Posts Tagged ‘Megan Joy’

Top 9 Performance Night: April Snooze Day

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

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.

Top 10 Performance Night: These Songs Seem Strangely Familiar

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

When I sat down to watch today’s show, there was a strange feeling of familiarity that came over me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something was definitely off with the show. Then, as I tend to do, I checked my friends over at What Not to Sing and an interesting fact came up: nine out of the ten songs of the night had been sung on Idol before.

That explains a great deal, because as it turns out in a very real way Motown Night turned out to be Rerun Night. No good. The not-so genre savvy would blame the contestants: surely there must have been nine other good Motown songs to pick, right? As for us… maybe, maybe not. Some of the blame must go there, sure, but given all the reports of pre-cleared song lists and all the other backstage rumors, well, I can’t lay all the blame on them. There’s a lot of blame to go around, and everyone deserves a decent share.

It was one of those episodes that, on paper, looks good – but wasn’t nearly as impressive to watch or listen.  There were no surprises, no songs we haven’t heard before (except for Adam)… it was the closest thing Idol has done to a rerun, to be honest.

Normally, I’d rate and review them from best to worst. However, it’s hard to do that this week because by far, the most common grade was just “okay”, with very little to separate them.

Matt Giraud opened the night with an okay version of Let’s Get It On. He didn’t push the limits of his vocals, which is good – but the originality and the emotion that were there last week were just not there. It was competent and technically okay, but not much else.

Kris Allen was one of the better ones of the night. It was a very pleasant, well-sung How Sweet It Is. He did very well in adapting the material to suit his style – something always essential to Idol success – but it was a good performance without a signature moment. His lack of impact had little to do with “conceitedness”; more an arrangement without high points to speak of.

The next two performances left us with ample time to wonder what Scott Macintyre and Megan Joy were thinking. It’s hard to imagine worse song choices for Scott; and Megan’s version of For Once in My Life had me thankful I’ll only have to listen to her in full once in our lives. The sad part is, of course, for both of them something like this is nothing more than business as usual. Ouch.

Anoop Desai is possibly the most technically sound singer left in the competition – certainly, his control is second to none – but he had a similar problem to Matt Giraud. Vocally, great – as good as anyone else last night. In “selling” the song, connecting with the audience… it wasn’t all that. Whatever the technical difficulty of the song – and even to our untrained ears, it was – this isn’t figure skating where the scores have a degree of difficulty adjustment.

Michael Sarver’s Ain’t Too Proud to Beg proved one thing – I, too was begging him to stop. Another crowd-pleaser of a song sung somewhat poorly. This is becoming too familiar of a story for Michael.

Someone who definitely practiced the “rerun” theme was Lil Rounds. Last week’s song choice was bad, and Heatwave was just as bad. Lil has a great voice – but it didn’t sound like it last night. It was less of a singing performance than a shouting one. This should have been a good night for her, but it wasn’t. Mediocrity seems to be the word with her – she should be doing better, but just isn’t.

And then we got to Adam Lambert. First off: I give Adam some credit for being the only one to do a song that hadn’t been done on Idol before. The end result wasn’t bad. I’ll go further: it was actually pretty good. It was a good falsetto, but it’s not something I’d listen to for long – though I’d say that for most falsettos, not just Adam’s.

That said… the trouble with this performance as its believability. The very best Idol performances are not just good, they are authentic. Adam isn’t that at all. The vocals – good as they are – are telling us one thing, but the imagery – he’s acting too hard. In the theater, that’s a good thing, but it does not translate well to the TV screen. You know it’s acting, you can’t suspend your disbelief and let the singer tell the story of the song. In a perverse way, in fact, while it was decidedly not

The real trouble with singing “over the top” is that it distracts from the singing, from the music. Even if Adam wasn’t the same manic, flamboyant, Adam we’ve seen before, the fundamental problem is still the same. The visuals, the acting, distracted from the singing – when it didn’t need to. This is a performance that is much better listened to blind than watched and heard at the same time.

In some ways, this performance was a reaction to last week’s fiasco. He subdued himself, yes, but in a real way he didn’t fix the fundamental issue of the performances overshadowing the music, not complementing it.

