Wednesday, May 6, 2009

American Idol Season 8
Top 4 Rock Week

Yea, rock night on "Idol," mentored by Slash. And just as we expected, Adam and Allison ruled, though perhaps in Allison's case not with the voters, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Before the live show began, a horror show occurred on the "Idol" set just prior to the dress rehearsal, which had to be cancelled. First, stage manager Debbie Williams, following Ryan Seacrest down that ridiculous 20-foot-long "stairway to heaven" -- which is supposed to retract behind Seacrest as he walks down -- tumbled down it when it retracted too soon. TMZ and blog reports say that Williams suffered a "nasty gash" on her leg and was taken to the hospital in a neck brace on a stretcher, but was waving and smiling as she left. Earlier in the day on "Ellen," in an ironic coincidental twist, Simon Cowell had called it the staircase that "almost killed Ryan's career this year ..."

Then, as Seacrest apologized to the dress rehearsal audience for the delay, one of the giant "American Idol" globes that are on towers near the ceiling, began to crackle and hiss. It reportedly exploded and crashed to the ground, sending glass and debris everywhere. Ryan attempted to calm the panicing audience, as they cleared the studio.

Seacrest talked about the globe mishap at the beginning of the show without going into too much detail and said the contestants had missed their live run through, ending with "but the show must go on."

And go on it did -- into overtime as usual. Allegedly trying to avoid that, the producers had decided to have the Top 4 perform only one solo each and a duet each, pairing Danny with Kris and Allison with Adam. Although the first pairing turned out to be rather lame, especially for Kris, Adam and Allison were awesome together. Still, the duets would have been better saved for the finale, not on shows where the contestants are still trying to prove themselves as solo artists. It's annoying that in all previous seasons, the Top 5 and Top 4 have sung two songs each, while the Top 3 sings three. If they can't get six songs in on time, we guess there's absolutely no hope for nine next week. Following this year's pattern, the Top 3 will only have to do two each, proving themselves far less than former finalists. In past Top 3 weeks, one song was the judges' choice, one the contestants' choice and the final choice belonged either to Clive Davis or the producers. Hopefully, one song will still be the judges' choice. The other? Who knows?

Totally in his element, Adam Lambert opening the evening with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." Even his guyliner was edgier than usual, adding to the mad rock vibe. Except for some of his over-indulgent high-pitched shrieking the performance was nearly flawless, outdistancing the rest of the pack. The audience went WILD. When Randy Jackson was finally able to shout over them, he said, "You're a rock star tonight! ... That was hot!" Kari DioGuardi, trying to look tough in a studded leather jacket and rocking a ridiculously ugly pulled back, bang-less hairstyle, screamingly gushed, "Adam, you're not a rock star, you're a rock god! That's what you are, OK? The record you should be making is classic rock from the '70s, glam rock from the '80s with Nine Inch Nails. No one's doing it, you've got the vocals for it, nobody else has it, it's your lane. Kill it! YES! YES! YES!" Geez, it was like the deli scene in "When Harry Met Sally." Kara sounded as if she was having an orgasm by the end. We'll have what she's having, OK? Paula Abdul called Adam "a whole lotta perfect." It was just so anti-climactic after Kara, heh. Simon said, "Well, I have one criticism. I thought the performance was a little understated. Teeeasing. ... This could have been an absolute disaster, taking on one of the greatest rock songs of all time, but it was actually one of my favorite performances you've ever done. The only problem is, nobody can top that now." And he was right.

