Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Showdown at the Idol Corral

For Simon Cowell, country music night is a little like when a small child makes their pilgrimage to the dentist; the experience is awful yet seemingly necessary. There are no pure country artists remaining in the Top 11. In fact, more than a few contestants seem anathema to the music made famous in Nashville. In past seasons some contestants wigged out of the country theme by reworking a country song into another genre. Perhaps the best example is Chris Daughtry singing Live’s version of Walk the Line. This strategy, avoiding the country theme, is fraught with danger. If the performance is mediocre the judges may well call out the contestant for playing fast and loose with the theme and criticize the song choice. Some questions surround tonight: Will the judges derail the Danny v. Adam in the finals train with some harsh comments? Does one of the other contestants have a ‘moment’ capable of thrusting them into finals discussion? Will Scott and Matt play the piano on a country song? Will Adam show his versatility and dial back his raw energy. Will Anoop finally pick a decent song other than ‘My Prerogative?’ Who gets the pimp spot? Will it be one of the judges or Ryan that makes the obligatory sexually inappropriate comment? Will the judges make the pretentious walk from back stage like they did last week? Finally, and most importantly, will anyone wear a cowboy hat?

Ryan starts the show walking down the line of contestants. Last week they performed in a different order than they were lined up before the show, so we still don’t know who gets the pimp spot. Ryan says the remaining contestants have improved their odds of becoming a superstar from 100,000-1 to 11-1. For you non-math majors out there, that means they have a pretty good chance now’ a pretty good chance to be the next Scott Savol. I always enjoy how the judges and Ryan talk about ‘making it’ once you get this far in Idol yet every season most of the Top 10 disappear back into the wild once the Idol season reaches a conclusion. Last week’s entrance was not an aberration; the judges make their grand entrance from behind the stage doors. I like it better when they are sitting down and Ryan makes the introductions. Ryan comes down the stairs again, like last time. He normally doesn’t like to begin the show in the same place, so sooner or later he is going to change up his starting location. The stage goes green and the band plays an Irish jig as Ryan wishes everyone a happy St. Patty’s day. Randy thinks this group has evolved from the smaller stage in the earlier rounds, but he wonders if the theme tonight could cause problems. Kara hopes those that struggled last week improve and Paula stands by her finals prediction of Danny v. Adam. Ryan asks Simon about his special relationship with country music and you can already see Simon’s disdain. Lil and Alexis help Scott walk out to the front of the stage. Megan looks unpleased, almost sad. I wonder if we will find out the source of her angst before she performs. Kris’s wife is wearing green – she doesn’t want any creeps in the audience pinching her from behind. Ryan’s video introduction says country music has always been the heart of America. The Grand Ole Opry America’s longest running radio show and has become the ultimate country music showcase. Becoming a member is a fantastic honor. We know this because Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks tell us. Randy Travis (Travis) asked Carrie Underwood if she wanted to be a member and she says yes. Do they haze the new members like fraternities do? Did Travis have to endure a Kenny Rogers urination incident before he gained his membership? Randy tells the contestants he can offer them more advice about training horse than making music because he thinks they are such a strong group. Travis is sitting in the audience, but Carrie, his singer partner tomorrow night, is apparently too busy to make an appearance.

