American Idol Season 8- Top 5 Performances Live Blog

Welcome to Vegas!.  Light up enough cigarettes to smoke up the room and make some martinis because American Idol is presenting the songs of The Rat PackAmerican Idol Season 8 performers will be singing songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin.  This was a time of great exuberance and confidence in America.  See in my Rat Pack Songs Review that I think this could be a difficult night on American Idol because these songs really represent an innocence and bravado that was permanently broken in the 60′s and 70′s.  We just don’t see the world in the same way anymore.

If you read my Top 5 Power Rankings you know that I believe we are now down to the real American Idol contenders.  I have Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta on top but this is a difficult task for them tonight.  Danny Gokey, Matt Giraud and Adam Lambert seem to be better suited to Rat Pack songs, but this has been a surprising group.  What we do know is that this is probably the best assemblage of singing talent of any American Idol Top 5 and these are great big “singer’s songs”.

Last minute update!  American Idol announced that the performers would only sing one song each tonight and the rumor is that Jamie Foxx is the mentor.  Let’s see!

They are all in suits, except Allison, of course.  This is a stage of sharp dressed men.

Voting tip.  There will be two phone numbers for each contestant so it will be easier to get through tonight.  I love this music!

Jamie Foxx surprised the Idols.  They didn’t know he was going t be the mentor.  Who would have imagined?  Are there no singers releasing CDs this year?  He tells them these songs are not just songs they are a lifestyle.

Kris Allen is up first and he looks good in a suit.  Kris is singing “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank SinatraJamie Foxx told him that he wanted to do a record with him.  This is a slow ballad, boy he controls a song.  What a nice quiet opening half and then it picks up, he throws some falsetto in and then ends it slowly again.  He didn’t need the middle part but it was a very good performance.

Randy is looking for who is in it to win and Randy thinks it is his best performance of the season.  Kara says Kris has set the technical standard very high.  The judges love everything about this performance, except Simon of course.  He did not think it was incredible and said he did not think Kris could win.  I disagree.

Allison Iraheta is 17 as of yesterday.  She rehearsed, but her family threw her a surprise party.  She is singing “Someone to Watch Over Me” by George Gershwin (sung by Frank Sinatra).   This song is not suited to her husky voice.  This looks difficult for Allison.  She looks like she wants to belt but is holding back.  Very nice ending.  That was fine singing but uninspiring.

Randy can’t get the audience to shut-up.  He Loves it!  Kara  calls it a gut wrenching rendition and this performance should land her in the finals.  Paula likes her tenderness and innocence.  It seems Simon is trying to eliminate the ones he did not predict would win.  It is like Randy and Simon are watching a different show.  Kara calls him crazy.

Matt Giraud is singing the 1930′s showtune “My Funny Valentine”, a Rogers and Hammerstein song performed by everyone including Frank Sinatra.   Matt like hats.  he gets the award for wearing the most hats in American Idol Season 8.  Matt feels that this theme is in his wheel house.  He studied jazz in college.  I like Jamie Foxx as a mentor.  I thought Matt would play the piano but he is out on a tune.  This has some real jazz phrasing to it.  Very original.   The performance is a little jarring but very, very good. Nice job Matt.

Randy thinks he was a little pitchy in trying to sing one of the hardest songs of the night.  Kara thinks he was not emotinally connected.  Paula thinks it was impressive. Simon disagrees with Randy again.  He says it was the only authentic performance of the night and thinks it was brilliant.

Danny Gokey is up next and it was his birthday this week too.  He turned 28 on April 24th.  Danny is singing “Come Rain or Come Shine”, recorded by everyone who has ever sung a song, with a bluesy arrangement.  Jamie Foxx got so close that he knew Danny’s breath was fresh.   He starts slow and quiet and the orchestra seems to be overwhelming his singing.  He really kicks in  the ending with a growling, pleading throwdown.  The end rocked!

Randy thinks he could record an album of these songs.  Kara thinks he brought Rat Pack swagger and thinks the end was the most creative he has been all season.  Simon thinks he proved the point tonight, that Danny Gokey is here to win.  Simon says outstanding.

Adam Lambert sings last again?  How can that be?  He is singing “Feeling Good” written by Anthony Newley with a rock edge of course.  Dang!  That was pretty brilliant.  That blew me away. Incredible.

Randy felt it was too dramatic.  What?  Kara calls him shocking, in a good way.  Simon said that Randy calling him theatrical is criticizing a cow for mooing.  Simon sings Adam’s praises.

American Idol Season 8′s Top 5 are the best we have ever seen.  This was a great show.  Every performance was great.

I will be back later tonight to review the performances but I think I will need to pull my dictionary out to find more superlatives.

Pre-order these performances on iTunes, I think you will be happy.

Apple iTunes

American Idol Season 8- Top 5 Power Rankings

ai-top-5 This is jolting.  Last week there were 7 and now there are 5 on American Idol Season 8.  We say goodbye to Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai.  They were both favorites to make it to the finals, remember when we all thought it would be Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds and Anoopdawg in the Top 3.  What happened?  We found out the Anoopdawg, a wonderful singer, lacked star power.  Lil’s lack of music experience crippled her ability to choose and arrange songs.  I suspect a good team will make her a star.

