Monday, April 20, 2009


With Sarver, Scott, and Megan now watching comfortably from home, the show has lost all of its ‘why are they still here’ Idol hopefuls. Everyone left, yes even Anoop, has a decent level of talent and at least one ‘hey this person could make the finals’ moment. Of course for Lil and Anoop those moments came before they even reached the Top 13. Lately, Adam has a ‘moment’ every week and the judges always ensure the public believes Danny also has moments. Allison, Kris, and Matt have been up and down each week, but it wouldn’t be shocking if one of them slipped into the Finals. For the first time this season I have no idea who should go home this week. Could this be the week the judges finally use their ‘save’ power? If the power only applies until we reach the top 5 this is their penultimate chance. It is perhaps a little fortuitous Scott left before we entered Movie Theme week. We are saved the awkward moment when Scott tells Quentin he is one of his biggest fans.

Ryan says the Idols have dominated the small screen but now they go big time taking on the music from the movies under the watchful eye of a legend. The so-called legend, Quentin gets the honor of announcing, “this…is American Idol.” Quentin has had some good movies and is always a great interview, but legend might be going a little too far. Is this the best mentor available? Is a guy that cannot even sing and never produced an album the best Idol can find? Any chance Fox is distributing his new movie? Idol never does anything without cross promotion involved so I’m guessing somehow his inclusion helps make them money. This is another wide-open theme that gives the contestants a huge universe of available songs. A big universe often leads to song choice disasters so we might have a couple train wrecks tonight. Ryan is using the new opening from last week that replaced the new opening they used the first several weeks. Gone is the voice of god guy and the judges’ grand arrival through the stage door. Ryan flies down the stairs and introduces the band, which for some reason is down on the stage tonight. In an ironic twist, Ricky, the lead musician on the show got sick of being high, so they put him next to the contestants. Ryan introduces a very colorful Randy by calling him the one and only vibrant congenial yellow striped Randy Jackson. He calls Kara provocative. If provocative means bad at math and a time consuming distraction, then yes Ryan used that word correctly. He calls Paula hot and Simon legendary. Ryan is just throwing out the legend word tonight. How long until he says Kris is a legend? Ryan says tonight is historic; after overrunning their allotted time last week the judges will now talk only two at a time. Simon says the show ran over last week because of the girls talking too much. I wish someone would go back and review every episode and see how much in minutes and seconds each judge has talked on air this season. And if the person is a big enough nerd they can also calculate how many of those minutes were spent giving positive comments. This is one of many new stupid changes the show is trying this season. Let me get this straight, Idol has so little control over themselves they cannot regulate the judges’ comments to ensure the show squeezes in under an hour? Every week when they get short on time the judges manage to fly through their comments with no trouble. Why not use the same approach tonight? I’d rather hear all four judges say something quickly than two judges providing a detailed opinion. If we are so pressed for time why not remove the mentor portion of the show. Do we really need to see Quentin working with each contestant? Maybe the show is thinking ahead for life after Simon and getting us used to not hearing him talk after every person sings. Steve Van Zandt is in the audience. He is wearing his E Street Band clothing, not the Soprano stuff. If we get lucky maybe he could kill off one of the judges. Ryan walks behind all the Idols giving them shoulder massages and comforting words like, “we got to work tonight baby.” They play an extended introduction for Quentin, which reminds everyone he has only had a few successful movies, but it’s ok because he is a legend, right Ryan. Ok this show is incredibly short on time, so short the judges cannot all talk after a contestant sings, but they have the time to show this video? Really? We are approaching ten minutes into this time pressed show and no one has starting singing! Next time you are so short on time cut out the introduction video for the mentor, especially when they are a legend and need no introduction. Quentin explains how the theme is about the combination of music in the movies and says he will give them performance tips if he has any.

