest mentor is Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, Rod Stewart Jamie Foxx. Color us confused, 'cause we're not quite sure what Foxx has to do with standards, other than he won as Oscar for playing Ray Charles, who occasionally sang them. To his credit, since playing Charles, Foxx has recorded two albums, but they're R&B/hip-hop albums, not standards. To be generous, even when his music spills over into R&B, Foxx's voice is similar to and no better than Anoop Desai's.

Watch video of Jamie Foxx arriving at the Idol mansion

The mentor choice seemed rather last minute, first because it wasn't announced in advance by the network, and second because it would seem that the contestants only met with Foxx on the same day the show aired. Kris Allen in his intro video, says, "I'm going to be singing 'The Way You Look Tonight,' tonight," suggesting the video segment was shot Tuesday. He is then seen wearing the same exact clothes when he meets and sings for Foxx. We're guessing Kris has more than one outfit. If the finalists only met with Foxx yesterday, wouldn't that kind of be after-the-fact mentoring?

Foxx loved Kris' rendition, saying that Allen wasn't trying to sing "the throat Olympics" and that he'd do a record with him. Jamie tells Kris, "You're my No. 1" and "if this whole thing doesn't work out, we can do something, my man." Kris' vocals were tender and good, though not great or especially memorable. With little or no segue, he suddenly and disconcertingly went uptempo midway through the song, then resumed the slow tempo near the end. Frankly, the whole performance would have benefited from being more uptempo. Randy Jackson calls this Kris' best performance to date (not), saying "You took your time, you told a story, you had some R&B stylings. Mad, nice vocals, baby." Kara tells him, "You have set the technical standard so incredibly high" with his impeccable phrasing, his diction, his rhythms, his timing and his unique approach to the song, ending with, "You are truly a dark horse in this competition." Paula Abdul calls the performance "near impeccable." Simon Cowell is, thankfully, not quite as enthusiastic. "I thought it was good, I'm not quite as enthusiastic as these three, only because I thought it was a little bit wet." Huh? He continues: "You're like taking a very well-training spaniel for a walk. It's going to safe, it's going to be quite nice, but I didn't think it was incredible. I don't get the feeling from you tonight that you can win this competition." Asked by Ryan what he means by "wet," Simon says, "not dry." Ryan: "Thanks for clearing it up." It won't be the only bizarre appraisal by Simon tonight, who will sound as if he's begun drinking from Paula's Coke cup.

Watch video of Kris Allen singing "The Way You Look Tonight"

For us, the most pleasant surprise of the evening comes from Allison Iraheta. Who thought the raspy-voiced, magenta-haired little rocker girl (who turned 17 on Monday) could do such a lovely job on "Someone to Watch Over Me"? It was she, not Kris, who had impeccable phrasing with her heartfelt rendition. She connected to her song and we connected to her. It was one of her best performances and she looks sensational with extensions in her hair, wearing a beautiful black-and-white cocktail-length dress. Randy tells her "You come out looking like Brittany Murphy, looking dope. You sing like Pink, but like with 9,000 more octaves ... Dude, I don't care what nobody tells you, that was da bomb, and you did it in your own kind of rough, kind of gruff kind of style and I loved it." Kara: "You converted some new fans tonight. You are not a one-trick pony. You are not just some rock chick. That was a gut-wrenching deep emotional way-beyond-your years rendition. And if that doesn't land you in the finals, I don't know what will." Paula says she's been waiting so long to hear how Allison would approach a ballad. "What you delivered tonight had an innocent sensibility that was both alluring and very tender. I'm really proud of you." Simon, who seems determined to bring the mood down for Allison, as he did with Kris, begins with, "Allison do you think you can win this competition at this stage?" She probably doesn't, but she probably thinks she shouldn't be eliminated yet, either. After a pause, she stands up to him and says (unconvincingly), "You know I can. I think all of us have that chance right now." Simon says, "I don't feel that belief in you, still." He tells her it was a great performance and it was great hearing her sing a song like that but that maybe she's just been overshadowed by some of the personalities, ending with, "I have a horrible feeling you could be in trouble tonight." The whole critique seems to have the agenda of bursting Allison's bubble. What is Simon up to?

Watch video of Allison Iraheta singing "Someone to Watch Over Me"

Although this genre should belong to Matt Giraud, we knew that if he didn't shine most brightly with his performance, his light would probably flicker and die. Sadly, it's time to blow out Matt's candle of hope. His version of "My Funny Valentine," has some nice riffs, but it is pitchy from the start. Vocally and emotionally it doesn't even measure up to Constantine Maroulis' rendition, much less Melinda Doolittle's iconic one. It is the night's weakest number. Randy says it's one of the hardest songs to sing ever, but that it was a little bit pitchy and that some of the runs landed right, but others didn't. "It didn't all quite come together for me. I'd give it like a 6 out of 10." Kara says that she doesn't feel that Matt was emotionally connected to the song (Matt protests "I was") and that's what she was missing most of all. Paula says, "I love what you did with the song ... I felt the emotional connection ... it was pure, simple and really impressive. I think you did an excellent job tonight." Simon agrees with ... Paula! "For me, it was the only believable, authentic song I've heard tonight (has he been asleep?). I can tell that you love the music and I heard almost Nat 'King' Cole type of phrasing (whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?) there. I thought you were absolutely brilliant." We're not buying this at all. Cowell is definitely up to something. He's definitely trying to have an effect on the voting. But what?

Watch video of Matt Giraud singing "My Funny Valentine"

We actually weren't expecting too much from Danny Gokey this week, but for our money, he slightly edged out Allison with the most effective performance of the night with "Come Rain or Come Shine." His bluesy version of the number has a slow build but is an emotional wowza by the end. But though he looks very hot and Robert Downey-ish in rehearsal with Foxx, we hate the way he has shaved off the bristle into a largish soul patch for the live performance. Yuck. Randy says, "You are the only one who I've heard so far tonight who can actually have an album of songs like that and win. ... This is a singing competition and YOU CAN SING!!!" Kara says, "Danny, what I've been missing from you all season is that Rat Pack swaaaagger. And you had swag tonight. I mean, the end of that performance -- that was the most creative you've ever been with a melody. It was un-be-liev-able." Paula calls it a stellar, stellar performance. "And the best thing about you, Danny, is that I can tell that you can see the finish line right in front of you. Way to go." Simon: "What Kara said is 100% right. What you had tonight was a swagger and a confidence. ... I felt tonight you came out to prove a point. ... That was outstanding." Cowell also complimented Rickey Minor on the arrangement, which he called superb.

