That was really cool. The “save” created some real excitement on American Idol Season 8. Couple that with the Susan Boyle story and you have one of the most organically emotional weeks in reality television history.
First to Susan Boyle. For the one of you out there who has not heard, she is a 47 year old unmarried, unemployed Scottish woman who has taken the world by storm when the video of her Britian’s Got Talent audition hit youtube. I am sure the video has had 10 million hits by now. To see the video and read a really dead-on commentary by Lisa Schwarzman of ew.com see Dreams Can Come True. An article from Associate Press refers to Susan Boyle as “a devoutly religious woman who regularly sings in her church” so she is a Christian music performer as well. This performance moves me to tears every time I see it for two reasons. First, if you have ever read Les Misrables and the lyrics to this song, it is one of the best, saddest songs ever written. Second, the lyrics fit what we know of Susan’s life ( “As they tear your hope apart; And they turn your dream to shame”). The lyrics are in our post Dreams Can Come True. Thank you Susan Boyle for taking us out of ourselves for a few moments.
Now back to American Idol Season 8. Up until the last few minutes of the results show, American Idol had been pretty blah last week. Sure the results show had the best guest performance of Season 8, when Jennifer Hudson returned as a triumphant star and showed us why. And even though Quentin Tarantino was a highly entertaining mentor, the performances had grown safe and stale, see our performance live blog.
Everything had turned a little bland until Matt Giraud sang for his career as the judges weighed his future on American Idol Season 8. First, I think Matt may have found his groove. If he goes back and watches that performance, he will see his best of the season. This was the perfect combination of piano rock and R&B grooves that he has been looking for all of Season 8. Download the studio recording of the song from iTunes below and you will hear a song more like he sang on the results show. Second, the “save” was used as a surprise. We knew Matt was talented but did any of us think he had a chance to win? It was possible, but we were not sure the judges would use the “save”. How exciting.
The best part of the the whole “save” moment was to watch the American Idol Season 8 competitors leap to their feet to cheer their buddy, Matt Giraud , on as he sang for the “save”. These few moments showed me more about the friendships and genuine caring they have for each other than anything I have seen on reality TV. Even though it was detrimental to their own cause, the American Idol contestants, led by Danny Gokey, truly cheered on to success.
I was bored, now I am invigorated.
Now to the American Idol Season 8 Top 7 Power Rankings, part two. In all of the excitement, we lost another show stopping performance by Kris Allen, another solid performance by Danny Gokey and another stumble by Lil Rounds. We have a glut of “white boy” soul singers (Kris, Danny, Anoop and Matt). I think that is why Matt Giraud was voted off last week.
Remember, these are not my predictions for how the performers will finish on American Idol Season 8. These are my ratings of the American Idol performers as recording artists. It is really pretty good to be 7th out of 30,000.
American Idol Top 7 Power Rankings
- Kris Allen may have solidified his place in my number 1 slot with his performance of “Falling Slowly”. He picked the best song. He picked the most modern song. He made the riskiest pick because this song is not an “American Idol” song. He picked a song filled with raw emotion. He changed the song ever so slightly. And like he has done throughout Season 8, Kris Allen delivered a brilliant vocal interpretation. This could be the third chart appearance of “Falling Slowly” and it could go higher on U.S. charts than the movie version. If he continues dropping these type of performances on us he should win American Idol Season 8 and he just might win.
- Danny Gokey delivered an almost flawless, heart wrenching performance of a really bad, but safe, song. Let’s be clear, I think “Endless Love” is one of the worst songs ever. Once again Danny’s arrangement was interesting, with an atonal low register for the first verse and chorus and then a big blaring middle and some falsetto at the end, a vocal tour de force. Danny Gokey’s American Idol Season 8 has been very consistence but he needs something unusual to happen. I don’t think he wants it to happen during Disco week, but over the next few weeks he needs to surprise us. An aside, someone on the Internet compared Danny’s voice to Rod Stewart. I agree. If he uses that correctly, he can deliver a huge surprise.
- Matt Giraud, I know, how can Matt move from fifth to third after he was voted off? Matt Giraud’s “save” performance was the second best of the week and showcased his talents as a song interpreter, an arranger and as a singer. It is risky ranking him this high since his American Idol Season 8 performances have been so inconsistent this year, but I would assert that he has been no more inconsistent than Adam Lambert. Matt Giraud’s performance of “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” was really pretty exceptional both nights. He toned it down the second time but his competition performance was pretty much perfect as well.
- Allison Iraheta shocked me this week. She sang a rock song poorly. Her performance of “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” was filled with garbled lyrics and pitch problems. When Allison sings low and slow, she mumbles her lyrics. Allison Iraheta has demonstrated that she can sing rock and she can sing ballads. She is a great singer for any age. She ranks below Kris, Danny and Matt because she has not demonstrated their breadth of musical and production skills. I think she is a better stage performer than anyone left on American Idol Season 8.
- Adam Lambert’s performance of “Born To Be Wild” epitomizes why many of us are not drinking the Adam Lambert kool aid that American Idol is serving in Season 8. “Born to Be Wild” is an angry anthem of a generation rejecting the constraints society was placng on them and breaking free from all their parents held dear. The electronic arrangement was synth pop when it needed to be industrial. The performance needed to be angry and disaffected wild rather than dancy and screamy wild. Adam Lambert is trying to win American Idol Season 8 by playing the Adam Lambert character. I wish he would just think about the songs and sing them with that great voice.
- Lil Rounds, for the third week in a row, struggled to sing. Shocking. If you download Lil’s studio recording version of “The Rose” your will hear a beautiful, interesting performance. On the show she was stiff and off key. Lil just seems frustrated and perplexed. The old Lil Rounds is still in there and we need to see it, because it is really great.
- Anoop Desai delivered his best performance of the Season 8 and seems to be gaining some momentum with the judges. His singing of “(Everything I Do) I Do for You” was impeccable. Yet the result for me was boring. I just don’t think Anoop has the groove to nail the funky performances so he has been relegated to ballad after ballad. Anoop has the least amount of stage presence of any of the American Idol Season 8 Top 10.
I have been going through my Disco archives to find songs for the Idols to sing on American Idol Season 8 Disco night. How embarrassing is it that I have “disco archives”. Check in with me tomorrow morning as we post some pretty interesting song suggestions and then join us Tuesday night at 8edt/7cdt as I live blog American Idol Disco performance night.
In the meantime, download the video of the last week’s live performances or the American Idol studio recordings from iTunes. I would suggest that you download the studio recordings by Kris Allen, Lil Rounds and Matt Giraud, in addition to your favorite.