Before we get started ranking the American Idol Season 8 Top 5, I watched “From Idol to Inspiration” on the Gospel Music Channel.  This documentary is advertised as a study into the impact of the Church has had on American Idol and the impact of American Idol on the Church. I am not sure it accomplishes that lofty goal but the segments with Phil Stacey, Mandisa, Melinda Doolittle and Chris Sligh are interesting and inspiring.   “From Idol to Inspiration” encores on GMC April 27, 30, May 2, 3; check www.gospelmusicchannel.com for show times.

The power rankings, from here forward, are fluid.  Many believe that this Top 5 is the most talented of the any American Idol group ever.  Any one of these American Idol music artists could sing their way into the finals. American Idol Season 8 now adds a level of intensity as the contestants now will be singing two songs each week.  This pressure of this additional preparation got to Jason Castro and Brooke White last year.

American Idol Season 8 Top 5 Power Rankings

  1. Kris Allen has put together the best body of work on American Idol Season 8.  Week after week Kris makes great song selections, finds the emotional core of those songs, arranges the songs to fit his style and delivers exceptional performances.  He has had more show topping performances than any other and has only had one stumble with “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”.He is building a credible covers EP.  Look at this collection of downloadable performances:

    “Ain’t No Sunshine” “Falling Slowly” “She Works Hard for The Money” “To Make You Feel My Love” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” “Remember The Time” “Man In The Mirror”

    Kris Allen first caught my attention when he turned Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” into a pleading prayer for self revelation. MTV, Entertainment Weekly and Buddytv have all jumped on the Kris Allen band wagon, suggesting that he could be the only person capable of disrupting Adam Lambert’s coronation. “With him [Kris Allen], it’s much more about the emotion of the song and trying to tell a story through the lyrics rather than hitting these giant notes and using vocal bombast,” said EW’s Michael Slezak.

    I assume Kris Allen will continue his consistent, thoughtful march through American Idol Season 8.  Regardless whether Kris Allen wins American Idol Season 8 or not he will be our top idol.

  2. Allison Iraheta has only had a few stumbles on American Idol Season 8 (“Don’t Stop” and “I Don’t Want to Miss A thing”) and each time she has come storming back.  Her interpretation of “Hot Stuff” as a rock song was brilliant.  Allison’s staging was captivating, her clothes were perfect for her performance and her singing was mind blowing.Allison Iraheta stage presence in much more mature than her 16 years.  Jordan Sparks and David Archuleta both sang beyond their years, but with Allison Iraheta you feel she is an old soul in a 16 year old body.  Both Jordan and David were mature singing old songs but struggled with contemporary material.  Allison feels like a mature performer with a modern sensibility.I am shocked she was in the Bottom 3.  That does not bode well for her, but she has made her mark on the American Idol fans and we will be listening to Allison Iraheta music for years to come.
  3. Danny Gokey once again showed off his unique, bluesy voice on American Idol Season 8 Disco night.  He blasted his performance of “September” with huge notes and a couple of good change of pace decisions.  However, his arrangement was mundane and, in a night when many of the Idols redefined their songs, Danny seemed to be consumed by “September”.From the beginning I felt that Danny Gokey had an advantage in American Idol Season 8 because his background would enable him to bring superior arrangements to his performances.  I am disappointed that he has shown the least arrangement creativity of  any of the remaining 5 American Idols.
  4. Matt Giraud made a strong comeback from the American Idol Season 8 ” judges save”.  His arrangement of “Stayin Alive” was fresh, modern and funky.  That was hard because “Stayin Alive” is an iconic song that I thought was dangerous, if not impossible to perform.  But he nailed it and was rewarded by escaping the Bottom 3 last week.Matt is the most inconsistent of the remaining American Idol Season 8 Top5.  I think it is because Matt Giraud seems himself as a rock pianist and vocalist when he is really a R&B performer.  His biggest failures have occurred when he has attempted Coldplay, The Fray and Bryan Adams.  Matt has triumphed with Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Bee Gees. Matt Giraud’s vision of himself as a piano rocker may be why he was a dueling piano player before American Idol Season 8 and, if he does not embrace his R&B skills, it will cause the end of his American Idol journey.
  5. Adam Lambert simply does not live up to the hype for me. The bombastic singing, calculating performances and hair metal screaming make me wonder where he goes after American Idol Season 8.  There have been plenty of recording artists who have had success pandering to audiences, but they do not create artistic legacies.Last week’s performance of  “If I Can’t Have You” is a example.  Adam Lambert was delivering a quiet, heartfelt interpretation of that disco love song until he forced in a Poison-like power ballad scream.  That completely undercut the emotion of the song and made it feel calculated and staged.Adam Lambert has had a few brilliant performances on American Idol Season 8 (“Tracks of My Tears” and “Mad World”) but many of performances have been excruciating displays of bombast.  Many believe he will win, but Adam Lambert will not have a successful recording career. He will probably parlay his American Idol success into a Broadway career, which is the right place for him.

This is a very good Top 5.  The next four weeks should be exciting.  It seems that the three remaining Christian music artists, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey and Matt Giraud are in danger of being caught up in a voting block.  Adam and Allison are distinctively different than those three.  The downside of that is that Kris, Danny and Matt will be performing against each other over the next few weeks. We will have some shocking American Idol Season 8 Bottom 3′s and departures because of it. The positive will be that the one to survive that voting challenge will pick up the other’s votes and be all that much stronger.

Be sure to check out our song predictions tomorrow morning and then join our live blog tomorrow night at 8edt as the American Idol Season 8 performers take on “Songs of The Rat Pack”.

In the meantime, download some of American Idol’s Season 8 performances from iTunes.

Apple iTunes