American Idol: And Then There Were Seven

Songs from the year they were born. I love this theme. Since most of the contestants were born in the ‘80’s, with the exception of Allison Iraheta, I expected some very decent music.

I was somewhat disappointed in some of the song choices. There were so many great songs from that decade to choose from. I really don’t think that some of the contestants took advantage of the opportunity, and they will ultimately pay for it. A couple of other singers had very good nights, and we even got to see a rare standing ovation from Simon.

Since last week’s column, when I broke down the contestants into Best, Good, and Worst was so much fun, I’m going to do the same thing this week.

1 – Adam Lambert – This is starting to become a trend, but without question, Adam was head and shoulders above the rest of the field. He sang the hell out of Tears for Fears’ 1982 song, Mad World. Like Tracks of My Tears from a couple of weeks ago, his falsetto was amazing. This performance was actually better than Tracks, and was probably his best performance so far, out of many, many great ones. It even earned a standing ovation from Simon. Unfortunately, the show was running way over time, so only Simon got the chance to speak. But in this case, no words were necessary.

2 – Allison Iraheta– I know I’ve said this before, but… She’s only sixteen??? What???? Allison showed her superb talent last night by taking Bonnie Raitt’s 1992 hit I Can’t Make You Love Me, a song that normally would be too old for most sixteen year olds, and making it believable. The soulfulness that she puts into each of her performances is breathtaking and always unexpected.

3 – Danny Gokey – Danny took on the 1980 Mickey Gilley version of Stand By Me. I’m not sure how different this was than the original 1961 Ben E. King version, and I have to question the validity of using a remake for this particular theme night. If you’re going to do a song from a specific year, do a song from that year. Anyway, Danny started off way off pitch and all over the place. By the middle of the song he had leveled off and he finished the last third pretty strong. If he didn’t kick it in toward the end, he would have been much lower on my list. Paula was wayyyy over the top when she called it “Outstanding” and said that he raised the bar for everyone else. But we know she has a knack for overstating.

4 – Lil Rounds – After several weeks of getting pounded by the judges, and rightfully so, Lil tried to go back to her comfort zone with Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got To Do With It from 1984. I thought she sounded better than she has in weeks. The only problem I had with it was that she appeared to be attempting a Tina impersonation, right down to the clothes and the Tina strut across the stage. The affectations really took away from her voice, which was near perfect. Sadly, the judges tore her up. More, I think, than they needed to. The good will that Lil has built up with her fan base will soon disappear. She really needs to take the judges advice and take a song that will showcase her amazing voice and make it her own. She’s going to quickly run out of chances.

5 – Anoop Desai – Singing Cyndi Lauper’s 1986 hit ballad True Colors, Anoop showed great improvement over last week’s debacle. He sang with passion and feeling. He may want to be an R & B star, but this seems to really be his niche. His best performances are these ballads, and he needs to keep doing them. Simon may have had the best line of the night when he said he’s like a singing yo-yo. One week he’s down, the next week he’s up. The next he’s down, then he’s up again. Great analogy.

6 – Matt Giraud – While Matt showed great playful bluesiness with his version of Stevie Wonder’s 1985 Part Time Lover, he was choppy and all over the place. I really think that it was more of a problem with the arrangement and Ricky Minor’s band not being able to pull it off than it was Matt’s vocals, but as a whole, the whole thing just wasn’t smooth, and, in Randy-speak, it just didn’t work for me. And, Matt has got to stop wearing that fedora. It makes him look even more like JT, if that’s even possible. All four of the judges heaped praise on him, way more than he deserved.

7 – Kris Allen – I never thought I would see Kris fall below 4 or 5, but last night’s version of 1985’s All She Wants To Do Is Dance, by Don Henley, was easily his worst performance to date. He tried to jazz it up some, and it just sounded like he was trying too hard. He’s actually way better than that, and this one crappy performance shouldn’t hurt him, but don’t be surprised to see him in the bottom two in the results show.

8 – Scott MacIntyre – Scott’s run has reached its end. He finally moved away from the piano, but he also did himself a great disservice. When he’s behind the piano, he at least seems to know who is his and what he’s doing. Standing in the middle of the stage with guitar in hand, like last night, he looked confused and lost. His song choice, The Search is Over, by Survivor in 1985, was awful. It started poorly and got worse as it went on.

There were so many better songs from 1985 to choose from that both Scott and Kris could have done so much more with. Like Heaven, by Bryan Adams, Sting’s If You Love Somebody, or REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling. Any of those songs may have moved these two higher on my list, and could have saved one of them from elimination.