Michael Sarver – Ain’t Going Down Til The Sun Comes Up

The song’s numerous lyrics frighten Michael. Travis says if you miss one word you could find yourself completely lost. He likes Michael’s changes to the melody but warns him not to lose the words when he adds his own interpretations. I want to hear Jorge’s English as a second language version of this song. A harmonica player is seated on the stage when Michael starts singing. The player is not Taylor Hicks. Come Idol through the guy a bone and at least let him return and play the harmonica when contestants request the rare harmonica solo. This song choice is both good and bad. It’s certainly a crowd pleaser and I’m guessing a lot of country fans are celebrating its selection, but for a singing competition, it displays none of Michael’s already limited range. The first third of the song lies within a three not range. Michael is more speaking the lyrics than actually singing them. He becomes (I think) the first contestant this season to walk behind the judges and they all swing their chairs around to stare at his back. Michael makes the unfortunate choice of sitting down next to the harmonica soloist. In walking towards him and sitting down he misses a few words on the next verse, but quickly catches up and his almost massive mistake is short lived. When he stands up and sings again the back up singers join in on the chorus and his voice almost disappears. Paula is dancing (she would dance at a funeral if given the chance), but this is significantly worse than his performance last week. Will this song ever end; it just keeps going and going and going. One quick fix would make this performance even better – less Michael and more harmonica. I will lose a little faith in Simon if he plays up the ‘good guy’ bit again and doesn’t severally criticize Michael’s performance. Sure he is hitting all the right notes, but when there are only 3 notes it’s not really that hard. Randy says it was a cool song choice because it showed his fun side, but he isn’t sure it showed off his vocal capabilities. He twice says he doesn’t know. Kara says they got to see a lot of his personality, but she missed his big notes. She is impressed he remembered all the lyrics. Michael says the notes are important, but country music is about having fun, and he had a good time. Paula loves the song and thinks it allowed him to have fun, which let them have fun. She liked the harmonica player and believes this is Michael’s genre. Simon says it should have been good, but he couldn’t understand a single word Michael was singing. He says he could have been singing in Norwegian and no one would realize. He calls the performance clumsy and suggests we could see this in a karaoke bar. Michael responds by saying if we were all perfect we wouldn’t need this show. Huh? What does that even mean Michael? Dude, I know you probably have a lot of time to think about philosophy and the mysteries of the universe while roughnecking it, but in the future stay away from the profound Zen like statements. Ryan asks Simon if he actually liked it, and Simon says on a scale from 1-10 he would give it a 1.2. He is being a little generous. If this were a competition for people who can talk the fastest, Michael would be in the lead, since he talked his way through the entire song.

Allison – Blame It On Your Heart

Ryan sells Itunes while he introduces Allison. Travis predicts Allison will do a good job on anything she sings. He isn’t sure he has ever heard such a mature sounding 16-year-old. He warns her to avoid cute little dance moves while she is singing. She hints she might do the dancing anyway. She sounds very good when the song starts. Her song choice is a little like Michael’s; the song is more about having fun than actually singing. Although more vocally challenging than Michael’s, her voice is still bigger than this song. She does not suffer from a lack of confidence; she performs like a woman twice her age. The only real problem occurs when the song gets really low and her voice disappears a little. This is a ‘so what’ performance, but probably good enough to keep her around another week. I wonder how many times the judges will mention her age when they give her comments. The crowd really loves Allison tonight and won’t stop cheering. Kara is starting to think Allison can think the alphabet and sing it well. She thinks every week Allison is getting better. Paula calls it another rock solid performance and suggests no one will ever be able to take away the rock edge to Allison’s voice. She wants her to show some vulnerability when she makes records. Simon think it was good, but tuneless in parts and he felt like she was struggling to remember the words. She says she wasn’t and has known the song since she was 8 years old. He says she was verging on precocious a little bit. Randy doesn’t think it was precocious, no, he thinks it was dope. Travis seems really happy in the audience. Allison tells Ryan she wasn’t thinking about the words of the song, instead she was thinking about the 30 million people watching at home. Is country music week over yet?

Kris – To Make You Feel My Love

Kris is singing a stripped down Garth Brooks song. Travis thinks Kris is a strong ballad singer. If the crowd listens to his vocals he thinks he’ll do very well. Travis says Kris is not singing Garth’s version; his ability to make the song his own impressed Travis. A sitting on the stage Ryan introduces Kris who is sitting on a stool without his guitar. On Idol a stool means the song is very serious and we should pay close attention for the big ‘I’m getting up from the stool moment.’ The song’s arrangement is simple and features a piano. The stripped down backing music really shows of Kris’s nice tone. He has a pleasant if not powerful voice. The teenage girls are going to eat up this softer side of Kris performance. He sounds good. This is the first song tonight where singing is the most important aspect of the song. The first two were about having fun; this song is about singing, and Kris is doing an excellent job. He finishes the song with an almost too thin falsetto note, but he holds the right pitch until he is finished. This is an impressive singing display from Kris; his first two performances were up beat Michael Jackson songs that failed to feature this side of his voice. Paula is pleasantly surprised and thinks the performance was honest and pure. She remembered how nicely his vocals were without his guitar. She thinks he had a few pitchy moments, especially at the end, but this he made a smart choice to lose the guitar. Simon thinks he was terrific. He loves the song and likes the way he took it all back so he was in control. He concentrated on himself and didn’t go over the top. This performance is the first time he really thinks Kris has a chance to do something in this competition. Randy likes that Kris showcased his vocals and enjoyed the tender moments from this dog Kris. The other judges suggest he is a tender dog. The mere mention of tender dog probably has a few Koreans in the audience already salivating a late night snack. Kara didn’t even realize this was a country song when she heard him sing the song. She says it was very Kris Allen. Kris says he feels amazing hearing the good comments. When they go to commercial Lil is standing in the audience, perhaps begging for votes.

