Okay, this is getting embarrassing. Even when "American Idol" tried to speed up the show by having only two judges talk after each performance after last week's Adam Lambert fiasco, they still couldn't bring the episode in on time. Everybody sang before 9 p.m., but Simon and Lil's argument spilled into my recording of "Fringe." So, so lame. At this point, I have to believe it's simple incompetence and not some kind of master DVR-baiting plan, or else they wouldn't have gone to the trouble of shaking up the format and apologizing. They really are that bumbling. Pathetic.
Anyway, thoughts on the episode coming up just as soon as I stick my hands in my pockets...
Two general thoughts before we get to the song-by-song discussion. First, either the contestants generally have awful taste in music, the list of available songs is a lot smaller than the show wants us to believe, or both. Given all the movies that have been made in the last 100+ years, and all the songs included in them, this theme basically amounted to Sing Whatever the Hell You Want Night, and instead we get the same boring ballads, two flippin' Bryan Adams songs, and with one or two exceptions, the same songs we hear on different theme nights in every damn season of "American Idol." So much potential, so little realized.
Second, while the format change still somehow didn't manage to bring the show in on time, and it forced me to listen to only Randy and Kara half the time, the one plus is that Simon wasn't as rushed as he so often seems when the show runs the normal way. His comments to Danny felt like the longest single thought he's expressed on the show in quite some time, and allowed him to be critical while still acknowledging that the song was good and that the moment clearly meant something to Danny, when usually he only has time to play good cop or bad cop.
Allison Iraheta, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing": I'm so sick of this song, but I really liked the way Allison started off, very softly and tenderly, like she really did want to stay in this moment forever. Then we came to the chorus and it was like she didn't know what to do -- or like even her powerful voice isn't quite up to out-shouting Steven Tyler -- so despite the louder volume, the performance actually felt less dramatic as it moved along. She's been better.
Anoop Desai, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You": Quentin Tarantino is the best guest judge in "Idol" history -- and, really, the best judge the show's had other than Simon himself -- but it appears he can be ignored just as easily as every other celebrity mentor. This performance wasn't the least bit rough like Tarantino suggested. Clean and clear and in tune, but dull. Bring back fun Anoop!
Adam Lambert, "Born To Be Wild": And here's the Adam I didn't like very much in the semi-finals and early in the finals. Very much a Vegas lounge performance of a classic rock anthem that turned halfway through into his latest Axl Rose impression. (There are at least three Guns 'N Roses songs that have featured prominently in movies -- plus "Live and Let Die," which they memorably covered years later. Will Axl -- and/or Paul McCartney -- just not license the songs?) He's still the most talented guy here, and he's gonna win, but this is one of those cases where I really disliked what he chose to do with his talent.
Matt Giraud, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman": Starts off doing his usual Justin Timberlake soundalike thing, then turns into a complete mess halfway through and never recovers. Just bad. On the plus side, it did make me think about "Don Juan DeMarco" for a few minutes, which is a really entertaining film other than the weird scene where Marlon Brando blows popcorn at Faye Dunaway while they're in bed together.
Danny Gokey, "Endless Love": First, Danny looks like a completely different person without the Rachel Maddow glasses. Second, while I know the people who dislike him are going to pile on about the moment at the end where he looked up at the heavens and cried for his dead wife, I was fine with it. He hasn't mentioned her in a long time, clearly isn't milking it for votes, and given his situation, I imagine it'd be hard not to think of her after singing a song like that -- and singing it, as even Simon acknowledged, quite well. This falls into the Anoop category of tuneful but not incredibly interesting, but the end felt earned.
Kris Allen, "Falling Slowly": I don't know that I feel competent to evaluate this one, since A)I love this song, and the scene from "Once" that introduces it; and B)I was so gobsmacked that someone in this cast was picking a relatively obscure song (as obscure as an Oscar winner for Best Original Song can be, anyway) rather than another entry in the Diane Warren catalog. I think I side with Kara over Randy, in that the passion was there enough for the song to carry the rest, but again, I'm not entirely rational on the subject of "Falling Slowly."
Lil Rounds, "The Rose": I hated the arrangement, her voice sounded all over the place and the last note was terrible. Also Simon's criticism -- "You are not the artist I believe we met seven or eight weeks ago" -- is as cutting as anything he's ever said on the show to someone who at one point was one of his favorites.
Best of the Night: Eh... One of Anoop, Danny or Kris, but the first two mostly bored me and the last is as much about song choice as the performance.
In danger: Lil, definitely. (Other than very late in the season, like Melinda, how often has someone gone home after getting the pimp spot?) Matt, almost certainly. After that, I wouldn't be surprised by anyone but Adam or Danny getting center stage. Allison went first and has been in the bottom a few times before. Anoop's been in the bottom several times and, like Allison, just may not have the fanbase to carry him through if Lil and/or Matt's fans vote like crazy because they got slammed by the judges.
What did everybody else think?