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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Who's Bad?

Adam-Lambert-310.jpgAs the lights dimmed and the four "Idol" judges burst onto the stage like a group of circus ringmasters, it was clear that this wasn't going to be a standard "American Idol" season.

Of course, so much has already happened to set this season apart, with the show shortening its audition stages and adding a Top 36, as well as last week's surprise announcement of a Top 13 for the finals. Well the changes are still coming, as Ryan Seacrest soon dropped two more shockers on the audience. First, he said the show was booting two singers on Wednesday night, probably to make up for the unexpected arrival of 13 finalists.

Next, Ryan let slip that the judges were going to announce a potentially game-changing decision on Wednesday's show. Simon said it had something to do with how the judges are involved and that the audience may not like it. Having been "So You Think You Can Dance" addicts for the last few summers, me and my girlfriend came up with a theory: the judges are going to reformat the show "SYTYCD"-style, where America votes first, and then the judges pick who gets booted from the lowest vote-getters. That would definitely be a gutsy move, mostly because the fans may not like having the control wrested from their sweaty, rapid-fire dialing fingers. (A quick look at my "Idol" crystal ball, which I've kept hidden away for the last eight months or so, says the decision could be dangerous for the judges. I see a contingent of Kris Allen fans, decked out in Archuleta-style t-shirts, storming Kara DioGuardi's dressing room, demanding a recount.)

But this is all conjecture, and the surprise may be something a little more mundane. Maybe the judges will suddenly be forced to comply with a list of banned words: Randy would no longer be able to lean on his double crutches of "pitchy" and "you worked it out, dawg;" gone would be the days of Paula describing someone's "colors" or Simon comparing anyone to a lounge singer/cruise ship singer/amusement park singer; and even though she's new, Kara would be forbidden from using any of her co-opted New Jersey-style lingo, such as "that's sick" or "that was ridiculous."

Now on to the singers. There's only one way to describe what went down tonight: It was a sick, colorful show that was similar to listening to a pitchy lounge singer being ridiculous. But at least they worked it out, dawg. I kid, I kid! Actually, the Top 13, for the most part, proved they belong in the upper echelons of the Idol Hall of Fame. Danny, Matt, Allison, Alexis and Adam all but cemented their status as audience faves with some mind-blowing performances. Kris, Lil, Scott and Anoop all have crazy fanbases (listen to that crowd scream!). And the remainder still proved interesting and definitely worthy of being in the game (i.e. Michael, Jasmine, Jorge and Megan).

Some of the singers are far from great, and many performers stumbled with some off-key moments, but I've yet to see a singer who is as obviously bad as others in past seasons (That's right Sanjaya! I'm totally referencing you and your crazy pony-hawk! Though I could also be talking about Kristy Lee Cook, John Stevens or any number of other "Idol" misfires from throughout the years.) A quick look at some of those websites that encourage people to vote for the worse singers shows how good the talent is this year. They nominated Megan Corkrey because she screamed "caw caw" at the end of her "Rockin' Robin" song. That's quite the stretch. So, here's to you Season 8 contestants, you've totally stumped the naysayers!

Lil Rounds had the number one spot on Michael Jackson night, and she picked a pretty cool song to start off with, "The Way You Make Me Feel." Three of the four judges obviously want her to continue since they praised her up and down for what was only a good performance, not great. She didn't do anything interesting with the song, and it became tiresome to listen to at the halfway mark. Lil is still a really good singer, as evidenced by her earlier rendition of a Mary J. Blige song, but she needs to find something more interesting to sing. Or at least start putting her own twists on the songs she chooses.

Scott MacIntyre was next with a lesser-known MJ song, "Keep the Faith." Scott seems like a really nice guy, and he's a wiz at the piano, but some of his notes weren't too good. Overall the judges liked him, but Simon said the song didn't do him any favors. I agree, though judging by how many people were screaming for him tonight, he stands a good chance of sticking around for a little while longer.

Mr. Sure Thing, a.k.a. Danny Gokey, sang third with his rendition of "PYT." The beginning started a little shaky, but as soon as he got to some of the power notes he really let loose. And despite looking like a Robert Downey Jr. clone, he has a style all his own, which unfortunately includes song awkward dancing. As long as he stops the dancing and keeps hitting all those notes, while still providing a heart-tugging backstory, I'm guessing Danny should make it to at least the Top 5.

Here's a fun fact, did you know Michael Sarver is an oil rigger? Amazing, isn't it? Actually that little tidbit is becoming almost as overused as "Allison is only 16 years old!," so I'm hoping Seacrest stops mentioning it. Sarver did his best attempt at proving that he is not a country singer, as many think he should be, but is instead a soul singer. He belted out a pretty good, but not great, version of "You Are Not Alone," but some of his growling got a little weird. Simon said he's not the best singer, but has passion and heart.

Jasmine Murray reached waaaaaay back in the MJ catalogue to sing something from his Jackson 5 days, "I'll Be There." She surprised me yet again with her really powerful voice, and she managed to stay in tune for almost the entire song! But the judges are right in telling her to start acting her age, or the voters won't feel connected.