Watch video of Danny Gokey singing "Come Rain or Come Shine"

Wearing his "Saturday Night Fever" suit, which would have been a much better fit for Disco Week, Adam Lambert predictably goes over the top with a very theatrical version of "Feeling Good," that is largely borrowed from Muse's 2001 rendition. The best part involves Lambert's model-ish amble down Ryan's Stairway to Heaven, in what Simon calls the "best entrance we've had of the year so far." We knew Adam would try to rock out standards night, just as he tried to slow down disco night. When the rest of the Idol ship is tacking to starboard, Adam's sails are shifting to port and vice versa. The vocals are standard Adam: They range from sweet tenderness to near caterwauling. The drama queen's performance was good, but not the best of the night. We're beginning to think he peaked too early and is starting to lose steam. As they say on "Dancing With the Stars," it's not where you started, but where you end. Randy says "It was a little theatrical, a little too drama-filled, a little too Broadway for me, but you are in the zone consistently, dude. Another good performance." Kara calls him shocking in a good way. "Confusing and shocking and sleazy. Superb and way over the top. I don't know. I like you. Craziness!" Paula says, "You make me feel better than good. With every performance I see, it's like watching the Olympics and you're our Michael Phelps." Simon, laughing, says, "I love Randy talking about you being theatrical. It's like complaining that a cow moos. Well, that's what he is. I'll tell you what I love about this competition this year, is that normally every year we have people bleating on about how winning isn't important, etc., etc. Well, winning is important. And what I get from you, and from Adam (um, think he means Danny) and from some of the other competitors, in fact all of them actually, no, three of them actually (Adam, Danny and Matt?) is the feeling that you want to win. And you want to prove a point every week. And you want to entertain. And that's why I like the show this year." Which is amazing, since Cowell has looked bored out of his mind most of this season.

Watch video of Adam Lambert singing "Feeling Good"

This week, the voters had some trouble deciding who they like the most. According to, only a tic over a percentage point separates the Top 3: Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta. Kris trails Allison by about two points and Matt trails Kris by about the same amount. But none of the finalists seem to have a definitive edge, so it's anyone's guess who the producers decide gets eliminated tonight. DialIdol says any of the five could finish first or fifth. The season could be heading for a very unpredictable finish.

Our Top 2:
Danny Gokey
Allison Iraheta/Adam Lambert (tie)

Our Bottom 2:
Matt Giraud
Kris Allen

Should be eliminated: Matt Giraud
Will be eliminated: Matt Giraud

Tonight, Season 5 Idol champion Taylor Hicks performs "Seven Mile Breakdown" from his new CD, "The Distance." We've also read that Paula said Natalie Cole will be performing tonight.

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© 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

American Idol Season 8
Top 7 Disco Week Results

Because of the Judges Save being used last week, two contestants are eliminated tonight.

Lil Rounds

Bottom Two:
Anoop Desai
Allison Iraheta


Anoop Desai

Tonight no time is wasted. No extraneous filler, unless you consider the regularly scheduled features filler, as we do. Everyone we know would prefer a 30-minute results show. Everyone. We once again have the opening collage sequence of snippets of judges opinions and comments from the contestants.

Watch video of Opening Sequence

Paula Abdul choreographed the group number, set to Michael Jackson's "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)." We first view a video of La Abdul putting her students through their paces. During the live number, the kids totally lip-sync as they try to reproduce the most difficult choreography to date in a group number. They make the "Dancing With the Stars" celebs look like masterful pros. For a bunch of kids, very few of them have any dancing chops.

Ryan Seacrest
has La Abdul take the stage. She's wearing a ridiculously short and shiny mini dress that barely -- just barely -- covers her genitalia. Plus, the scoop neck is cut down to there. Nearly 47, she's still got the hot body for this number, but is about 20 years past her prime for wearing it. Ryan and the kids present her with a big bouquet of flowers. The kids all say, "Love you Paula," as they kiss her. Sounds totally insincere and rehearsed, heh. Anoop doesn't come down to kiss her quickly enough, so she summons him with her finger. Paula gives the audience the royal wave holding her bouquet. She is totally smiling. Nothing makes Paula happier than moments that are all about her. She tells Ryan she had so little time to work with the kids, they must be mad at her for working them so hard. She asks "Were you mad at me?" Oh course, there's a chorus of "no's." Maybe Lil and Anoop would have yelled "yes" if they knew what was coming.

Watch video of Group Number "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)"

The Ford commercial is set to Lykke Li's ironically titled "I'm Good, I'm Gone," a little inside producers' joke perhaps?

Watch video of Ford commercial "I'm Good, I'm Gone"

And the eliminations begin. Ryan asks Lil to stand, then tells her he can see it in her eyes how badly she wants this. At this point, does she really? She knows she can't win and she gets hammered each week with how she hasn't shown them what kind of artist she wants to be. Isn't it just easier to go home to your family and wait out the tour? Ryan then says, "We need someone like you in this competition," followed by telling her to walk to the far side of the stage. Guess they don't need her that badly if she's in the Bottom 3. Ryan says Lil has three kids and is one of the most courageous contestants, never afraid to speak her mind, and then, in the blink of an eye, Ryan tells her that her journey is over. No Bottom 3. Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. It was so brutally quick, it was almost worse than the torture games, which leave you a smidgen of hope that you're safe. Ryan: "Ladies and gentlemen, that is it for her." Lil sings, then Ryan asks Randy Jackson what advice he would give her. It's the standard "It's just the beginning, baby" blather. Next Ryan goes to Simon Cowell, who has a revealing slip of the tongue: "Well, you know, I was a huge, I still am actually, a massive fan of you." Uh-huh.