Allison – Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing

She is following in the footsteps of last season’s Idol winner singing a song that should be retired into the ‘awesome song but overdone’ assisted living facility. Quentin says she wasn’t quite at a performance level when she ran through her song. He sat down in front of her and made her sing the song again. He thinks on performance night she will do a great job and belt it out. So his great advice to her was to sit in a chair in front of her and make her sing the song a second time. Wow, it’s pretty hard getting expert advice like that without paying the big bucks. What next he is going to lay down on the couch while someone sings? The song begins with the string section taking the melody. Allison is wearing an Adam like fingerless glove on her right hand. The lighting and the screen behind her are all red making her hair almost blend into the background. She changes up the melody a little on the verses. The background looks more and more like a giant lava lamp. She saunters her way in front of the judges as she approaches the chorus. She even reaches out and touches the hand of one of her adoring fans. What happens if the fan pulls her into the mosh pit. Please someone make this happen one week. For some reason when she nears the big finish the lighting turns white. She almost has a few pitch problems near the end, but avoids anything major. The big glory note is almost out of her range, but she manages to hit it with sufficient power. She gets a little shouty on the final few notes but this is her only real chance to add any originality to the song. This is a pretty good performance of an overdone song. I wish she did something different with the arrangement to make it a little fresher. Is that Katie Couric in the audience smiling and clapping? Paula says she has vocally championed Adam since day one, but tonight she noticed for the first time she has the same special sauce he does – her authenticity. Special sauce? You need to describe her singing and you use a condiment reference? Simon hears the word sauce and immediately throws out the word barbeque in the background. She doesn’t care if Allison is 16 or 60, she is an uncompromising remarkable and talented young lady. So we only get two judges talking about Allison and the first one barely manages anything about the actual performance. Simon continues the sauce talk and confirms the sauce is barbeque because Allison is hot and spicy. He thinks she is the only girl with a chance to make the Finals. She is getting more confident and stronger. He doesn’t think he’s ever heard a girl sing this song as well. He predicts we could see her all the way through to the end now. Allison seems more confused by Simon’s praise than happy. Maybe tonight is an attempt to get America used to Simon not always talking after each contestant. If he is leaving the show anytime soon we might have to deal without his acerbic wit permanently and not just after every other contestant. Normally going first is an easy way to slip into the bottom three, but with only 7 contestants left on an hour long show, going first isn’t that much of a hindrance.

Anoop – Everything I Do

As always, everything we hear tonight is available on itunes. Anoop, who apparently has no imagination, is singing a song everyone under the age of 60 probably has memorized. Quentin was a little concerned with Anoop’s song selection at first, but he told him to rough up the song and then changed his opinion. He wants Anoop to over emphasis certain words to give the song more dramatic effect. Anoop always sounds like he is starting the song in too high a key. For some reason there is a large red circle on the stage around Anoop. He is following Quentin’s advice and changing up the melody a little. He sounds surprisingly good. This song doesn’t allow for too many melodic changes, but he is making enough to avoid sounding like a bad Bryan Adams. He is adding a few too many riffs on the word ‘you (since when is you an 8 syllable word),’ but this is actually working. Dare I say Anoop dawg is rocking a slow song? For some reason Anoop likes to sing the sometimes boring love ballads instead of the more upbeat songs. Just because he cannot sing fast Michael Jackson and Usher songs doesn’t mean he should avoid the fast stuff completely. He is avoiding any major pitch issues while somehow emotionally connecting with the song. All too often Anoop uses dramatic facial expressions to convey how emotional the song is instead of using his voice; tonight he is avoiding this mistake and if finding a happy mixture. This might be his best performance all season. Since only two judges are going to talk about Anoop, it will probably be Kara and Randy since Simon and Paula just spoke. Anoop is barely staying on the show and he finally gives a good performance and he doesn’t get the benefit of Simon giving him praise. Maybe Simon would find a way to criticize Anoop, but I think even he might like Anoop-dawg tonight. Paula, well it goes without saying (see normally when people use that expression they then say what they said doesn’t need to be said, but not me, you can figure it out yourself). The crowd isn’t booing, it’s Nooping. Although some weeks I think they were actually booing. Randy affectionately says Anoop dawg is in the house. He was worried when he learned Anoop was doing this song, but the last couple weeks Anoop has found his zone and is rocking the house. He thinks Anoop was in tune, filled with emotion, and did a really great job. Kara says Anoop found his place – pop songs with a little soul infused. She says this was one of Anoops best performances. She felt connected to his singing and really liked his changes to the melody. Ryan asks Anoop what he was thinking about while he sang the song, but Anoop says he cannot reveal the source of his inspiration. I bet he was thinking about Danny’s deceased wife.