One more thing: the tongue bath he gets from the judges is bordering on the ridiculous. It was good, yes, but not that good. Word of warning: the judges were pretty easy on David Archuleta last year, too. Anyone remember one of the judges – Simon, I think – said Archie won the finale? That went real well – for the other David.

After a performance that was not a rerun, we got… Danny Gokey. This was also, in effect, a rerun. Competent, but not outstanding singing, mixed with some of the worst dance moves since, well, maybe Taylor Hicks. At least it worked for Taylor – here, not so much. Danny’s a solid singer, but he really needs to take it up to the next level.

The best of the night was Allison Iraheta. Great vocals, very believable, just a top-notch performance all around. Not quit “excellent”, but still better than anyone else. The judges spent too much time acting like children instead of commenting on her, but that didn’t take anything from her performance. I’m not into the whole gimmick of Idol judges and pundits constantly handing out “best ever” awards, but I will give Allison one: she may well be the best female rocker this show has ever had. If gambling on reality TV were legal, I’d take the over on the over/under betting of how far Allison will go.

The pecking order returns: With no great surprises in the performances, this week’s boot will be largely determined by long-term performance – in short, this week will serve largely to weed out the obviously bad.

Realistically, then, those in danger are the three people who haven’t really had a single unquestionably good performance since the start: that would be Michael Sarver, Scott Macintyre, and Megan Joy.

None of them will exactly be missed, to be honest. They all seem to be decent people, but Idol is fundamentally still a singing competition. None of them have really distinguished themselves in that category.

It basically comes down to a fanbase battle – and with weak fanbases, those are some of the hardest calls to make. They all have relatively few fans, but beyond that, to be honest, it’ll largely be Wild-Ass Guesses.

Our pick to go would have to be Michael. He’s a likable fellow, but that’s it. Scott is actually decent in spots, and Megan is… unique. Which will attract some voters. When you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for fans – as all three are – everything counts.

I realize this is not our most decisive moment, but this is a situation where any of the three could go legimitmately – and there’s an element of won’t-miss-any-of-them to boot. Barring any major shocks, it’ll be a dull and predictable boot. Which is sort of appropriate for how the week was, really.

The Idol Guy pick: Michael Sarver to go home.

Top 11 Results: “I Told You So”… literally!

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Somehow, Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis singing I Told You So was strangely appropriate. Far and away the consensus pick to go home was Michael Sarver; instead based largely on DialIdol and song age I made the call that Alexis Grace would end up in the bottom. My only mistake was to believe that Alexis’s exit would be vetoed. I was wrong on that part. Still, I was a lot closer than Conventional Wisdom was.

I already explained yesterday why Alexis was in very real danger. Her low Dialidol score tipped us off to look at the numbers more closely. Her average and median song age was disproportionately high – over 30 when everyone else except Adam Lambert was in the low 20s or below. With everyone else singing very young, singing old songs becomes much more noticable. If you’re Adam Lambert, you have a gimmick that surpasses that. She didn’t; and just one so-so performance when others elevated their game was enough to get her out of there.

Alexis can also be considered a casualty of the new semifinals format as well. One of the challenges coming out of the group rounds is that it became that much harder to build up any significant fanbase out of them: one song, with a multi-week gap, does not a solid fanbase make.

It’s something that can hurt people all season long – particularly for singers out of Group 1. In the three seasons that had the group format, only one contestant ever made it to the finale after singing in the first group. That was Season 3’s Diana DeGarmo; and her ride to the finale was far from smooth. It’s hard to build momentum if you’re not singing for several weeks in a row.

Her exit can be summed up quickly, and fairly. Despite all the pimpage and promotion she got, there were problems. She had a fanbase that didn’t have a chance to solidify, and couldn’t grow because of limited appeal – winning over the young power-voting Idol blocs with Aretha Franklin and Dolly Parton was a hard task, at best. Yes, she was a good, maybe even great singer – but to succeed on Idol you need to know your audience. Alexis Grace and Idol voters proved to be a bad fit.

