Thursday, April 16, 2009

American Idol Top 7

I'm writing my American Idol recap a day late on purpose this time: I decided last week that I liked being able to comment on the results as well as the performances, even if it means the originality of my predictions may be subject to scrutiny. Whatever.

"Songs from the Movies" might just be my favorite theme so far. In addition to witnessing Quentin Tarantino actually provide constructive criticism (a refreshing challenge to every other celebrity mentor's "That sounded great!" broken record), we weren't forced to sit through any painfully boring songs. Unfortunately, the evening was also devoid of any spectacular performances. Even my usual favorites fell a little flat: Allison Iraheta's "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith was a perfect choice, but she just didn't sing it that well. The message coming across to me was, "Obviously I am an awesome rockstar, so correct pitch and emotional connection to the song aren't necessary." Even Adam Lambert, while technically proficient, didn't add anything extraordinary to "Born to be Wild." I guess I prefer his startling softer side to the rock and roll which he more clearly embodies.

Kris Allen brought out that softer side I love with the beautiful Glen Hansard song, "Falling Slowly." His was my favorite performance, of a great song I don't hear often enough.

The difference between Danny Gokey's performance this week and last week Danny certainly brings an admirable level of consistency to the competition. He always sounds good, but he always sounds the same.

I expected Anoop Desai to follow his established pattern and fail miserably after he did well last week, but was pleasantly surprised with his controlled rendition of Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do," a song notoriously easy to karaokify.

Likewise, I wasn't expecting much from Lil Rounds, but I thought her gospel-infused version of "The Rose" made the song more interesting and showed more artistry than she has brought to the stage for many weeks. She is still my least favorite contestant, but I thought her performance was better than the judges gave her credit for. I thought it might be enough to save her until she fought to squeeze in her opinionated defense after the judges' comments. That is always an unattractive move, made more distasteful by the blatant disregard for Ryan's urgent reminder that the show had already gone over-time.

Matt Giraud also performed Bryan Adams, and also sounded quite good. But without having established a fan base as solid as Adam or Danny's, however, I felt that Matt's sentence to the bottom 3 this week was a distinct possibility. I would have preferred to see Lil Rounds pack her bags, but Matt received the lowest number of votes, which earned him the opportunity to "sing for his life" based on this year's new ultra-exciting rule twist: the "Judge's Save." The elite panel gets one opportunity to veto America's votes if believed to be "wrong." The problem with such a prospect at this stage in the competition is that everyone is pretty darn good...but each week someone inevitably must go.

Matt's do-over--possibly his last chance to sing on the American Idol stage--was unrecognizable. Granted he awkwardly sang it from outside the safe haven of his piano bench, but vocally it was a disaster. It wasn't a big surprise to me that the judges opted to use their one saving grace for Matt. He has been one of the girls' favorites from the very beginning despite the fact that his performances have been inconsistent, and he has yet to bring anything spectacular to the stage. Their decision to keep him around another week could not have possibly been based on his supposedly life-saving performance, because if it had been his first audition, we would never have seen him in Hollywood.

We'll enjoy the likes of this same Top 7 once again next week, but because of this not-so-shocking twist, two of them will see their fate sealed by the public vote (or lack thereof). What remains to be seen is whether the judges' save did anything more than prolong the inevitable.

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