Adam – Born To Be Wild

He is easy riding tonight and hopes to give the song an electronic vibe. Quentin says he is looking forward to hearing Adam’s version of the song and Adam, who apparently hasn’t decided how to change it yet, says he is too. Quentin says Adam is the real deal and Quentin doesn’t appear to offer any advice to Adam. I guess he didn’t feel the need to tell Adam to come out of his shell a little. Adam begins the song with his back to the audience standing in front of a lightning bolt filled background. You can already tell the Adam haters will not like his upbeat song. Adam skips his way to the center of the stage. He is wearing his fingerless gloves again and through the first two verses he is keeping the song pretty close to the original. Then, as he approaches the chorus and he runs over to the band (I think more than any other contestant he loves having the band on stage next to him) and the song morphs into a head banging interlude. Adam jumps back and forth between the keyboard player and the back up singers. Seriously, the band has to enjoy playing for him. If you could play your instrument on a slow and dreary dead wife dedicated Danny ballad or an Adam ‘experience’ wouldn’t you prefer the latter? I’m sure there are some bikers listening right now not approving of Adam’s alterations to their theme song. He is really changing things up now on his second run through the verses. Instead of singing the normal straight melody he is starting low on a verse and going a little higher on every word until he reaches the apex then going a little lower on every note until he reaches the end of the verse. This is how you make a song your own without totally destroying the original song. He screams (in pitch) his way into the next pass through the chorus and the drummer is having a lot of fun bashing away on Adam’s new arrangement. I wonder if they put the band on the stage specifically for this number. His final note is higher than Keith Richards. He finishes his performance on his knees belting it out with everything he’s got. The crowd erupts. You get the feeling every one was expecting a loud fast number from Adam tonight. Most of the clapping people have a ‘holy crap’ look on their face. Paula tries to talk but then cedes to the screaming girls that need to voice their approval for Adam a little longer (they do know he is probably gay right). Paula tells him he should take it all in. She says the reason he is shaking up this competition is he dares to dance in the path of greatness. Even though he probably has no idea what the heck she is talking about he thanks her. General rule – anytime someone says greatness to you say thanks. Paula says fortune rewards the brave and she thinks Adam is one of the bravest contestants she’s ever witnessed. Simon says Adam needs to learn how to express himself a little more. Vocally, Simon thinks he was incredibly, but on a down note, he felt parts of it felt like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Since this is one of the biggest rock songs of all time Simon predicts a large portion of the audience will despise his changes to the song. He doesn’t’ think the performance will be as popular as his performance last week. Ryan asks Simon if he liked the performance and Simon says yes, but not as much as last week; last week he was more original and current in Simon’s opinion. Ryan jokes with Adam that he should work on coming out of his shell. I agree with Simon. Anytime Adam takes a chance with a classic song he is bound to annoy part of the audience. Danny isn’t nearly as talented as Adam, but no one hates him when he sings. How can you hate something that doesn’t’ force you to think and borders on boring. Danny’s singing would be played on an elevator because although some people might not love it, no one would hate his singing. If Adam really wants to win this competition he needs to show his softer side every other week like he has been doing. He is following the Tom Cruise model. He usually does a big blockbuster movie followed by a small independent feature. Therefore he gets to ‘act’ and make lots of money. We still don’t know which is the real Adam. Does he prefer doing the fast paced number of the slow break your heart ballads? Maybe he likes doing both and will make an album that touches on several different styles and genres. He is a walking contradiction at times. He dresses like an emo rocker and spends hours on his fashion sense. He constantly talks about being new and modern, but every time Idol provides him a wide-open universe of songs to select, he usually picks something older. He keeps going back to the 60’s for his material with a few trips to the 70s and 80s. His most recent song came during Michael Jackson week. I would like to hear how he alters an already modern song to fit his style. Adam is safe tomorrow because if he somehow got the lowest votes you know the judges would use their save.

