Danny Gokey, "Stand By Me": How you feel about this performance depends largely on how you feel about contestants cheating the theme. Yes, Mickey Gilley recorded a cover of the Ben E. King classic in 1980, but Danny wasn't really using the Gilley arrangement (which you can hear here). He wasn't doing the King version, either, though, and I did like his gruff R&B take on the song in that usual Danny Gokey way. But the purist in me dings him for not picking an actual 1980 song.
Kris Allen then does a Seacrest-erview where he tells a story about some Ferris Wheel operator trying to use him to hit on Adam Lambert, and Seacrest doesn't even raise an eyebrow. Is it possible that "Idol" might be moving past its sniggering attitude towards being gay? Nah...
Kris Allen, "All She Wants to Do Is Dance": Well, it's a night for different arrangements, and while I think Randy is a moron (as always) for complaining that he was paying attention to the song and not the singer, I do agree with Kara that it was just a bad arrangement, surprisingly lifeless in spite of the tempo and the presence of those big horns.
Afterwards, Simon gets in the line of the night, as a girl in the audience screams out, "Kris, you're hot!" and Simon replies, "But so am I, but it's not about that." Whether Kris is in the bottom three this week will prove a nice test of that theory.
Lil Rounds, "What's Love Got To Do With It": This will be the first of two Throwing Things links in this post, as they nailed this as the obvious pick for Lil. Unfortunately, it was too obvious, in that it exposed her as an imitator -- and not a very good one this week -- rather than an artist. Say what you will about all the other arrangements tonights, some of which worked, some of which didn't, but at least all the other contestants were trying to inject their own personalities into the songs. This was just copycat, minus Tina Turner's phrasing and charisma. Bad, bad, bad.
Anoop Desai, "True Colors": After a patented Damage Control Seacresterview, in which Anoop apologizes profusely for being snotty to Kara last week, Anoop goes with a song choice that's all about saying, "That jerk last week isn't who I am; these are my true colors!" After Adam, Anoop probably has the best pure singing voice of anyone else who's left, and while the arrangement got a little dull in the middle, the falsetto was great, and he sang it with the same passion he brought to his great "Always On My Mind" performance on Country Night. Now if Anoop can just find a way to do an uptempo number without ticking off the judges, all will be right with the "Idol" world.
Scott MacIntyre, "The Search Is Over": You may have missed the most self-aware line on the show in a long time, since the band started playing over it, but just before Ryan came over to give Scott's numbers, he said, "At least I'm versatile. I wanted to show that before I went home." I'll give Scott credit for that: he knows where he is in the pecking order, knows he's on borrowed time at best, and is now just trying to catch the eye of some adult contemporary record label out there. Given that, I'm not going to bother pointing out all the things wrong with this performance. If he somehow survives to next week, I'll pile on him again, but I liked that moment.
Allison Iraheta, "I Can't Make You Love Me": As our only contestant born in the '90s, Allison made a fairly disappointing song choice. I love the song, but we've heard it a bunch of times on "Idol," and 1992 had so many other possibilities for her (see the Throwing Things link above for their suggestions). While she started off the performance fairly understated -- for Allison, anyway -- when she hit the chorus she started doing the stupid runs and other vocal gymnastics that please Randy but are completely unnecessary for such a beautiful song. Just sing the notes correctly and it'll sound great! Geez!
Matt Giraud, "Part-Time Lover": I'm going to reproduce my notes verbatim (with the profanity altered for family consumption):
Interesting arrangement... I kinda like how he sounds on it.. SING THE (BLEEPING) SONG! OH MY GOD, THERE IS ONE NOTE THERE! SING THAT NOTE! NOT THE 12 SECRET HIDDEN NOTES YOU BELIEVE ARE WITHIN IT! STOP THAT! RIGHT NOW! SING! THE! SONG!Predictably, Randy loved it. Kara, too. (I am so done with her.)
Adam Lambert, "Mad World": You want to know why I got so irked at the previous two for not just singing the damn notes? This is why. Adam sings the song, doesn't resort to meliasma, is remarkably understated (as understated as you can be while singing in a falsetto under a neon green spotlight, anyway) and sounds amazing.
Was it the best performance in "Idol" history? Probably not, no. But I think what Simon was responding to when he got to his feet there was the way that Adam has so clearly distanced himself from everybody else this season. There are a number of very good singers left, but he can sing rings around them and he's a hundred times the showman any of them hope to be on their best day. He can be annoying at times, and I can certainly see scenarios where he doesn't win (either because people dislike him, or because he gets cocky and starts doing self-indulgent stuff like that "Ring Of Fire" again), but if there's a reason I'm watching "Idol" for the rest of the season beyond professional obligations, it's because I can't wait to see whatever it is Adam Lambert's going to do next.
Best of the night: Adam. No doubt. I may need to start doing a running feature on whoever the second best of the night was. (Here, probably Anoop, since I'm docking Danny points for the theme-cheating.) And while we're talking about Adam, you really, really, absolutely must go and watch The Adam Lambert Roundtable. It's one of the funniest things you'll see all week.
In danger: Scott, definitely. Lil, probably. If Kris isn't in the bottom three, it's a testament to the power of the pretty. I could see Anoop there, as he has some factors working against him (good but not brilliant, performed in the middle of the show, plus whatever residual bad feelings there are from last week), or Allison, if Simon's right that people just don't like her very much and are only voting for her when she's great -- which she wasn't here.
What did everybody else think?