There’s a rich element of irony when it comes to this week’s results, though. The producers’s own rule change worked against them. Alexis would have almost certainly survived if she had gone through a three-song semifinal. It would have given her fanbase a chance to solidify, and for her to define her musical identity (which she didn’t do too well, Kara DioGuardi’s exceptionally useless advice of dirtying it up notwithstanding). As it is, though, someone that TPTB wanted to advance far is ending up going home as a direct result of executive meddling. Alexis just got caught in about as unlucky a spot as you can imagine.

Now, as to why they didn’t save her? The answer to that is tied into someone else… Adam Lambert. I’ll get back to him in a little while.

Hold the champagne: Strategically, there was one overwhelming theme for the night: favorites faltered while the midcard upped their game. Who knows, maybe everyone outside the Favored Four Three are surprisingly Genre Savvy – they can’t be all too happy at the idea of meekly standing by while the Coronation of the Producers’ Idol proceeds as planned. Kris Allen, Matt Giraud, and Anoop Desai were all midcard singers at best previous to this show – now you have to at least consider them in the mix.

Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds can recover without too much trouble. They didn’t really stink too much, they were just… mediocre. It’s the type of performance that voters won’t hold against you too much. Last week will almost certainly be better for both of them – if only because it’s hard to make worse song choices than either of them did. As I said yesterday – Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride? Seriously? That’s like carrying a wooden stick to a gunfight. While neither of them is in danger – yet – they both need a good, undisputed showstopper in the next two to four weeks if they want to get in the final four.

Kris, Matt, and Anoop all need to be able to prove that this week wasn’t a fluke. Even normally bad contestants can put it all together if they can find a theme, song, and arrangement that fits them like a glove. If they can pull it off, the upside could be significant. The dark horse in here is Kris – his vocals are not as good as Anoop’s, but better at conveying emotions. Giraud doesn’t really have the vocals to compete with either one.

There’s one puzzle in the Touring Ten that I haven’t quite figured out: Allison Iraheta. She’s sung well, her songs are young, and so is she. I don’t have any Idolmetric measurement that says she’s in danger. She should not be in the bottom three (now two). On the flip side, she’s likely to pick up at least some votes from Alexis’s old fanbase. Beyond that… well, even I don’t have the answer for that.

There’s a pretty clear division, too, about who’s clearly lagging behind: Michael Sarver, Scott Macintyre, and Megan Joy. Right now, they’re all getting by on something other than singing. Michael’s probably safe for two weeks – see the latest WNTS editorial for the reasoning behind that, but the order is immaterial. None of them are going to win, and the only question is how many others will go before they do.

And then we have Adam Lambert. He really deserves a section of his own.

Damaged Goods? Maybe.: The debate over Adam’s version of Ring of Fire will probably last until the season ends, if not even longer. Still, it’s undeniable that it did change things around.

I was never a big believer in Adam Lambert, largely because I thought the theatrics covered up a voice that didn’t know the meaning of subtlety. Adam’s style was just not sustainable in the long term. The novelty would eventually wear thin, and my money was on him finishing in the high midcard – fourth to sixth.

I know I’m going to be challenged on that statement, so let me explain it a bit more. Adam has zero crossover ability. He can’t appeal to a wide cross-section of Idol voters; people that liked that over-the-top theatric style would love it from the start, but it would have been an uphill climb to win those who don’t. That crossover ability is vital to lasting long on the show.

With that in mind, Adam’s challenge was essentially how long he could keep going along this path before leaving, or proving that he’s more than a stage actor that happens to sing decently, too. The trouble is, though, his version of Ring of Fire was so… unusual, it sped up that process. From Idol voters, a pretty common reaction was:  “what the heck was that?”

I’m sure this will prompt Adam’s fans to write in anger. I’m not going to deny that he has fans – but I think that for everyone one he won over, there was at least one who now wants to burn him at the stake and another two scratching their heads.

That’s not to deny that he has talent. He is very, very good at what he does. What I’m questioning is whether this is something that the collective Idol fan base can really stomach for long. Everything I’ve known about it tells me: no.

