American Idol Season 8- Top 2 Performance Review

Well, American Idol Season 8 is done.  All the auditions, good and bad; all the drama of Hollywood Week; all great, mediocre and (few) bad live performances are done.  America has voted. It is all over but the counting.

The American Idol Season 8 finale was pretty good tonight.  Not great, but pretty good.  After we went back to back, with Kris Allen’s performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Adam Lambert’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”, I thought we may have a classic, but not so much.  Adam Lambert was slightly better tonight but Kris Allen had the best performance of the night.  I am adding several of these performances to my American Idol Season 8 playlist.

Three thoughts before I rate the performances:

  • Did you hear Carrie Underwood sing “Home Sweet  Home” at the end?  I think that is the best vocal performance I have ever heard from her.  I know it was better than anything I have heard from her since she became a country superstar.  Beautiful nuanced, powerful, tender singing.
  • Okay, so we watched Glee after the American Idol Season 8 final performances.  Completely surreal, over the top weird in a wonderful kind of way.  Like the best of Will Ferrell’s work without so much potty humor.  That is until the schmaltzy ending made me want to take an insulin shot.
  • Jim Richardson, thank you for helping me launch my American Idol blog.  I know you sent a lot of visitors to the site and you comments made it fun for me.  Cindy Swanson thanks for getting interested, the interview was fun.  Martin, my buddy, thanks for jumping in at the end with some great insight.

American Idol Top 2 Performance Rankings

  1. Kris Allen gave us a longer mix of his “Ain’t No Sunshine” with a more passionate but quiet performance.  It was captivating and enthralling.  This small guy sat in the middle of the stage, dwarfed by his baby grand, and turned the Kodak Theater into his living room.  It was masterful.  Did you notice that he never looked at the audience throughout the entire performance?
  2. Don’t hate me.  Adam Lambert’s performance of the American Idol Season 8 single “No Boundaries” was really, really good.  His ambient, synth pop arrangement masked the song’s weaknesses.  The thing is, I believe he really connected with the lyrics.  He made me believe that he was singing of his journey.
  3. Adam Lambert’s performance of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was an incredible vocal display.  He took this song everywhere it could go and probably some places it hasn’t.  It seemed he really found himself in the song.  The performance was just a little too screamy for my taste.
  4. Kris Allen’s delivery of “No Boundaries” was a real struggle.  It looked like he was straining throughout the song.  However, Kris’s vocal struggle made the song about struggling to make it all that more believable.  It was sort of like watching Neil Young deliver one of his agonizing classics like “Needle and The Damage Done” . It wasn’t his best vocal performance but he did deliver an emotional punch.
  5. Kris Allen took on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”.  I think he listened too much to the cool percussive rhythms of Gaye’s original.  It came off as too laid back and light.  He would have been much better served to slow it down and focus on the gut wrenching plea to turn our backs on hate and violence. Check out the Los Lobos cover of this song to see what I am talking about. Los Lobos - Los Lobos: Live at the Fillmore - What's Going On
  6. Adam Lambert tried to recreate his breakthrough performance of “Mad World” but missed.  Earlier in the season Adam made a deep emotional connection with his quiet, intimate delivery of this song.  Tonight he was “big stage” Adam with a long leather jacket and dry ice smoke.  The result was an empty performance.
  7. American Idol Season 8 Winner Predictions

    I think it was a close victory for Adam Lambert, but not enough to sway the season. Kris Allen’s re-telling of “Ain’t No Sunshine” was, by far, the most stunning moment of the night.

    I think Kris Allen’s clean cut image, his faith background and less dramatic performance style will cause most of Danny Gokey’s voters to go him.

    Kris Allen wins American Idol Season 8.

    These performances and all of tomorrow night’s American Idol Season 8 performances will be available on Thursday morning on iTunes.

    Apple iTunes


  1. Martin says:

    Being a big Marvin Gaye and Sam Cook fan, I found the emotion lacking from both performances which included their master songs. I totally agree with you Chuck, Kris had the bigger opportunity to Allen-ize “Whats going on” with his mastery of the emotional content. Although I am a big fan of the Rock Opera style from “Jesus Christ Superstar”, Adam seems to only be able to raise the roof with that narrow style of scream-cry-screech, albeit in tune, gets repetitive.

    Both singers are winners. Kris, has developed a wider audience and no doubt he will return as a singer songwriter. Adam has commercial appeal, provided he can gain relevance and be more than stylized vocal. So building a brand around Adam would in the end be harder than Kris.

    It is a toss of a coin to me. If people were voting strictly on the evenings performances, the final song Kris did was pretty awful, and I think he missed up on the lyrics. You could see the frustration/relief come over him with that large exhale at the end of the song. I am grateful the judges did not harp on that performance and instead spoke to the greater body of Kris’ work from the season.

    Time to apply for a press credential and get an interview when they come to Dallas in July! Would love to know Kris’ motivations and how he integrates his faith, family, music and now stardom.

    Great Blog Chuck.

  2. I played Adam back and still thought he really struggled with no Bounderies.

    I’ll put you down for Kris in my contest but I have bonus questions if you want to take a stab at them

    Your welcome..I wish more of my friends came over to read your stuff..maybe they did but didn’t comment. The Jess that commented a few weeks ago is the radio entertainment critic on our top rated radio station in town. We like to discuss Idol on our facebook!

    Not sure if I’ll comment on the live show..I might just sit back and enjoy it for a change. I’ll come on after Kris wins.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, Chuck! It was a pleasure interviewing you, and I’ve appreciated your thoughtful reviews this AI season.


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