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American Idol: 7 Finalists Compete

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I love how much Quentin Tarantino loves American Idol. It reminds me of how much I love that my similarly tall, cool-dude friend Leonard Pierce loves American Idol. Say, didn't he do a great job filling in for me while I was on vacation? Quentin, a longtime fan of the show, served as a guest judge once in 2003 (serving up a tiny bit of swishy sass, if I recall), and was the singers' mentor this week. The song theme was music from the movies, yet another one of those categories that's ridiculously broad.  Quentin planned, basically, on guiding the singers on how best to deliver their songs, which is way more interesting than "Why don't you try it in a middle C?" But first, Ryan let Quentin do his job introducing the show, and didn't even to mind doing so (you know he'd be pissed off if, say, Jessica Simpson did it).

Allison sang "I Don't Wanna to Miss a Thing," from Armageddon, the first of many megaballads which I consider corny and boring. Quentin, during his time with her, advised Allison to really belt out and rough up the song, which is kind of what she does anyway. The string arrangement was pretty although Allison seemed a little off-key at first (maybe because the band was in her ear) but she obviously decided to own the song and belted away. Maybe it's because I don't like the song but I only considered it one of Allison OK performances and figured that Simon would call it "indulgent". In a "historic" move (we as a country would be so screwed if Ryan Seacrest was a history teacher as well as a host/dj/personality), the judges were going to divvy up the songs, only going two at a time in order to prevent the show going  into overtime. Paula compared Allison's stage presence to Adam's, and to my surprise, Simon called her the only hope the girls had in the competition, which I think has been evident for a few weeks now. After Simon praised her, I think Allison told Ryan to "eat a nugget," or else she called him an "evil nugget" which would be better.


Quentin was concerned about Anoop singing "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You," from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and I felt the same way: that song's so cheesy, and it's sometimes cringeworthy when Anoop gets cheesy. However, about a third of the way into the song I realized that Anoop was singing it much stronger than I anticipated—it was pretty good, although the look he gives the camera when he sings ballads is a little creepy. Kara and Randy praised him although I wish that instead of this two judges at a time nonsense they'd just let Simon talk the whole time and the other judges could just boo if they disagreed or not (which they do anyway).

Adam chose "Born to Be Wild" from Easy Rider. I still haven't heard his singing last week, which I heard was quite good, so I felt like I knew what I was getting with Adam's performance tonight, and I did. Adam sang his face off (makeup joke, get it?) but I just hate listening to him run up into that falsetto. I'd like him so much more if he didn't so much rely on those notes that force him to stick his tongue out. Adam's just not my taste and he may not ever be. However, his singing turned Paula into a fortune cookie. "You dare danced in the path of greatness," she said. "Fortune rewards the brave" (in bed). No, those rumors of her reading pre-written comments are crazy! Simon was on my wavelength and said that while Adam could sing, his over-the-top style would be divisive.  More than the way he sings, I was disappointed with Adam’s song choice: something like  “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale would have been cool but most of tonight’s choices were banal.

Matt sang "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" from the Don Juan DeMarco soundtrack. Matt doesn't really turn my crank but I thought he did a nice job putting his Timberlesque spin on it and playing the ol' pianey but Randy and Kara hated that he picked another "rock" (what?) song. Matt probably can't win this thing because if he only did blue-eyed-soul stuff the judges would pick on him for being too predictable but they hate it whenever he tries something else.  However he did look nice tonight: he had a good hair/goatee ratio going on.

Danny sang "Endless Love," another blah ballad, as far as I'm concerned. In order to get more emotion from Danny, Quentin made him sing with his hands in his pockets—between that and his lack of glasses, Danny seemed lost at the top of the song, even completely losing a note right at the beginning (Paula noted that he had changed keys during rehearsals). However he picked himself back up and finished it proficiently but I thought it was boring, and Simon agreed, saying that it wasn't anything different from what we usually see from Gokey. It was a Gokey performance, overall.


I happen to be a sucker for "Falling Slowly," however, from Once and so I thought it was a great idea that Kris sang it, plus Quentin thought the choice was most in the spirit of the competition, so that was a good sign. Kris opted to sing without an instrument, and at first I was worried that maybe the song is so simple that he wouldn't be able to stick the notes (since any mistakes would be obvious) but like Anoop, after a little bit he claimed the song as his own, probably bringing it a new audience. And I know Leonard wouldn't say this but Kris was kinda cute doing it, too. Randy found the thing pitchy but Kara, like me, considered it one of Kris' best moments, which finally made Paula like her. Kara though is an idiot for saying this song is "obscure": it won best song at the Oscars last year, no?

Lil closed us out with "The Rose," another song I feel is treacly and dull (I know that this is a divisive song, however, so I'm sorry if this was the first dance at, like, your wedding or whatever). Nothing new under the sun with Lil: she sang strongly and put some gospel notes on it but it was forgettable (and, she garnered significantly less applause than her fellow contestants). Simon's fed up with Lil, saying that she's lost her way, and he's totally right. Lil didn't want to take it lying down, though, and responded to Simon—



—I'm not sure exactly because stupid Lil (and the producers) ran over again—thank goodness I still have Fringe on my DVR so I caught the last few seconds of her talking but I missed a bit. However it seems like she didn't really say much, basically telling Simon "You told me to go more R&B and I DID". That never makes people love you, Lil.


I think Lil, like Alexis, seems to be losing herself and us and she's a good bet to go home tomorrow night. And if you don't tune in for her, do it for Jennifer Hudson and It's Miley.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

—I'm just going to put all my sartorial judgments into one observation right here: Quentin needs to adopt a new hairdo and was he wearing those anti-cellulite shoes? Kara looked pretty. Paula's dress looked like it was from a beauty pageant. Anoop's jacket looked like an unholy hybrid of a baseball jacket and a blazer. Men (like Danny Gokey) should not wear 3/4-length sleeve jackets. And Lil should have stuck with the short hair the whole time.


—If you think it's weird that Quentin Tarantino is an Idol fan, how about that Steven Van Zandt was in the audience?

—Ryan seemed a little off tonight at parts: his impressions of Quentin and Randy were not so good, he and Rickey Minor seem to hate each other, and the little random generic encouragements he gave to all the contestants at the top of the show was some fake-ass shit.


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