I'm a proud lady of the '80s, so I've been awaiting American Idol's '80s Week with baited, Archuleta-style breath. I absolutely couldn't wait to take a moonwalk down memory lane, all the way back to the day-glo decade of big hair and even bigger hits. Because at heart, I'm a girl who just wants to have fun.
So that was my problem with the top eight boys' '80s performances last night. Where was the FUN? With a few exceptions, it was just ballads, ballads, and more ballads. Zzzzzzzz... Seriously, where was the Michael Jackson? The Billy Idol? The Duran friggin' Duran? Dang, I would have even settled for some Men Without Hats or Flock Of Seagulls.
Oh well. There were some totally awesome moments last night, fer sure, so I'll cover them first before I write about the bummers.
The standout for me last night was David Cook. Yep, if you're gonna do an '80s ballad, THIS is the way to do it, people. Now, when I got word through my many handy "insider connections" that he'd be singing Lionel Richie's "Hello," I was convinced that voters would subsequently say goodbye to David The C. The song is schmaltzy even by Lionel Richie standards, and for pretty much everyone over age 25, it's inextricably linked to early-MTV video imagery of that blind sculptor chick fashioning a lantern-jawed Lionel statue out of Play-Doh. But you know what? IT WORKED! It actually rocked, sort of like how Chris Daughtry made "I Walk The Line" rock back on season 5's country night--except in this case, I'm pretty sure Live never covered "Hello." (You may recall the semi-scandal that broke when it was revealed that Daughtry's cover was almost a note-for-note remake of Live's version.) Anyway, if David C. can make "Hello" rock, I say just give him the prize now. Yes, David, it is you we're looking for.
A close second for me was my Danny boy, the naughty-but-nice Noriega. Now, I'd dreamt of Danny really camping it up to the Nth degree and doing Madonna's "Like A Virgin" (complete with fingerless lace gloves, wedding veil, and rolling-on-the-floor choreography...now that would've been TMTH!). "Valley Girl" would have been a great choice too--he's certainly got the accent for it. But I must say "Tainted Love" was a PERFECT song selection for him. It's a well-known and much-loved classic, it's absolutely-fabulously oozing with attitude, and it works wonderfully with a soul-stylized arrangement because it was (obscure factoid alert) actually originally recorded in the '60s by sassy soul singer Gloria Jones. So Danny rocked it, he was (yes) fierce as all get-out, and Simon "Useless" Cowell was wrong, wrong, wrong about this one. I still think Danny should do some Madonna, though, when he inevitably makes it to the top 12.
Jason Castro also gave a star-making performance last night--and in this case Simon "Useful" Cowell was 100 percent right when he praised Jason. Jason showed a more serious, less cutesy side to his personality last night...in fact, with his flowing locks and kind, kaleidoscopic eyes, he almost exhibited a cult-leaderish vibe as he exultantly belted out Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" to his faithful followers. Talk about Idol worship!
Aussie Michael Johns did well too, but rather than concentrate on his performance, I'd like to point out Randy Jackson's unfortunate and inaccurate critique here: Randy told Michael that his performance of the Breakfast Club hit "Don't You Forget About Me" was like an "Australian going home" and likened Michael to another similarly named Aussie, Michael Hutchence. Um...so did Randy think "Don't You Forget About Me" is an INXS song or something? 'Cause it's not. It's by Simple Minds. Who are from Scotland. Which is a 32-hour plane flight away from Australia. D'oh!
Anyway, the theme of last night's pre-performance contestant interviews was "What was your most embarrassing moment?"--but if the Idol producers ever get around to asking Randy that question, he ought to cite this specific incident.
OK, and speaking of embarrassing moments--on to the bummers...
Oh, Luke Menard. Yikes. Where do I begin? Last night he attempted to sing Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." Well, someone better wake him up before he goes-goes on Thursday night, because after this travesty there is NO way he's making it to the top 12 unless the Idol powers-that-be have a change of heart and decide to disqualify David Hernandez after all. Really, Luke was such a trainwreck, his performance should have been sponsored by Amtrak. Or so corny, it should have been sponsored by Jiffy Pop. At least he went uptempo for a change, but I guess I ought to be careful what I wish for, because he is one contestant who needed to stick with a ballad. Either that, or he should have ignored Paula's advice and worn itsy-bitsy Dolphin shorts after all. Since he's been coasting through on his McDreamyish good looks so far, showing some skin would've been his only way to secure votes from female viewers last night.
In line with the "primacy and recency" theory I have cited in previous blogs, Luke was first to perform last night and Chikezie was last. I suspect the producers arranged this on purpose, so their weakest-link performances would stick out in voters' minds. Chikezie (unofficial most embarrassing moment: when he wore that red pimp suit) sang much, MUCH better than Luke did--Whitney Houston songs aren't for the faint of heart or faint of vocal chord, after all--but he was back to his cruise-ship throwback style from week one. He was good, but generically good. And that ain't good enough.
And finally, no Idol boys blog would be complete without a mention of this season's two most talked-about Davids...
Archuleta won a few paltry points with me for playing keyboards, as I thought it made him seem more credible and grownup...but then he had to stand up and go into theater-school mode and ruin the whole shebang. I agree with Simon: David A. should have stayed on that piano bench. I found his Phil Collins performance blah and bland--odd, since he was one of last week's standouts, but one of this week's more forgettable contenders. Seriously, Phil Collins has more edge than David A. Maybe it's true that he's peaked too soon.
Hernandez oddly did not cite "being outed as a male stripper" as his most embarrassing moment (then again, his interview was probably taped a while ago). But he sang the Meatloaf/Celine song "It's All Coming Back To Me Now," which was fitting since his past is indeed coming back to haunt him these days. However, as usual he handled himself with class last night, and he's now practically guaranteed to lapdance his way right in to the top 12.
So I will once again predict that Luke and Chikezie will go this week. And it's about time!
And now I'm ready to put on my parachute pants and watch the '80s ladies this evening. Will Irish lass Carly raise a pint of Guinness and sing some Pogues or U2? Will growly biker chick Amanda attempt an Axl Rose impersonation? Will Kady whip out her tried-and-true Cher impression? Will someone, anyone, for the love of gawd, do some Duran Duran? Stay tuned...
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