As Ryan walks among the dramatically-lit contestants, Allison’s got her hair punked out and Adam’s still working the Elvis ‘do (that was cool last week, but I miss the emo bangs). The Announcer Guy is back, and the judges do the Charlie’s Angels walk again. Simon is holding hands with Paula, and Randy and Kara are likewise holding hands; it’s like a cute double date! Yep, that’s what the show needed: more couples. Ryan comes down the Busby Berkley stairs again, so I guess this is now the regular Tuesday night intro. Well, at least we get to see the ladies’ killer shoes every week! After everyone is in place, the judges do their normal “they have to bring it” chatter, and Paula confirms that there are “no props” underneath the table tonight. The Idolettes get to visit Ryan at his hosting job on the radio set of American Top 40 and do an on-air interview. This is such filler, but it’s kind of cute.
Anoop Desai is up first, singing “Caught Up” by Usher. He wants to get back to “the high-energy stuff”, which gives me pause, especially after the train wreck of “Beat It”. Okay, so he is wearing a blazer with a chain around one shoulder over a striped tee shirt and accessorized with a dog tag. Good grief. Way to offend our men and women in uniform, college boy. You aren’t even in ROTC, idiot! He tries to bring the attitude, but sneering a lot doesn’t make you Army Strong anymore than the fake dog tag, so that falls right back into Beat It territory. Also, the singing itself is quite unspecial. Randy blames it on song choice, Kara misses the riffing, and Paula, who is wearing a necklace made out of delicious rock candy, praises the vocals but advises him to work on stage presence and arrangement, and you can tell he is totally not listening. Simon also pans the performance, rightly. Ryan tries to start a fight between Anoop and Kara, and ‘Noop Dogg gets all, “You should love this song because Usher did it,” as though that’s some sort of defense for his non-Usher-being ass. Easily bottom three this week.
Megan Joy, whose last name has apparently been jettisoned, is singing “Turn Your Lights Down Low”, by posthumous Bob Marley and opportunistic Lauryn Hill. She describes the critique of her performance last week as a punch in the mouth (ow), but says they’ll like her better this week, because she’s singing a song she loves. Yeah, that just worked out so well for Anoop, didn’t it? She still cannot be begged to wear a top with sleeves, but she does sound better this week. Kara’s still not feeling it, which gets her in a dustup with the rowdy audience. Paula wants to hear a heartfelt ballad, but Simon says, and I quote, “the problem was is that the song was boring”. Well, I think Simon was is right, but I know this song, and the original was is boring, as well, not that that will help Megan. Can’t imagine how it is a “popular download”. Randy jumps on the boring bandwagon, saying it “was like watching paint dry”, although perhaps “listening to paint dry” might have been a more apt simile. Megan defends herself and her song, saying she stands by it. “You’ve been saying that every week!” Simon fumes. Yeah, but there she still stands, Cowell.
Danny Gokey gets the first “stool chat” (ewww!) with Ryan, who asks about Danny’s Motown song (“Get Ready”), which was criticized by Simon as being “clumsy and amateurish”. Danny explains that he had a few choices ahead of that one that didn’t pan out because of approvals and whatnot, so he had to settle. He sings “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts, with an arrangement that starts off spare, with just a violin, and then swells to full orchestration. There are a couple of notes that are off, but overall it’s a very nice showing. Mr. Canary says he is “not blown away”, and I must admit that, yeah, I’m not completely awestruck, but it was really quite nice, and I wouldn’t mind hearing it again. When Simon gushes over the performance, my hubby is like, “What?!?”, but I make the point that Simon is already invested in the Harry Potter vs. Twilight finale (with a side of Lil Rounds), and will tend to contour his critiques to fit that mold.
Allison Iraheta, dressed like a teenage-rebellion Christmas elf and playing a guitar (eh?). is singing “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, and I fear for her as soon as I hear this news, as a terribly rough night at karaoke taught me that this song is much harder to sing than you think. She does okay, but I don’t lose any of my awed respect for Miss Gwen Stefani. Randy acknowledges her as a good vocalist generally but does not praise this particular performance, and furthermore what the hell is she wearing, and all the other judges are pretty much on that same page. Allison probably won’t be in the bottom three, but this was not her best week.
Next up, Ryan says, will be a “piano man” taking on Piano Man Billy Joel, and I’m expecting Matt, but it’s Scott MacIntyre, singing “Just the Way You Are”. Hey, he finally got a haircut! It’s still a little pompadourish in the front, but at least it’s not that floppy Brady Bunch afro any more. The arrangement is just him and the piano, and it starts out predictably sweet, but it builds into a much stronger performance than I expected. This is probably the best he’s ever done on the show, and for once I will not feel like he cheated a better singer out of a spot on the Couch o’ Safety tomorrow. Well done, Scott!
