I’m getting tired of recapping the pointless intro, so let’s just say: Serious lighting, only three remain, credits, Busby Berkley stairs, 300th episode, Kara’s armpit, Randy booing Simon, Top 3 strut, and we will learn why Adam was rushed by a fan…tomorrow.
Paula Abdul has made the song choice for Danny Gokey, and she has chosen “Dance, Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby. As soon as I hear this, I heartily approve. Their voices and ranges are a good match, and that is a kicky little song that should get the place fired up. The lady, she is very smart in the ways of music! Danny, who was far too young to be into the music scene when D’Arby had his 15 minutes of international fame, doesn’t know to be excited, but he learned soon enough. He tears right into the song and handles the vocal runs brilliantly. He keeps the energy up without being too shouty, and this is a very strong performance, indeed.
Randy found it “dope”, Kara compliments Paula for keeping Danny “in his money spot” but disses the dancing, which Paula then defends. Simon chides both chicks for discussing dancing on a singing show (taking a swipe at So You Think You Can Dance in the process), then proceeds to talk about the dancing. Yup. He then praises the vocals but disliked the weird scat-off in the middle with the saxophone (valid). He says Paula was right on with the Terence Trent, but should have picked “Sign Your Name” because it was a bigger hit. Paula counters that Danny’s other song was a ballad, and she didn’t want to stick him with two slow songs. Well played, Ms. Abdul!
After that, there’s 500 pounds of nonsense that doesn’t even get on camera, it’s so stupid. And yet Ryan, who ordered the camera minions not to show it, is delighted to give us a blow-by-blow anyway. Fascinating.
For Kris Allen, who has one thumbnail inexplicably painted in badly chipped electric blue nail polish, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson, who are both half-useless so together might make one decent judge, have been mind-melded (you’re welcome, Trekkers) to choose the song “Apologize”, the rather boring joint by One Republic that was performed by the band and David Archuleta at last year’s finale. Regarding that performance, I though it was particularly ungracious that the singer only let Archie sing maybe one verse of the whole song and grandstanded on the rest (we’ve already heard YOUR version of it, picklehead!), in contrast to the awesomely cool ZZ Top, who let David Cook take the entire lead vocals of “Sharp-Dressed Man”.
Okay, back to Kris. He keeps the boring song boring, and provides a fairly serviceable vocal, but that is not enough to redeem it. I do want to give him props for his effort to sing the actual words of the song and not “it’s too late to’pologize”, like the One Republic guy does it, even though he actually wrote the song and could have fixed the scanning. Randy and Kara cannot possibly be at fault, here, right, so Kara expresses her abject disappointment that Kris was not able to rescue their stupid song choice with a brilliant arrangement. Simon harshes their harsh by claiming they could have done the arranging themselves, which I did not think was allowed, but I don’t know. Apparently Kara and Randy don’t, either, and a huge argument ensues which is too juvenile to deserve a revisit. Glad they have so much time on tonight’s show to indulge the useless bickering. At least nobody said he should “apologize” to One Republic for singing the song like that, “but it’s too late”. Oh, I just did, didn’t I? Ba-dump BUM!
Adam Lambert’s judges choice song was, of course, made by Lord Cowell himself, who crows about getting a personal mitzvah from Pope Bono (mixed religious metaphors are my thang) to allow performance of the U2 song “One”, even though I can’t figure what’s the big damn deal, since Mary J. Blige performed the song with Elliott Yamin at the Season Five finale. Stupidity just abounds, tonight. I’m ready to shoot my television, but I want to see Adam sing first.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have been so anxious. The song starts off all mood-lighty and understated, with Adam singing very nicely, but then he goes slightly flat on a note (don’t hear that very often-maybe once or twice this entire season, really) and recovers only to really louse up the song by getting way too far off the melody. It worked with “If I Can’t Have You”, but the hypnotic, repetitive-yet-building melody is very intrinsic to this song’s appeal, and it’s being discarded at its own expense. I must say, Adam’s a great singer, but I did not like this. Of course, all the judges eat it up with a big ol’ spoon, although Randy does echo my discomfort with Adam’s obliteration of the melody.
Kara loved that very thing, though, and nyah-nyahs Simon that her point was proven, yet if Simon actually was responsible for the arrangement, that seems pretty dumb on her part. Paula gives feedback she OBVIOUSLY wrote in advance involving a play on words with the song title. Simon pats himself on the back for song choice (drink!) but tells Adam, “You worked out what you wanted to do with it”, which seems to belie his earlier claim that he had done the arrangement.
So did Simon arrange the damn song or not? When he criticized Randy and Kara on their choice for Kris, it sounded like he did, but when Kara praised Adam specifically for the arrangement, it seemed to give him sole credit (or blame), but then we know Kara doesn’t necessarily have the right flash cards in her deck, if you smell what The Rock is cooking. When Simon had a chance to say who did what, he made it sound like Adam DID deserve credit for the arrangement, but when Ryan asked Adam if Simon did all the work, he said YES!! ARRRGGGHHH!! Or, hey, maybe the key is not to worry about it.
