American Idol, 2009 – Episode 39 (5/19/09)

Idol LogoWell, here we are! The last game of the season for my second-favorite sport.

And I have to say, this is a good one. That Adam Lambert is here is no surprise, of course–he’s almost the only thing the media has talked about since about two weeks in to the voting rounds. The surprise is Kris, the cannon-fodder who could. Despite the judge’s ridiculous and constant pimping of Gokey, the much more deserving Kris has made it to the end game. I’m not rooting for him this week, but I salute him for turning this competition back into a competition. I would like to think that the rejection of their pet Gokey would cause the producers and the judges to be a little more hands-off next year. Yeah, I know that’s ridiculous, but a man can dream.

The media is, of course, being their ridiculous selves. Did you think the elimination of Gokey would stop the inane Red State versus Blue State stories? Of course not. Kris has now taken on the Gokey role. Hey, media! Screw you! Politically I’m slightly to the left of Ann Coulter, and I’ve been supporting Adam since the top eleven. Stop with your stupid stereotyping. “Red Staters” are not scared by Adam’s apparent homosexuality. Who do you think bought all those Queen and Judas Priest albums? “Red Staters” often like stuff that rocks, and Adam often rocks.

That said, Kris has a real shot here. I don’t think the Gokey voters are going to go to Adam, and there were a hell of a lot Gokey voters. I question their taste, at least I did while they were voting for Gokey, but they like their music on the mellow side, and that is what Kris provides and provides well. We shall see!

Live-blogging and spoilers below the fold once the show starts at 7:00 Central, and our weekly polls once the show is over. I am going to be running a little late tonight, though, so it won’t be nice and synchronized like it usually is.

And, to quote Jane’s Addiction, here we goooooo! This is the big ding-dong.

Seacrest is playing up our contestants’ cultural differences–“the guy next door versus the guyliner.” I can excuse this from Ryan, because it’s his job to create an atmosphere of opposition.

Our format tonight–their favorite performance from the season (I wish they wouldn’t do that–I want new stuff, dammit!), one picked by producer Simon Fuller, and a cheesy song co-written by Kara. OK, I haven’t heard Kara’s song yet, but I’ve been watching this for eight seasons now so I’m pretty sure I’m not too far out on a limb guessing it’s going to be cheesy.

Adam Lambert is going to reprise his cover of Gary Jules’ cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” This was an absolutely stunning vocal the first time out.

He opens in dim light, silhoutted as he walks down the stairwell in a trenchcoat. They add some echoey stuff this time out.

He doesn’t quite hit the phrase “very nervous” like he did the first time (that take’s transcendent moment) but it’s still just plain beautiful. This kid is an incredible vocalist.

Randy, who has no idea how to dress for formal occasions, gives it an A+. Kara says he rocked it again. Paula is unbelievably proud, and then lapses into incomprehensibility. Simon thinks it’s a little overtheatrical and reminds him of Phantom of the Opera.

Kris Allen‘s parents are unbelievably cute. It’s cool that they’ve become friends with the Lambert family. Kris and Adam should work together on a track or two–it would be weird but cool.

Kris has picked “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which was amazing the first time out.

He’s slowing it down a bit, a good decision. This song is perfectly suited to his voice–his range is limited, but he’s excellent when he works within it. It’s a wonderful performance, as he fully puts across the heavy emotion the song requires.

Some of you wanted Gokey here instead? Really?

Randy loves that he can tell what kind of record Kris would make and calls that one of his best performances. He’s making sense for once. Kara is gushing as well, and says he creates an intimate bond with the audience–not with the judges, though, who have been trying to throw him under the bus for weeks. Paula looks like she had a spray-tan accident, and calls Kris a great artist. Simon said he wondered if Kris was the right pick last week (Simon, dude, it’s obvious that it was), but after that performance he takes it back. Better late than never.

And so far, we have one hell of a show. Off to the break.

And Adam is back. His producer-picked number is Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” Oh, man, this is some heavy, heavy lifting right here.

