American Idol, 2009 – Episode 21 (3/17/09)

Idol LogoWell, the big news today is that someone is claiming that American Idol is rigged. I’m not sure this is really news–anyone with eyes can see how they stack the deck for their favorite contestants, and their favorite contestants are nearly always not mine. (In the seven previous seasons, my personal fave has only won twice (Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia Barrino), and then they went and destroyed Fantasia’s career by saddling her with lousy material so I guess it didn’t matter that she won.)

So I say fight, not by voting for the worst, but by voting for the best, who, at the moment, happens to be Allison Iraheta. Allison isn’t one of the Chosen Ones. She’s been given very little screen time, she’s attractive but not a knockout, and she doesn’t have a sob story. She has advanced as far as she has through <gasp> her ability to sing well.  Sort of strange that should happen in a singing competition, I know, but miracle of miracles, it has.

So, if Allison has another good night, I encourage you to vote for her and stick it to the Man.

Live blog, and the spoilers live blogging entails, below the fold once the show starts at 7:00 central.

Tonight’s theme is Grand Ole Opry. Should be interesting to see how the more niche-y singers do now that they’re forced to broaden their horizons. Although I’m sure Scott MacIntyre will find a sappy piano ballad anyway.

Ryan says that since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, a few pints may make the show more interesting. I think I’ll take him up on that.

Randy Travis is our special celebrity this week.

Michael Sarver opens in the death slot, with “Ain’t Goin’ Down Till the Sun Comes Up” by Garth Brooks. This has the potential to be the Titanic of Idol performances.

It’s not quite that bad, but it’s close. He screws up the words a couple of times and seems more interested in being cute and flirting with the female audience members than singing decently. Really, really bad. The crowd goes wild but I don’t think the judges will.

Randy, Kara, and Paula are far too kind, although they don’t really say anything nice about his singing. And Paula is drunk again.

Simon correctly calls it clumsy. And karaoke! (Drink!) And Sarver is mouthing off, which is irritating. I was never a fan, and now I’m even less of one.

And here’s my girl Allison Iraheta, in a lousy slot. She’s doing “Blame it on Your Heart” by Patty Loveless. Randy Travis seems to like her–good for you Randy.

Now please don’t screw this up, Allison!

It’s a lousy song choice. It doesn’t give her much opportunity to show what she can do, and the band drowns her out a little. She brings the energy, but it’s a respectable, not great, performance, and I am now a bit sad.

It must have come off better in person, because the crowd is very enthusiastic and so are Kara and Paula.

Simon likes it, but isn’t blown away. Randy thinks it was dope. So maybe my girl will survive another day. She was better than Sarver, and she’ll be better than a few others before the evening’s over, I’ll wager.

Kris Allen is next with another Garth Brooks number “To Make You Feel My Love.” He’s sitting on a stool for maximum sappiness.

His singing is…pleasant. I would find it more enjoyable if he wasn’t making “super-sincere ballad singer” faces. I would like it a lot more if this sort of thing were up my alley, which it’s not. But it was nice.

Simon thinks it was terrific, and I can see why even though I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic.

Randy keeps saying “tender dog!” over and over again. Why do they pay him again?

Kris is undoubtedly safe after that.

Lil Rounds is going to take a stab at Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” This is likely a superb choice for her–a big, in your face song that provides some good opportunities for showing off. I’m looking forward to this.

She’s a little off on the first verse–she doesn’t seem to know the song well enough and she’s got a couple of minor flat spots–but she’s magnificent on the chorus. Strange–I could actually picture her singing this sort of thing all the time. On the whole, that was very good.

Randy couldn’t disagree with me more. We agree on the verse, but the chorus did not redeem it in Randy’s eyes.

Paula’s eyes are completely glazed, and she is apparently too drunk to notice the bum notes as she almost declared the performance perfect. I liked it, but that’s going way too far.

Simon thinks it wasn’t her. I’m just thankful she didn’t do “I Will Always Love You.”

Adam Lambert scares Randy Travis, which means that Randy Travis has a lot of common sense. Adam is apparently going to do “Ring of Fire” as imagined by Pink Floyd in the Piper at the Gates of Dawn/Saucerful of Secrets era–it sounds like “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.”

