(Pre-game in the space below, live blog and spoilers below the fold once the show begins.)
Last Wednesday was one of the darkest days in Idol history, as Allison Iraheta, the most awesome contestant ever to grace the Idol stage, was unceremoniously booted after merely giving perhaps the best and most credible performance of a Janis Joplin song in the program’s eight-season run.
Idol pundits screamed bloody murder, as she was a favorite of nearly all of them (or at least the ones I read), but to no avail. Allison is gone.
But she isn’t forgotten. Before we get started, let’s have a little Allison flashback. Here she is doing her top 13 performance of the obscure Michael Jackson song, “Give in to Me.” (Link because embed seems to work only sporadically.)
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You may recall that Simon called the performance “gloomy” or some such nonsense, to which she responded, “I’m not dark, I’m not, like, cutting myself.”
It was at that moment that I knew that Allison had more concentrated awesomeness stored in one of her eyelashes than all of the other contestants had in all of their malformed bodies combined.
But we must move on, tough as that is for many of us. Kris remains the underdog, and I don’t think he’s going to get a bump from Allison’s voters, who I suspect will go all-out for Adam. He needs a monster night, combined with a weaker than usual night from Gokey, if he’s going to slay that beast and stay in this thing. I want Adam to win it all, but I don’t want Gokey in the finale, so go for it, Kris.
Live blog and spoilers below the fold once the show starts at 7:00 Central, and our weekly polls after the show is over.
All right, let’s get to it.
As they stand for the show intro, Kris has a nice, determined look on his face. Or maybe it’s nervousness.
Ryan announces that tonight is episode 300. I wonder how many I’ve missed? Probably no more than five. I’m in awe as to what a magnificent human being that makes me.
Only two songs each tonight, because four judges blather on too long to allow for the three songs apiece we usually get in this round. A lot of people are taking this out on Kara. I disagree. Kara at least occasionally says something intelligent. Randy just says “You can really sing!” over and over again.
Danny Gokey gets an interesting song choice, courtesy of Paula, “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby. I’m rather fond of Mr. D’Arby. Glad to hear one of his songs on Idol; wish it wasn’t being done by Gokey.
It’s not a great song for this sort of show, but Gokey at least seems to be putting some effort into the verses for once, perhaps because this song lacks a powerful chorus. He’s overdoing it, of course, but it wouldn’t be Gokey if he didn’t overdo it. By the not-very-high standard Gokey has set for himself over the past few weeks, not bad. Which isn’t to say it was anything special.
Randy thought it was dope. Kara thought the dancing was bad and the performance was forgettable. Paula loves Danny’s performance of the song she picked. Simon thought the dancing was desperate but the vocal was good. Simon thinks “Sign Your Name” would have been a better pick. Are you crazy, Simon? I just ate, and the thought of Gokey trying to be sensuous while singing, “Slowly we make love,” is causing me to reach for the Pepto.
Kara and Randy have combined their talents (no snickering) to pick Kris Allen‘s song. It’s “Apologize” by OneRepublic. Randy says Kris has a big voice. Huh?
Kris is all out in showoff mode, playing piano. Real nice note on “…down” in the first verse. It’s a great song for his range, and this is a very good performance. His tone is excellent. The tweeners should love it. Great job, Kris.
Randy thinks it shows what sort of artist he could be. Kara doesn’t think he hit it out of the park and he needed to. He didn’t make it his own enough, she says. Under the bus you go, Kris! Paula wasn’t wild about it, although it wasn’t a very coherent critique. Simon gets onto Kara and they bicker, and it’s really annoying. I think what he said at the end of the day was that it was a competent, slightly inferior version of the original.
Play favorites much, judges?
Simon has picked “One” by U2 for Adam Lambert. Simon had to clear it through the band personally, and he brags about getting a call from Bono granting permission.
On Kris’ song, Simon gave Kara and Randy hell for not helping him arrange the song. I guess that means Simon arranged this, and it’s nothing to be proud of–it embellishes and changes up a song that does not need it. Despite the weak arrangement, Adam’s vocal is outstanding. He starts in “Mad World” mode, then finds an excuse to flex his range as he jumps to gospel mode, then gets a shriek in there. The vocal is easily enough to overcome the damage done by the bad arrangement.
Randy criticizes Adam going off the melody, and Simon boos, so I guess it was Simon’s dumb idea. Randy loves the singing, though. Kara calls him a strategist and says he’s unbelievable. Paula thought it was amazing. Simon says it will be one of the biggest upsets if Adam does not make the final.
Ryan pauses to plug their charity, Idol Gives Back, and introduces a short featuring Carrie Underwood traveling to Angola. Carrie is promoting bed nets, which is wonderful, but DDT is much more effective, if much less politically correct. But good on everyone who donated.
Round two begins! Danny Gokey is up first with his personal choice, “You Are So Beautiful,” as done by Joe Cocker. Gokey opens restrained for once, which goes to show why he always goes for the power notes, because he’s really weak on the “You are so beautiful” parts. As the song gets bigger, he gets much better, and all in all it’s quite good. One of his better performances, easy.
Randy: “You can really, really, really sing!” I told you that’s all he says. Kara thought it was stunning. Paula said he left everyone breathless. Simon didn’t think he should have changed the arrangement, but thought it was a vocal master class. No one notes the weak beginning, of course, because they are determined to push Gokey through to the finale.
Kris Allen is waiting in the wings to perform “Heartless,” by Kanye West. Maybe they really will make a record together! [Correction: It was Jamie Foxx who wanted to make a record with Kris, not Kanye.] I don’t know about the song choice, but damn, this is taking a risk!
It’s Kris on acoustic guitar only. He does a nice slow build to the chorus, and tears it up when he gets there. And Gokey is officially blown out of the water, from a quality standpoint, anyway.
Randy thinks it’s better than the original, and he’s right. Kara calls it bold, brave, and fearless. When Simon is finally allowed to speak, he says that he had written Kris off when he heard his song choice, but that Kris is right back in after that performance.
If there’s any justice in this world, Kris defeats Gokey after that.
[Correction: I am told that Simon actually said that he had written Kris off after his first performance, not after he heard what the song choice was.]
As if to say, “Screw you, Gokey,” Adam Lambert picks an Aerosmith song. Not “Dream On,” unfortunately, but “Cryin’.”
He open pretty straight, but goes ultra-blues-rock on the bridge, which is great. A big rock finish wraps it up in arena fashion, and it’s another great one from Adam. Good stuff.
The judges slobber all him, and Simon reminds people that their favorites get in through voting so don’t take things for granted.
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See you tomorrow for the results!