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American Idol Fever: Disco Night!

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

"The good news is, Matt Giraud lives to see another week on American Idol," Ryan Seacrest said at the beginning of tonight's show--referring to the fact that Matt was spared elimination last week when the much-ballyhooed Judges' Save was squandered--oops, I mean USED--on him. I'm not sure this was such good news, really.

See, the Judges' Save was supposed to be used to rescue a real frontrunner, someone whose elimination was a SHOCKER and a great injustice--i.e., a Chris Daughtry/Michael Johns/Tamyra Gray type. It wasn't created to save someone who had already landed in the bottom multiple times and had been told by Simon Cowell that he had "no chance of winning this show." So last week's decision to save Matt was just puzzling, and more than a little annoying.

This is nothing against Matt, as I like him and thought Lil Rounds should have been in last place last week, NOT Matt. But I don't think Matt was quite deserving of the one-time-only Judges' Save, and I just hope there isn't some shocking elimination this week that will have the judges regretting their decision.

Well, this was a tough week for all, not just because it was a double-elimination week (to compensate for last week's non-elimination), but also because it was DISCO WEEK. It's almost impossible for any singer to do disco without seeming as hokey and dated as a polyester suit or a pet rock (even my favorite, Adam Lambert, was a little cheesy-loungey when he boogie-oogie-oogied to Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" a few weeks ago), so the contestants certainly had their work cut out for them. All of them needed to be worried tonight. No one was safe. Stayin' alive wasn't going to be easy.

Least safe of all was the aforementioned Lil Rounds. Simon had already been gunning for her for weeks--he was particularly hard on her last week, bordering on yelling at her--and the fact that she was in the "spot of death," singing first, didn't help her tonight. (My guess is, it was no accident that she was disadvantageously selected to start the show; there are few accidents on Idol.) So it was do-or-die time for Rounds. But on the positive side, she was the one singer in the top 7 whose singing style was well-suited to disco: All she had to do was belt out a divalicious Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor anthem with conviction, and she'd be good as solid gold.

Well, she sort of did that. Lil chose to sing Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman," and it was the first time she showed any sort of real personality this season. She smiled a lot, she did the Hustle, she strutted through the audience...frankly, this was the performance Lil needed to deliver weeks ago. But it was probably too late. Kara DioGuardi said, "I'm not sure it was worth the wait," snarkily adding in reference to Lil's ongoing identity crisis, "You've been every woman on that stage--every other woman but yourself." Simon was, unsurprisingly, the harshest on Lil. "Your vocals were a mess," he barked. "I think this is going to be the last week we're going to see you."

Well, I agreed with Simon that Lil's time was probably up, especially since two people get cut this week, thus upping the probability of her demise. But I still thought this was her best performance to date, and the only performance of hers that even slightly measured up to all the hype she prematurely (and, let's face it, undeservedly) received earlier in the season. So if, or when, she goes tomorrow night, at least she'll go out on a high note. But I won't miss her--or her incessant arguing with the judges--all that much.

Singing second was Kris Allen, unexpectedly doing a Donna Summer story song, "She Works Hard For The Money." It could have been a disaster, but he did the smart thing and didn't try to do a straight-up disco number. Instead he--to use a frequent but fitting Idol cliche--"made it his own," giving it what Paula Abdul called a "classy Santana feel." Randy Jackson said the song proved that Kris is "ready for the big time, dawg," and Kara righfully told Kris, "You took a real risk with that arrangement, and it paid off!" Then Paula made one of her typically oddball remarks about Kris's brave choice to sing a female artist's hit ("A lot of women are willing to shop in the men's department, but not many men are willing to shop in the women's...") Um, OK, but isn't the women's department where Simon buys all his V-neck shirts?