Lil Rounds – Independence Day

During her sit down with Ryan he asks her how much time the contestants spend together in between shows. She says, “We spend quite a few time together.” She mentions the contestants spend time in the hot tub. A hot tub reference on Idol? How long until the Bachelor and Big Brother sue for copyright infringement. He asks her what she thought when she learned tonight was country night and she says the first thing she thought about was how the only country songs she knows were in movies. She is nervous because she doesn’t want to put too much R&B into a country song, so she is going to hold back a little bit to honor the music. Travis thinks she picked a very big song. He wants her to slow down the verses just a little so she can add her own riffs. He likes it better once she relaxed and sang the song at a slower tempo. He says she has very big pipes. She handles the first part of the song well, not really sounding R&B or country. She stands still at the center stage while we approach the song’s big note filled chorus. Although she sounds good, she is showing little to no creativity. It’s as if the personality filled Lil has been replaced by an emotionless singing robot; she is just going through the motions. Her only riff comes right before the big in-tune power note that finishes the song. This is a technically correct yet lifeless, almost cold, performance. This is a commendable effort from someone obviously terrified about this genre. Randy calls her song choice ambitious and interesting. In the first part of the song he was struggling a little, but once she opened her voice on the power notes he liked her a bit more. Yet, he never felt like it was comfortable on Lil. He thinks it was just alright. Lil says she wanted to prove she is more than just an R&B singer. He just isn’t crazy about the song choice. Kara says they all know she is a great singer and missed her big voice at the start of the song. Not her best performance, but she compliments her for standing her ground. Paula thinks the vocals were spot on says she is beautiful. She suggests the performance might have worked better if Lil reached the power notes a little sooner and Simon starts mocking Paula. Simon accidentally calls her ‘Little’ instead of Lil, and says the song came over as if she was one of those girls that has to sing at a wedding and is forced to sing a song someone else requested. He thinks she felt and looked uncomfortable. Lil interrupts Simon and says she is trying to show America this is a learning process, and he interrupts her asking if he may talk again. He says she could have done something that suited her by changing around a song. Lil has performed three times and each time showed little to no creativity. She is a good singer, but unless she figures out what makes Lil Lil she will struggle to move beyond the Top 5. She tells Ryan she was trying to do something new, but understands what the judges were saying. She promises she will do better if they keep her around. Ryan says Randy calls Simon the ‘lil judge’ when he isn’t around. That means Ryan is the winner of the first sexually laced comment of the night.