Hmmm. I don’t think I like the arrangement very much. Adam’s vocal is technically fine, but he’s draining that deep-south soul right out of it. To me it sounds like he just doesn’t get the song at all. That’s part of his job, singing covers on a show like this, and I am very disappointed.

Randy says Adam can sing his face off and that was unbelievable. Kara thinks it might be the best performance since the beginning of the competition. Paula says it was the best she’s ever heard Adam sing.

Simon, please bring the common sense! Nope. Adam is “100% back in the game.”

So this white boy in Texas apparently understands soul music better than our judges. Maybe they’ll hire me next year? I couldn’t possibly sound dumber than Randy does most of the time, and I promise to keep sober until after the show unlike Paula.

Well, this isn’t fair at all. Kris Allen gets Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” which doesn’t have enough melody for a showcase performance that a night like this requires. Kris is going to have to be incredible to pull this off. I’ve got a lot of faith in him, but I wouldn’t wish this song on my worst enemy.

Kris wisely brings his guitar with him, so he can hit the proper Kris vibe. He adds a couple of nice rhythmic breakdowns, and is doing quite a good job of making the best of this bum pick. It wasn’t amazing, but it was as good as anyone had any reason to expect under the circumstances.

Randy thought the performance was a little light. Well, it was a stupid song pick for Kris, Randy. Kara loves a “socially conscious” song pick for Kris. Do you really think Kris aspires to be a protest singer, Kara? Paula says something to the effect that Marvin Gaye would be proud of the performance. Simon doesn’t think he made it his own and was too laid back. Rip on Simon Fuller, Simon Cowell, for a totally inappropriate song pick.

You know what would be really funny? Simon’s got a habit of ripping on the cheesy song the producers pick for the contestants to sing in the finale. What if he rips on Kara’s song? We’re about to find out if that happens, because Adam is about to sing “No Boundries.”

Adam is fully embracing the cheese. He’s delivering it like a Yaz song, at least up until the power chorus. I salute the decision. You know when Simon says a performance is cabaret? This is what he’s talking about, although Adam turns that into a positive. About as good as one could ask for given the unabashedly corny material.

And Kara is so proud of her song. She’s grinning from ear to ear. Randy says it was just a-aight and a bit pitchy. Kara loves his performance of her song. Paula just plain loves Adam. Simon doesn’t judge the song–pussy. He says the point of the show is to find a worldwide star, and they’ve found one in Adam.

After the break, we get Kris doing the same song. How will he make it his own? I’m curious as can be.

No instruments this time–he’s taking more of a late ’90s pop approach to the material, which isn’t a bad decision at all. It almost comes off as a Praise performance, which works for this song. Not at all my thing, but it’s hard to fault the performance. And he ends the song nicely, dramatically, and sentimentally. Although I’m much more likely to buy an Adam album than a Kris album, I think that was better than Adam’s performance.

Randy is damning with faint praise. Kara thinks the song was too high for him–there’s something to that, but shouldn’t you have thought about that ahead of time? I still liked this performance better. Paula says nice things about Kris. Simon also indulges in generalities.

Based on tonight only, Kris deserves to win. Based on the season, Adam does. How will it go? I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you (late again, unfortunately).

I will be happy either way. I prefer Adam, but I like Kris a lot.

(Also, Carrie Underwood sings her Motley Crue cover and is sharp.)

Here are our weekly polls. Vote away!


9 Responses to American Idol, 2009 – Episode 39 (5/19/09)

  1. Kathy says:

    allen for AI :)

  2. Jarrod says:

    I’m the exact opposite of you in a lot of ways (barely to the right of Rachel Maddow politically, would rather listen to Kris than Adam, and didn’t care much for Allison ;), but I enjoy your AI summaries.
    One area where we do agree is that Adam is been a lot more consistent throughout the competition – and I think we’d agree that Kris grew the most of all the contestants. But, I just can’t imagine Adam’s talents being showcased well on a studio album. Live and on stage? Yeah, he kicks ass. But Kris seems a lot more palatable, and therefore marketable to me. Adam’s screaming would drive me insane after a bit.
    But still, I think his stage presence,vocal range, and artistic style have been earning him the top spot all season long. I just think that Kris’ career seems a lot more promising. I wish them both well though. It’s the first time I’ve been even the slightest bit interested in the post-AI careers of any of the contestants.