Watch video of Lil Rounds being eliminated

After that punch to the gut, it's time for some happy disco music! First up is guest performer Freda Payne, who takes the stage to sing "Band of Gold" (1970), a song that technically preceded the disco era, which most people agree started in 1973. It is a painful performance to watch. Payne looks OK in her slightly too tight gold glittery gown, but her 66-year-old voice is shot and she has trouble with breath control while singing. She even looks like she's going to fall a couple of times. We loved this song in its day, but, please don't stop the music. She has trouble finding enough breath to introduce Thelma Houston, who, at nearly 63, still has it going on, though her long dress has a weird too short front, as if two different versions were sewn together. Regardless, considering her age, she does herself proud with "Don't Leave Me This Way," sung to Simon. Next up is KC (Harry Wayne Casey) from KC and the Sunshine Band, who, at 58, is a mere baby compared with the ladies who preceded him. He proves his voice is pretty much shot with "Get Down Tonight." Looking like a paunchy, balding grandpa down at his local bar doing karaoke, he barely moves while four skanky backup singer-dancers (including one older overweight one with the fakest looking globular tits we've ever seen -- they're even worse than Paula's) prance around him. But you know what? We still enjoyed it. What can we say? We're a child of the era and have fond memories.

Watch video of Freda Payne singing "Band of Gold"; Thelma Houston singing "Don't Leave Me This Way"; KC singing "Get Down Tonight"

Whew! It's time for more bloodletting. Ryan goes back to the couches. Kris Allen stands and is safe, likewise Adam Lambert, and, of course, Danny Gokey, though Ryan lets Danny sweat a little before letting him off the hook. Remember, Lil came in No. 1 on, yet was eliminated, so no one is feeling absolutely safe. Ryan goes to the back row and asks Anoop to stand. Ryan gets right to the point -- Anoop is taking the now-familiar death walk to the stools yet again. Only Allison and Matt Giraud are left. One is in the Bottom 2/3, the other safe. Most everyone we know thinks Matt should be eliminated, but how would that look after the judges wasted the save on him last week? So, it really comes as no surprise -- except to Matt -- when he is told he is safe. Allison joins Anoop onstage. As she the approaches the stools and Anoop, she sings, "Here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again." At least she has a sense of humor about it.

Watch video of Anoop Desai and Allison Iraheta in the Bottom 2/3

It's time for another breather, so last season's runner-up, David Archuleta, takes the stage to perform -- still with his eyes closed -- "Touch My Hand." It's not his best song and is it just us? Or does he not sound too terrific? We seem to remember him having a much richer voice last year. Maybe it's just exhaustion. Afterwards, he chats with Ryan and gives encouragement to Anoop and Allison.

Watch video of David Archuleta singing "Touch My Hand"

Finally, it's what the "Idol" producers like to (loosely) call "The Moment of Truth." Anyone who still believes that Anoop is safe at this point is totally deluding themselves. No way the producers are going to dump both remaining girls and have an all-male Top 5. Jeez, even Anoop knows that. So, of course, Allison is safe and Anoop sings his swan song. The producers don't even give Lil and Anoop separate journey videos -- they have to share one. So much for their personal archives. Anoop thanks the vocal coaches and Lil, graciously, thanks the judges. It's a wrap.

Watch video of Anoop Desai being eliminated

On Tuesday, the Top 5 perform standards made famous by members of the original Rat Pack, which included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Wow, that's our kind of music. We're going to loving on that theme. It seems tailor made for Matt (and his Sinatra hat), even though he would seem to be the most likely to be eliminated next.

And speaking of tailor, er, Taylor made, on Wednesday, Season 5 winner (and a personal favorite of ours) Taylor Hicks returns to "Idol" to sing his latest release, "Seven Mile Breakdown" from his new CD The Distance.

One final thought: Next week, will each contestant, as has been done in previous seasons, sing one song or two? Can they fit 10 songs into the scheduled 1 hr. 1 min. show? It's going to be interesting.

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© 2009

American Idol Season 8
Top 7 (Again) Disco Week

It's Disco Week on "American Idol," and though we expected train wrecks, what we mostly got was boredom. More than half of the contestants seemed so afraid of doing a disco beat that they dramatically rearranged their music. Except for the lyrics, some of the songs were so melodically different from the originals, they could have been given new titles (yes, we're talking about you, Adam). So while the producers might call this disco because the songs all came from the '70s, there was very little performance-wise that evoked the excitement of that era's music or the vibe of mirror balls, fringe, spangles and Studio 54 (or, in Kara's case, Studio 57). When did the "Born to Be Alive" genre turn into emo, slit-your-wrist music?

This week, the pre-performance videos were eliminated and all four judges got to critique the contestants. And except in one case (for Kris Allen), Randy starts all the critiques and the judges go straight down the table as they've done in seasons past.

It's become obvious that the producers are so over Lil Rounds and want to make quick work of eliminating her. But the joke is on them. The harder they try, and the worse she performs, the more votes she gets, at least according to We laughed when we saw she wound up in 1st Place(!) in spite of getting the death position (going first) and giving a barely acceptable vocal. In our opinion, she deserves to be one of the two getting the boot tonight. Though DialIdol is declaring no one clearly safe this week (which means the producers will have free rein to eliminate the two of their own choosing and still look legit) and though they've wrong in the past, no one has ever come in first on and been eliminated. Some online commenters are suggesting that the show's producers have found a way to successfully tamper with DialIdol's busy signal rate, the way in which they calculate the number of votes each contestant is receiving. We don't know who dialed and texted for Lil (though we suspect Vote for the Worst came out en masse), but we couldn't wait for her frequently painful rendition of Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman" to end. Yet, if Allison, who finished dead last on DialIdol, does get eliminated tonight, Lil's song title could become a ghastly reality. Randy Jackson says that Lil still didn't show them what kind of artist she is and what she can do in the competition. Kara DioGuardi says that all of America has been waiting for her to sing Chaka Khan but she's not sure if it was worth the wait, telling Lil she's been every woman on that stage -- every other woman except herself. Paula Abdul defends Lil and says the day before she had no voice and was on complete vocal rest, but adds that though Lil was hot, she didn't hit the boiling point. Simon Cowell says, "Oh, Lil, you look so sad." She tries to answer him, telling him she had fun performing, but he cuts her off with, "Sweetheart, I'm glad you had fun, because I think this is going to be the last week that we see you. I do. I do. I'll tell you why, because there was no originality, it was very copycat, the arrangement, your vocals were a mess and I absolutely believe this is your final shot. Sorry." Well, Simon, it might be you (and us) who is sorry instead.