Matt Giraud gets a stool chat with Ryan, and he confirms that it is indeed quite a bummer to be in the bottom three, but he hopes to redeem himself this week with The Fray’s “You Found Me”. He’s playing a small keyboard set amidst a horde of Mosh Pit Barbies, which is interesting, but the performance is shaky in some spots and very sound-alike in most others. It’s a song getting airplay as we speak, so it’s quite easy to do comparisons, as Paula points out. She also calls him on the sound-alike-ness, as does Cowell, who hated it and offers the critique that he is trying to sound like anybody but himself, and that was so good for Eddie Murphy’s singing career, wasn’t it. Randy suggests more of a One Republic flavor (Simon concurs), and Kara, while not impressed by this performance, defends Matt as a gifted vocalist and hopes people will vote him through. I agree with Kara-he’s at least better than Scott, Megan, Kris and Anoop-but it would not be nearly as big a shock to see him in the bottom three this week as it was last week.
Lil Rounds, who is quite aware of the judges’ dislike for many of her song choices, has decided to go with “I Surrender” by Céline Dion. I’m unfamiliar with this song, which will probably work in Lil Rounds’ favor as far as vocal comparison. She’s wearing a sky-blue formal gown which is ruched somewhat unflatteringly around the midsection, and her hair has been flattened into a manga-schoolgirl bowl cut that makes her generous lips look gigantic but is still cute. She is sounding pretty good to me. She brings the Mary J. Blige to this one, at least partially. When she finishes she stands quietly, visibly bracing for the judges’ feedback. Randy once again dogs the song choice but praises the performance. Kara loves the vocals but doesn’t like the song choice, either, and you can see Lil thinking how fucking impossible it is to please these people and sinking slightly into despair, especially as Paula and Simon agree that her personality is getting lost.
Ryan attempts to wacky things up by trying to suborn the punching of Randy by Lil’s children, but the younger girl just clings to him fiercely, which is incredibly sweet but also makes Lil cry buckets because I think she is terrified that her opportunity to provide for these awesome kids is slipping away from her and she doesn’t know what to do about it, because the mystery of Song Choice is a tough nut to crack. She smiles bravely through her tears as Ryan gives out her number, and I really hope people vote for her this week.
Adam is going to sing Wild Cherry? Oh, holy crap. Seriously? You mean that stupid one-hit-wonder’s one hit is one of iTunes’s “most downloaded” songs? For reals? That song is 33 friggin’ years old; is it really that big a part of the Digital Revolution? I ponder all this during the commercial break, after which we are treated to Ryan on Randy’s lap, getting a hug. Okay, it’s a little bit funny, but it’s also a little bit like you’re making fun of an unhappy little kid needing comfort, and that’s really not cool. I swear, one minute Ryan’s sweetly brushing away Lil’s tears and he’s an angel, then he pulls this crap and I’m like, Bitch, please!
So, finally it’s time for Adam Lambert, who will indeed be singing the execrable “Play That Funky Music”, a song so crappy that I hated it even as a child, but he is promising to change it up. Oh, please do! And he does, although visually he’s the polar opposite of Allison, tonight: Where she is a goofball playing dress-up as a rocker, he’s an actual rocker, playing dress-down as your brother’s douchey roommate at Cornell. Nevertheless, the singing is what counts, and as my buddy Dave Gahan says, it counts in large amounts. Paula puts him in a class with Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler, Simon calls it original, Randy praises it as a star turn, and Adam in turn praises the band, who is sitting in the dark (thanks, Kieran!). Kara puts the caboose on the praise train but continues to have problems with numbers, claiming, “It was like Studio 57 up in here!” Oh, Kara. You’re a little retarded, aren’t you.
One more commercial break, and then Kris Allen is in the pimp spot tonight. Wow,that seemed to come up fast, I think, and then I notice that tonight’s show is only one hour and 25 minutes, blessedly. Yay, finally we’re past the two-hour hump! Recaps will be getting easier! Hey Slumdog Millionaire’s out on DVD, now. I’m gonna rent that for sure. Love that “Jai Ho” song!
Okay, Kris. Well, first we have to mess with Mandisa, who is in the audience, looking fabulous. Kris is going to sing “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. Hey, Kris is on the piano! That’s a bit of a change. And hey! I never thought I’d say this, but Kris is absolutely bringing it! He sounds great from start to finish. I’m amazed! Randy, Kara and Paula totally lose their shit. Simon’s a little less effusive, but serious as he calls it a great arrangement and Kris’s best performance. Yup, I’m on that train myself.
The video recap brings us Anoop being no threat to Usher; Megan keeping the twisty-butt dance fairly well under control; Danny belting his head off; Allison loving bright red as both a hair and wardrobe option; Scott displaying impressive vocal control; a pretty good clip from Matt’s otherwise unsuper performance; and Lil getting cut off by my DVR on her first note. Aw, I got gypped out of my Osbournes preview! That was probably the extra five minutes in the hour and a half.
As far as predicting results: To be honest, none of this week’s performances was downright tragic, because there aren’t any truly crappy singers left, so I’m thinking the bottom three will be composed of people who were just kind of disappointing. That would be Matt, Megan and Anoop, who is most likely to go home because of his smug-assed “well, that’s your opinion” attitude. When all four judges are of the same opinion, you might want to consider the point, dolt.
Bat Rankings (tonight’s performance)
1. Kris Allen
2. Adam Lambert
3. Danny Gokey
4. Lil Rounds
5. Scott MacIntyre
6. Allison Iraheta
7. Megan Joy
8. Matt Giraud
9. Anoop Desai