It is unprecedented. Of the Top 8 performers on American Idol Season 8, five are Christian music artists. Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud and Scott MacIntyre are all still standing and Michael Sarver is the only Christian music artist to be voted off so far. What is going on? I would like hear what you think.
I think there are a couple of factors. First of all, these guys are very good, if not great, music artists who just happen to be Christians. Secondly, the American Idol judges seem to be more supportive of the artists of faith than in the past. I don’t think it has anything to do with their faith but the judges seem to be more open to a variety of artists than in past years. The judges support of Scott MacIntyre has helped him and Simon practically called on America to keep Michael Sarver on American Idol Season 8.
The third reason Christian music artists are doing so well on American Idol Season 8 is the experience they have singing on stage. If is most evident with Kris Allen and Danny Gokey, both worship leaders, as they make great song selections, create interesting arrangements and deliver the emotional center of the songs in their performances. You can also see that Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud and Scott MacIntyre were comfortable when they stepped on the American Idol stage. They are used to singing to large groups of people with a band. Finally, have we ever dug this deeply to identify the Chrsitian music artists on American Idol? In the past two years, I saw some sites who identified Jordan Sparks and Chris Sligh as Christian music artists, but not so much as this year.
Regardless, we, at One21music, are enjoying the emergence of these believers who make great music. We look forward to following their careers.
On to other things. If you read my Top 9 Performance Recap you know that I was surprised by Meagan Joy’s departure. I thought the three voting constituencies supporting her would keep her in for a few more weeks. In my Top 9 power ranking I said she needed to go straight one week and just sing a song. She never did and I think that cost her. We overheard her talking to Simon after the she was eliminated and she admitted to him that she had never held a microphone before stepping onto the American Idol stage.
American Idol Top 8 Power Rankings
If you read my Top 9 Performance Recap you know that I think Kris Allen had an American Idol break out performance and established himself as a serious contender. The blogosphere agreed with me as blogger after blogger raved about Kris Allen’s take on “Ain’t No Sunshine”. I urge you to go to iTunes, through the icon below, and download that performance. It was masterful.
That was the best performance of American Idol Season 8 and it has vaulted Kris Allen from third (see Top 9 power rankings) to first in the One21music American Idol Season 8 Power Rankings. Allison Iraheta, last week’s number two had her first stumble and I worry about her ability to pick a great song for herself this week. Scott MacIntyre moves up based on last week’s performance of “Just The Way You Are”. Lil Rounds needs a strong performance this week and I think it will difficult for here to find a great song. American Idol Season 8 remains fluid with a strong group of contenders, so week to week performances are increasingly crucial.
- Kris Allen- I said it in last week’s power rankings and he went out and did again. Week after week Kris Allen has taken well known songs by Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, James Taylor, Garth Brooks and, last week, Bill Withers and created completely new versions. Last week was the topper. “Ain’t No Sunshine” is fully ingrained into the fabric of America’s soundtrack and has been covered by dozens of artists. Kris Allen’sAmerican Idol version on , is arguably my favorite version of this song. Kris made me believe he wrote this song about a loss in his life. Until March 31, 2009, Kris Allen was flying under the radar on American Idol. He is firmly on America’s radar now.
- Danny Gokey- Danny’s stripped down performance of “What Hurts Most” was typical of all his American Idol Season 8 performances: cool arrangement, emotionally connected and well sung. Danny has performed at the highest level all season long. I worry that he has set a bar of expectation that he cannot exceed. I think Danny Gokey has proven he was a fully baked pop star when he auditioned. I don’t know what he can do for a break out performance to separate himself from the pack.
- Allison Iraheta- She stumbled last week and looked like a 16 year old on American Idol. The judges were correct in telling her she looked like a kid dressing up to look like a rock star, when she is a rock star. No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” was too small a song for her and the guitar was an obvious prop. It pushed her back into the bottom 3 of the voting. Allison needs to another rocking, blues performance to right her journey on American Idol. Check out our Top 8 performance preview tomorrow to see what I would have Allison sing.
- Lil Rounds- I may have been the only one in the media to have enjoyed Lil’s performance last week. I thought it was a soulful take on Celine Dion’s “I Surrender”. She has had three week’s in a row of well sung songs, but she has not been able to put her stamp on a song yet. Lil needs a performance this week to get the American Idol judges singing her praises again. Does anyone have a suggestion for Lil Rounds from 1984?
- Matt Giraud- He is the poster boy for American Idol inconsistency this year. When he picks R&B songs he delivers. When he chooses piano driven rock songs like “You Found Me” and “Viva La Vida” he loses his identity. Matt is starting to remind me of Michael Johns. The judges are telling him what to sing to soar and he stubbornly clings to his image of himself as a rocker. He has a ton of good songs to choose form this week, let’s see if he makes the right choice.
- Scott MacIntyre- If Scott were to pursue a career in pop music, and let’s hope that he pursues his true talent as a jazz or classical musician, we saw last week what he will be like. Scott recaptured his magic with “Just The Way You Are”. He is a fair singer and a wonderful performer. His fate depends on his performances each week.
- Adam Lambert- I cannot begin to describe my difficulty with his stiff, screaming, staged performance of “Play The Funky Music”. It showed everything I dislike about Adam as a performer. He is a great singer, but he panders to the American Idol judges. Each week’s performance becomes an amalgamation of all the compliments he has received in previous week’s. I do not want to paint Adam Lambert two dimensionally, he is a young man feverishly pursing his dream. I just do not connect with him as a singer and I think the judges are wowed by his technical excellence.
- Anoop Desai- It is funny that Anoop came out of Hollywood as a favorite to win it all and, over his past six performances he has proven that he does not have the charisma to be an American Idol. Anoop is a fine singer who does not have the soul to be the R&B singer he wants to be.
There are two voting blocks to watch. The blue-eyed soul singer group of Kris Allen, Matt Giraud and Anoop Desai may hurt one of them this week. I question whether Matt or Anoop can survive a bad performance. The second group is the “pure in spirit” group of Danny Gokey, Kris Allen and Scott MacIntyre. These three tend to all react with humility, respect and sometimes humor to the judges criticism and praises. I don’t think this will impact the voting too much this week, but let’s see.
Everyone but Kris Allen, Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert could go home on a bad performance. I think only two of that group make it to the Top 3. Everyone needs to bring it.
Check out the performance that drove these power rankings by downloading full song recordings and the live performances at iTunes.
Join us again in the morning as I preview the Top 8 performance show. The American Idol performers will be singing songs from the year of their birth (1980 to 1992). I have some interesting song predictions.