Once he gets to the chorus, it’s back to the glam, and man, this kid can sing. That was big-time good. He’s a contender.

Kara is incoherent, like she’s been borrowing pills from Paula. I thought she was being negative, but at the end, she wasn’t. Paula liked the Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” sound.

Simon brings the pain: “Indulgent rubbish.” “Really, really, horrific.”

Randy says it’s like Nine Inch Nails doing a country song. Not really, but at least he liked it.

Well, what the hell does Simon know anyway?

We’ve got another Martina McBride song from Scott MacIntyre, “Wild Angels.” This sounds like contemporary Christian music, only a CCM musician would have been sung it better. Sappy and off key. Couldn’t he become the piano player for someone else’s band?

It gets better when he picks up the tempo, but his singing is still mediocre at best.

Paula wants him to mix it up a bit, and while Simon and her get into a fight about it, he agrees.

Randy lies and says it’s a singing competition.

I’m glad they’re not 100% positive. I’m already bored by his piano-ballad stuff and the judges seem like they’re getting there.

Alexis Grace will be entertaining us this evening by performing Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” I consider this song to be almost sacred, so if isn’t terrific, I’m going to be very upset.

Alexis isn’t dressed like a tramp this week, which is a nice change.

This isn’t very good. She’s hitting the notes for the most part (with one very big exception) but she’s behind the beat the whole way and it’s really distracting.

Why Kara is slamming the song choice, I don’t know. The problem wasn’t the song, it was lousy singing. Paula doesn’t care about pitch problems. Big surprise there. Simon is pretty middling on it, too, which must be tough for him as she’s one of his pets.

Making sure to get the Idol franchise cross-promotion going, Danny Gokey is going to do “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood. It seems like an odd choice, but I bet it works well for him.

Danny’s wearing a ridiculous jacket and he opens smirking like he’s in Color Me Badd or something (why do they keep coming up lately?). The verse is a disaster, but he delivers the chorus like a Praise song. Ordinarily I’d mean that as an insult, but it works in this context and he pulls it off. But the verse was so bad that I can’t forgive it. Call it slightly above average on the whole.

Paula is more messed up than I’ve ever seen her, I think, and that’s saying something. Get that girl to Betty Ford.

Simon slams the jacket, too.

Randy’s got it right, for once–you can’t just sing the big parts, you have to sing the whole thing.

Anoop “Noop Dogg” Desai is taking a stab at “You Were Always On My Mind.” He needs a good night.

Astonishingly, he’s doing a great job. Perfect tempo, nice arrangement, and it turns out he can actually sing, which I was coming to doubt. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Noop Dogg is delivering the best performance of the night. He just pulled his ass out of the fire. My jaw is on the floor.

Paula, like me, is shocked and blown away. Simon loves it, too. Randy likes the arrangement as much as I did. Kara thinks it was amazing and agrees with me that it’s the best of the night.

Bravo, Anoop. Performances like that are why I watch this show, and we don’t get enough of them.

Megan “Lesbian Seagull” Corkrey has decided to switch to her porn name and is now Megan Joy. She’s going to do “Walking After Midnight” by the great Patsy Cline. Can she recover from last week’s disaster?

She’s doing some sort of naughty jazz version. “Searchin’ for yooo-ooo.” I really hate this–she sounds like she’s making fun of the song. Terrible.

Randy likes it. Why? Kara likes it. Why? Paula likes it. Why? Simon likes it. Why?

I didn’t like it and I don’t like Megan.

Matt Giraud gets the money slot, and he’s doing another Carrie Underwood song, “So Small.”

He’s over-emoting tremendously on the verse, and it isn’t helped by cheesy background singers and violins. He looks like he’s dropping a deuce when he gets to “haaands.”

The chorus is much better–even the arrangement improves. It’s still over the top, but it’s much better. Although this critique is similar to what I wrote about Danny Gokey, it was better than Gokey’s.

The judges are, not surprisingly, overenthusiastic.

What a week! I didn’t care for most of it, and it’s really going to throw a monkey wrench into my power rankings.

Best performance of the evening–Anoop? Strange.

Update: Power rankings added.

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