Matt – Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman

He gets a sit down with Ryan on the stools of knowledge. Ryan asks him about the judging the last few weeks and how confident he is tonight. Matt says it varies but this week he picked a song he loves and it should work because he is going back to the keys. The Idol piano guy gets a break when Matt works with Quentin since he can play his own piano. Matt thinks this is one of the most beautifully written songs. Quentin warns Matt not to lose the enunciation of the lyrics when he riffs and growls. He thinks Matt is giving the song a completely different feel. Quentin says Matt could have one of his top three performances. Matt begins the song playing the piano with no backing. He runs into his first pitch problem before he finishes the first verse. Well he isn’t sounding copycat right now, but it’s because Bryan Adam hits the right pitches. The band joins Matt and he stays at the piano. He is actually playing the piano really well tonight, probably his best piano moment so far. He jumps into his falsetto note, but struggles a little to hit it with sufficient power leaving his back up singer as the dominant voice. Uh oh, the bridge is a mess. He is trying to do a few vocal riffs and he loses the right pitch and then struggles for several moments to find it again. That sound you hear is the train going off the tracks. On the final note he goes a little flat before he fades out with just the piano. His family isn’t even standing for him. Guys, he is your boy, STAND UP FOR HIM NO MATTER HOW BAD YOU THINK HE SOUNDED. IF YOU DO NOT THINK HE IS WORTH STANDING UP THEN WHY SHOULD WE VOTE FOR HIM? A laughing Randy says the performance started out kinda cool, but then hit a rough patch in the bridge. He lost the melody and went off pitch. He cautions Matt not to do ‘all that stuff’ with a song that has a beautiful melody. He says Matt fell down more than he won on the song and it wasn’t one of his best performances. Kara, who wants to put everyone in a box, says there is a struggle for Matt between rock and soul songs. Some weeks he really nails the song choice, and then he tries to put too much soul into a rock song and takes away some of the core melodies that make the song great. She says if he flips a song like that he has to make it a master piece. Randy says the only way you can soul up a rock song is to make it perfect on every run. A non-glasses wearing Danny waves as they go to commercial. I just realized Danny without his glasses looks a little creepy.

