The Top 10 of American Idol were flown to Detroit, Michigan a few days back to get a taste of Motown, for this week is Motown Week. I don’t care what the judges say (the hypocrisy of Simon telling singers that they need to sound more modern when they’re performing forty year-old tunes, blah blah blah), because I love Motown. Smokey Robinson is the mentor tonight, a worthy member of Motown lore, and dammit, I’m actually pretty excited. This batch of singers we have on American Idol this season are capable of quality, diverse performances and I’m anticipating a solid night. Michael Sarver is my early choice for elimination, but I’ve been wrong at every turn when it comes to Michael’s survival chances, so it’ll probably be someone I like going home. Nonetheless, strap in and prepare for a bombardment of super bad ass live thoughts. Check in and comment along if you so choose. It will be quite the raucous party.
And here we go. The American Idol stage apparently got a new screen, because that’s where the episode begins. We see the Top 10’s face all blown up. It’s mildly off-putting, especially at the end, when we see Ryan grinning maniacally at us all. The judges walk from the stage to their booth once more. Randy is wearing his golf sweater. Ryan mentions the “SHOCKING” elimination of Alexis Grace. Kara and Randy were sad to see Alexis go. Paula looks nice, seems more lucid than normal. That’ll likely change. Simon: “I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to it.” Simon wants the singers to make these oldies original.
The Top 10 emerge. All the dudes are dressed up. We get a video package on the history of Motown. The idols visited Detroit and Motown and got to meet Smokey Robinson and Motown founder Berry Gordy, who remains quite spry at his age. Smokey and Berry seem like awesome guys. Lil tears up while touring the studio. It’s a historic place, for sure.
Smokey is the mentor. They all sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” It’s cheesy. Matt leads off the show with an absolute classic. We’ll see how it goes.
Matt Giraud – “Let’s Get it On” by Marvin Gaye
It looks like Matt’s going to slow it down, give it a bluesier vibe. Smokey loved Matt’s rendition, apparently. Matt kicks it off, and it’s only him at a piano. After the verse, he gets up out from behind the piano. This was bad choice. Behind the piano, it was awesome, Matt putting his own, slower groove on the beginning, which distanced himself from the original. When he left the piano, it kind of became a safer, lounge version of the tune. The vocals were still good, but it kind of fell flat for me. I wish he would’ve stayed and made it a slower version.
Randy, Paula and Kara love Matt. They make it seem like he’s an underdog – I don’t think he is anymore. Simon called it a brilliant choice of song. Simon called it “cool.” Solid performance, not great, but will easily put him through to next week.
Seacrest announces that this week’s iTunes downloads will feature the contestants singing with the original backing instruments.
Kris Allen – “How Sweet it Is” by Marvin Gaye
A bit peculiar that we’re doing two Marvin songs in a row to kick the night off. Oh, well. Kris will be using his guitar tonight – Smokey loved it, even gave him a high five after the performance. He starts it off a capella, guitar in hand, and then kicks it into the verse with minimal work from the backing band. Kris is giving the song a nice folk vibe, and it’s cool. I’m over this song, in general, but Kris made it his own. Great vocal, good performance. These last two weeks, Kris has been great.
Kara liked that Kris didn’t do Marvin’s version or James Taylor’s version. She loved it. Paula in love too. Simon thought it was a smart performance, but doesn’t think Kris has started to fully believe in himself. “To be a star, you have to conceited,” says Simon. Really, Simon? Randy thought it was “all good.”
Scott MacIntyre – ”You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
Is there any way this is good? Scott is going to have to drastically re-arrange this song to fit his style, whatever his style may be. If this is the train wreck it has the potential to be, Scott be going home tomorrow.
Maybe my screen is off, but I think Scott is wearing tight pink pants. Tight. Pink. Pants. Good lord, American Idol. The guy is blind! Why put him pink goddamn tight pants? That’s incredibly cruel. What the hell? I feel horrible.
Smokey kind of liked Scott’s thing. But, it’s not like he can criticize the blind guy. The beginning is a completely pussified version of the song, something you’d hear on Adult Contemporary Radio. He speeds it up, but it’s still really old-fashioned. Scott just doesn’t have the voice to sing Motown. He’s way too white. And, also, he doesn’t have a good voice. Just a really flat, uninspiring performance. Unless Megan or Michael crap the bed, I think Scott may be the one going home.
Paula rambles about bringing something different to the performance by bringing the back-up singers closer to the piano. Umm, what? Simon hated it. Thank you. Simon hated the piano playing, and called it completely the wrong song. Completely agree, sir. Randy calls it a “hotel-type performance.” Randy sweater is preposterous, and I loved it. Kara did like the tempo that Scott brought to the song, but didn’t like his changes to the melody. She was not a fan of the execution.
Scott mentions that he wasn’t told about his pink pants until ten minutes before the show. Is there any possible way that there is security footage of this moment, preferably with Scott absolutely flipping out.
Megan Joy Corkrey/Megan Joy/Megan Corkrey/Whatever – “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder
Paula gave Simon some crayons and a coloring book because, ha ha, Simon is a child. Stupid. Smokey loves that Megan is different, refreshing. This is a risky choice, but I think it could be great. I hope so. Megan sings a little out of tune at the outset, but finds her pocket eventually. She shouts some of the early stuff, making the first half song really shaky, but I think she sang the second half better. But, overall, it was not very good.