Kris Allen, who will probably claim the mantle of "non-threatening cute guy" singer which was left behind by tween heartthrob David Archuleta, did a solid job on "Remember the Time." But with all his jamming on the guitar I started to wonder if pretty soon he was gonna grow some dreads like last year's contestant Jason Castro. Randy thinks he sounds more like Jason Mraz, but either way, he'll probably get a good amount of votes this week.

Allison Iraheta (did you know she's only 16?!) sang next with the song "Give In To Me." I'm not familiar with this selection, which probably helped Allison turn into her own creation. With her husky voice and crazy rocker notes, she worked the stage and proved she's one of the best female singers this year. Randy said she's "one to watch."

I don't care what anyone says about Anoop Desai's performance tonight, I loved it. It didn't matter too much to me that Anoop-Dogg didn't hit a lot of the notes in "Beat It," I just thought it was a lot of fun. You could tell he was having fun doing it too. Plus, his video package was fun and his parents seemed really cool. Anoop has a giant fanbase, so it shouldn't hurt him too much that all the judges said it sounded karaoke.

Jorge Nunez is another of this year's crop of contestants that just seems likable. He smiles a lot, his translation skills are top-notch and he breaks into Spanish whenever he gets excited. On the downside, his version of "Never Can Say Goodbye" was marginal at best. His technique is good, but the performance wasn't interesting enough.

The night's final four contestants just got better and better the closer we got to the end. Despite the trippy, candy-colored experience that was Megan Corkrey's performance of "Rockin' Robin" (bird tweets! Brightly colored shapes flashing behind her! Wacky dancing!), this girl can really sing. Her voice is very cool, much like Corinne Bailey Rae's voice, and she hit all her notes effortlessly. That said, it was still a weird performance.

I'm a little mystified, and a whole lot scared, by Adam Lambert. He looks like a combination emo rocker/"Twilight" extra, but sings like he's either on fire or possessed. He has a giant voice and performs his songs so over the top, that it would be hard for people not to comment on him. The judges really liked him (seriously?) and said he was the most current (really?), but I'm having a hard time seeing it. He is entertaining, though, so I'll give him points for that. I was really hoping that he'd break out some of the moves from the "Black or White" video; you know, where the people's heads flip from side to side as they morph. He would've totally won my vote if he'd done the head flip. Alas...

The dueling piano player Matt Giraud stepped on stage next and began the next phase of his comeback tour. I'm glad they brought Matt back because his combination of Justin Timberlake-like vocals and awesome piano skills made for an interesting performance. Paula was "blown away."

Last, but definitely not least, was Alexis Grace, who was so special she rocked her own phone number. (It seems "Idol" doesn't have a phone line contingency for an extra contestant, so they gave her the #36 used during the Top 36.) I was expecting big things from Alexis and she totally delivered. Living up to the judges' hype that she's similar to a Miss Kelly Clarkson in the way she can sing anything, Alexis hit it out of the park on "Dirty Diana." She has an amazing voice, great control and awesome stage presence. The judges were split, but they still liked her.

BOTTOM LINE: I'm guessing that Jasmine and Jorge are the weakest links tonight and will most likely get the boot on Wednesday.

That's all for tonight's episode. What did you think of the Top 13's performances? Did the judges get it right when they picked these singers? Did your favorites do well? And is there anyone who you think is totally overrated? Plus, what do you think the show-changing surprise is going to be? Post below and make sure to tune in for Wednesday's results show! -Chris Sardelli


Posted by Chris on March 11, 2009 7:47 AM
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I'm with you on Adam. I've really wanted to like this guy from the beginning. He looks the part, has experience, but every time I'm left wanting. He just comes up short for me for whatever reason.
My personal favorites right now are Alexis and Allison. Isn't it sad that the hardest rockers are two young women? I really was hoping someone would sing "Dirty Diana", and I was shocked when Alexis did it. I wasn't blown away by it, but it was good.
I think the bottom two this week will be Jorge & Anoop. At least going strictly by singing on last night's show that is who it should be.

-- 1. Posted by: Andy at March 11, 2009 1:57 PM

Adam Lambert is miles ahead of the pack, this guy has real talent. He performs with ease while the rest bust their butts trying to be good.

-- 2. Posted by: Troy at March 11, 2009 7:55 PM

Totally agree with your take on Adam. No one else thinks he's freaky?? Am I on another planet?

-- 3. Posted by: MattGfan at March 12, 2009 2:59 AM

About Adam, this isnt a dance competition, nor a "look" competition, even thought the judges comment on that. those are just small things that, yes, are needed in becoming a star, but those of you who know music, this guy has talent and you better admitt. He is by far, the best in having his own interpretations of the songs, his own style, and nonetheless an extraordinary voice. His song choices are quite remarkable as well. We will all see as Adam will again take the hearts of the audience and the judges next week.

-- 4. Posted by: Marie at March 14, 2009 12:32 AM

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