After the break, we see a video of Carrie Underwood’s trip to Angola (Africa, not the penitentiary in Louisiana) for Idol Gives Back. I kind of miss the Idol Gives Back special, but it does make the season pretty long, and it would be that much more work for your lazy, lazy Canary, wouldn’t it? She interacts sweetly with the kids (I can totally see her as a mom) and reports on the program to distribute bed nets to protect against mosquito-driven malaria.
Next, the Idolettes have a song of their own choosing. This year, everyone apparently has to pick a song they have not already performed, which I am totally down with. Fantasia’s repeat performance of “Summertime” was lovely, but it somehow cheapened the amazing emotional impact of the original, which brought even the singer herself to tears. Same thing with Catherine McPhee’s “Over the Rainbow” in Season Five. You can’t blame it on the performers, though: I’m not sure about Catherine, but Fantasia’s performance was mandated by the meddling producers (Oh, hey, look, there’s meddling former producer Nigel Lythgoe in the audience now! No wonder Simon made a crack about SYTYCD!).
So, Danny Gokey has chosen, as Paula noted, a ballad as his personal pick, Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful”, and I laugh because what is this, let’s pick all the gravelly-voiced singers for Danny Gokey Karaoke ™? Let’s see, who have we got left-Bonnie Tyler, Rod Stewart, Kim Carnes? I tease, but I am giving Danny his propers, okay? He absolutely lights up this song. Technically, he is a better singer than Joe Cocker, so that part’s easy enough, but he also brings the appropriate amount of emotion and sensitivity to the performance, which is how Joe sold it, and I completely love the gospel-inflected arrangement. Randy name-checks Billy Preston as the song’s writer and praises Danny’s “mad vocals” (drink!), Kara forgives Danny his earlier transgressions against the terpsichorean art, Paula also liked the gospelly bits, and Simon gives it his highest praise, “a vocal mawtser clawss.” You go, Gokey!
Next up, Kris Allen is going to perform Kanye West’s “Heartless”, and my husband and I roll our eyes at this news, but I will tell you something: Kris’s performance is excellent, from his reworking of the arrangement from jacked-up vocoder to acoustic guitar, to his translation of a melody for the rapped parts, making this song truly his, and except for being a bit out of breath in a couple of spots because of all the content that has to be stuffed into the song, he comes through on this in a fantastic way. I do like the recorded version of “Heartless”, but I like Kris’s version just as well, AND it made Kanye West’s “performance” look even lamer than Kanye managed to. I notice that Paula is bopping along, but that she stays seated. Hmm.
Randy doesn’t hold back like Paula, though, calling it better than Kanye’s version and better than The Fray’s version (which I haven’t heard; maybe that’s where the verse melodies came from?), and thinks Kris is “in it to win it!” (drink!) Kara of course loses her mind because this is exactly what she wanted him to do with “Apologize” (interesting that he didn’t bother answering her earlier critique that a more original arrangement was in fact coming up, but he is very, very good about not yapping back and just letting the music speak for itself), and she loves it to death. Paula makes a stupid joke about Simon, then offers more low-key praise (I think she is afraid of any competition for her Danny Boy), but Simon says he’s redeemed himself for “Apologize”, and I would say that’s a fair assessment. If only I could redeem myself for the stupid joke!
Adam Lambert will close the show, and I am expecting something BIG. After all, he did the ballad, now it’s time for the rocker, and he even went to Randy Jackson’s favorite spangled-Chinese-character-t-shirt boutique for a shirt that says ROCK in big letters, just so we can be sure. I figure he’ll pull out a masterpiece from musical theatre, full of emotion and energy that will show off his range and whip the audience into a frenzy. Let that theatrical beast loose, Adam! Blow our minds! He’s singing what? “Crying?” you mean the Roy Orbison song? That might be nice…oh, no, the Aerosmith song? Or, as Kara would call it, “Early Aerosmith”? Hold on a minute, dude. That. Song. Is. Boring. You had better rearrange the poop out of it, in my musical opinion. Oh, you’re not? You’re just adding some high notes?
Okay, seriously, folks. I am not believing this. He sounds FINE. He DOES. And I LOVE him. I DO. But it’s not special. It’s NOT! I am so annoyed! Adam, I wanted to be transported to a mind-blowing alternative universe! I wanted to be rocked and amazed! Most of all, I wanted you to make up for ruining “One”! And you DIDN’T!
Of course, the judges think he’s awesome, and he is, but they aren’t really talking about this song in particular, just Adam in general, and they pile on so much approbation that Simon has to take a step back and remind viewers that they still have to actually VOTE for Adam, as he will not actually materialize directly onto the Kodak Theater stage when he walks away from the microphone tonight.
Here’s my thinking on the matter. Adam’s a great singer. He will probably win, and he deserves to. He also did better than Kris did tonight, so he certainly shouldn’t go home. But Danny Gokey was the star of the show. I call ’em as I see ’em, folks. Everybody gets the credit they earn and they grief they deserve here in Recapland.
Bat Rankings (Tonight’s Performance)
1. Danny Gokey
2. Adam Lambert
3. Kris Allen – dunzo