Randy thought it was a train wreck. Kara thought it was weird, not very good. Paula says that Megan looks great. She does, very much so. But, Paula agrees with the other two. Simon thought it was horrible, and she could be in trouble after that performance. Yikes.
Anoop Desai – “Ooh Baby Baby” by Smokey Robinson
It was must be a trip singing a Smokey song in front of Smokey. And really nerve-wracking. Smokey loved Noop Dog’s version. Do it, Noop! This is a great, great song, and a perfect song for Anoop. He sings out of tune on the first high note. However, his falsetto is pretty good. He’s staying pretty true to the original, keeping it slow and sensual. After that one bad note, Noop has been awesome. He gives a nasty high falsetto riff near the end. Noop Dog is for sure back, everyone.
Kara calls it one of the hardest songs to sing, but overall she thought he did a pretty darn good job. Paula talks. And talks. Shut up, Paula. Simon calls it a “great vocal.” But, he called it a little boring. Randy wants him to bring more energy next week.
Michael Sarver – “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations
Michael was sick last week, and so didn’t get to travel to Detroit with everyone else. This might be a train wreck. If Megan or Scott want to stick around, they need Michael to falter. Smokey wasn’t terribly impressed, it seems. Yes – Michael proves from note one that he’s too white to sing this song. Very reminiscent of Scott’s performance. He’s really forcing some riffs and growls tonight. Very karaoke. But, you know, he sings in tune. So, he’s got that going for him. His dancing remains horrid. The way he ended the song wasn’t bad, though. Overall, however, it was awful.
Paula didn’t like it. You know that’s a bad sign. She rambles for awhile. Simon says “I couldn’t wait for it to end.” He says, quite truthfully, that he has no chance of winning the competition. Randy thinks the song was too big for him and he tried to do too much with it. Kara wants more artistry.
Lil Rounds – “Heatwave” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Good song for Lil. Smokey loves Lil. As we’ve seen before, Lil has some trouble being subtle, which is why “Heatwave” sets up well for her. There’s no downtime in this song. She powers the whole song out, gets a little sloppy. Still, I’m not on the Lil bandwagon. Even on this powerful song, she shouted a little too much. She stays on a straight line, never builds to anything. There were no shades of anything, turned to 11 the whole time. Fine, but nothing special.
Randy has a hard time explaining himself, but he wasn’t a huge fan. He thought she rushed it. Kara didn’t think she nailed, that it wasn’t the right song, that there was too much screaming. Predictably, Paula disagrees. She loved it. God, just stop talking. I think I hate you, Paula. Simon thought it was an authentic tribute to Motown, but agrees that it was the wrong song. He wanted a moment from Lil, but didn’t find one.
Adam Lambert – “Tracks of my Tears” by Smokey Robinson
This is the one song choice I predicted correctly. Adam is going to pull it back tonight, I imagine, to silence his critics. This is the performance that could make Adam the out and out favorite this season. For the performance, it’s just Adam and a few band members on stage, going unplugged. Adam has also cleaned up, looking like a young Elvis or something. This is awesome. He sings it as tenderly as possible, never yelling, showing off his ridiculous falsetto. And, most of all, this is very different than any other version of the song I’ve ever heard. He really just blew the rest of the competition out of the water. Maybe the best performance of the season. Seriously. Smokey gives it a standing ovation from the audience.
Kara loved it. Paula loved it. Simon calls it the best performance of the night, calls Adam a star. Randy loved it. Not much to say after that.
Danny Gokey – “Get Ready” by The Temptations
This should be a good song for Danny, and he takes some solid advice from Smokey during the mentoring. But, then he doesn’t heed the advice during the actual song. The reason – probably because he really upped the tempo of this arrangement. It sounds very rushed. He does some really stupid dance moves. Danny doesn’t know what he’s doing on stage yet. Vocally, as always, it’s pretty great. But, kind of like Lil, it’s sloppy in parts. Twice during the performance, Danny danced with the back-up singers. Not a good decision.
Paula uses big words, then trails off. Simon calls it clumsy and amateurish. Agreed. Randy loved the voice and the energy. Kara called it good, not great. They’re hustling now to end the show.
Allison Iraheta – “Papa was a Rolling Stone” by The Temptations
In a very predictable move, Allison gets the pimp spot because she was in the bottom three last week and they want to make sure Allison moves on. This could be a solid choice for her. It’s also a weird song to sing, cause the original was about seven minutes long. Allison forgets the lyrics, but does it kind of secretly by mumbling some incoherent nonsense while she forgot. She sang it well, obviously, her great voice doing all the work, but it’s really bizarre to hear that song in a 2-minute version. It was pretty good.
Randy thought it was blazing hot. Kara says OMG. She blatantly tells America to vote for her. That’s shameless. Simon drew a mustache on Paula’s face and Allison laughs at her. That was funny. Simon thought it was quite good.
That’s it for the episode. Stay tuned later tonight for our Episode in Review and Performance Rankings slideshows.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)