Adam Lambert – Ring Of Fire

In a rare back-to-back pre song interviews with Ryan, Adam gets to sit on the stools of talking with our host. He tells Ryan the song will be signature Adam, but might lack self-discipline. Ryan says Adam and Travis are antithetical personalities and people and calls the upcoming video priceless. Adam says Travis is a gentleman and told him to focus on the words, which is why Adam picked this song. At first Adam was nervous about country week. Adam found Middle Eastern version of the song. A perplexed Travis is so confused he says, “I don’t even know what to say about this boy.” He says the arrangement threw him for a loop but he gives Adam points for being unique. He predicts Adam will not soon become a member of the Grand Ole Oprey. Despite Adam’s nail polish, Travis thinks he is a nice guy and a great singer. How about a new reality show on NBC (they are desperate) where Adam and Travis move in together becoming this generation’s odd couple. This is a really out there arrangement. I feel like I should drop some acid and sit back and listen. I can see why Travis looked a little scared when he heard Adam’s run through. This is country music, I’m just not sure which country. The screen behind Adam is filled with images of fire. The first two verses are reserved and then Adam starts to let loose. His control on the falsetto notes is amazing. This version of the song could be the music in a Cir De Solei performance. Johnny case is low voiced and grounded on mother earth; Adam is high and ethereal as his voice dares to soar where few can follow. After some uninspired unoriginal songs to begin the show, Adam is providing a much needed ‘wow’ factor. I have no idea if the judges will like this very bold song alteration. Kara has never quite seen that type of ‘country’ music. She says the fire and Egyptian thing is all a little strange and she isn’t sure what to make of his performance. She calls it strange, but she kind of liked it; she is confused and sort of happy. Paula says Adam is true to who he is as an artist, and although it’s country music week she loves the sitar sound. She thinks he is either a quick study or a natural; he is raising his own bar each week. Simon also looks confused, and asks, “what the hell was that.” He would never go to Nashville with Adam because he thinks a lot of people are throwing their TVs out the window. He thought it was indulgent rubbish, even horrific. Randy says it was Nine Inch Nails doing a country song and thinks Adam is fresh, young, and hot. Ryan says they have come a long way since Taylor Hicks stood on the stage. Travis is still speechless and maybe a little scared. I especially enjoy how Simon, who always criticizes people for playing it safe, gives Adam no credit for thinking outside the box. I also love how he doesn’t even comment on Adam’s vocals. At least say if he sang the song well or if he was off pitch. When Chris Daughtry gave the country theme the proverbial middle finger by singing a rock version of a Johnny Cash song Simon said the vocals didn’t matter because Chris took a great song that everyone knows and made it his own version. He then praised Chris for being the first artist on Idol who refused to compromise and said for this he deserved a round of applause. What is the difference between Chris and Adam? Adam also altered a classic Johnny Cash song and gave the Idol audience a sound this stage has never before heard, but two of the judges are not honoring his unique creativity. Kara is more confused than a homeless man learning quantum physics and Simon is acting like Adam just spit on Johnny Cash’s grave. Wouldn’t fans of country music also be insulted by Daughtry’s rock version of Walk the Line? Why did he get a pass where Adam does not? I guess they are telling Adam to come out and copy the original version of the song and be a good little boy. Simon and Kara are obviously not into anything avant-garde. Even though I completely disagree with Simon and laugh at Kara’s ever increasing idiocy, Adam should learn a lesson from tonight’s performance. He has only performed three songs so far on Idol, which means he and America are only dating and not going steady yet. He needs to tone down the glam rock and takes things more slowly until he gains the public’s trust. It’s like he is out the third date with America and instead of advancing to second base he went right for home. The natural reaction for a lot of people is to pull away from anything that challenges their sensibilities (accepting new things is just so hard) and instead embrace something safe and comforting, like an affable widow). If Adam proves he can sing like a good Christian boy a few times he will earn the right to experiment more freely. I think Adam can win American Idol, but I’m not sure he is willing to compromise his vision. He might prefer providing magical other worldly experiences like tonight instead of compromising and singing the songs straight (pun intended) even if the end result is a premature departure.

