There are actually a lot of pretty good singers on Idol this season. I think I'm going to declare my favorite of the season to be Allison, because, well, like Danny and Adam, she can obviously, totally, definitely sing, but I just like her more than the two guys, maybe because she's less experienced. I think Kris and Matt are quite good but they for some reason lag behind the first three just a tiny bit, perhaps just because they don't have a bit of freakshow to them (IE crazy youth or a personal tragedy or general eccentricity). Lil, I think, is not as good as we hoped she was, Megan's schtick is a little stronger than her talent. Michael, Scott, and Anoop, in my perfect world, would all be eliminated tomorrow but there's not a judge's rule that can make that possible. But let's break it down:
It was Motown Week at Idol, and to celebrate the kids were given a personal tour of Hitsville. On the one hand, during the Motown retrospective I was once again amazed by the number of hits the label generated and what it meant culturally. On the other hand, I wonder if anybody who was watching didn't think "Eek, economic unpleasantness" when they saw the kids were being taken to Detroit.
Matt Giraud kicked things off with "Let's Get it On," a song I'm pretty sick of hearing in general but I did like the way he opened it—it sounded less seedy without that wah-wah guitar (but then of course it kicked in). Matt's cardigan/tie/shirt combo didn't exactly scream "sex" to me, but he did sing well, despite my personal issues—the judges proclaimed Matt one of the frontrunners on the show.
Kris sang "How Sweet it Is" and like Matt, I liked the beginning of the song, when Kris sang a cappella, but then the arrangement got a little dorky. It was a very cute performance though, sort of reminiscent of "American Pie". I thought Kris' shirt was a little too "Elvis joins the Army" for my taste but he actually sang the song with a bit more authority than sweetness and it worked, especially on his last note—Kara put it well when she said Kris didn't do James Taylor or Marvin Gaye, which was a good decision. Simon wants a bit more swagger, saying "To be a star, you gotta be conceited" which is definitely true.
Scott wore pink pants, but yes, he knew about it (he dismantled my own joke before I got to use it). He sang "You Can't Hurry Love" and it was lame. Come on, America, give it up. You're not going to buy Scott's album in a million, zillion years. He can sing OK but his performances are just so generic. Paula and Simon fought over Scott with quite a bit of showmanship Paula produced for Simon a coloring book and crayons, so he can keep himself occupied while Paula talks. It was kind of a cute little moment until after the commercial when Paula promised she had more surprises…under her skirt. Yikes.
Megan sang "For Once in my life", which she thought was a "good Megan song—it applies." The affectation she puts in her voice irritates me more than charms me—she reminds me of when Gwen Stefani used to use a lot more nasal pinch in her voice. Megan did, however, look gorgeous (styled sort of like she was singing in a Hawaiian hotel) but the backup singers were doing all the work. The judges all hated it and Megan looked crushed.
Anoop sang "Ooh Baby Baby" which I felt ahead of time wouldn't be the best song choice for him—I don't really care for sincere Anoop. I prefer "Fuck it, I'm on American Idol" Anoop. The judges were mixed: Kara didn't think he hit all the high notes and Randy agreed with me, that we want the party from Anoop, but Paula thought he was sweet and tender. Also: another week, another bad jacket.
When Sarver performed I thought, "Oh, this guy's still on." He sang "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and it was just an extremely…white performance. You know, when white guys try to be super-soulful and they just sound old and dorky instead of smooth—that was Sarver to me. The judges didn't love it (it physically hurt Paula to say so) and then Ryan, who has been doing a lot of this this season, asked Michael how those comments make him feel, and Michael said that he put in 110%, as if that means something. He also noted that American Idol is "The greatest show in the world." Hmm.
Lil Rounds sang "Heat Wave." Taking the time to denote how important Motown is, Lil said that she wants to do this for Martha Reeves and Diana Ross, who, I'm sure, appreciate it very much. The arrangement of the song wasn't very fun at all. Lil wore a wig but otherwise didn't bring much new to the performance. Kara and Simon both noted that Lil is missing that "moment" that would bring her back into the fold.
Adam chose to sing "Tracks of My Tears" which is an excellent song, and a good choice for him since he got to scale things back, both in terms of singing and wardrobe. He looked nice in his suit with his hair off his face but he is wearing too much makeup or something because he never looks quite…right. I've heard my beloved Elvis Costello sing this song in a very stripped-back and obviously melancholy way so it was hard for me not to compare that version to Adam's. I really can't get into Adam's constant falsetto but objectively, yes, he did a good job. The judges loved him.
Danny Gokey sang "Get Ready" which I actually think he did a good job on. The judges didn't seem to love it but I was trying to imagine how it would sound if some of the other folks on the show sang it and he handled it with an authority I think the judges took for granted. And I thought it was cute that he danced with the backup singers. So for once I actually liked Danny more than the judges did.
Allison sang "Papa Was a Rolling Stone", looking a little trampy, I have to say, but who cares? That girl can really sing , she's only 16, and she sings, again, like a much more experienced person. She makes her songs seem relevant to her when she sings them and hence I'm throwing my lot in with Allison. Even Simon and Paula gave her props while they were laughing about a mustache that he'd drawn on Paula's face which she (unsuccessfully) tried to wipe off. If I were Paula I would decapitate Simon on the spot for that.
—I like that Simon admitted that he wasn't looking forward to tonight's performances.
—Are we going to "memorialize" the people who went home each week, now?
—I want to know if Smokey Robinson was hot in his leather suit.
—Did anybody notice when Ryan got up after sitting next to Simon's girlfriend, that they were sitting behind Olivia Newton-John and her daughter? I tried to find the clip online of Chloe retreating to her father's teepee to console herself by singing along to his didgeridoo on "Rock the Cradle" but alas I could not.