American Idol: And Then There Were Nine

Motown week on Idol. One of my very favorite weeks of the season. And last night, for the most part, I was not disappointed.

Legend Smokey Robinson acted as this week’s mentor, and following suit from Randy Travis last week, was probably too nice to the contestants without giving them the proper constructive criticism that some of them really needed.

That being said, most of the performances were pretty good. A couple were VERY good, and a couple were pretty lame.

Here is how I saw them, from best to worst. Feel free to disagree with me.

1. Allison Irahata – Right off the bat, let me tell you, this was not an easy choice. When Adam Lambert finished singing the Miracles’ Tracks of My Tears, I thought that was the best performance of the night. After 16-year old Allison ended the show with the Temptations’ Papa Was a Rolling Stone, I had to change my vote. Folks, this girl has got a set of pipes. It’s very hard to remember that she’s only 16 when she’s up there. She looks and sounds like she’s been doing this for 20 years. The fact that she sang my very favorite Motown song has nothing to do with this. Good is good, that’s all there is to it. The only bad part of her performance was Simon and Paula screwing around while she was performing. Simon even went as far as drawing a mustache on Paula. Talk about disrespect… And I don’t mean drawing on Paula. I could care less if he set her on fire. I’m talking about not paying attention to the person on stage.

2. Adam Lambert – As mentioned above, Adam absolutely slayed Smokey’s Tracks of My Tears. Completely on pitch and perfect falsettos throughout. In fact, the great man himself even gave Adam a standing ovation. Very impressive. Adam changed his whole look, from the black nail polish and spiked hair we’ve become accustomed to, to a perfect 1960’s pompadour and shiny gray suit. He immediately made me think of Richie Valens, and the longer he remained on stage, the more he reinforced that image. These judges really need some math lessons. A few weeks ago, Paula thought “sold-out arena” was two hyphenated words, then last night, Kara told Adam “”I got six words for you: One of the best performances of the night!” HUH?? Unless she’s not counting the 2 ‘of’s”, that would be eight words. Go ahead, count them yourself. I’ll wait…… Ok, let’s continue.

3. Anoop Desai – Once again, Anoop proved to everyone that he belongs in this competition. His version of The Miracles’ Ooh, Baby Baby was delivered with near perfect precision. True, he changed the tempo a little by slowing it down, and threw in some falsettos where none existed previously, but he made it work.

4. Kris Allen – Every week this kid goes up there and just entertains. He is consistent, and he really looks like he’s just having fun up there. Last night was no exception. With guitar in hand (I don’t know why he continues to use his guitar when we can never hear it), he did a fantastic job with the great, late Marvin Gaye’s How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). Despite his somewhat annoying, weird side of the mouth singing (hey, John Mayer pulls it off), he is just a talented, likeable guy.

5. Matt Giraud – JT Light tackled Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On, and with his typical style of bluesiness, sang the hell out of it. This guy is really quite talented, but there can only be one JT, and he ain’t it. Sorry Matt. It was very nice, however, to see him come out from behind the piano halfway through the song. He showed that he doesn’t need the piano to be effective.

6. Danny Gokey – It wasn’t too long ago that many of us had Danny already winning this competition. It might be time to step back and take another look. His last few performances have not been top-notch, including last night’s version of The Temptations’ Get Ready. First of all, someone PLEASE make him stop dancing, or floundering, or whatever that is. It’s very distracting. The boy has no rhythm. As far as his singing, he can sing, but he was just trying too hard last night. Oh, and yet another example of how bad the backup singers are this season. I also think Danny did himself no favors by completely and blatantly ignoring Smokey’s advice to sing the ends of the verses. On the bright side, Paula gave us one of her best sound clips of the night, telling Danny that he’s undeniable, identifiable and always reliable. Which was much better than Randy saying that he reminded him of Levi Stubbs. Um, excuse me, Dog???….

7. Lil Rounds – I have to say, I am a big fan of Miss Lil. However, a couple of issues with last night’s performance of Martha and the Vandellas Heat Wave. I totally agree with Simon that it was way too fast for her. And, she was most definitely screaming some parts. I was very disappointed because she really had the chance to make this her week. She has the perfect voice to blow everyone away and move to the top of the field, particularly this week. She didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. How unfortunate. Did you notice the continued manipulation that they are trying to get away with, Simon feeling a need to remind us that she’s one of the best singers in the competition. C’mon. I think we all know that already.

8. Megan Joy – I’m sorry, I just think she has a cool voice. I know that last night was not her best performance, or even close to it, but her voice has that jazzy, bluesy tone that really sets her apart from the rest. She did no justice to Stevie Wonder’s great hit, For Once In My Life. She was out of tune in some areas, and pitchy in others. But as always, she is having fun up there. One note: She has got to get rid of that stand-in-place sway-dancing, or as older daughter Tara (Judge #6) calls it, the Michelle Tanner Dance. It makes her look like she needs to be institutionalized.

9. Scott MacIntyre – I really liked this guy in the beginning. He had a great back-story and his music was uplifting. OK, I’m over it. Now, his performances are starting to sound the same. Even his attempt at jazzing up The Supremes’ You Can’t Hurry Love fell a bit short. His back-story is still great, but his music is starting to wear thin.

10. Michael Sarver – Easily the worst performance of the night with The Temptations’ Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, Michael just didn’t have it last night. He was all over the place, and he knew it. Like last week’s bomb of a Garth Brooks’ song, something he should have nailed, given his background, this week he also fell flat. My apologies to Nikki, Judge #7. He ain’t no Josh Gracin. At least Gracin made it to the top 5. Sarver is going home tonight.