Scott - Wild Angels

Ryan is surrounded by screaming girls and more guys than normal in the mosh pit. Travis isn’t sure about Scott’s song choice. Travis thinks Scott’s vocals were fine, but his tempo is a little slow. Scott surprised Travis more than anyone so far. Why is that Travis? Do you have little expectations for blind people? You hate them don’t you Travis? Ok not really, but little comments like that sometimes get people in trouble. Ryan feels like he at a Jonas Brothers concert while in the mosh pit and introduces Scott on the baby grand piano. If the show gets a little more money they can afford a grown up piano. I think Scott got a haircut since last week. Uh oh, I’m starting to sound like Paula. The song begins with just Scott on piano and I really like the stripped down effect. We can hear his playing and his voice. His voice sounds so bland compared to Adam’s showmanship. It’s like Adam just juggled 7 knives and now Scott is out there juggling three beanbags. He voice is pleasant, yet bland, like a back up singer; there is nothing unique about his vocals. His piano playing while serviceable is nothing special. I don’t know if they have music available that he can read, so he might have to figure out the notes by himself, which makes his playing remarkable. I’d like to hear him play a song he has been playing for a few months. He sounds nice on the higher notes, but runs head first into some pitch problems when he transitions back into the lower ones. Halfway through the song the entire band joins in and Scott uses his fuller voice; he sounds better here than at the beginning. This is a nice sweet little performance, but after Adam’s mini concert I expect the judges will gravitate towards Scott like an AIG executive embracing a government bail out funded bonus. Scott, get ready for some unearned praise. The crowd just happy Scott didn’t confuse them with that ‘creepy foreign music’ they just heard. Paula thinks tonight is another impressive and lovely performance. She says he works harder than most people on the stage, but she thinks the piano is a bit of a crutch now and separates him from the audience. Scott says they can move the piano closer. Paula just wants him to mix it up so he can connect with the audience. So Paula wants the blind guy running around the stage. Great advice Paula. Simon looks at her and asks what she wants him to do? Translation: He is blind you idiot! She wants him piano less. Simon says this is a stupid comment because he is very comfortable behind the piano and says Elton John sits behind a piano. Paula says so does Billy Joel and Simon jokingly says they should both take Paula’s advice and stop playing the piano. Again, SCOTT IS BLIND PAULA! Elton, especially when he was younger, would often get up and run around the stage and Billy still plays some songs on his guitar. A better comparison might be found with, oh I don’t know, other blind piano players, like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. I’ve never seen either of them get up and go all Usher dancing around the stage. Simon tells Scott that the last two weeks Scott didn’t pick good enough songs. Scott explains he lost some of the songs he wanted to other contestants, calling them ‘hat picks.’ He hopes he surprised them by singing a song from a woman. Simon says he forgets the songs after Scott sings. Randy says for him it’s not so much the songs; he is looking for hot crazy unbelievable vocals. These performances are nice good and not stand out. He reminds Scott this is a singing competition. Kara wants him to up his game a little and wow the judges. On a good note, she says he brings class and poise to the stage. Scott tells Ryan he is either sleeping or arranging the song while at the mansion. Scott says if he makes the Top 10 he will come out without the piano one week. Simon wonders what happens if they have Elton John or Billy Joel week and Scott assures him the piano will be at his side for the foreseeable future. If I didn’t know better I would say Scott played the same song last week; he needs to add some excitement before the novelty of his blindness wears off on potential voters.

Alexis - Jolene

Alexis gets a sit down and Ryan asks her what she has been thinking watching back stage. She says everyone sounds great and she just wants to have fun. She didn’t see the Paula and Simon fight (according to Ryan they stormed away from their chairs during the break). She is comfortable with country because she is from the south and they all like country down there. Really? Lil Rounds must have missed that memo Alexis. By everyone, you mean all the white people. Racist. Again, this can happen when people take things out of context. She wants to show off her soft side. Travis thinks she did a great job and understands how to tell a story. He has no helpful advice since she is already perfect. She begins by walking down the stairs and then arbitrarily stops with about three steps left. She slowly makes her way towards the judges. She sounds copycaterrific on the first two verses. Right now she has about as many originality as the latest Friday the 13th movie. When she hits her first falsetto note she misses the pitch but recovers quickly. At least she isn’t screaming right now, like she did throughout the entire song last week. Her vocals are merely average, not spectacular and this is no Alexis in this performance. You can hear a similar version at countless country bars around America this weekend. This is an uninspired song choice. She doesn’t look thrilled with herself when she is done and her family isn’t even giving her a standing ovation – get out of your seats you people that’s your Alexis out there! Randy says the song is great but he isn’t sure she hit the notes right; there were a lot of pitch problems. He didn’t like the way she tried to make the song bluesy. Kara thinks she lost her edge a bit and says Alexis should have done a Carrie Underwood song. Way to be insightful Kara. I could have told Alexis to pick those songs. You are a judge, which means you should possess musical knowledge us lay people can barely fathom. Show you did some homework for tonight and suggest a few less well-known songs. Kara thinks Alexis was flat in the beginning. Paula says the song was more effective than Kara and Randy said. She says Alexis took an artistic approach by showing different sides of her vocals. She also says she doesn’t care about the pitch problems because she so enjoyed Alex’s soft side. What? She just said she doesn’t care about pitch problems. Umm, I think you should Paula since this show is about singing, and if you can’t hit the right pitches you can’t be a successful singer! Oh wait, Paula sold millions of albums without hitting the right pitches. I take it all back, she was right, hitting the right pitches is irrelevant. Alexis says she was just trying to show some variety. Simon says she was ok, but it was a bit sound alike. He didn’t hear a lot of originality and predicts they will forget the performance in about 10 minutes. Ryan asks Alexis if she would do anything differently hearing these comments and she says she should have added more dirty. If she comes back next week she promises more dirt. It sounds like an ad campaign, “Try the all new Alexis, now with half the calories and twice the dirt.”