Danny – Endless Love

Danny gets the second sit down stool love of the night with Ryan. He tells Ryan he bought a guitar because he gets bored. Ryan wonders how he has time to get bored and Danny never answers him and instead talks about the Idol tour. He says he will not break out the guitar on the show anytime soon. Was this entire ‘interview’ just a way to advertise the Idol tour? Quentin is a big fan of Danny’s vocals. Danny says this song touches his heart the most out of all the songs he has done so far. Wait a minute Danny hold up. Isn’t every song you sing touching you emotionally? I mean all but a few were dedicated to your deceased wife so shouldn’t they all touch you the same? Or, are you just scared that Adam is better than you and know your only chance to beat the emo rocker is to pull on America’s heart strings as often as possible. Why don’t you find a song called ‘My Wife is Dead’ and sing that one instead. Quentin tells Danny that he is showing his emotions through his eyes. He wants Danny to stick his hands in his pockets and convey his emotions through his eyes and not his hands. Maybe that’s why he isn’t wearing his glasses tonight. Danny is sitting on a stool still using his hands to emote. He sounds a little weak on the verses. As always, he just doesn’t sound too good unless he is really belting out the notes. He stands up at a totally random point in the song (contrast with Adam who stood up last week right as he hit a big power note and the song changed course) and grips the microphone with both hands. This is Danny in full sincere mode. He sounds better when he gets into the louder parts. He is still using his hand of emotion. Dude put that thing in your pocket. He is not doing anything original with the song, but then again Danny rarely does anything creative. His big creative moment last week came when he did the 1980s version of ‘Stand by Me’ that destroyed the classic song. So maybe he is better if he just sings the copycat version. He looks very sad while he sings the song and looks towards the heavens when he hits the last note. Is it wrong to point out his love with his wife wasn’t endless? Sure their love will go on, but the relationship is over now unless he sees his dead wife Grey’s Anatomy style. Although his vocals were good most of the song, this is pretty boring. His family and friends are standing (take lessons Matt’s friends) and they all look sad instead of happy. At least no one is holding up any pictures, but you know they have them in their pocket just in case they need to whip them out. Paula says she wasn’t sure at first if Danny should be singing in a lower key, but midway through the timbre of his voice became magical and he was unique and unforgettable. She says he grabs them in the beginning, wows them in the middle, and slays then in the end. Wait, you just said he wasn’t that good in the beginning, so how did he manage to grab you with his subpar vocals? Simon says he cannot fault the way Danny sang the song because he is a brilliant singer, but he is disappointed they heard the original version of the song. He was a bit bored Danny didn’t do more with the song like David Cook did with a Lionel Richie song last season. The crowd boos and Simon suddenly remembers the dead wife and says he knows this song means a lot to Danny personally and was hard to sing. He congratulates him for overcoming the intense emotions. 30 years from now will people be attending Danny concerts and still crying for him about his dead wife? When does the sympathy party end and the vocal competition begin? Hopefully if he finds love again he will steer clear of one legged British women – they cannot be trusted.

Kris – Falling Slowly

When they return from commercial Ryan is sitting in Randy’s seat and Randy is trying to get back to his chair but Simon will not let him pass. I guess he doesn’t know the magic word. Ryan does a very bad Randy impersonation while selling itunes. For some reason Randy’s shirt, which looks like something out of a new Star Trek series is growing on me, I wonder where you buy something like that, maybe the pet store. Kris looks like a midget next to Quentin. The tall one thinks he captured the spirit of tonight the most by picking song from a movie that meant something to him. Quentin thinks he will do well with or without an instrument. Kris is sans guitar and in full emoting mood. He is having a little trouble enunciating in the lower range of his vocals and we lose a few words. He is missing the right pitch a little on the first verse. I think because he is singing too low for his voice. He must be going high at some point otherwise he shouldn’t start the song this low. A back up singer joins Kris and they are harmonizing well. He hits a falsetto note in pitch and is sounding really good right now. The back up singer and him must have practice a bunch; this is the best pairing of Idol in back up singer in recent memory, they sound great together. His vocals are really good tonight, but there is something missing from his performance. Maybe the song is not big enough for a ‘moment’ or his voice is too small to blow me away. Whatever the reason, he is just short of an amazing performance and instead never leaves the good but not great zone. Randy says for him for Kris it never quite caught on for him. He loves the song, but for him it was pitchy form note one for him. Kara says it is difficult singing such an obscure song, but for her it was one of his best moments. An excited Paula grabs Kara by her shoulder. I guess she liked Kris too. If only we got to hear her comments too, but that would mean we’d have to give up that cool introduction video about Quentin and let’s face it, he is the only reason we are all watching tonight right?