Watch video of Lil Rounds singing "I'm Every Woman"

Kris Allen has one of those useless Coke chats with Ryan Seacrest, explaining that he chose Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money," because it's a story song about a, er, woman, who, er, works hard for her money. Ryan sarcastically thanks Kris for clearing that up for us. Kris is the first contestant to really change up a song, playing acoustic guitar with a couple of other acoustic instrumentalists. He gives the song, as Paula correctly points out, a Santana feel. We like the arrangement, though it feels nothing like, or even near, disco. Kara tells Kris that he took a risk with the arrangement, but that it paid off big time, saying it sounded like it could go on his record and she has to give him props. Paula tries to use the analogy that a lot of women are known to shop in the men's department but there aren't many men who are willing to shop in the woman's department (ahem, Danny has shopped the woman's department all season, Paula)."I must tell you, you shopped and found a perfect fit. It not only showed your originality, but it showed us why you're a contender in this competition." Simon, who can't stop laughing at Paula's remarks, says, "You know what? I actually need a translator on this show. I don't understand it." Paula starts breaking in with, "He's known to shop in the women's department -- La Perla." Simon: "Are you saying he buys ladies underwear?" Paula: "No, I'm saying you do." Simon: "Sorry, Kris, I have no idea what that meant." Paula starts butting in again, and Simon actually pushes and sssshs her. Simon to Kris: "Kris, that was a complete polar opposite to the first performance. Insomuch as it was original, it was well thought out. That was not karaoke ... it was a fantastic performance." Randy says "You are ready for the Big Time, dawg, because you know who you are. You perform great. You pick great arrangements. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing."

Watch video of Kris Allen singing "She Works Hard for the Money"

Danny Gokey, thankfully back in glasses, works the crowd and the stage with Earth, Wind and Fire's "September," changing it up a bit, but at least maintaining a disco vibe. For that alone we thank him. It's a nice if forgettable performance, but, once again, he has the audience and, except for Simon, the judges in the palm of his hand. For us, Danny has a great white soul voice and gives a solid performance every time out, but we've seen no growth in him since the beginning of the season. He started out good -- and stayed there. There haven't been any bad performances, but, unlike Adam, there haven't been any meteoric ones, either. Randy says that Danny turned the song into something that really worked for him, adding "good job, good job." Kara says she was worried about Danny on disco night, that "it was sort of like asking Simon to wear a plaid shirt or something." But, she says, he is an incredible vocalist and his pitch is right on -- always. She calls it another solid performance but says she is concerned that the audience will remember it by the end of the night. Honestly, we didn't. Paula says that instead of changing the song, Danny showed his vocal agility and brilliance, and that she thinks he has one of the sexiest voices ever, adding "And I think women of all ages will agree." Simon says he pretty much agrees with what the other judges said. "You can't fault the vocals, the arrangement was interesting. As a performance, though, I didn't really get any star power from that," says Simon. "Because at this stage, that's when you've got to start doing something special, and I thought the performance, overall, was a bit awkward and a bit clumsy." Paula yells out, "I'll still see you in the finals!"

Watch video of Danny Gokey singing "September"

Allison Iraheta is a tried and true rocker. She gives everything a rock vibe, even disco. She starts off Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff," from a sitting position, giving it a slow, growly edge. We wait patiently for the beat to pick up, especially when Allison stands up after the line, "almost rang the phone off the wall." But to our disappointment, even though the music picks up a beat, the vocal never does. And that is the performance's biggest flaw -- it just kind of lays there, dead. It also must be said that Allison has a big enunciation problem. Though her phrasing is always dead on, many of the words are inarticulate. But we like the tousled look of her hair this week, so much better than when it looks like a helmet head. Randy calls the arrangement over-indulgent (this season's favorite judge criticism), but emphasizes that Allison is one of the best singers in the competition, so even though he didn't love the arrangement, he loves her. Kara says making the arrangment slower hurt the performance, but that Allison picked the right song and she deems the vocal portion a 9-10. Paula doesn't mind the arrangment, says compromise does not exist in Allison's vocabulary and that speaks to her authenticity. She adds that the last note of the song was off the charts. Simon says that Allison was always going to come into this week as an underdog, but that taking everything into account, it was a brilliant performance. It's so obvious that the producers he wants Allison to stay and Lil to go, overpraising one and ultra-slamming the other. Will their his wish be granted? It's doubtful, if the results are reported honestly.

Watch video of Allison Iraheta singing "Hot Stuff"

It's Adam Lambert's turn and, like the rest of America, we're waiting to see what he's going to sing and how he's going to sing it. We figure it's going to be slow and plaintive, both because of the suit (more than any other contestant, this musical-theater vet understands the importance of dressing for the role he's playing) and slicked back hair (which is so high and Eddie Munster-ish this week it looks ridiculous) and because he sang a fast, frenetic song last week. The one consistent thing about Adam is he seems to alternate fast and slow performances. In his Coke interview, he tells Ryan he's singing Yvonne Elliman's (or the Bee Gees) "If I Can't Have You," because he wants to sing something he can relate to emotionally. OK, we would have thought maybe Kris would sing that, but Adam can sing pretty much anything. Although we can't fault the quality of the vocals, the song melodically is unrecognizable. Talk about self-indulgent! We're not loving it, but we're obviously in the minority. Whatever happened to the judges saying when you have a simple, beautiful melody line, you don't need to change it up? The audience and Paula give Adam a standing O. Randy says, "Dude, you are ready right now. You have it, major league, going on. He's the hot one tonight, America!" "Adam, you're brilliant. I don't know what else to say," says Kara, and then goes on to talk more than any other judge. She calls this his most memorable performance, says he looks like "the guy from 'Saturday Night Live' (OMG, did Miss Studio 57 mean "Saturday Night Fever"???) meets Clark Kent' " and swooningly tells him that the way he connects with his emotions is inspiring. While Simon makes amusing faces as she critiques, Paula tells Adam she felt his pain and vulnerability, "as if you tore your heart out and left it on the stage." She also calls him fascinating, awesome and brilliant and says "you will be in the finals." Simon says, "I would have put $10,000 that you would have done Donna Summer, but that's what so good about you. You did something that we weren't expecting. But once again, what I loved about this performance was, it was original -- never ever heard that song sung like that before. Most importantly, you're going to remember it. And even more important, the vocals were immaculate. Congratulations." After the tongue bath by the judges, Adam, always the gentleman, thanks Michael Orland, the show's arranger and associate musical director, for helping him come up with the arrangement, calling Orland a genius.

