Finally, we’ve gotten to the part of American Idol I love – when the real competition begins. The performances tonight were a huge step above what we’ve been tortured with the last three weeks.
I don’t know if there is less pressure now that the mass cuts are just a memory or if there was just too much dead weight in the Top 36, but we have some real contenders here and they came out tonight singing the songs of Michael Jackson to prove that the winner if far from decided.
Leading the pack in the race for the title tonight was Adam Lambert who has really come into his own in the last couple of weeks. He turned around the judges who thought he was too theatrical at first.
And if you don’t mind his eccentric style, he’s fun to watch and he can definitely rock out. Tonight he proved that he could make a song his own with a slightly new arrangement of “Black or White” that had Paula and the audience dancing. With the judges now behind him, he can be a real contender.
Also rocking out tonight was Alexis Grace and Allison Iraheta. Alexis got down with “Dirty Diana” while Allison sang “Give in to Me.” Both girls have a nice rock edge, but Alexis definitely put in the better performance. This girl can sing and she can rock. I cannot believe Alexis is the same girl that we saw audition. She’s got confidence and style to go with her voice now.
Allison, on the other hand, tried a little too hard tonight. I didn’t like this performance nearly as much as her Heart number. I thought she shouted more of the song than she sang. She definitely has a rocker voice, but I thought she tried to do too much with this song tonight. However, the judges loved her.
Bring out the Instruments
Tonight marked the return of instruments and three performers took advantage of this rule.
It was nice to see Scott MacIntyre back behind a piano where he is obviously more comfortable. But let me say that I think he did a great job with the group number last week which had to be tough learning the choreography with his disability.
That said, I think that being back at the piano gave Scott a chance to concentrate of his vocals and it showed. “Keep the Faith” was a good song choice for him, but he’s going to have to strive harder to stand out among all the rockers.
Matt Giraud had to find out the same thing when he literally followed Adam with “Human Nature.” Matt put in a nice solid performance and he looked great behind the piano, but as Simon put it he just paled in comparison to the previous number.
It was a tough break in the order for Matt, but I think his performance was still strong enough to keep him for another week.
A guitar was the instrument of choice for Kris Allen who put in a fun performance of “Remember the Time.” Even though Simon didn’t like the guitar, I really liked the rock twist Kris put on the song. I wanted to get up and dance. And to learn that Kris spent a lot of his time this week helping the other contestants, make me like him even more.
Aside from the standouts, most of the contestants put in nice, solid performances that made you feel good about them being in the Top 13.
It’s clear that Michael Jackson songs are not Lil Rounds’ strong suit, but I have to say that she stepped up to the challenge and delivered a nice rendition of “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I’m not sure Lil made it as new as Randy made it sound, but she definitely put her seal on the song. However, like Simon, I liked the second half of the song better than first. But unlike Simon, I liked her outfit. I thought it looked nice on her.
And when Danny Gokey started to sing P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) I have to admit that I was afraid he was going to do another sappy song, but he turned it around and we got to see another side of him – both vocally and in his life. I liked that we got to meet his family in this week’s clip instead of more about his recently deceased wife (no offense intended). How cool was it that his parents use to make a song out of homework and chores. I’m going to have to try that with my own kids.
In general, I’m not a big Danny fan, probably because of all the hype (I like underdogs), but I really enjoyed his performance tonight. Seeing Danny do an upbeat song really gave us a chance to see more of Danny’s abilities and I don’t think his dancing was as bad as Simon made it out to be.
And speaking of the back stories, I loved seeing all the roughnecks cheering for Michael Sarver. There’s something about the idea of all those tough guys watching Idol that makes me smile. And so did Michael’s performance. “You Are Not Alone” was a great song choice for him. It really let him show his passion and amongst all the rockers, I think it helped make him stand out.
Standing out was just what Jasmine Murray was trying to do when she chose “I’ll Be There.” Personally, I think she sounded more like Mariah Carey than Michael Jackson but it worked for her. She has a powerful voice for such a young girl.
I’m not sure Jasmine is going to go the distance, but she will have some great experience behind her when she leaves.
Struggling with Jackson
Not everyone can sing Michael Jackson and despite the overall feeling of the show being better than anything we saw the last three weeks, we still saw a couple people struggle tonight.
If you asked me which song I’d pick for Anoop Desai, I’d have said “Beat It” because it just that kind of energetic song that goes with his personality. The judges hated that he chose that song, but I didn’t find the performance nearly as bad as they did. Sure he didn’t do anything new and exciting with the song, but he had fun with it. If anything, I’d have liked to see him try a few moves just because he’s such a fun guy. But gauging the reaction of the judges, this decision is going to cost him.
Also struggling with song choice was Jorge Nunez. I know that Jorge is very popular, but I find his performances forgettable and tonight wasn’t any different. It doesn’t help that he was really unfamiliar with “Never Can Say Goodbye,” the song that he chose. I almost felt sorry for the guy, but I have to agree with Simon that the performance just sounded corny.
And poor Megan Joy Corkrey. She picked the perfect song to go with the stupid little dance she does. Unfortunately, “Rockin’ Robin” gave us no insight into her vocal ability at all. And this late in the game, cute dancing (for those of you that like it) just isn’t going to be enough to be save her.
Now, normally my pick for the bottom three would be Allison, Jorge and Megan. But given the little nugget that Ryan threw in at the end, I’m going to make my bottom three as Anoop, Jasmine and Megan, with Megan and Anoop going home.
For those of you that missed it, Ryan told us that that there will be a last minute rule change announced during the results show on Wednesday that will be game changing. Nothing like changing the rules in the middle of the game, huh? But if I were a betting woman, I would guess that the judges are going to get a say (at least in part) in who gets booted now.