Watch video of Adam Lambert singing "Whole Lotta Lot"

Yes, Adam did outdistance the rest of the pack, but 17-year-old Allison Iraheta still held her own beautifully with a terrifuc rendition of Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby." As Randy would say, this kid has mad skillz. In her Coke pre-performance interview she says she went to Adam's hair girl, who has been doing his locks for two years. Her hair looks better than it's every looked. Book us an appointment. Better yet, get us one of those thick manes. Allison tells Slash that she was trying to decide between "Cry Baby" and Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love." He tells her she's a natural for Joplin. We loved it, Randy and Kara, not so much. Boo! Hiss! Randy says, "You can sing your face off, you can sing anything. I did not love the song choice for you. I thought there were a lot of better vehicles that had a little bit more melody ... I don't know, I didn't love this, it wasn't that great for me." Yeah, well, it killed what Kris and Danny are going to do, but you will give them the props for trying -- even if they didn't succeed. Kara starts out with, "You know Janis is the right choice for you, bluesy rock, it is, BUT 'Piece of My Heart,' could have seen that ..." Randy: "More melody." Kara then asks Allison if she was nervous. Allison says she's always nervous (you'd never know). Kara, somewhat gratuitously, tells Allison she transforms onstage and becomes larger than life and that she can see her personality onstage and wants to "give her that prop." Um, thanks. Paula calls Allison downright fearless and says it they ever do a biopic of Janis Joplin, Allison's got the role, ending with "You did a great job." Simon says, "I thought you had complete confidence up there, I thought it was a terrific vocal. My only criticism is is that you're trying too hard to sound like the original, so I didn't see much originality ... it was -- compliment -- soundalike, but I wouldn't have chosen that song." He then tells her he would have chosen the Queen song. She tells him her other song was Jefferson Airplane. He gives her a look like she's nuts, when it was him who wasn't listening. She tells him he always says she doesn't talk enough so now she's talking. He ultimately tells her, "Allison, I like the fact that you're arguing for yourself. Good for you."

Watch video of Allison Iraheta singing "Cry Baby"

Next up, the first duet, Kris Allen and Danny Gokey singing "Renegade" by Styx. They harmonize well, but Kris proves he is more "I Am a Rock" than "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." He shouldn't sing rock -- ever. Danny fares better, but the entire performance, especially for a rock show, is a big "so what." Randy says he really liked the harmonies and that two complement each other. "The individual vocals were OK, but the harmonies were on blast." Kara: "Them singing 'Renegade'? I mean, 'Renegade'? That doesn't compute for me. Cause they're like the guys that help the little women cross the street, you know? They're not, like, wanted." She then says than the "sum of the parts was better. You definitely had some moments," but she's not sure they could always hear themselves, because there were pitchy moments, ending, without any conviction, with, "but together, it was united and strong." Paula says, "It was powerful and it was compelling. Good job." Simon, rightly, seems to think the whole idea is a joke. Laughing, he says, "I don't know what to say." Randy: "Say whatever you like." Simon: "OK. Who was better? Danny, you were better than Kris. How's that?" Well, not too good for Kris, who makes a face and has to do his solo next.

Watch video of Kris Allen and Danny Gokey singing "Renegade"

Things didn't get any better for Kris Allen when he decides to take on The Beatles "Come Together." He's no John Lennon. And, even though we hated the rendition of "Imagine" that David Archuleta did last year, Kris isn't creative enough to change "Come Together" into something everyone will swoon over, as David did. Kris even screwed up some lyrics. So if Allen makes it to the Top 3 instead of Allison, it'll be a real injustice. He was 0 for 2 this week, while she batted 2 for 2. She'll never make it to the finale, but she deserves the hometown parade. Randy tells Kris that he knows he's not really a rock guy, he's "a little bit hybrid," but that he appreciates that he picked a song where he can still be himself. Exactly, Randy. It didn't rock AT ALL. And though Randy wasn't blown away by the vocals, he loved what Kris was playing on the guitar. Randy, Randy, Randy. How may times have you personally reminded us this season that this is a SINGING competition? Sheesh. Kara tells Kris he'd definitely the softer side of rock, "but for me, this was not a great performance. I just thought it was trying too hard, it wasn't the best song and I just think there's more than what you delivered tonight. Sorry." Best critique she's given all season. Paula tells Kris it's kind of risky to do a Beatles song (the contestants had to do two last season!) then babbles on about his signature and imprint being all over it. She tells him he needs to have a little more energy, but is "deserving of being on that stage." Simon says, "I actually didn't like it that much. It was rather like eating ice for lunch." What are these weird water analogies Simon's been making for Kris lately? Last week he called Kris' performance "wet." Simon: "It will leave you with nothing to remember afterward. It was actually quite a boring song (er, we think you mean performance, not song), quite a safe one. It was a bit of a jam, you know?" Kris' eyes are wide open, like, "no, I don't."

