I love me some Motown, I can handle old-school country, and there isn’t a rational human I know who can’t get down to classic Michael Jackson. American Idol chose well in its first three theme weeks of the season. This week, I don’t know. It could be a train wreck. The theme remains vague even at this hour – ITunes Top 100 Downloads. Everyone’s best guess is that the American Idol contestants had to choose from a list of ITunes Top 100 song downloads of all-time. This means that tonight we will be hearing a litany of modern pop music which, for the sake of transparency, is a genre that I do not like very much. Not at all. When you look at the list, there’s far too much Britney Spears. There’s a lot of hip/hop (which I generally do enjoy, but is obviously useless to the American Idol singers), and what’s left is a smattering of random radio hits. It could be good if the Idol singers put their own spin on things. Most importantly, they will need to choose very, very wisely. Also, we’ll see if we can find some song spoilers for all of you before the show starts. So, once again, I, Oscar Dahl, will coxswain our watercraft down the treacherous, murky waters of tonight’s American Idol Performance Show, shouting live thoughts at the masses with the subtlety of a drunken hobo on a soapbox. Please play along, comment below, have fun, be safe, wear a life vest.
Let’s get it on! Scott will suck, Megan will do something weird, you will love/hate Adam, and Paula will make your senile Great Aunt seem lucid. This…is American Idol.
In the Cold Open, Seacrest walked through the contestants, who were staggered in some bizarre alien formation on stage. Read into that what you will. The judges emerge from the front of the stage. Whoever’s running the lights tonight took some ecstasy before the broadcast. I think Little Cresty got a haircut. So adorable, that little man.
Randy is wearing red glasses tonight. Kara is dropping a little bit of cleavage. Paula looks like she bought dress shopping for the prom in 1983. The Top 9 come on stage to raucous applause. Allison’s hair is modeled after Sonic the Hedgehog. Theme for the week, as reported – Top 100 Theme. Basically, they get to sing any song that was a hit. Easy theme. We get footage of Ryan at work on the radio. I’m less than excited.
Anoop will kick off the show.
Anoop Desai – “Caught Up” by Usher
There is no mentor this week. Which is fine by me. Anoop, going back to the up-tempo stuff. He wears a silly jacket. Just like in Michael Jackson week, Anoop lacks the vocal strength to really kill an upbeat song with the band and back-up singers behind him. He’s not bad, mostly sings in tune (though some of the runs go a tad flat). But that jacket. He’s popped his jacket collar. Anoop actually hits his stride midway through the song, and powers the best he can through the end. Solid, unspectacular. A song that I don’t totally care for, but I think he’ll survive.
Randy thought the vocals were good even though he thought it was the wrong song choice. He’s a little torn. Kara thinks he played it safe, to which Anoop replies, “No I didn’t.” She mentions something about a frat guy dare (perhaps Kara knows something about frat guy dares – perhaps a Spring Break tramp stamp). Simon calls it “a complete and utter mess.”
Megan Joy is next, singing a cool Bob Marley tune.
Megan Joy – “Turn Your Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley/Lauryn Hill
All right, Megan, it’d be really cool if you’d give us a really good performance. “The judges kind of punched me in the mouth,” says Megan about last week. Fair enough. She starts off well, and you can immediately tell that is a perfect song for Megan. Slow-tempo, delicate, allowing her voice to breathe. Anytime she doesn’t have to power anything too much, she’ll be good. She also doesn’t sing out of tune. If you like slow-ish reggae stuff, then you’ll really like this performance. Megan gives a performance that will actually please the judges.
Or not. Kara says, “I really like you, but I think you’re in trouble.” Kara names a bunch of songs that she should have sang. I disagree. Paula talks some nonsense about going deep within your soul, and heart-ripping, and a stool. Simon calls the song boring, indulgent and monotonous. Hmm. He says nobody will like that song. I love reggae. Randy loves the song, but didn’t like it. The judges really hated it, actually.
Here’s the thing. Vocally, it was a much better performance than her previous three.
Danny Gokey – “What Hurts The Most” by Rascal Flatts
Interesting song choice. He’s doing Rascal Flatts’ version. However, I prefer this one.
Danny says tonight, he wants to “sing his heart out.” He has slowed the song considerably, which doesn’t make a ton of sense given the inherent rapid-fire delivery of the song. He spits out the verse, seems to be rushign a bit, and when he gets to the chorus, it’s….weirdly insignificant. The range might be in a weird spot for Danny. He tries to add some big, smokey vocal runs, but they seem out of place, probably because this is a country arrangement. The vocals were fine, but it felt like a bit of a mess.
Paula said she’d hit repeat on that version of the song. Simon loved it, calling it Danny’s best performance since the beginning of the Top 13. I don’t get it. I thought it was just OK. Definitely not bad, but just OK. The judges are in the tank for Danny. Randy loved it. Kara says that he “moved everyone in this room emotionally.” I was not moved. Kara got goosebumps. It’s probably just cold in the studio, Kara.
