American Idol Season 8- Top 7 Power Rankings II

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 LambertMatt 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.



Apple iTunes

American Idol Season 8- Movie Songs Performance Review

I am ready to kick it into gear.   It seems for the past few weeks American Idol Season 8 has been repeats of each other.  Danny Gokey does his thing week after week.  Adam Lambert flies from great to annoying.  Kris Allen quietly slays the show just about every week.  Matt Giraud and Anoop Desai press to prove themselves.  Lil Rounds struggles to find herself as a performer.  Quentin Tarantino was fun.  I don’t think the American Idol contestants were quite ready for his intensity.  I didn’t really like limiting the judges’ critiques.  This show needs to be 90 minutes.

Did it feel like Adam Lambert’s song lasted longer than Kris Allen’s song?  It felt that way to me.

Before we get into the American Idol Top 7 performance rankings, I want to promote the song the Kris Allen sang, “Falling Slowly”, from the movie Once.  Kara called it an obscure song?  What is up with that? First of all, it won the Acadamy Award for Best Song of 2007.   Second, this is a really great movie of a man and a woman who form a strong, truely platonic, friendship.  It is also the best movie I have ever seem about the creation of music.  Here is a snippet of the review from Christian Spotlight on Entertainment:

“The Girl leads the Guy to a music store to play piano for him. It is there that one of the most honest and incredible moments in modern cinema takes place. The guy teaches her one of his songs, and in the solitude of the little music shop, they create truly beautiful music.”

The movie is shot on the streets of Dublin so there is a significant amount of profanity.  It is concentrated at the first of the movie and trails off once the characters move out of the street settings.  If you can get over the profanity, this is a movie worth watching.

Once

American Idol Season 8 Top 7 Performance Rankings

After watching the performances again, I had a few mild surprises (see the Movie Song Live Blog).  I liked Kris Allen and Matt Giraud better than I did orignally.  I liked Allison Iraheta less than my first viewing and I continued to be perplexed by Lil Rounds.  The performances are closely grouped.  There is a signifcant gap between Kris Allen at number 1 and the next group of four performers and then another gap before we get to the bottom two.  For the most part, I disagreed with the judges.  Here are the American Idol Movie Song Perfomance Rankings:

  1. Kris Allen took my breath away.  He made subtle changes to the arrangement of this Acadamy award winning song and he sent chills down my spine.  “Falling Slowly” is one of those songs my entire family stops and listens to any time we hear it, anywhere we are.  I was worried when he said this was the song.  It is just two years old and Glen Hassard sang it with a capital S.  But Kris did it.  Without his guitar, he stood in the middle of the stage and proved he is one of the best singers on Ameican Idol Season 8.  Without dancing, he delivered a performance that drilled the song home.  Fantastic.  My wife turned to me and said, “He may win American Idol”.
  2. Matt Giraud sat at the piano and delivered my favorite Matt Giraud performance of American Idol Season 8.  First of all, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” is a beautiful song.  Secondly, Matt’s piano playing was spectacular.  Third, except for the break down of his falsetto at the end, I thought his vocal delivery was dead-on.  He played some parts straight and he added R&B runs to some parts and he did both well.  I disagree with the judges.  I think this worked.
  3. Danny Gokey performed Lionel Richie’s song “Endless Love”.  I don’t really like this song.  At first I thought the beginning was rough, but when I went back and listened again, Danny Gokey sang this song perfectly.  He sang a weird low register at the beginning, he blasted the big notes and he hit the falsetto beautifully.  Another great performance from Danny Gokey.
    During the mentoring session Quentin Tarantino worked with him to bring more power to the performance by controlling his hands.  It was great directing and it worked, except you could see Danny purposely battling his desire to throw his hands up.  It was subtle but the battle was raging.
    There was an odd moment during the judging when Simon was trying to criticize Danny but in a rare moment of Simon Cowell tenderness he was tring to comfort Danny through his emotional reaction to the song.  I am certain the conspiracy mongers will say that the judges are trying to fix American Idol Season 8, but this felt genuine.
  4. Adam Lambert tried to modernize  Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” with an electronic arrangement that did not work for me.  The arrangement needed to be more industrial than dance pop.  Adam has emerged as a big, confident stage performer, but he is overpraised.  He continues to “put on a show” rather than deliver a song. His singing was spectacular, if over the top, but there was no sense of danger or defiance in his delivery.
  5. Allison Iraheta sang Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”.  One of my measures of American Idol performances is, does the performance make me forget the original? I heard Steven Tyler in my head throughout the Allison’s delivery.  She garbled lyrics at spots throughout the song and she really struggled with the pitch in the middle.  Allison was able to deliver some big notes and I love her stage presence but tonight was not on par with most of what we have seen from Allison Iraheta throughout American Idol Season 8.
  6. Anoop Desai sang “(Everything I Do) I Do For You”, a Bryan Adams song from Robin Hood: Men In Tights. I think it was Anoop’s best performance of the season.  What does that tell you about Anoop Desai’s chances to win American Idol Season 8? The singing was impeccable.  The delivery was boring.  Anoop just does not have the stage presence to measure up to the American Idol performers above.
  7. Lil Rounds had the closing spot, a great song and she tried really hard.  She was just not able to pull it off.  Lil sang “The Rose” made famous by Bette Midler in the movie of the same name.  I don’t know if it was the singing or the arrangment, but it was just off.  I thought she was off key though most of the song, but my wife (who actually knows how to sing) thinks she was trying to do what she did.  What ever the reason, I didn’t enjoy it. I felt uncomfortable, even more so when Lil argued with Simon until Ryan had to cut her off.  A producer is going to take Lil Rounds and create something spectacular but American Idol Season 8 is not her time.