Watch video of Adam Lambert singing "If I Can't Have You"

As if they're trying to doom him no matter how good he is (and he isn't), the producers once again curse Matt Giraud by positioning him right after Adam, as they did last week. This unenviable spot is not helped by his uninspired and boringly karaoke version of the Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive" -- something Giraud won't be doing after that performance. Especially after the judges inexplicably wasted their one save of the season on him last week. Randy "didn't love the song choice, didn't love the arrangement," but tells Matt he can really sing. Jackson then goes on to say that this group of seven kids is one of the most talented they've ever had on the show. Is he kidding? Add the word "least" before talented and he would have nailed it. This group competes with -- and maybe beating -- Season 6 in that esteem-less category. Kara says Matt brought disco back. Too bad he didn't do it in a good way, Kara. She then less enthusiastically adds that his vocals were good and it was a solid performance. Paula tells Matt that he picks songs like she bowls: "sometimes you throw gutter balls and sometimes you get strikes. And this was a strike." Er, no. Analogy correct, choice wrong. Gutter ball from the release. Continuing with her incorrect appraisal, she says, "Last week the judges saved your life. Tonight, after this performance, you saved your own life. You are staying." Simon tells Matt he didn't like the performance because it came over as a bit desperate, the vocals weren't great and there was no originality.

Watch video of Matt Giraud singing "Stayin' Alive"

In the pimp spot, though not deserving it (actually, no one did this week), is Anoop Desai, who looked killer this week with his pretty-in-pink sweater, a new haircut and some facial hair. Actually, it was around this time last season when David Cook started sprouting facial hair and we also noticed Danny had some extra growth. We're guessing this is a routine "Idol" stylist suggestion -- but hey, it works. Anoop chose another Donna Summer classic, "Dim All the Lights," and put his R&B spin on it. It wasn't bad, in fact the vocals were among Anoop's best, but the song ended before it ever had a chance to take off. Randy says it was a little bit of a rough last note and he didn't love the arrangement, but that Anoop, like the Matt, can sing. Gee, isn't that why he's there? Randy ends with, "Anoop. Nice, baby. Nice." Kara says it is a great song choice and really liked the beat, saying that she thought it could be on the radio. She tells Anoop that the past two weeks were his best performances and that he's really hitting his stride. Paula tells him he looks fantastic and "real men know how to wear pink." She also tells him he has beautiful teeth and to smile more. And, yes, she liked his vocals, too. Simon says he completely disagrees with the other judges. "That was mediocre at best. Sorry. I prayed that the tempo wasn't going to come in. It did. It was a horrible version of that song. And in my opinion, genuinely, that was your worst performance by a mile. It really was." Nope, we couldn't disagree more.

Watch video of Anoop Desai singing "Dim All the Lights"

Our Top Three (we didn't love anyone this week):
Danny Gokey
Adam Lambert
Kris Allen

Our Bottom Three:

Matt Giraud
Lil Rounds
Allison Iraheta

Should Be Eliminated:

Matt Giraud
Lil Rounds

Will Be Eliminated:
Lil Rounds
Anoop Desai

Tonight, the group number is choreographed by Paula. Musical guests include David Archuleta, and Harry Wayne "KC" Casey (of KC and the Sunshine Band), Thelma Houston and Freda Payne will sing a medley of their hits, "Get Down Tonight," "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "Band of Gold."

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© 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Top 7 Results

Bottom 3:
Anoop Desai
Lil Rounds
Matt Giraud

Anoop is safe
Lil is safe

NO ONE! The judges use their save to keep Matt in the competition. Next week, two contestants go home.

OK, no real surprise this week. Sure the Judges Save was employed, but even though Ryan Seacrest said there were two more weeks to use it, that was a lie Idolspeak. There was no way the producers were going to allow the save to be used next week. If they did, on the show when there are supposed to be five finalists left, there would be six (with two being eliminated that week). But that is the first week when each contestant has to sing two songs instead of one. If the director can't bring a one-hour show in on time with 7 songs, do you think they really want to go for 12? It'll be funny enough to see how they'll squeeze 10 songs into an hour. And they can't extend "Idol" to 90 minutes that week, since Fox is committed to six weeks of one-hour "Fringe" episodes.

A very savvy friend with music- and TV-industry ties told us that these overruns are not accidental. They are, in fact, planned in order to boost the ratings numbers for "Fringe." As soon as "Idol" overruns into "Fringe's" time slot, we've all become viewers of "Fringe" for that week. I believe this to be true because "Idol's" show content is not really overrunning its time slot. Consider: This week, the combined critique times for both judges was less than 2 minutes for each contestant. The videos, performances and interviews all stayed within their normally allotted times. Then how could the show go over? We suspect that Fox is invisibly extending the show by lengthening each commercial break. A one-hour show is allowed 18 minutes of advertising time. But if a show is scheduled for 1:01, as "Idol" was this week, can the producers now cut into the 18 minutes of advertising allotted to the next hour? To get around it legally, all they need do is shorten the commercial breaks during "Fringe" so that the advertising minutes equal 36 for the combined two hours. Clever, no? Perhaps not, if Fox starts losing both the viewers who record "Idol" and miss those important last minutes, or those who decide that watching the beginning of "The Mentalist" is more important than seeing the end of "Idol." Only time will tell.

Seacrest said there were 36 million votes this week. That's two million more than last week, when the show had its ridiculously long overrun. Still, it the same total they had for the two weeks prior to last week. Which means that "Idol" has not increased its voter total in the past month. That can't be a good sign as the competition rolls into its final month.

This week's opening melange of clips of Tuesday's show was way too artsy-fartsy. Either the producers got carried away or they let Quentin Tarantino make a video mess. If this is what they're going to start doing, let's roll back to the boring highlights reel instead.

The Ford video, set to the J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame" featured Matt at a newsstand where all the magazine covers featured the finalists' singing. Haven't they used this idea before? In fact, wasn't it just last season? Oh. Wait. That was CD covers in a music store. Ooooo, big difference.