Lil – The Rose

Ryan is in the mosh pit next to a random nerdy looking guy. Why is the mosh pit always made up of a bunch of attractive teenage girls and one or two random guys that look out of place. I’m guessing the guys are children of Fox executives or something. Quentin is a big fan of Lil and was thrilled to hear her sing. She took the song more gospel at the mid point, but Quentin wants her to commit more to the original verse in the first half as much as she commits to the gospel middle. Lil is either using a wig every week or some combination of chia pet and miracle grow to get these elaborate hairstyle variations. She is singing the song with only a piano accompaniment. She sounds good yes, but not good enough to sing this song. She tries to take the song in a Mary J. direction, but her big gospel moment isn’t gospel enough. This song should be filled with emotion but she is just going through the motions, not the emotions. She needs to watch Mary J. sing a song prancing around the stage stomping her foot becoming part of the song. Lil doesn’t know how to reach those inner emotions, which leaves the song feeling lifeless and boring no matter how good her vocals sound. I have no idea why she thought Bette Midler was the way to ‘gospel out.’ Is this song over yet? She finishes her mediocre performance barely hitting the big falsetto note and then ends it quickly when she doesn’t appear to have enough breath support to hold out an extending finish. Despite all her talent, she just cannot figure out how to put together a complete performance. Paula says the lyrics were beautiful and she is sure that sometimes the road is really long, but it’s a worthwhile road when you’ve made it this far. What? That made no sense Paula. At least tell us how you think she performed. Ok new plan next time they are afraid the show might run long, let every judge except Paula talk. Simon has no idea what Paula is talking about and then tears into Lil. He says the song was too soft and middle of the road and despite a few nice moments he doesn’t believe she is the artist they discovered 8 weeks ago. Uh oh Lil is verging on going ethnic on Simon. She asks Ryan if she can respond (haven’t you been paying attention Lil there isn’t enough time for all the judges to talk let alone time for you to talk back). He tells her to be quick. She says when she heard this song she put her own gospel into the song and she thinks it was really good. She says she honestly put an R&b feel into the song and then out of nowhere Paula says, “Don’t ever be afraid to say what you feel Lil, those that matter don’t mind.” What does that even mean? Maybe Paula is just smarter than anyone and years from now we will quote her unique insights to make sense of the world. Ryan quickly gives out Lil’s numbers and rushes into the video recap. She is lucky Simon didn’t have time to verbally berate her attempt at creativity.

Final Thoughts

Allison is still straining on the high notes. Anoop is still surprisingly good and should stick with songs from white Canadians from now on. Adam is still born to be wild. Matt is still more Chris Richardson than Justin Timberlake. Danny’s wife is still dead, but his love is endless. Kris is still interesting and so close having a moment. Lil is still a stem without a rose. Ryan manages to get the show in just a little over their allotted time and promises both Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson tomorrow night.

Tonight was probably the first ‘no one really sucked tonight’ episode since last season. Not coincidentally, it’s also the first episode without Scott and Megan. The Top 7 is very talented but one contestant stands out as far and away the best – Lil. Ok just kidding, in fact she is the exact opposite. Adam ‘rocked out’ tonight and again had a moment. Every time he sings he has a moment. Even his not well-received ‘Ring of Fire’ created a huge buzz and crowd reaction. This season is shaping up as a replay of last season where the creative and original David C. went against the family friendly loveable David A. The teenage girls love them some Adam, so when Kris and Matt make their exits he should gather up their remaining votes and become powerful enough to slay the Danny ‘my wife is still dead’ Gokey. Allison started off the show strong and got the Simon seal of approval and Kris is just so darn cute; both of them should avoid the bottom three. Therefore, Lil, Anoop (he does not deserve to be here), and Matt will face danger, with Lil eventually going home to all her children. Since tonight has 7 contestants left Ryan should implement the standard ‘make one person pick which group of three is safe’ routine. Since whichever group has Adam and Danny in it will be safe, they will have to put them each in a different group of three. I’m guessing they put Adam, Lil, and Matt in one group with Danny, Anoop, and Kris in the other group. Allison will be the final person and Ryan will tell her she is safe but must pick which group of three is also safe. If she is smart she will avoid making a choice and Ryan will then ‘change things up’ and tell Adam to switch with Anoop giving us our first glimpse of the bottom three. Since Lil has struggled for weeks finding her true identity, I don’t think the judges will use their save to keep her around any longer.


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