Danny – Jesus Take the Wheel

This song is about drunk driving right? When you get so drunk you just pass out while driving assuming Jesus is going to take over. Unfortunately he is always busy and rarely mans the steering wheel. At least the song isn’t called “Jesus take the scalpel,” because I do not want to have the doctor listening to that operating on me. Danny is the second guy tonight singing a song made popular by a female. It’s a little funny this season’s most likely ‘still in the closet’ contestant is not one of the ones singing a girl’s song. Ryan sells some more itunes while introducing Danny. Poor Danny is extremely nervous while singing for Travis. Danny is so nervous he cannot sing the right notes or the right words as Travis hovers nearby. Travis hopes he can pick up the words by the performance night. He says most singers wish they could have Danny’s soulfulness. Danny has been hinting at his religious background each week, but has not completely come out for Jesus. Surely he wants to proselytize his faith, but the shrewd Danny must know America is more willing to vote for the good Christian boy, so the more he can talk about his religion the better. He stopped the veiled references to Jesus this week and instead is singing a song about Him. If the finals end up Danny vs. Adam they could advertise it as ‘The Sinner vs. The Saint.” Danny’s voice sounds paper thin and almost flat when the song begins. The first three verses are boring and copycat. When he reaches the chorus and opens up his voice he sounds so much better. He adds a few riffs through the back half of the song but like so many performances tonight, he is classic ‘so what.’ His voice sounds almost strained on the bigger notes and he ends the song on an anticlimactic soft note. He isn’t half as good as last week, but I bet the judges will be more excited than Ruben Studdard when he first discovered the wonders of late night room service. The crowd gives him an undeserved standing ovation. He is good yes, but come on people Danny isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel. An amused looking Kara says when he hits his stride it’s like non other. The front half of the performance was not spectacular, but she wishes she had 10 minutes of the back half. Paula disagrees because she loves when artists build a story. She loves waiting for Danny’s big voice. She thinks he was brilliant and suggests Carrie Underwood would not only approve of his version, she would buy it. She missed a chance to get in some more commercials. She should have said that Carrie would buy his version off of Itunes! Simon doesn’t think Carrie would rush out to buy it, but he does agree with Paula that you don’t start the song full on screaming the song. His only problem is what Danny is wearing. Simon says he looks like he is going on some polar expedition while it’s 80 degrees in Los Angeles. Randy agrees with Kara. He calls the rest of the song blazing hot, but thinks Danny needs to support the first verses better and avoid the pitchyness. I am dumbfounded. Randy is making the most sense tonight. After an entire season of talking about people singing phone books he found his groove again and is acting like he is in the studio with Mariah recording her new album. Ryan asks if Danny let go in the middle of the song and he says he knows he needs to clean up the stuff Randy mentioned. Simon and Paula missed the point of Kara and Randy’s comments. It’s not that they want Danny to sing the entire song ‘all-out,’ rather, they want him to not suck when he sings soft. And quite frankly, the first half of the song was borderline sucky. Let’s put it this way, until Danny reached the chorus I wanted Jesus to take the microphone.