Watch video of the Ford commercial set to "Freeze Frame"

Next came the group number, "Maniac," from the film "Flashdance." This has to be a new "Idol" record: Finding the only song where every single finalist sounded lousy during their solo, heh. Singing together as a group wasn't nearly as awful, but even Adam Lambert sounded bad during the solos. Paula Abdul said during a radi broadcast this week that she is choreographing next week's group disco number. Let's hope it's better than this.

Watch video of Group Number "Maniac"

It's time for Ryan's rehearsed impromptu chat with the finalists. They talk about working with mentor Tarantino and then about how exciting it was to go to the red-carpet premiere of "17 Again," starring Zac Efron and Matthew Perry. After the clip, Ryan introduces Efron, who is sitting in the audience. He thanks the contestants for attending the premiere. As if ...

Watch video of finalists attending "17 Again" premiere

Finally, it's time for the results. And, surprise! They're not playing the accustomed seven finalists left game -- dividing the contestants into two groups of three of making someone who is safe pick the group of three who is also safe. Instead, it's the traditional approach. Allison Iraheta is safe (yea!), as is Adam. But poor Anoop, who did so well this week, is told that he is the Bottom 3 for the third time. Sigh.

Watch video of Anoop Desai in the Bottom 3

Before the eliminations continue, Oscar and Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson graces the "Idol" stage (in a precorded segment) for the first time since she got the boot during Season 3. After a video tribute, she sings her current single, "If This Isn’t Love." She looks fab-u-lous. Truth be told, we don't love the song, but we love, love, love her voice. Her vocals put most -- if not all -- of the Season 8 finalists to shame. And she didn't even come close to winning Season 3 -- though she should have. We still remember the night she got the axe: Hudson, Fantasia and La Toya London in the Bottom 3, while John Stevens, George Huff, Diana DeGarmo and Jasmine Trias sat safely on the bleachers. It caused Elton John to declare the United States racist and perpetrated death threats against John Stevens.

Watch video of Jennifer Hudson singing "If This Isn’t Love"

Ryan asks Anoop if he's surprised to be in the Bottom 3. Of course he is, after the judges told him how good he was the night before. And in the next few minutes, we'll begin to wonder whether he really did place there, or whether the producers are playing their Bottom 3 games again. Kris Allen and Lil are asked to stand and Ryan says one of them is safe, the other in the Bottom 3. Simon Cowell interjects to say that they didn't get to critique Kris last night, but he wants to let Kris know that he was brilliant. Logic dictates that the loser in this duo is Kris, but Lil is told she's in the Bottom 3. Now we're sure the fix is in, since Kris placed dead last on for two straight weeks, yet didn't even land in the Bottom 3, much less get eliminated. Meanwhile, Lil placed second from the top, right after Danny on DialIdol on Tuesday, more than likely due to her nasty little exchange with Simon. Again, notice that Ryan never says that either Anoop or Lil received the lowest vote totals.

Danny Gokey and Matt are left and told to stand. Ryan tries to do a head trip on Danny and make him think he's in the Bottom 3. Not even our dogs believed that. Matt has the look of a hanged man and he's right, especially after Kris was given a pass. Ryan assembles the Bottom 3 and tells them that one is going to be released to safety. We mutter "Anoop, Anoop, Anoop" are breathe a sigh of relief when he is told to go to the couches. Of course, he's not going to win, but of the three onstage, he most deserves to not be there.

Watch video of Lil Rounds and Matt Giraud in the Bottom 3

And it's time for a headache musical interlude. Miley Cyrus is live in the studio to sing "The Climb," from "Hannah Montana: The Movie." Good thing she never tried out for "Idol." Between her lack of enunciation and nasally whiny voice she probably wouldn't have made it past the audition stage. It must be good to have a daddy in the biz to keep you from having an achy breaky heart (and supply you with boyfriends). And BTW, how much does that crystal mic stand cost?

Watch video of Miley Cyrus singing "The Climb"

Simon says the judges might consider saving one person and that person would probably be surprised. Ryan asks, "So it would be Lil?" and Simon tells him let's wait and see. And it's time for the moment of "truth," a word thrown around very loosely on "Idol." Lil is safe. Matt has to sing for his life. The performance is not great. Vocally, it might be a tad better than Tuesday, but without the piano, it resonates less, if at all. Paula and Kara DioGuardi (who never want to eliminate anyone) dance through the performance. Ryan chats up Matt while the judges talk about dinner deliberate. The audience begins to loudly chant "Save Matt! Save Matt!" Is this staged? When did Matt become so popular? Oh, this seems sooooooo staged. Finally, Simon asks Matt how many times he's been in the Bottom 3. He says twice. Simon tells him, "Could I be honest with you? OK. I didn't think you were as good as you were last night. I don't see that you have really any chance of winning the competition." The other three judges start acting protesting. (Oh c'mon, we have a better chance of winning the competition.) Simon continues, "I'm being honest with you. (trying to talk over the noise) Matt. Matt. Matt. Matt. We've made a decision." Kara shouts, "No!" Simon holds us his hand to quiet her. Simon: "Matt, it's good news." The theater goes wild. Oh, really. We're saving Matt here, not Adam or Danny.

Watch video of Matt being eliminated and saved

And amazingly, the show ends exactly on time -- without the 2-3 minute journey video. How can that be? The producers couldn't have known that Matt would be saved. HA! What suckers we "Idol" viewers are to think any of this is real.

Next week, the theme is disco, which ought to produce numerous train-wreck performances. Eliminating two finalists could be way easier than it sounds. On Wednesday night, David Archuleta performs.

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2009

American Idol Season 8
Top 7 Songs From the Cinema

Question: How do you have one less contestant than the week before, only two judges critiquing instead of four and still run out of time?

Answer: You don't ... unless you're an idiot. Someone PLEASE fire the director of "American Idol!"

You can feel the stink of desperation wafting off the show. Every week something is changing as the viewers and the voting talleys descend. Last week, the producers smartly eliminated the ridiculous judges' stair entrance and this week Rickey Minor and the band were rightfully returned to the stage instead of being hidden behind curtains or in the rafters. Adam's interaction with them alone was worth the change. Maybe next week Ryan Seacrest will no longer have to descend the Stairway to Heaven (it's such a pompous entrance, we almost want him to fall each week, just so they'll end it).