The upside is that right now, Adam is looking iffy for the finale. The producers are perfectly happy to keep him around as long as they want. Remember, the underlying goal – seemingly – of the whole season – was Drama and Buzz. I can’t deny Adam delivers on that.

The effect of that was to make the veto an exceptionally valuable tool for the producers – one that just wouldn’t do to be used right now. Phil Stacey had it right: the “veto” is essentially an insurance policy for Danny and Adam.

Once the novelty and appeal of Adam’s theatrics go away, he’s surprisingly vulnerable. By far, he is singing the oldest songs in the competition on average. There’s a decent chance he could crash out, say, seventh. We’ve had three weeks of Adam singing in competition – is his current pace and style something that can work for two months or so? I doubt it.

Taken all in context, what’s clear to me is that the Judges’ Veto just became Adam’s Veto. It’s not going to be used on anyone else, except maybe Danny – but he doesn’t really need it. Adam does.

If Adam had not sung Ring of Fire – if the producers had believed that he could survive for a long period independently, as they probably don’t right now – they would have had freedom to use the veto now and save Alexis. However, the producers have their own priorities – and one of them seems to be Save Adam. The judges and producers want Adam to go deep so badly they’re willing to keep the veto in check even in a perfect spot to use it, all because it wasn’t Adam up there.

Credibility? What credibility?: Having laid out the case for not using the Veto so early, one can ask why I thought Alexis would be saved anyway.

It essentially came down to two things: I knew Alexis was still a judge’s favorite and might be treated more kindly. The other reason was more pipe dreams than anything else: they needed credibility. So far, off the Idol stage, the season has been dominated by ham-handed manipulation. What we got on Wednesday was… more of the same.  Does anyone think that on pure merit alone Alexis should be gone before Michael Sarver? Really?

No. Of course not. It would have been the perfect time to use the veto and live up to what they claimed it was for. Instead, it became another self-sustained injury for the Idol franchise. This week confirmed what we all had just suspected before, and will make people even more tired of the Official Manipulation.

The bye-ku returns!I didn’t have time to do this last week, but… the bye-ku returns. Here’s our official farewell to Alexis Grace in verse:

Mother with pink streaks
Stop! Song older than thirty!
Shocker to many

Top 11 Performance Night: Grand Old Ouchie – Averted

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Country nights on Idol can be… uneven nights. More than other genres, this theme gives singers who don’t usually go here trouble. With a Top 11 lacking the Designated Country Representative… that was a formula for train wrecks aplenty.

As a Carrie Underwood fan, I was even less pleased than usual. Based on the leaked song list that came out a week or so ago from Vote For The Worst, I knew there was a good chance someone would pick her material. As anyone with a sense of Idol history knows, Idol contestants picking the original songs of past contestants is usually terrible. And there are few things I like less than having a song I like utterly and completely butchered on the Idol stage.

Someone who definitely exceeded expectations was Matt Giraud. Yes, one of the best of the night was someone who had me worried all night how badly he’d butcher the song. Miracles do happen, even in Idol-land.

However, that was because Giraud was very smart in going about it. With a very recent song like So Small, you’re sure to be compared to the original. (That’s true for all songs, but less so for older ones than new ones.) And trying to outsing Carrie Underwood is, well, a difficult task at the best of times – and, for Giraud, might as well be impossible.

Of course, if Giraud couldn’t “sing” small, it wouldn’t have mattered, but as it turns out: he can. Some control problems towards the end, when he couldn’t resist the urge to turn up the power – but he was able to convey emotion in a way he hasn’t been able to all season long. Not bad at all.

If there was a “theme” of sorts to the show, it’s something I’ve touched upon in previous seasons, but it always worth repeating. It can be summed up this way: don’t work the themes; make the themes work for you. By far, the best people on this night were able to do just that.

Same idea, even better results: Kris Allen. It was, by far, the most heartfelt performance of the night, easily. Since his fanbase is probably disproportionately female, that’s a definite plus. Allen’s vocals loses out in the power battle, definitely, but his control is second to none in this field. Pleasant to listen to, heartfelt, great vocals – what more can you ask? Best of the night in our book. Giraud has a little more natural charisma, but Allen felt more honest.