  3. Alli says:

    Maybe Adam is better than Kris but I don’t think we’ll like his albums in futur ..
    Kris is more promising than Adam and I prefer him to win.
    Adam is great when he sings songs like ” Mad World , If I can’t have you ,and One ” but very terrible and shouts not sings when ” Whole Lotta Love ,and Cryin’ ”
    That’s my opinion and If Adam will shout in his album , I want KRIS to win

    Thank you for your summaries.

  4. mattmck01 says:

    Maybe it’s Kris’ Kool-Aid moustache but I was never really that impressed with him. He’s a pretty good singer and his “Ain’t No Sunshine” was a good choice, but I’m not blown away. Week after week Adam has turned in solid performances. Ever since he stopped doing his Liza impression every time he got on stage, I’ve been a fan.
    That being said: I still wish Allison was there.

  5. Jarrod: Thank you for your kind words and for supporting my thesis that trying to make something political out of American Idol is completely silly. Certain liberal friends of mine who shall remain nameless liked both Michael Sarver and Danny Gokey over the course of the season, both of whom the press would tell you are the definition of “Red State” (even though Wisconsin is a blue state). Sometimes a singing show is just a singing show, and we should be allowed to enjoy it without making it some kind of culture war.

    Jarrod, Alli, and Matt: I’m sort of with the judges (I hate writing that!) that I can imagine what a Kris album would sound like–he seems to know exactly what kind of musician he is. And given how quickly he’s developed over the course of the show, the possibility exists that we’ve barely scratched the surface of this kid’s talent. I still don’t think I’d buy his record, as the Jason Mraz sound isn’t something I care for at all, but I believe he has the potential to surprise me so I won’t rule it out.

    What I can’t figure out is what an Adam album would sound like. One of his key assets is his ability to jump from genre to genre, something that works on a talent show but is hard to translate to wax. Will he do metal? Rock? Soul? Power ballads? I have no idea.

    And I do not underestimate the ability of 19 Entertainment to squash both of these promising careers by saddling them with lousy material just as surely as they squashed Fantasia’s and Bo Bice’s.

    Matt: Allison props are always welcome.

  6. tolduso says:

    I so enjoyed this posting very much! It’s funny, we always thought the show was trying to promote Adam way too much. In retrospect, I suppose it was both Gokey and Lambert.

    Great voice. Obviously talented. Way over promoted as the other contestants were just as good of singers. What the others lacked, was the stage presence, which Adam has been performing all his life. That experience showed.

    I thought that would be his down fall with the judges, especially Simon Cowell. He always complained when contestants were cabaret…yet they never thought that of Adam? I don’t get it.

    He needs to stop all that darn screamin’ though, just because a judge praises you for that “range” doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do it ALL the time, and sometimes several during one song! It’s too much and takes away from the song. When he sings normal range, it sounds awesome!

    I don’t know how he’ll do when it comes to finding and making his own stuff- I think he’ll end up on Broadway like Fantasia as that’s right up his alley and then movies…muscials.

    I think he has a natural stage presence. He definitely grew the most and became more comfortable. I personally like his music quite a bit and can see myself buying his disc. I truly believe he’s going to get quite creative with mixing up different sounds and arrangements and I can’t wait to see how he progresses in his career. He kind of reminds me of James Taylor and I love James!

    Either way, a handful of them will be on the radio before we know it! Allison and Gokey for sure!

  7. mixmstr2000 says:

    My last time ever watching the show.. Adam should dial 911 because he was totally robbed. What a crock.

  8. I like American Idol….but..I don’t like Simon

  9. […] American Idol, 2009 – Episode 39 (5/19/09) Well, here we are! The last game of the season for my second-favorite sport. And I have to say, this is a good one. […] […]

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