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American Idol: 11 Finalists Compete

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So it's country week on Idol, and finally we got to see a guest mentor working with the singers: good old Randy Travis, who somehow looks both older and younger than he ought to. Does anybody remember that old commercial where he was being billed as the sexy crooner all the ladies wanted to be with? Good times.

My issue with country week is that I don't recognize most of the songs so it's a little hard to judge the performances, but I blame myself, not country music, for this. We started with Michael Sarver, a country-seeming boy if there ever was one on the show. He sang Garth Brooks' "Ain’t Going Down," which has a lot of words but doesn't seem to be a great tune for showing off one's voice, which is what Kara noted. Michael retorted that "Country music's about having some fun" but Michael didn't seem to be having THAT much fun—I think the harmonica player who played over his singing was probably having a better time. I wouldn't give it a 1.2 out of 10 the way Simon did but maybe a 5, 6?


Then we got to Allison, who sang "Blame it on the Heart." This chick can really sing—I think she's hands-down the best of the girls. I wasn't sure what Simon meant when he said Allison was verging on precocious, so I'll just go with Randy on this one, who thought Allison was dope.

Kris sang "To Make You Feel My Love" first to Randy Travis, whose face broke into a strangely lascivious leer afterwards. Kris sang sans guitar and took all the country out of the song and something about his performance (or his face) reminded me of Enrique Iglesias. Paula was "pleasantly surprised" and Simon thought it was terrific. I like Kris OK (in that he hasn't annoyed me yet, and he's cute) but still he has yet to establish himself as someone who could go up against an Adam or Danny and make it out alive. Anyway, Randy called Kris "tender dawg" which made me smile because I sometimes call my dog "tender pup," so maybe I will root for Kris after all.

Lil Rounds sang Martina McBride's "Independence Day," looking a million times better than last week. I thought the song was a little low in key for her, and she didn't seem to hit every note during the verses, but I liked the storytelling aspect of the song for Lil—not to sound like Kara but while I didn’t think it was the best, I enjoyed it. Randy wished she had done "I Will Always Love You" but I am quite happy that she didn’t. The judges raked Lil over the coals a bit—I don't think Lil really showed herself off but I didn't think it was so awful.

So I had read about Adam's performance on the Twitbook before I even heard it and one commenter wrote "Not looking forward to everyone hating Adam on AVC. I may just avoid it" which made me DETERMINED to be diplomatic. So, Adam took on "Ring of Fire" and decided to put a Middle Eastern spin on it. Randy Travis was somewhat horrified and confused by Adam but seemed to like him as a human (Travis seems like an all right guy).  I am still working out how I feel about Adam's take on the song. The arrangement was interesting and to a certain extent Adam did sing it well but THEN he started wailing in a falsetto voice and I just couldn't get down with that (nor with the side-eye camera rape or the Elvis face). Kara was on the fence (leaning towards positive), Simon thought it was "indulgent rubbish" and I agree with both of them. Randy thought it was "Nine Inch Nails doing country" which I think is ridiculous, and he added that Adam is "current, fresh, hot," which made me want a fresh hot currant scone or something.


In the next segment Ryan tried to be "of the people" by announcing from the mosh pit but was met by technical difficulties as he announced Scott, who would be singing "Wild Angels" by Martina McBride, a choice Randy Travis didn't seem to like. I thought, as usual, Scott was pleasant but nothing special—he couldn't hit a few notes and I'm sick of the sweetly inspirational songs he chooses, although Scott did allude to him "losing the picks" in terms of songs which makes me yearn for more info on how the songs are actually chosen. At least his hair was more in control and he made a funny joke when Paula suggested that the piano was keeping him away from his audience, to which Scott said "We can move it closer!" Paula and Simon then had a tedious argument about whether Scott should use the piano or not and I don't care either way.

Alexis Grace sang Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and off the bat I disliked her rendition. By putting her "spin" on it she wrecked the straightforwardness that makes the original so good. There's something about Alexis that makes her seem kind of hard, or cold to me and I don't think the judges are connecting with her any more than I am.


I warmed up to Danny Gokey a bit when I saw him fumbling in front of Randy Travis (just because it seemed human) but then lost all my goodwill when I saw Danny's stupid white jacket (which Simon hated too). Danny sang "Jesus Take the Wheel," a Carrie Underwood song. There's nothing specific about that song that's really sung from a woman's perspective but when Danny sang it I just thought how much more powerful the song sounds when sung by a chick. He did his dorky rock thing and by the response he received from the audience you'd think Jesus really had come and taken, well, somebody's wheel. Kara thought the first half of the song was kind of sucky compared to the second but Simon disagreed, simply because I think he makes it a point never to agree with Kara.

Anoop sang "You Were Always On My Mind." The judges decided that he did prove that he deserved to be in the top 13 after the drubbing they gave him last week. I thought his performance was capable but not that special. Simon said he went from zero to hero but I think at best he went from zero to sidekick.


Megan sang "I Go Walking After Midnight" and Randy Travis once again expressed doubt about the song choice but then proclaimed Megan totally unique. You know what were totally unique? Her boobs. My god, I don't even know what to say about them because they looked unlike anything I had ever seen, and I’m not even sure if I mean that in a good way. I didn't like the way she sung the song—it was like she was yodeling, but worse, but then the judges all noted that Megan's been terribly ill so they cut her a bit of slack. Simon didn't like the way she's been styled lately as some of her quirkiness seems to have been eliminated. Her face looked pretty, though.

Finally, Matt Giraud sang Carrie Underwood’s "So Small" and I liked it pretty well for a song I'd never heard before. I think Matt is just as strong as the other male frontrunners, but isn't quite as legendary and so he proved himself some tonight, and the judges approved


Based on performances, I'd make my bottom three Scott, Alexis and Michael.

Grade: C

Stray observations:

—The Osbournes show looks so bad, it looks a parody of a bad show you'd see in a cleverer TV show or movie.


—We hit the top ten tomorrow night after the elimination, which brings us our summer tour lineup. If Scott gets eliminated I call dibs on the conspiracy theory.

— I still can't get over the weird announcement of the judges and Ryan Seacrest’s on Idol, although at least we get a good look at the outfits. Kara was dressed like a classy space whore and Paula was wearing a floral jumpsuit.


—It would be funny if Lil’s name really was “Little.”

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