Watch video of Kris Allen singing "Come Together"

Danny Gokey takes on Aerosmith's "Dream On," which is exactly what we said when we heard he was performing it. C'mon, Danny doing "Dream On"? Or as Vote for the Worst dubbed his performance, "Scream On." And he didn't disappoint us. As Slash said, it's all going to come down to that scream at the end. And if anything every truly sounded like three cats tied in a bag and dropped off the Empire State Building, it was that final note. Yikes! and Ouch! Scarily, Danny is so pleased with himself after the performance he applauds himself with the audience. After hearing the judges, he's confused, saying he'll have to watch it back on TV, 'cause he thought it was pretty good. Not! Randy says, "It was alright for me. It wasn't perfect (ha!) or that great, but I'll give you one thing. I'll give you an A+ for valiant effort. Cause to hit that high note, (laughing) you had like three notes jumping off all at once." Kara tells Danny that he took last week's swagger and adding more edge to his performance comments too far. "I don't see you on this type of song. I see you more early Aerosmith, but I will say, that I like to see growth and I like to see risks and I like to see more edge and I saw that tonight. Was it perfect? No. But I commend you for taking chances. Because rock 'n' roll is about being bold and going for it." Paula says, "I don't know if this was the right song for you, but I am a huge fan of yours. ... It wasn't my favorite choice of song, but I give you an A++ for going for it." To Randy and Paula: shouldn't you give him a D- for picking a song that was beyond his capabilities? In an audition, you would have laughed him out of the room for that final note. Simon tells Danny, "The last note was like watching a horror movie. It's like the scene in 'Friday the 13th.' It's just like this scream. It was actually a little bit over the top." A little bit? How about massively? Then, the camera pans to a kid in the audience holding a sign that says: "Simon Cowell: The King of Common Sense." Simon stops his critique flicks his finger back to the audience and says, "I agree, by the way," cracking Paula up. He ends by telling Danny, "I still think you're going to be safe." Of course he is.

Watch video of Danny Gokey singing "Dream On"

Surprisingly, though we would have preferred to see the contestants stretch themselves with two solos, Adam's and Allison's duet on Foghat's "Slow Ride" was our favorite performance of the night. It had tremendous energy and flair and the two blended beautifully and effortlessly. They even looked good together. A natural pairing. We were stoked and so were the judges and audience. The cheers were deafening. Randy tells them, "You guys should do a duet on your albums. That was da bomb, baby." Kara says, "Rock god, rock goddess, this is when a duet is right. When you're pushing each other to be better. That's what you just did on that stage." Paula tells them, "The two of you are a perfect blend, a perfect marriage ... You guys should do a duet together because you totally are in sync with each other. It's a beautiful thing." Simon says, "In the battle of the duets, you win the show tonight ... And actually, Adam, you may have given this one (pointing at Allison, whose name he probably forgot) a chance at staying in the competition because of that." Adam says, "I hope so," later saying to Ryan that Allison is like his little sister. The closeness better the two is endearing.

Watch video of Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta singing "Slow Ride"

Our Top Two:
Adam Lambert
Allison Iraheta

Our Bottom Two:
Kris Allen
Danny Gokey

Should Be Eliminated: Kris Allen
Will Be Eliminated: Kris Allen

On tonight's show Daughtry performs "No Surprise" from its upcoming CD, Paula Abdul sings her new release, "Here for the Music" and No Doubt will also perform in a segment taped on Tuesday.

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