Some thoughts on Rat Pack night on "American Idol" coming up, but first, I have to once again complain about how lazy and padded, if not outright bumbling, the production of the show has been this season. On most seasons of "Idol," the top 5 show features each contestant singing two songs. This time, they only sang one, and yet the show still ran a couple of minutes past 9 p.m. There's just no excuse for that. None.
Who knew I would miss Nigel Lythgoe this much?
Kris Allen, "The Way You Look Tonight": Kris sings one of the only songs of the night that I strongly associate with one of Frank, Sammy or Dean, and more than anyone else on the night, he understands that these songs are more about phrasing and storytelling than they are about vocal gymnastics. It's a clean, pure vocal, and this guy's become a pleasure to listen to.
Allison Iraheta, "Someone to Watch Over Me": I should note that, while the "American Idol" band is usually a mess, this orchestral version sounded pretty terrific. As did Allison, for that matter. She sang it straight, didn't try to turn it into a Heart song, and while there was some belting at the end, it felt like a part of the song. Great voice.
Matt Giraud, "My Funny Valentine": Where a couple of contestants (Allison and Danny) tonight were singing songs that Kat McPhee kind of butchered in season 5, Matt took on a song that Melinda Doolittle owned in season 6. He throws in his usual assortment of annoying, unnecessary runs (and is oddly criticized for it by run-loving Randy and Kara) and just when you think he's going to follow Jamie Foxx's advice to sing the final note with his full voice, he piles some falsetto trilling on top of that. Why did we bother saving him again?
Danny Gokey, "Come Rain or Come Shine": Danny can sing. This has never been a question. The issue with him is can he be a contemporary artist, and can he develop a stage presence beyond the karaoke moves he has now. Rat Pack Night isn't exactly the evening to resolve those issues, though Danny does seem to be getting more confidence on stage of late. A good vocal, as usual, though I thought he added too much unnecessary mustard and relish at the end.
Adam Lambert, "Feeling Good": Half the fun of Adam Lambert has been wondering what song he might pick, and then what bizarre thing he might do with the arrangement. In picking the inevitable in "Feeling Good," he takes away the first part of the game, and in doing half of it in an identical style (down to the dramatic blue lighting) to his "Mad World" from a few weeks ago, he mostly takes away the second. He's still likely going to win, but the artifice and insincerity of his performances becomes more obvious when he's predictable like this.
Best of the night: Kris Allen. And to think that I ranked him dead last at the start of the finals in terms of chance to win. Adam's still running away with things at the moment, and Danny's still the likely second-place finisher, but Kris looks like he's going to at least make things interesting on Top 3 Night.
In danger: If Matt -- who has technically been saved by the judges twice now -- doesn't go home, then the voters have fallen asleep on the job. I could see a scenario where Allison goes home, but she shouldn't, as she was my second-favorite of the night after Kris.
What did everybody else think?