Anyway, while I wait for Obama's cabinet and Fox honchos to mull over that proposal, I'll grudgingly accept the fact that this week's Idol competition was delayed a day, and get on with it. This week's postponed episode had a Motown theme, with Smokey Robinson as the mentor, which was a real risky proposition for some singers tonight. These were classic songs here, and classic songs are notoriously difficult to interpret and make one's own (see: Beatles Night, Michael Jackson Night). And more worryingly, these songs been covered so many times in such hokey ways--on cruise ships, in karaoke bars, in hotel lounges, by bar mitzvah bands, in Vegas, in pretty much every corny setting Simon Cowell always mentions when critiquing a bad performance.
So singing first was Matt Giraud, who didn't have any sort of meltdown but most certainly melted many female viewers' hearts with his performance of the perennial bedroom ballad, Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." (To which I'm sure many ladies watching thought, "Um, OKAY!") He started off in his comfort zone, behind the piano, but then seemed equally comfortable when he got up midway through to work the stage. This time there was none of the cringe-inducing awkwardness of his Coldplay/"Viva La Vida" performance--you know, the one that almost got him kicked off this show for good--and he performed like a sexy, seasoned pro. Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson right then and there declared Matt a new frontrunner, and Matt admitted he's been making a concerted effort to step up his game. Well, his efforts paid off tonight. Even if there was that uncomfortable moment when Ryan Seacrest asked him, "Matt, do you feel the growth?" (Heh, heh...)
Scott McIntyre, the blind pianist who seems to appeal to deaf viewers (what other explanation is there for why he's still around and has never even been in the bottom three?), sang next. Unlike Matt, he chose to remain seated at the piano for the entirety of his performance tonight, politely ignoring Paula Abdul's well-meaning advice last week that he utilize more of the stage. (Er, perhaps Paula forgot that SCOTT CANNOT SEE. He has a hard enough time making it through those step-touch group numbers. How does she expect him to run around the stage like Norman Gentle?) Anyway, Scott performed the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love"--which, give his soft-rock inclinations, I thought he might do okay with. Phil Collins did cover it once, after all. But in the end, I just wanted Scott to hurry through "You Can't Hurry Love" so it would be over already.
Megan Joy, or Megan Corkrey, or Megan Joy Corkrey--her stage name seems to change from week to week, which is it?--sang fourth. During her mentor session she'd definitely impressed Smokey, who raved (at least I think this was a compliment), "You are so DIFFERENT!" He also called her "refreshing" and "one of most original contestants ever on the show," so yeah, I guess he was flattering her.
Singing fifth was Anoop Desai, picking a particularly challenging song, the Miracles' "Ooh Baby Baby" ("one of the most beautiful songs ever written," according to Kara). I know the judges gave Anoop such a hard time when he sang "Beat It" on Michael Jackson Night and "My Prerogative" on Wild Card Night, but I think Anoop's taken their stern words too seriously and now gone too far in the other direction.
Man, these judges sure like to contradict themselves, huh? Last week on Opry Night, they blasted Lil' Rounds for sounding too traditionally country and Adam Lambert for not sounding country enough. On Michael Jackson Night, they didn't like it when Scott McIntyre picked an obscure song, "Keep The Faith," but thought Anoop was wrong to pick the overly familiar "Beat It." And back in the semi-finals, they advised teen girl Stevie Wright to pick younger songs, yet hated it when she did a Taylor Swift tune. What do these judges WANT?
Ouch. Tell us how you REALLY feel, Simon. Yes, Simon was harsh--harsher than usual, even--but he was also right. I don't think Michael ever deserved to be in the finals in the first place, but after a performance like that there's no way he'll make it much farther.
Oh, go crawl back under your table, Paula. Rounds was not great tonight.
My fave, Adam Lambert, was next, and I was eager and anxious to see what he'd do tonight after creating such controversy with "Ring Of Fire" last week. (I thought his Opry Night performance was freaky and freakin' fabulous; people without eardrums, brains, or taste did not. Oops, did I type that out loud? Sorry. Anyway, see my other blog this week on Adam's awesomeness for more in-depth Lambert analysis/fawning.)
Anyway, Adam did a very mellow, acoustic take on Smokey & The Miracles' "Tracks Of My Tears," and I was crying tears of joy. Even with his (hopefully for one night only) clean-cut makeover--no nail polish, no guyliner, no black leather, no Billy Idol sneer--he was still utterly compelling, and the minimal arrangement definitely showcased his elastic voice at its best. It was a wise move on his part to temporarily tone down his flamboyance--that should hopefully help more conservative voters chill out and like him again, plus this performance did a good job of displaying his versatility. Kara, who gave Adam a standing ovation, called it "one of the best performances of the night," and Simon called it "THE best performance of the night. You have emerged as a star." Um, Simon, Adam emerged as star when he entered the audition room! The boy was BORN a star. I'm just glad he's in everyone's good graces again. He never left mine.
Singing last in the much-deserved "pimp spot" was my favorite girl, Allison Iraheta. Man, Allison KILLED it tonight. She'd better not end up in the bottom three (like she maddeningly was last week) after her smoldering, smoking, swaggering performance of the Temptations' "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." Along with Adam's performance, this was the standout of the night for me. She owned the stage from the minute the first wocka-wocka chickenscratches of that disco guitar resonated throughout the theater, and her voice was so on point. It was like the song was made for her, and she belted out those sad, bitter lyrics with such conviction, it was as if she'd written them herself about her own absentee dad. Simon agreed with me that it was one of the top efforts of the evening; Randy called Allison "blazing hot"; and Kara shrieked, "OH! MY! GOD! America, you gotta vote for this girl! Allison, you sing like you've been singing for 400 years. That is from God, you can't teach that!"
So now it is prediction time. And this is one of the easiest predictions I've ever had to make. Of course there are always upsets (like Alexis Grace's totally unexpected exit last week), but if America votes correctly tonight, I think the obvious bottom three are Megan, Scott, and Michael, with Michael going home. Scott still has his sympathy votes and has yet to be in the bottom, and Megan will probably squeak by due to her quirkiness and "stunning beauty." But Michael was in the bottom last week after giving a relatively good performance, and this one was just plain terrible. It's time for him to go back to the oil rig.
Tune in tomorrow to see if I'm right--assuming Obama doesn't pre-empt the results show, that is.
And log on tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 9:30am Pacific for Yahoo!'s live Idol chat, where you can chat with Idol fans (including, yes, me) about tonight's show. Just log on tomorrow at http://tv.yahoo.com/blog/yahoo-tv-water-cooler-idols-top-10-pay-tribute-to-motown--198 and come say hi to me. (And be nice, people...)