American Idol Season 8 Top 7 Predictions

This is really hard.  I think Matt Giraud will be safe because he will pick up mant of Scot MacIntyre’s votes.  I have a hard time beliving that both Allison Iraheta and Lil Rounds would be in the bottom 3.  Kris Allen delivered the best performance of the night.  Most people believe Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert are untouchable. But I guess now is the time for hard choices and surprises.

Bottom Three: Anoop Desai, Lil Rounds ,Allison Iraheta

Bottom Two : Anoop Desai, Lil Rounds

Going home: Anoop Desai

The judges will not use their “save” on Anoop or Lil.  I think they would use it on anyone else that was elminated.

I know you had your favorite moments from tonight.  Download them from iTunes below

Apple iTunes

American Idol Season 8- Top 7 Power Rankings

Before we talk about American Idol Season 8, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  Many times holidays are consumed with the wonderful activities of family.  God gave us family to enjoy.  On this weekend,  the rush to gather and the pull to commune with loved ones causes us to miss very important moments to meditate on the one man historical revolution we celebrate at Easter.  If that is the case for you, take a few minutes today and find some silence to reflect on the man Jesus and the messiah Christ and his mission that was completed during Passover so many year ago.  Return to our Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter articles to relive these last three days again.

One21music is covering the Christian music artists on American Idol Season 8.  Four of the final seven performers are believers.

We lost Scott MacIntyre last week.  In a bizarre ending to the performance results show the American Idol American Idol judges agonized over whether to save Scott.  I did not understand their behaviour.  While may be the best musician to compete on , he is not a great singer.  Check in with us tomorrow when we review Scott’s exit and look back on all of the Christian’s who performed on live television in American Idol Season 8.

I said in last week’s Birth Year Songs Preview that competition is starting to come into focus.  Danny Gokey, Kris Allen, Alllison Iraheta and Adam Lambert are the clear front runners for the American Idol Season 8 Top 3.  Matt Giraud has been solid through out the competition and he could have a breakthrough that would propel him to the Top 3.  Lil Rounds has struggled since the Top 36 eliminations and needs a huge turnaround to survive.  I would remind everyone that this time in American Idol Season 7, the judges had written Syesha Mercado off and she made it to the Top 3.   Anoop Desai has had his best performances of the season that last two weeks and has landed in the bottom 2 each time.

American Idol Top 7 Power Rankings

  1. Danny Gokey- Consistency, consistency.  That may be the Greek translation of Gokey.  Last week he showed-off with a fascinating arrangement of  “Stand By Me”.  He took a 50 year old song me and made it modern.  Danny’s gravel filled vocals and joyful performances have captured the hearts of everyone I know.  The real magic for Danny Gokey his the emotional connection to his music, demonstrated in every performance in American Idol Season 8.  It has enabled Danny Gokey to capture the hearts of American Idol fans.
  2. Kris Allen- For the first time in American Idol Season 8, Kris Allen stumbled.  He took a dark protest song “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” by Don Henley and performed it as a jazzy, bouncy pop song.  Kris seemed to be going through the motions last week, smiling and dancing but not really delivering the song.  With that said, Kris has had more higher highs (“Aint’ No Sunshine”) than Danny Gokey and more top notch performances than Adam Lambert.  Kris has proven to be a great interpreter of song and we expect him to return to excellence this week.
  3. Adam Lambert-  With his performance of “Mad World” last week, Adam Lambert demonstrated the potential that the American Idol judges have been raving about all season.  For the first time in American Idol’s Season 8, Adam stopped competing and he just performed.  It was unpretentious and heart felt.  It was spectacular.  He now needs to be consistent.
  4. Allison Iraheta- With her performance of  “I Can’t Make You Love Me” Allison not only recovered from her previous week’s fall, she also delivered a performance she has needed all season.  Her first ballad of the American Idol’s Season 8 showed that she is a great singer.  She restrained herself, brought texture to her performance and built on her reputation as a precocious talent who has a long career in the music business.
  5. Matt Giraud- He also had a comeback this week when he went back to his R&B style, singing Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover”.  Matt did everything right with great dancing, an insightful interpretation and an amazing falsetto.  With all of that, he was still overshadowed by Danny, Adam and Allison.  He has been too inconsistent and has not delivered a breakthrough moment in American Idol Season 8.  With all of that said, he is still capable of making something big happen.
  6. Lil Rounds-  What has happened to Lil Rounds?  Where did the American Idol Season 8 front runner go?  I said early on that she may struggle with arrangements and creativity as the season went on, but she is now struggling to sing well.  You can see the frustration on her face.  If she does not deliver this week, I think her fate is sealed.
  7. Anoop Desai-  He has reached the limit of American idol Season 8 experience.  Anoop’s last two performance have been his best, yet he landed in the bottom 2 each time.  Last week he beat out Scott MacIntyre by only 30,000 votes.  That is less than a hair.  His fate has been cast.  His will be gone this week or next.

The American Idol theme this week is “Songs of the Movies”.  The mentor will be Quentin Tarntino?  He is a director but I don’t know what he has to offer the American Idol Season 8 Top 7 when it comes to developing as a music artist.  We will see.

Check us out tomorrow as we review the Chrsitian music artists who made it to the Top 36 on American Idol Season 8.