Allison Iraheta – “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
This is a great choice for Allison, and she’s going to be busting out her guitar for this one. Didn’t show she had that in her repertoire. The hair is obscene. She has a few rhythm issues while playing the guitar. I think she kind of kills it up until the chorus, where she gets a little soft for her liking. She finds her groove near the end of the first chorus. The sound mixing is a bit suspect tonight. Weird performance, the whole thing, but I dug it, mostly because I really like Allison.
Randy is baffled by Allison’s outfit. She looks like one of Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls. Kara also criticizes the outfit. SHUT UP – let her wear what she wants. She’s a teenage goofball, let her do what she wants. They both liked the performance. Ha – Paula calls the guitar and “axe.” I think Paula is secretly doing a performance art piece tonight set in the 80’s. Simon also harps on the outfit. Simon makes a good metaphor, saying it’s a bit like the precocious daughter dressing up like a rock star and trying to sing like one too. The thing is, she pulled it off.
The promo for ‘Glee’ with “Dont’ Stop Believin” playing was strangely enticing.
Scott Macintyre – “I Love You Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel
This actually is a great choice for Scott. He kind of sounds like Billy Joel on this song. Tonight, it is just Scott and a piano. He’s either cut his hair or been introduced to hair gel. Either way, he looks like Lyle Lovett’s cousin. Hey, it’s another vintage Scott MacIntyre performance. Boring, lounge-y, in tune, featuring a singer whose voice isn’t interesting at all. He gives the exact same performance, more or less every time. At least this time, he looks like a New Kids on the Block outcast.
Kara thinks Scott made some very smart decisions tonight. Kara also likes the new look. That’s weird. Paula once again says that she’s very proud of Scott, and babbles about “his challenge.” Paula, tonight, looks like a Cave Woman. Simon calls it Scott’s best performance by a country mile. It was not different. Not at all. The judges were fed qualudes before the show.
So, we have more than an hour left of tonight’s show, and only four performance left. Is this the night that The Osbournes: We Need More Money is on after the show? Yep, just saw the promo.
Matt Giraud – “You Found Me” by The Fray
Matt was a preposterous member of the bottom three last week. BS. This should be a great song for him. Matt plays the keyboard while standing up in the middle of the crowd. Interesting. He starts off a little shaky, pitch-wise, but quickly finds the pocket (how’s that for judge-speak?). I’m not terribly familiar with the original, but I get the feeling Matt’s could be close to the original version. As is the wont with Matt, this is easily the best performance of the night. He knows what he’s doing on the stage, which is more than most of the contestants can say.
Paula says “you aborted the things we love most about you.” Whoa. Someone cool Paula off. Paula didn’t like the performance. Huh. Simon says he “didn’t get it at all.” He call it not a good commercial song. Well, wasn’t it a good commercial song? The judges have been awful tonight. Randy didn’t like the rock voice he tried to bring to the song. Kara agrees. Why can’t a singer go back and forth between genres?
Lil Rounds – “I Surrender” by Celine Dion
Celine Dion. Great. Shove a corkscrew in my nostril. Punch me in the face with a porcupine. This, however, is the perfect kind of song for Lil, because she can just sing loud the entire time. Which she does, showing off the big voice that the judges love so much. Lil does not know how to build a song. She sang it fine, though. We’ve seen this type of performance infinite times on Idol.
Randy didn’t like the song choice, but through the performance was good. Kara loved the pipes that Lil showed off. Paula wants to see a younger Lil Rounds. Simon didn’t like it too much. Thought it was safe. Thought it sounded like a wedding performance.
Adam Lambert – “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry
This is a ballsy song choice. If you don’t like Over The Top Adam, you probably won’t like this. Adam is rocking the pompadour tonight. If possible, this arrangement is even more funkier than the original. Dirty funky. He really chops up the chorus and makes it own. He spends the second half just breaking it down, riffing on the melody, which is fun. Once again, Adam shows that no one can come with miles of touching him vocally. That was fun. Since I like Adam, I pretty much loved the performance. I suspect that Simon will hate it.
Paula goes off the deep end, rambling about pure genius. Simon calls it “very brave.” He thought it was original, and not the karaoke crap we’d been singing tonight. Randy thought the song could have been corny, but it certainly wasn’t. Adam interrupts and gives a shout-out to Ricky Minor and the band. Kara says she cannot wait, every week, to see what Adam is going to do. Kara says it was like “Studio 57.” Umm, subtract three from that number Kara.
Kris Allen – “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
Kris says he’s going to make this old classic his own. He’ll be playing the piano tonight. Huh, didn’t know he could do that. This piano version is really cool. He starts out with just him on the piano, then is joined by a string quartet, it looks like. Vocally, he’s spot on one more time. The famous “I Know” reprise is handled magnificently, more staccato than the original. He put more passion in this version than the great Bill Withers did. Easily the best performance of the night. Rightfully put into the pimp spot. Kris might win the whole thing. This guy has proven to be pretty awesome. Randy loved it, Kara gets to use her favorite word (“Artistry!”), Paula rambles, and Simon loved what he brought. Simon loved the arrangement. True, great arrangement.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)