Best of those who stayed true to the “expected” country theme would be Allison Iraheta. The country/rock crossover is surprisingly common, and Iraheta handled it with ease. While I didn’t like her last week, and I found Alone over-rated, this was not. This was excellent; Iraheta has a great mix of vocals, performing ability, and likability that should see her well. Well done.

Anoop Desai finally lived up to expectations. Like Allen and Giraud, he slowed down the song and rearranged it to suit his tendencies. Now, he wasn’t as polished as Giraud or as heartfelt as Allen, but still: pretty good from Desai, and without a doubt the best from him all season long.

A secondary theme was producers’ favorites doing okay, but not great. Perhaps they relaxed a little? Both Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds turned in performances that had similar high points and low points: technically competent, but brought nothing to the table that could be described as exciting. Independence Day struck me as something of a lazy choice; for once the judges were pretty spot-on with their points on Rounds. Besides, trying to outsing both Underwood and Martina McBride? That’s crazy talk.

Of course, at least Rounds tried to put an R&B spin on Independence Day. Gokey… I still have no idea what kind of singer he is. He does a decent enough job every week, but that’s it. He can sing most stuff decently, but I haven’t really seen anything he’s good at. Add to that so-so vocals – Jesus, Take The Wheel is as tough a test of pure vocal ability as you’ll find. Gokey was not up to the task; he was borderline overwhelmed by the song. Mediocre at best.

Another one who was so-so at best: Alexis Grace. I don’t know if she sounded like Dolly, but what I do know is that she didn’t sound particularly unique or exciting. It was okay technically, but it was just that. Like Rounds, she was okay, but not exciting. Ridiculously safe number.

Scott Macintyre has all the feel of someone in a rut. He’s turned in three very similar, so-so vocal performances. As I said last week: when he’s in his range, he’s okay – but out of it, he’s not so great. This’ll be a shocker: I think Paula was absolutely right with the piano. Stylistically, Scott needs to change it up badly. Hat pick losses or not (another Unintentionally Revealing Moment), Macintyre has not really impressed to date. He’s just… okay. And okay is not good enough to survive for long.

Michael Sarver managed to pull off Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til The Some Comes Up), and that’s no small feat. However… it’s one of those songs that works a lot better for a live audience than on TV. That was not what Sarver needed; he needed a song that could convince people that yes, he could, indeed, sing. He’s a likable enough fellow, but not in the same league vocally as most of the top 11.

Megan Joy lost her surname but didn’t gain any new fans with Walking After Midnight. It wasn’t as bad as last week, but not particularly good either. Not much to say about it, really. Very low energy performance, yes, but I won’t hold that against her since she’s pretty sick. Vocals were… better than Rockin’ Robin. That’s about as far as I’d go.

And last, and also the worst of the night… Adam Lambert. Whatever that arrangement of Ring of Fire was… all copies of it should be stuffed into a rocket and shot right at the sun. It was that bad. The glory notes made us cringe; the only thing that I thought was “burning” were TV viewers absolutely horrified at what he did. The word “disrespectful” has been thrown around the Idolsphere, and I have to agree: if I didn’t know better I would say this was a deliberate eff-you to Nashville, country music, and the South in general.

Either that, or Lambert has no idea of the idea of “limits”. There are things you do not do to great, classic, songs, and that was one of them. The Lambert act was bound to wear thin eventually, and this will only accelerate the process. It was more than a train wreck; it was a joke. A joke that I have not seen since the days of Sanjaya Malakar, and about as entertaining. Which it wasn’t.

Overall, it was a very surprising show – in a good way. Only one truly awful disaster. Four pretty impressive performances… so far, I will give this season credit, the finalists have been doing better than I expected. Ryan Seacrest was right: the coronation plans of the Idol PTB hit a road bump this week. It remains to be seen if this was a one-week special, or a more consistent trend.

Quick Picks: Normally, I’d like to keep the performance night article about the Tuesday night show, but there were a few things I came across that really deserve a quick mention. Consider this a quick pick segment, as some radio hosts like to do.