Anoop – You’re Always On My Mind

Ryan is walking in front of the stage as he introduces Anoop. Anoop is a little apprehensive of country week. Travis wasn’t sure about Anoop’s song choice, but removed his doubts once Anoop sang. He predicts people will rethink their opinion of Anoop once they hear this song. So no pressure or anything Anoop. He still cannot find the right look, but he already sounds much better than his Michael Jackson debacle. The band delicately providing him music, so much so I feel like I’m at a funeral. I can see everyone standing up in the church pews as they honor a fallen friend. Anoop, when your singing makes me think of funerals I don’t think that’s a good sign. This is pretty boring. When he adds his riffs he has some major pitch issues that almost plague him throughout the last part of the song. Yes, this is an improvement over last week, but he lost his groove; this is very similar to his performance during his Group week. Maybe I’m just really sick of country music right now. Paula says Anoop is back. She is so proud of him for picking a song that allowed his interpretation. She actually makes a pretty good joke by saying this glove fit him like a glove, unlike last week when it didn’t fit (Michael Jackson’s white glove). She says his vocals are tender and honest and he touched her heart. Simon says he just managed to go from zero to hero. He says the performance was good and one of his favorites of the whole night. Simon retracts his statement regarding Anoop not deserving a spot in the Top 13 and compliments him for picking himself up from last weeks beat down. He is glad Anoop is back. Randy says this is the reason they wanted him in the competition. He showed his vocal skill and Randy really liked the dope arrangement. Kara says Anoop was the best performance of the night and a big surprise. She is impressed he reworked such a classic song. Anoops jokingly says he isn’t surprised by the feedback since he expects himself to be the best when he sings. Fox must have sent the judges a memo suggesting they keep Anoop around for a long time because although his performance was good, it was in no way deserving of such laudatory comments. I am a big fan of Anoop but he was barely better than ‘so what.’ Kara didn’t even sell her comments. She was jumping up and down and wooing for Danny like a little schoolgirl. She did no such thing for Anoop, and yet calmly says he is the best of the night? At least read your talking points with a little more conviction next time Kara.

Megan – Walking After Midnight

Travis says he wouldn’t want to be in Megan’s shoes. He says her song choice has been done so many times; in every possible way. Wait a minute here. Travis, who has been in the music business for decades and met countless ‘unique’ entertainers, is shocked by Adam’s black fingernail polish yet says NOTHING about Megan’s massive tattoo. It covers her entire arm and he says nothing. How about a clip of him saying ‘you know in Nashville we don’t really have girls with a billboard on their arm.’ How about ‘I have paintings at home with less ink on them.’ Dare I suggest they edited the clip with Travis and Adam to highlight Adam’s weirdness? I’m not saying they want Adam off the show, but I think they are casting him as the resident ‘off the wall’ performer you don’t take home to mother. Travis says her version was totally unique and tells her not to change a thing for the Idol stage. Megan is nothing if not unique. Her voice is all over the place. So much so she could be missing her pitches and who could tell. Her notes are all over the place in ordered disorder. She has a little trouble finishes phrases. She tends to give up on the very last word and go off pitch and sometimes not even fully say the word; it’s like she is racing to reach the next lyrical verse. This has an almost old Hollywood feel to it, like the Glenn Miller orchestra should be behind her providing the musical accompaniment. Her version is almost as odd as Adam’s. She finishes the song with a nice falsetto finish. Like always, I’m not really sure what to think of Megan. If only she could impart a little of her quirkiness to Scott. Megan is apparently sick; she is coughing when Randy starts talking. Randy thought this would be a train wreck, but he is impressed and thinks it was pretty good. He felt a bluesy jazz vibe and thinks it worked. Kara says the song is perfect, along with Megan’s look. She says Megan has the flu yet still sang, which demonstrates she is serious about winning. Paula says Megan has been to the hospital and back. She calls her a fighter and the consummate professional. Megan is incessantly coughing while the judges talk. Simon says she should have the flu every week because she was better this week than last. He thinks her wardrobe is sucking away her quirkiness. Shouldn’t at least one judge mention how old-fashioned Megan sounded? We constantly hear this criticism form the judges, yet Megan gets a free pass. Maybe it’s impossible to sound old-fashioned when you have an oil painting on your arm. Ryan brings Megan a box of Kleenex. She has influenza and is very sick. Megan does not wait for a commercial and immediately runs backstage.

