Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Idol Season 8 Top 9 Perform

Yesterday's theme of iTunes top downloads seemed to have so much potential. Finally, America’s most beloved singing competition—where being “relevant” is such a high priority—is handing the American Idol contestants an open opportunity to tackle some actual contemporary hits. Despite the “easy button” offered by the Idol producers to the final nine, very few of the contestants pulled off the week’s current theme. Last week we said sayonara to Michael Sarver, and this week, unfortunately, many of our favorite Idols are in danger of heading home.

Season 8’s Top 9: Anoop Desai, Megan Joy, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta, Scott MacIntyre, Matt Giraud, Lil Rounds, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen (pictured).

· 01 Anoop Desai- "Caught Up"
Picking an Usher song is risky because no one can really compare to the smooth R&B singer. However, the performance did show Anoop’s personality, and it also showcased his lovely vocals. Despite this, Simon thought it was an “utter mess.” Randy said Anoop “definitely picked up his swagger,” and had “good, cool vocals.” Paula said he needs to take more liberties with the song, and Kara said he “played it safe.”
· 02 Megan Joy- "Turn The Lights Down Low”
The good thing about the Bob Marley song choice is that it forced Megan to slow things down, including her so called “quirky” dance moves. Unfortunately, Megan’s unusual voice went from charming and endearing to strange and irritating throughout the duration of the song. Simon said the “song was boring, indulgent, monotonous.” Randy said the performance was “like watching paint dry.”
· 03 Danny Gokey- "What Hurts The Most"
This Rascal Flats tune was a perfect song choice for Danny. It allowed his voice to return to its more soulful, rock roots, which kept the audience from having to endure his cheesy, up-tempo shouting and dancing. The only problem I have with Danny is that he’s not as good as he thinks he is, and he’s not as good as the Idol judges and producers want the audience to think. Though the judges were correct in saying that this was Danny’s best performance, Danny has failed to show any originality thus far.
· 04 Allison Iraheta- "Don’t Speak"
Selecting a song by a contemporary female rocker was smart, and Allison’s performance of the No Doubt hit was both genuine and enjoyable. However, the judges’ decision to spend more time criticizing her outfit was troubling. This is a singing competition, and poor clothing choices shouldn’t be at the forefront. However, Allison’s get-up did affect her otherwise decent performance in a huge, gaping, negative way: as Simon said, it made everything feel “slightly precocious.” Allison should listen to Kara’s advice: “Rock and roll comes out of you, so you don’t need to dress the part.”
· 05 Scott MacIntyre- "Just The Way You Are"
Scott has been a one-trick pony this entire competition, sitting behind his piano with his coiffed hair and subpar vocals. Tonight, he proved how song selection can turn that all around. Though he wasn’t amazing, Scott’s clever decision to take on a Billy Joel song helped the piano man give his best performance to date on the Idol stage. This song enabled his vocals to be likable and engaging, rather than one-dimensional and predictable.
· 06 Matt Giraud– "You Found Me"
Matt’s song choice sort of made sense. It did fit his raspy voice, and it could have given him all kinds of room to turn it into a bluesier, R&B anthem. Butt he failed to do this. As Paul said, it was a sound-alike performance. The judges agreed it was the wrong song choice, and said Matt should’ve opted for a tune by OneRepublic instead. Kara concluded, “You’re a talented guy. You don’t deserve to go home.” (My message to the judges: don’t use the Idol save on Matt! Save it for Adam, Anoop, Kris, or Allison!)
· 07 Lil Rounds- "I Surrender"
Given the week’s theme, I don’t understand why Lil chose a dated, non-R&B tune by Celine Dion. Though Randy and Kara were right to praise Lil’s immense vocal ability, Simon’s comments were spot on. He said it was a safe, old-fashioned song, and it felt like “a wedding performance.” He added, “It’s like all the personality has been sucked out of you.”
· 08 Adam Lambert- "Play That Funky Music”
As always, Adam was surprising, risky, a bit scary—and most of all—incredibly bold and talented. His take on the Wild Cherry hit was uninhibited and memorable. Though it’s definitely one of his less enjoyable performances, he still managed to outsing his competition. Simon said Adam’s performance was “very brave” and “original.” He liked how Adam “got rid of all this karaoke nonsense.” And Kara said what audiences everywhere were thinking: “Every week, I cannot wait to see what you are gonna do next.”
· 09 Kris Allen- "Ain’t No Sunshine"
With the best song selection of the evening, Kris’ performance was overflowing with raw talent, grit, and sex appeal. The song choice played well with his “heartthrob” role on the show, and more importantly, it allowed his voice to be fuller. Finally, Kris made me believe in him as a true contender. It was also nice to see him on the piano instead of a guitar. As Randy pointed out, Kris has been “slaying” the competition (minus Adam—my words, not Randy’s). Kara chose to be concise, saying, “That is artistry.” Simon praised Kris’ confidence and the song arrangement, saying the performance was clever and cool.

Who Stays & Who Goes
· Kris Allen and Adam Lambert were the only contestants to successfully tackle the evening’s theme, proving they are the real frontrunners in this competition. If you give into the Idol brainwashing, then Danny Gokey and Scott MacIntyre were also considered good.
· Allison Iraheta, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, and Lil Rounds weren’t the best of the evening, but they weren’t the worst either. They managed to bring strong vocals to the stage, despite some poor song or outfit choices.
· Megan Joy was really the weakest contestant, but does that mean America will (finally) send her home? I do think she’ll make the bottom three, but something tells me Allison, Anoop, or Matt may also join her on the infamous silver stools.

Tune in at 8 pm tonight for the results on FOX.

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