Item #1: An online gambling site has stopped taking odds on Idol after the new Judges’ Save rule. Why? They’re afraid of, in effect, insider trading. Now, I talked about this in my Twitter feed, but it’s worth saying before a wider audience: if a casino is worried about an event being dirty, that’s saying something. Congratulations, Fox and 19E. You’re now running a competition so manipulated, even the gambling houses won’t accept it as clean.

Item #2: Lots of people don’t like the Judges’ Save – including, notably, who it was supposed to save, Michael Johns! Phil Stacey was straightforward about it, saying:

Basically what they are saying is don’t vote Adam Lambert or Danny Gokey out cause if you do they will get saved. Paula wants to see them in the finale. So they will save them.

Couldn’t be better said. Oh, and the list of detractors includes a certain German dictator. Yes, we had to come up with our own Hitler Downfall video. Watch and rate, folks – that’s all I can ask.

Item #3: Reports have it that an Idol staffer is mouthing off that the final four will be: Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, and Alexis Grace. It’s a list that the savvy should recognize, as they have been the most hyped four, and that’s probably who the producers would dearly like to be the final four. However… Adam Lambert is like Chris Daughtry? Really? If he is who he says he is., he must be blind, deaf, idiotic, or all three. I cannot imagine someone more different from Lambert than Daughtry. Consider this rumor absolute rubbish.

Item #4: Thanks to Connie from Idolstages.com for pointing this out. The registration and log-in link in the posts is broken; and I offer apologies to anyone who’s tried to comment but couldn’t. Until my webmaster fixes things, please use the link in the sidebar to your right, which does work. It’s under the Meta heading, right over our Creative Commons logo.

Idol Guy picks: The proper explanation of what Idolmetrics is all about (from my point of view) is still in progress, but part of the explanation is you have to treat each Idolmetric factor as a warning sign – you can’t go off on a conclusion because of just one factor.

However, there are an awful lot of warning signs that make us wonder if Alexis Grace is going home. First of all, DialIdol has her dead last. True, margin of error also puts Allison Iraheta and Megan Joy in danger as well, but by all rights Grace should not be fighting off elimination beside Joy (and neither should Iraheta). Still, you take the data objectively: they say that Grace is in danger. Strike one.

Strike two comes from song age. Last week, when discussing Jorge Nunez’s boot, I warned that Grace’s numbers for song age average and median were both exceptionally high. Grace did herself no favors this week: she had the third oldest song for the week; she was only behind Joy, Adam Lambert, and Anoop Desai. Joy and Lambert have their quirkiness to make up for picking old songs. Desai was pretty good last night. Grace was neither. Overall, her median song age is 35 and the average is 32.67: both well within the Danger Zone, and second in both counts only to Lambert.

Strike three: Grace’s actual performance. The most dangerous performance is a so-so one; it won’t get people excited to vote for you because you were good, nor will it get your fanbase in a “Save Him/Her!” mood. Yet that was exactly the kind of performance we got from Grace.

If there was ever a boot that Idolmetrics was calling, this was it. On merits alone, it should either be Joy or Michael Sarver… but there are too many warning signs that lead us to believe.

Would Grace be saved by the judges? It’s hard to say. It’s a little early to use it, which counts against it. Ultimately, it may all depend on how in favor Lambert now is with the judges and producers. He may may have hurt himself badly this week, even if we won’t know it right away.

I’ll discuss that in detail tomorrow, but here’s what it comes down to. If the judges think that Lambert’s long-term stay is in danger of Ring of Fire and they still want him to go far – final four or further far – they will be even more reluctant to use it on anyone but Lambert. On the other hand, if the perception is that Lambert is now damaged goods and TPTB would be happy to have him finish in a solid mid-card spot (top six, approximately), they might use it this week on Grace if necessary.

One more thing. This is exactly what they claimed as the rationale of the veto will be. Given the chilly reception it’s receive so far, if they didn’t use it in a situation that fits their claimed “problem” to a tee, it could be another self-inflicted wound for the franchise, which does not need any more of those.

This is definitely a contrarian pick, but it’s not an insane one.

The Idol Guy pick: Alexis Grace last; saved by judges.