We saw a star birthed tonight. More than a star, I think we saw a music artist emerge tonight. Tonight we saw a college student from Arkansas assert himself as a music artist, arranger, performer to be reckoned with. Forget American Idol, I want to hear this guy’s songs. Worship leader Kris Allen, in the midst of the Adam Lambert mania, took an iconic soul song “Ain’t No Sunshine” and dropped a completely new version on us that was as more soulful than the original. If you DVR’d American Idol, go back and watch this performance. If not, go to the iTunes icon below and download the video of this performance. Kris Allen took one of my favorite songs, a song that has been covered in dozens of styles, and re-imagined the song into a modern soul rave. That was blazing hot, baby!
I closed my American Idol Top 9 live blog with the comment that Tuesday night was separation night. Anoop Desai, Meagan Joy, Matt Giraud showed they don’t have the “It” to compete. Scott MacIntyre reminded us why we fell in love with him. That may keep him in the competition for a while, or, at the least, it will enable him to leave appreciated. Lil Rounds and Allison Iraheta showed themselves as extremely talented singers who made need a little more help to be fully formed music stars. Adam Lambert once again showed himself as a show pony who can consistently overwhelm us with vocal histrionics to distract us from his lack of substance. Danny Gokey and Kris Allen proved themselves as masterful music artists and arrangers who deserve, and will experience, more than American Idol.
Here are the performance rankings:
- Kris Allen- As you might suspect, this is not even close. Tonight we saw an American Idol moment. EW needs to make room on their Top 10 all time American Idol performances. Kris Allen proved tonight he is the real deal.
- Danny Gokey- Danny took the opportunity to strip down his performance tonight. He stood in the middle of the stage with the mike on a stand and just sang Rascal Flats‘ “What Hurts Most”. The performance was restrained, emotional and powerful. It was a perfect move my Danny Gokey. He showed a quiet side we have not seen in a while. Danny Gokey presents himself as a man of depth and substance and a performer who can deliver that gravitas to his performances. This performance will Danny enable to power through the next few weeks with big songs and goofy dance moves.
- Lil Rounds- I am sorry, I cannot disagree more with the judges. She sang “I Surrender” by Celine Dion. The judges said she have sang a Mary J Blige or Mariah Carey song, but I a listen to this performance I hear soul singer Lil Rounds obliterate Celine Dion out of my mind when I hear the song. For that I will be etenrally grateful. This was a magnificent, soulful performance.
- Scott MacIntyre- He made the best song choice of the night by singing Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”. By stripping the song down to voice and piano he was able to control the song for his voice. It was beautiful, honest performance.
This ends the good performances.
- Allison Iraheta- She made her first misstep. Tonight she looked like an over-matched 16 year old. Allison sang No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”. This is a highly syncopated song and that undermines Allison’s skills. She tried to unleash her big bluesy voice but she would lose the pacing of the song and fall back into the small vocals this song was built on. For the first time, she did not look comfortable.
- Meagan Joy- I hope she listens to Paula and, next week, sits on a stool, stops all of the goofiness and just sings a song. Tonight she sang Bob Marley’s “Turn Your Lights Down Low”. She delivered the quirky, tone-tweaked, round pronunciated bouncy vocal the judges applauded early on. The judges hated it and destroyed her. I did not hate it, I was just bored. If this is all she has, she should be grateful for Anoop and Matt.
- Anoop Desai- It was quite telling for Anoop tonight. He sang some Usher song and his performance demonstrate a substantial lack of soul. He is Stax records funky in his glee club, but when compared to Usher he is decidedly adult contemporary. The judges told him tonight that he did not have chops to be a R&B singer and he argues with them that his goal was to become an R&B singer. That is the problem with Anoop.
- Matt Giraud- Matt, Matt, Matt I was afraid this would happen. You forgot your hideous performance of “Viva La Vida” and went back for more. You chose The Fray’s “You Found Me” the week after you were in the bottom two. Again, the song stripped you of all your skills and revealed the weaknesses in your voice. You have the Anoop disease. You want to be a different type of performer than your skills dictate. I am afraid we may lose you this week.
- Adam Lambert- I am sorry, I know the whole world loves this guy, but I cannot take it. Adam’s take on “Play That Funky Music” was the worst performance I have seen from him in American Idol’s Season 8. There was a lot of posing, screaming and bad dancing but there was no funk. There was zero funk. It reminded me of this variety shows in the 60′s and 70′s. They would try to pair a soul singer like Joe Tex with a popular easy listening singer like Robert Guoilet. It was a train wreck because the easy listening guy knew he had no funk so he would ratchet up his singing to make up for his funklessness. The result was an uncomfortable combination of frantic dance moves and screams.
Probable bottom two: Anoop Desai and Matt Giraud
Going home: Matt Giraud
Possible alternatives in bottom two: Allison Iraheta or Scott MacIntyre
Judges save: only if Allison Iraheta is voted off.
Download the performances and the full length recordings of these songs at iTunes
Don’t forget to join us tomorrow night as we begin live blogging the American Idol results shows.