American Idol: And Then There Were Eleven

Well, here we are, in the American Idol finals. The past several weeks that have gotten us to this point seem to have flown by, didn’t they?

Last night’s theme was Michael Jackson songs, and it wasn’t thrilling. The biggest problem with an MJ night is that his songs, by and large, are HIS SONGS. Very few people can successfully copy them, and that proved true last night.

Overall, last night’s performances were disappointing, and a few of the contestants who were previously very good had weak showings. Note to contestants: When the public is voting for your continued existence on this show, it is not the time to have an off-night, no matter whose catalogue you’re singing.

Most disappointing was Anoop Desai. His rendition of Beat It just wasn’t very good. While invoking pretty harsh criticism from the judges, the truth is, it was probably his worst performance and he certainly did not take advantage of being the extra pick for the finals. Even Simon said that he probably wouldn’t have made that choice if he knew it would be this bad.

But, let’s start at the top and work our way down:

1 – Adam Lambert – Adam sang Black and White, and really put some rock into it. He has his own style, and it clearly showed through in this performance. He showed great stage presence and looked like a pro up there. As a side note, he was the 2nd person that Paula declared that she would see in the finals.

2 – Allison Iraheta – This girl is only 16! You’ve got to be kidding me. This girl is awesome. Her voice is clear and powerful. She sang Give it To Me with the grace and confidence of a seasoned professional. I love the edge she puts on everything she sings. She’s what Amanda Overmyer tried to be last season but couldn’t pull it off. Allison pulls it off. Did we really need to see that she got her auspicious start singing in a furniture store? Very strange lead in.

3 – Alexis Grace – Alexis sang Dirty Diana with lots of power and attitude. She’s going to be one to watch. It’s hard to imagine such a strong voice coming out of such a small person. I hope she loses that dance-jerky thing she was doing. It was very distracting.

4 – Danny Gokey – Not one of Danny’s best performances, but still good. He sang PYT “Pretty Young Thing” and did a pretty good job. One thing he did manage to do was show us all that he could sing more than just inspirational ballads. He wasn’t even distracted by his awful backup singers (I don’t mean Paula and Kara, who he got to sing with him, I mean the actual backup singers) and he even got Paula to dance like she was at a disco. Sometimes I really wonder about her… And, Danny was the other person who she declared to see in the finals, and it was only 3 songs into the night, with 12 weeks to go. Talk about going out on a limb.

5 – Lil Rounds – Lil sang a solid version of The Way You Make Me Feel. There really was nothing special about it, but her voice is still one of the best this year. Oh, by the way, the 80’s called and they want their blouse back. Her one shoulder top with the giant powder-puff on the shoulder made her look like she was wearing a prom dress when they showed her from the waist up.

6 – Kris Allen – Kris did a rousing Remember the Times with flair and gusto. He looked like he was having a blast up there. We didn’t get to see much of Kris prior to this week, but I hope we get to see more of him. He brings some fun to the show. He played his acoustic guitar but I really wonder what the point was. We couldn’t hear a single note of it as it was drowned out by the band. Simon pointed out that he shouldn’t have brought out his wife so soon (showed her in the intro clips). He may be right. It could hurt Kris’s votes with the young ladies.

7 – Michael Sarver – Pegged early on by Judge #7 (younger daughter Nikki) as another Josh Gracin, Michael managed to countrify You’re Not Alone. Actually, it sounded more like Lonestar than Michael Jackson, but I won’t hold that against him. He still put out a solid performance. He’s not going to be able to get away with putting a country twist on everything, so he better be careful.

8 – Matt Giraud – I know dub thee, JT Light. Ok, JTL was back behind the piano where he clearly is most comfortable and he made the most of it. He sang Human Nature and it sounded good. Clearly, pop is not JTL’s main gig. While he managed to pull it off, he sounds much better with Blues and with something a little faster paced. I almost thought he was going to do Billie Jean, and it may have even worked for him.

9 – Megan Corkery – OK, here is a girl who is having some fun up there. While Rockin’ Robin may not have been the best song choice, she definitely enjoyed singing it and sang it with the uniqueness that she brings to the show. I really liked the way she sang Corrine Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On last week (even though neither of my kids did), and I really liked her this week. The main reason that I put her so low is that I don’t think that most people will get her. I’m not sure that she’s going to get a lot of votes, but with a couple of others having pretty lousy nights, she should be safe.

10 – Scott Macintyre – Scott has been pretty impressive in the past, but last night wasn’t so much. I was very hopeful when he came out at his piano, where he says is his true comfort zone. But, his song choice, Keep the Faith, was just bland. This song is a virtual unknown from the Jackson catalogue, and I think Scott would have been much better served to pick something more known. At any rate, he is really setting himself up as someone who only sings inspirational ballads, not unlike Danny had done prior to last night. When he said that he was trying to be artistic, Simon told him that it’s OK to be artistic, just not on this show. What??? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? Don’t they get blasted for being too safe? How about if the judges make up their minds about what they want from these people.

11 – Jorge Nunez – In what was probably his worst performance to date, Jorge dished out Never Can Say Goodbye in his own mournful way. Awful song choice. He does much better singing straight ballads, and I’m sure he could have found one if he looked hard enough. What about Ben? He could have done that, and probably pretty well. Or, he could have sung I’ll Be There, which would have done Jasmine Murray a favor because then she wouldn’t have sang it so badly…

12 – Jasmine Murray – As stated above, she did no justice to I’ll Be There. She was pedestrian at best and showed that she really didn’t belong in the Top 12. OK, I admit I’m still bitter that the judges put her in over a much more talented Kristen McNamara, but I promise to get over it, eventually.

13 – Anoop Desai – By far, the worst performance of the night, and his worst performance. See first paragraph above.

So, tonight they send two home. I predict it will be:

Anoop Desai and Jasmine Murray.

I hope next week gives us a better theme night where they can all actually show what they got and it’s not such a struggle for them.