But this week they introduced the worst change of all: Because their inept director can't hold the reins on running overtime, they've decided to punish the viewers by only allowing two judges to critique each performance. C'mon, does anyone really care what anyone says other than Simon Cowell? (Though we did note that Simon (and Paula Abdul) reviewed the most likely to end up in the finale contestants: Allison, Adam, Danny and Lil.) Why don't they cut their losses and eliminate Kara DioGuardi, who has added nothing but time overruns to the series? This tag team judging not only sucked, the show still ran overtime, even though, on average, the two judges spoke for less than two minutes! What's more amazing, is that for seven seasons three judges (and occasionally four if there was a guest judge) critiqued every week and the only times they ever ran seriously over were during the star-packed finale shows. And even those didn't run as much over as last week's show. This week, the show ran about 3 minutes over, so VCR, TiVo and DVR users again were screwed, this time missing Lil cut Simon a new one after his caustic review of her performance. Producers, here are things we don't need to see: The contestant's intro videos, the ridiculously useless Coke interviews and the seriously long commercial breaks. Oh, better go with the contestant's videos. The latter two generate money, so you're never going to get rid of those.

Certainly, we could have lived without the inexorably long video tribute to this week's mentor, Quentin Tarantino, a legend in his own mind. What does he know about music other than he listens to it? He sucked as a guest judge during Season 3 (being unnecessarily cruel to Diana DeGarmo) and insinuated himself into Tuesday's show from the onset, including having to announce "This IS 'American Idol.'" Does he not know that this isn't "Saturday Night Live" and that he should have stayed in his friggin' seat in the audience? His great advice including telling Anoop to "rough it up" and growl during his song, telling us he really didn't know what Adam was going to do during his performance and fawning over Lil, as if she was the celebrity and he was a groupie. Yuck! And after all that, whatever was good on the show -- and that wasn't much -- had nothing to do with his advice.

Watch video tribute to Quentin Tarantino

The evening got off to an OK start with Allison Iraheta singing Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" from "Armageddon," which suited her husky voice well. She was a bit shaky with the low range of song's opening but gradually improved as the song built to a rousing end. Paula tells Allison that she possesses the same "special sauce" as Adam, "and that's being authentic. You don't compromise that authenticity." Simon begins with, "Allison, yes, I think it was barbecue sauce Paula was referring to: hot, spicy," turning to Paula, "Yeh?" She agrees, he says, "Whatever." He then takes his first jab at Lil, telling Allison, "I think you are the girls only hope left in this competition right now. I really genuinely do." Unfortunately, the public disagrees, as Allison will more than likely be in the Bottom 3, while, according to, Lil placed second, a spot she didn't come near deserving. Talk about the power of a fan base! Simon continues, "I don't think I've heard a girl -- let alone someone your age -- sing that song so well ... we could see you all the way through to the end now."

Watch video of Allison Iraheta singing Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" from "Armageddon"

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the evening was Anoop Desai, in possibly his best performance to date, and now with two weeks of solid deliveries. Instead of doing Tarantino's growl, he put a really pleasing R&B spin on Bryan Adam's (Everything I Do) I Do It for You," from "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves," a song that has been overdone on "Idol." Anoop, however, found a way to make it fresh and really romantic, with every single note on key. He could probably have a hit with his creative adaptation. Randy Jackson tells him that in the last couple of weeks, Anoop has really found his zone and that he's rockin' the house. "It was in tune, you had some emotion jumpin' off of it, dude. I thought you did a really good job, man." Kara says Anoop's really found his place: doing pop songs and adding soul to them. She adds that it was probably one of his best vocals and that she felt really connected to it.

Watch video of Anoop Desai singing Bryan Adam's "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" from "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves"

Without doubt, our favorite performance of the night belongs lock, stock and 10 blazing barrels to Adam Lambert. Talk about trapping lightning (which was his backdrop theme) in a bottle! Adam epitomizes what "Idol" should be about. Being so amazing and creative each week that you can't wait to see what he is going to do next. How good was he doing Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" from "Easy Rider"? So good that all we could think is: Why is anyone else even bothering to perform? Indeed, the lightening was most appropriate for his electrifying performance, so full of energy we were jumping out of our skin watching it. His musical theater background serves him so well, it's almost frightening. This guy isn't an amateur. He was obviously ready for the pros without "Idol." But "Idol" is giving him the opportunity to easily step right into the pros. The booming ovation from the audience was stunning ... and endless. When Paula finally gets a chance to speak, she says, "The reason, Adam, that you're shaking up this whole competition is that you dare to dance in the path of greatness ... fortune rewards the brave, and you're one of the bravest contestants I've ever witnessed. Ever. I think you're fantastic." Simon says, "Adam, I think you've got to learn how to express yourself a bit more," and rolls his eyes to the audience's laughter. He continues, "Vocally, incredible. Downside for that performance to me, it was a little like watching 'The Rocky Horror' musical in parts." Adam answers, "I love the 'Rocky Horror' musical." Simon then says, "It was one of the biggest rock songs on all time, so there is going a be a huge proportion of the audience who would have loved that. There's also going to be another side that will absolutely despise it. I don't think that performance will be as popular as your one last week." Paula shouts out, "Apples and oranges." And, of course, she's right. But then, so is Simon. Though Adam clearly should have finished first this week, DialIdol has him in the No. 3 slot. As Randy would say, "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?" And omigod, we just watched the video for about the fifth time and are as mesmerized as the first time we saw the performance. Bravo!

Watch video of Adam Lambert singing Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" from "Easy Rider"

Bad enough to have to follow Adam. Even worse to follow him with the night's poorest performance. We have given up on trying to like Matt Giraud. He just can't bring it on the level he needs to every week. He can't even get through en entire song without hitting some real clunker notes. He chose another Bryan Adams song, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" from "Don Juan DeMarco." Quentin Tarantino tells us that if Matt does the song the same way he did it for him, it will be one of Matt's top three performances. Is that even a compliment? Turns out, it was in his Bottom 3, where is where Matt will find himself firmly entrenched tonight. The only thing that might save him is the elimination of Kris, instead. We hated the arrangement of the song -- it was all over the place. And there were too many bad notes to count. The ending was delicious, but way too little, way too late. If Matt goes tonight, well, he deserves to. Randy says, "It started out kind of cool. When you hit the bridge, man, it hit a rough patch ... a little melody going off, a little pitchy thing going on ... when you take a song like this that's got a beautiful simple melody, you can't do all of that stuff with it. Because you're going to fall down somewhere, and you fell down more places tonight than you won ... so it wasn't one of your best performances." Kara says that Matt keeps going back and forth between rock and soul songs and when you're going to flip a song like he did it has to be a masterpiece. While she's talking, Simon is doing some weird thing, apparently showing Paula something. He opens his mouth all the way and thrusts his head and neck forward. What was up with that? Later he's just sitting there with his mouth agape. Strange. Check him out in the video.