But, much like Paula, I digress. Singing third was Danny Gokey, doing one of tonight's more cliched choices, Earth, Wind & Fire's "September." I personally thought he came across as smug and over-emotive. But the judges, as usually, loved him. Randy admitted he'd been worried about Danny doing the not-melodic-enough EW&F song (which is odd, since I think the classic tune HAS a pretty strong melody), but then he predictably told Danny: "You worked it out!" Paula then said, "I think you have one of the sexiest voices ever, and I think women of all ages will agree." Well, I didn't agree. I agreed more with Simon, who said: "I didn't get any star power from that." But I have a feeling more voters tonight will side with Paula. There's just something about Danny that people other than myself dig. I still don't get him, though.

Next up was my girl Allison Iraheta, belting out Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff." And it WAS hot stuff! It was a rough, rocked-up version, almost metal (OK, lite metal), and it suited her gravelly, glass-gargling vocal style perfectly. Randy didn't love the rockish arrangement but added, "I love you! You're one of the best singers in this competition." Simon called her an underdog (which is true...which is why I really wish they'd reserved the Judges' Save in case they needed to use it on Allison this week), but also called her performance "brilliant." I hope the voters think so too.

Up fifth was Adam Lambert, who--as I pointed out a few paragraphs ago--veered dangerously into Wisconsin-worthy cheese territory when he did disco on Top Downloads Night. So as awesome as it would be to hear him sing, say, "It's Raining Men" this evening, I was hoping he'd go the "Mad World"/"Tracks Of My Tears" route and do something downtempo and acoustic, like the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love." Well, he didn't do that song specifically, but he did do another one of my personal faves off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You." He turned it into a slowed-to-a-crawl ballad, and unlike the other contestants really seemed to connect to the lyrics emotionally; as Paula put it as only she can, it was as if he "tore his heart out and left it on the stage." Nope, not cheesy at all. Just another genius Lambert performance that melted Paula into (Ryan's words) a "pool of Abdul." Um, I'm not sure anyone wants to see that...but I know I want to see a whole lot more of Adam. Really, just give him the record contract now. If I can't have Adam as my Idol, I don't want nobody, baby.

Singing next was comeback kid Matt Giraud, and the song he chose, the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," was fitting, since he's barely stayin' alive in this competition. He's been kicked around since he was born--or at least since his pre-Wild Card "Viva La Vida" disaster--but it's all right, it's OK, you may look the other way. Tonight, Matt hit the stage with something to prove, and seemed in it to win it, full of energy and giving it his all. Randy was impressed by Matt's vocals, as was Paula, who said: "Last week the judges saved your life; tonight after this performance, you saved your own life." However, Simon, ever the contrary one, said Matt "came over as a bit desperate." Well, why shouldn't he be desperate? He almost went home last week! But Paula was right: Matt probably will be safe this week.

Singing last was Anoop Desai, another contestant who ought to be desperate after the number of times he's been in the bottom three. His song choice, "Dim All The Lights," was also fitting, since his future is looking pretty dim at this point. He sang it well (except for that screechy missed note at the end--yikes!), but probably not well enough to stay on the show any longer, especially in a double-elimination week. I agreed with Simon that Anoop was "mediocre at best," though I thought Simon took it too far when he told Anoop it was his worst performance yet. It wasn't that bad. Anyway, Paula told Anoop he ought to "smile more," but I understand why Anoop's been such a sad-sack lately, when he keeps getting critiques like Simon's.

So, who is going to hustle right off the show this week? Well, if you've been reading this blog closely, you already know my prediction: Anoop and Lil will get axed. At least I hope that's who goes, because they were, in my not-so-humble opinion, the weakest this week. If it's not them, then the judges may wish they still had that Judges' Save lying around. I just hope I don't have to say, "I told you so!" in tomorrow night's results show blog.

Tune in tomorrow night to see if I'm right! And log on tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 9:30am Pacific for Yahoo!'s weekly live Idol chat, where you can dish with AmIdol fanatics (including me) about tonight's disco revue and tomorrow night's predicted double-elimination. Just log on tomorrow at http://tv.yahoo.com/blog/yahoo-tv-water-cooler-disco-fever-is-in-the-air-for-idols-top-7--258 and come say hi!

 

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