Due to the wonders of timezones and the International Date Line, this week’s episode of American Idol came to us on April Fool’s Day. Unfortunately, this week’s singing felt like a prank that had gone awry.
The only one who really shined was Kris Allen. He may not have had a lot of hype coming into this week, but Ain’t No Sunshine fixed that perfectly. His singing was spot-on; he connected with the audience and the song’s emotions. Kris isn’t a vocal powerhouse, but he definitely made the best of what he does have. This week and last were both very, very good for Kris – he is rapidly becoming the person to watch out for in this field.
Adam was, well, Adam. He does what he does very, very well. (And kudos to him for singling out Rickey Minor for praise.) Over the top, as usual, but subtlety is not usually part of the Adam Lambert performance. Overall, it was pretty entertaining, and better than most this week, but – Mick Jagger? Steven Tyler? Really? That’s a stretch, to put it mildly. Somewhere between okay and good, but not worthy of the comparisons and praise it’s getting from Paula and Kara.
Danny Gokey’s version of What Hurts the Most. It’s a pretty emotional song, and Danny was able to express that pretty well. That said, the vocals were not that good. The power was not there; he was straining in far too many parts. It was a great effort, but the singing was just not good enough for this to get ranked any higher.
Scott Macintyre made a good song choice in Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are. Of course, it would have sounded better if Scott hadn’t given the AC treatment to just about all of his performances to date. He was able to connect with the song and gave a decent version of it – however, there’s a catch. It didn’t do much to hide his basic flaws of limited range and power – he did what he could, but he’s just not as good.
Allison Iraheta made the classic mistake of picking a song she liked as opposed to something that suited her. Don’t Speak isn’t a song which, in our opinion, doesn’t translate well live. Note to future Idol contestants: avoid this song. Please. Allison’s vocals were okay, not great, but there was only so much she could do with this song. While the judges spent too much time talking about her wardrobe, I have to agree it was a bit much. Decent vocals with, well, clashing visuals all put her right in the Mediocre Middle.
Doing Celine Dion on the Idol stage is… ambitious, to say the least. Unfortunately, it was yet another case of being too ambitious for Lil Rounds. The glory notes did show off Lil’s power, but the rest of it was bordering on the terrible. Lil is definitely not playing to her strengths. It doesn’t help that she loves to pick songs by very good singers, but she’s not quite in the same league vocally. She’s not in danger right now, but if she keeps up at this level she’ll be gone sooner rather than later.
I know the song is called You Found Me, but I didn’t realize that much of the song had just as lyrics. I’m not familiar enough with the original to compare, but what I do know is that there was nothing compelling about Matt Giraud’s performance. Wooden, middling vocals, no connection to the audience… he’s taken whatever gains he had from So Small and utterly thrown it away. And starting in the mosh pit, but with a keyboard? What was that?
Anoop Desai has a good enough voice to avoid major trainwrecks – in won’t have people at home cringing in horror at how bad the singing is. However, that’s no assurance of the overall performance making sense. Anoop just hasn’t figured out how to do a “fast” song yet – when he does, he crashes and burns. Badly. This was at about the same level as Beat It a few weeks ago – if anything, it was even worse. Ouch.
Worst of the night was Megan Joy. She pulled the “song I really love” line again… with predictably bad results. At this stage, I don’t know if there’s really anything she can do decently – she’s not that good a singer, and even if she was she’s too quirky to pick songs for easily. Whatever the case, she was definitely the worst of the night.
Overall, it was easily the worst night of the finals. Only one really good, high-quality performance from Kris; a couple of okay-to-good ones from Adam and Danny; a lot of so-so songs, and Anoop and Megan occupying the cellar with strange song choices. Setting aside Kris’s great performance, I couldn’t help but thinking something along the lines of, “that was it?” There was an awful lot of musical wallpaper that could put listeners to sleep if they were tired after a long day.
They never make it easy, do they: With relatively few good performances this week, the number of people I’d call truly safe would fall essentially into two categories: those with large, pre-existing fanbases and those who were at the very top of their game. This week, the total membership of the truly safe group is three: Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, and Kris Allen. Anyone else could visit the bottom 3 and I’d find it completely plauisble.
That said, our pick to go home is Megan. Her uniqueness and quirks may have won her fans right at the start, but the four performances since the finals have been the Idol version of Chinese water torture for a fanbase. You can’t perform that poorly for a month and not lose fans – or, at least, lose ground to other fanbases.
The real shocker could be who’s standing beside her. Matt Giraud already made his bottom three appearance last week, so he could be the beneficiary of a bounce this week – his bad performance notwithstanding. Don’t be surprised to see Anoop or Scott take their spot beside Megan – they’re both a little vulnerable right now, and Anoop has not been in the bottom group before. A shock boot is probably not in the cards, but a warning shot probably is.
The Idol Guy pick: Megan Joy to go home.