Watch video of Matt Giraud singing Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" from "Don Juan DeMarco"

Ah, it must be Danny Gokey's turn. Why? Didn't you see the dead wife card being pulled out? Tonight with props. What do we mean? Oh, look, there's a big harp to accompany him. Don't they play those in heaven? On his last note of Diana Ross' "Endless Love," from the movie of the same name," Danny (wearing contacts, not glasses, so we're sure to notice) turns his misty eyes heavenward on the lyric "my endless love" as a crescendo of harp strings ends the song. We're surprised we don't see a portrait of his late wife projected on the ceiling of the theater, gazing down and waving lovingly to him. Give it a rest, Danny. Yes, it's a tragedy you lost you're wife. But be a man and stop milking it in a feeble attempt to try to win the competition. But, smart marketer that you are, it worked. Though your performance was average bordering on corny -- you didn't even come close to Adam's level this week -- the viewers have put you in first place. There must be a lot of horny cougars out there hungry for a widower with no kids. Paula starts by telling Danny that from the opening of the performance she wasn't sure that the key shouldn't have been lowered, then, while Simon fidgets, goes on about the magical timbre of his voice and says he pulled it together by the end -- "you grab us in the beginning, you wow us in the middle and you slay us at the end" -- eventually calling it "a beautiful, beautiful rendition." Simon says he can't really fault the way Danny sang the song, calling him a brilliant singer, but says that he's disappointed "that we had the harp and that we had a very traditional version of the song. Whereas last year, when David [Cook] did the Lionel Richie song ["Hello"] he made it into his unique version. I was kind of a bit bored [with yours]. That's all you did with it. So I'm slightly disappointed to be honest with you." But then, in an out-of-character mush moment, Simon adds, "Having said that, I think this song obviously means a lot to you personally, and I can see that you're emotional, and it's a hard thing to do. So (pause) I congratulate you for that." Oh, Simon, since when can't you see when you're being manipulated?

Watch video of Danny Gokey singing Diana Ross' "Endless Love" from "Endless Love"

Tarantino tells us that he thinks Kris Allen lived up to the spirit of the competition the most by picking a movie ("Once") that meant something to him and picking the song that was perfect for him (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's "Falling Slowly"). Tarantino also encourages Kris to play an instrument for the performance. Fortunately, Kris ignores the suggestion. Unfortunately, not only is the song obscure, the 4-minute original doesn't sustain when chopped to 1:49. The instrumentality that is so vital to it gets lost as well as what little (very little) drama it possesses. Though beautifully sung by Kris -- perhaps even better than Hansard did it -- the abridgement is, well, boring. At this point, the show is seriously looking like it's going to run over, and Randy and Kara are given less than a minute to speak. He says, "It never quite caught on for me, and I love that song. But for me, it was pitchy from note 1." She says, "Difficult to pick an obscure song like that maybe not everybody knows (er, isn't that the definition of obscure, genius?), but for me, it was (spacing her words with pauses) one ... of ... your ... best ... moments (long pause) Evah!

Watch video of Kris Allen singing Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's "Falling Slowly" from "Once"

When we heard that Lil Rounds was going to be doing the title song from Bette Midler's "The Rose," we thought here comes another train wreck. And, to be honest, when we listened live, we hated it. Yet, we liked it a bit on playback. It took us a while to figure out what threw us off. The opening is so well-known you can't just throw some parts of it away. Lil discarded the lyric

"some say love it is a razor/
that leaves the soul to bleed."

The melody does not jump comfortably from

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed


Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need

especially when you're changing it up with R&B styling. Plus, the entire second stanza was dropped, whose words, to us, are more meaningful than the first's:

It's the heart, afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying
That never learns to live

Had Lil left the opening traditional and then jumped into her gospel-tinged R&B version it could have been great. As it was, for us at least, it was one of the night's worst. Paula talks to Lil about the beautiful lyrics (what about the missing ones?) but never addresses her performance at all. Thankfully, Simon says to Paula, "I have absolutely no idea what you just said there." To Lil, he says, "I think that you're getting this completely wrong. The song was too soft for you. It was too middle of the road. You had some nice moments in there, but, you know, there are no excuses anymore, Lil. You know, you are not the artist I believe we met seven or eight weeks ago. I'm getting frustrated ..." During this, the camera pans back and forth from his face to hers, and you could tell Lil was getting angry. While Simon is talking, she turns and says something to Ryan. Simon stops and says, "No, what do you want to say?"
Lil: "OK, I really want to say something real quick, Simon. You know, you guys told me to be an artist. And when I heard this song, I thought it was a beautiful song. And I put my own bit to it. Because I'm into the R&B and the soul and the gospel. And I put it in there and I told ..."
Simon: "But, but, but ..."
Lil: "And I thought it was really good. I really do."
Simon: "But, Lil ..."
Ryan: "We've got to leave it at that."
Simon: "OK, but it was a Bette Midler song."
Lil: "I know it was Bette Midler. And I know that she's not an artist that you'd necessarily see me doing ..."
Simon: "No"
Lil (getting strident): "But I honestly put an R&B feel to it and I ..."
Paula: "Don't ever be afraid to say what you feel Lil. Those who matter, don't mind" (Shut up Paula!)
Ryan cuts it off her. Simon looks seriously pissed. Lil better hope that DialIdol is right and that she doesn't need to get saved tonight.

Watch video of Lil Rounds singing Bette Midler's "The Rose" from "The Rose"

Our Top 3:
Adam Lambert
Anoop Desai
Danny Gokey/Allison Iraheta (tie)

Our Bottom 3:

Matt Giraud
Lil Rounds
Kris Allen

Should be eliminated:
Matt Giraud

Will be eliminated: Kris or Matt or Allison (we think if it's Allison, they'll save her)

Tonight Jennifer Hudson and Miley Cyrus perform.

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