Matt – So Small

Another guy is singing a girl’s song (someone forgot to turn off Simon’s microphone and we can hear him talking momentarily). Travis calls it an interesting choice. He wasn’t sure it was a great song choice. Hey let me predict what is going to happen. Travis will say ‘once I hear Matt sing his version I totally changed my mind because I loved it and think he will do amazing.’ Yup I guessed right. He really likes Matt’s soulful singing. Matt wants to make the song more emotional and heartfelt. The starts with only Matt’s piano playing and singing. He sounds really good on this Matt original. Neither Matt or Scott is an Elton or Billy (yet) on piano, but it’s nice having a couple of decent piano players this season. He has a ‘One Republic’ feel tonight. The back up singers join in after the first verse. The song is slowly building, except, unlike Danny he doesn’t sound weak and frail on the soft parts. He largely avoids the pitch issues that plagued an otherwise perfect performance last week, until he tries the final falsetto note; he is so flat he needs breasts implants. He made the exact same mistake last week. Lesson – stay away from the falsetto jumps Matt. He is arguably the best performer tonight. Certainly better than Anoop, who Kara already declared ‘best of.’ Kara says there ain’t nothing small about him, that’s for sure. This gives us our second sexually tinged comment tonight. She says he is a truly talented artist and worked the dynamics of the song. She calls him amazing. Paula loves his authenticity when he performs. She says he is piercing through some many people’s heart. She gives Carrie a shout out for allowing these kids to sing her songs. I’m not even sure Carrie wrote these songs, which would mean she has no control over who gets to sing them, so nice job Paula. Simon doesn’t think Matt has received enough credit for his vocals and thinks tonight he out sang Danny. Matt reminds him of Michael Buble. Umm no Simon, see Michael Buble has an excellent voice with far more depth than Matt. I definitely appreciate his attempt to pimp Matt (who is already singing in the pimp spot) but he cannot seriously think Matt has anywhere near Michael Buble’s vocal abilities. He says he is very comfortable and gave one of the night’s best performances. Randy says this was his favorite. He believes Matt has mad skills. Does anyone have happy skills? He points out how last week he compared him to Justin Timberlake and now Simon compares him to Michael Buble, two performers miles apart – a true compliment. Randy finishes his commentary by saying Matt has it going on baby. Ryan says we have ourselves a competition! Tonight is all about dismissing the ever-increasing notion that this is a two-man competition.


Michael still needs to stop before the sun comes up, like now. No seriously, stop singing. Allison still picked a boring song I already forgot and will forget again in 5 minutes. Kris still sounds good, but will people remember his subtle performance. Lil is still waiting for R&B week. Adam is still odd but amazing. Scott is still like watching paint dry, and not fancy bright paint, I’m talking about good old fashioned plain white paint. Alexis still picked the wrong Dolly song. Danny still can’t drive. Anoop still isn’t the best of the night…what were you thinking Kara? Megan still sounds like she traveled in time from the 50s. Matt is still the night’s best second best.

Tonight was entertaining but I’m as happy as Lil country week is finally over. No one entered the ‘awful’ zone tonight, but a few came close. Michael Sarver probably gave the worst performance. I’ll be shocked if he isn’t in the bottom 3. Are we even having a bottom 3 anymore? Either way I think he will have to sing tomorrow. Other than Sarver, no one really belongs at the bottom, but they will scare someone. Not Anoop, he will be the first one told he is safe, if not, get out the defibrillator because he might have a heart attack. Danny and Adam should be untouchable after last week (not even Adam’s song arrangement should threaten him) and Matt is worthy of a ‘Big 3,’ meaning he should also be safe. Kris could end up near the bottom but only because he went so early in the evening, but I think the teenage girls will keep him safe. Megan should get a lot of sympathy votes and Lil Rounds is still a favorite, same with Alexis. Therefore, either Scott or Allison should join Michael in the danger zone. After Scott’s second boring performance I have a hard time believing people will text and call for him over and over again. That means Scott and Michael should form the bottom two, with Michael hopefully heading back to the land of roughnecks. I wouldn’t be shocked if Megan or Alexis ended up in danger, but if anyone other than Michael goes home America loses.


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