AI9 Christian Hollywood Week Hopefuls

American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week is upon us. Now the show gets good. Over the next two weeks we will find out who makes it into the Top 24. One21music focuses our American Idol coverage on Christian music artists trying to make their dreams come true by running the American Idol gauntlet. Last year we followed the triumphs of Kris Allen and Danny Gokey, the inspiring stories of Michael Sarver and Scott MacIntyre and the way too early ousters of Mishavonna Henson and Felica Barton.

American Idol Hollywood Week Season 9 should feature several Christian music artist favorites and we want to help you keep an eye out for them. We have already featured, Alex Nestor (who for some reason was never seen in the audtions), Ben Honeycut and Jermaine Sellers

But we continue to look and we have found seven more Christian music artists for you to follow through American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week.  We believe that it is likely you will be able to vote for these Christian music artists in a few weeks:

Lacey Brown

Lacey BrownThe 24-year-old, who the show identified as a church event director from Amarillo, sang “Over the Rainbow” in Orlando, Fla., before the four judges unanimously voted her through to the next round. Lacey Brown is the daughter of David and Connie Brown, pastor and co-pastor of Victory Church in Amarillo. She shared that the first time she sang was in church for her parents anniversary party while she had hiccups, and went on to say that her relatives were as shocked as she was that she could sing

Lacey Brown made it into the Top 50 of American Idol Season 8.  She was cut in a chair scene with Meagan Joy.

Ashley Makailah Rodriguez

Ashley Makailah RodriguezAshley’s journey as an artist began at the age of four when she started ballet, jazz and tap lessons. Loving the art of performance, Ashley Makailah Rodriguez joined the drama club in high school, took piano, taught herself guitar and sang in the school’s chorus to hone her skills as an all-around performer. It was there at Chelsea High School that she was introduced to the City Music program at Berklee College of Music, which eventually awarded her a full four-year tuition scholarship.

During her four years at Berklee, Ashley Makailah Rodriguez not only worked to improve herself as a vocalist, but also majored in Music Business Management in order to fully immerse herself in the industry. As a performer, Ashley was offered many incredible opportunities, which included traveling internationally with the gospel group Overjoyed and singing at the Berklee Performance Center with artists such as Philip Bailey, Chaka Kahn, and Berklee alums Lalah Hathaway and Paula Cole.

Chris Golightly aka “Orphan”

Chris GolightlyChris Golightly performs under the name Orphan. He born in San Pedro, CA. and by the age of three he was placed in the social services system. Growing up without parents Chris Golightly struggled to find himself.  As a child it was very rough and Chris Golightly had to stand up on his own two feet.

Running away from foster homes etc… every five months made Chris Golightly come to realize he had stories to tell. Ever since he was six years old he was singing and performing. At the age of twelve Rich Mullins inspired him to started writing. Today, Chris Golightly attends Calvary Church in Santa Ana, CA and performs there regularly.

Vered “Didi” Benami

Vered BenamiVered Benami lists her influences as “First and foremost God.”  When you listen to her original music her faith is clearly apparent, as in the chorus of her song “Lullaby”- “He wants to comfort you. He wants to save you.”  Ever since she was old enough to speak Vered Benami was inspired, energized, and fascinated with the groove of life in ever-changing motion. She immersed herself in all kinds of jazz, blues, southern rock, folk, country, R&B and pop music. Throughout her life she has harmonized, danced, and written to any music that moves her.

Vered Benami attended Belmont University where she met her biggest inspiration, Rebecca Joy Lear. Rebecca was a singer/songwriter from Wichita, Kansas who began to help Vered capture and sharpen her ability to sing, and combine vocalizing expression with writing music.  Not too long after these two met they became close friends and decided to stick it out at school, (even though all they were really passionate about was writing and performing music) Rebecca’s Journey was cut short by an automobile accident in December 2005.  This was an eye opening experience for Verdad Benami, and made her realize that life is too short to waste not doing what you love.

Michelle Delamor

Michelle DelamorMichelle Delamor dreams of conquering two worlds: music and fashion. In a Miami Herald article, she said of the two passions: “The moment you step on stage, the transformation is amazing. You can go from crazy nerves to becoming the music. I want to be huge, I want to tour around the world, sing for millions and millions of people. But another dream of mine is to have my own clothing line. My style is funky-glamorous.”

Michelle Delamor is a 20 year-old a music major at Miami Dade College-Wolfson. Michelle credits Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Pink and Mary J. Blige as being some of her biggest musical influences. She also has a strong gospel background and is a soloist in Miami’s Unity on the Bay church choir.

Michael Lynche

Michael LyncheLike many great artists in the R&B tradition, Michael Lynche was first exposed to music through the church. Both of his parents were pastors and the Lynche Family or “Lynche Mob” (as they were known) was well known for its energetic act, which featured a young Michael performing gospel.

Michael Lynche excelled in high school, earning a full academic and athletic scholarship to the University of Central Florida, where he played NCAA Division I football as a defensive lineman. Michael was sure football was his ticket out of the poverty of his youth, but while in college, his beloved mother fell ill with cancer and Michael saw it as his duty to go home. As he recalls, “My love for football was enormous, but when my mom got sick, I started really rethinking about my journey in life and I got to thinking that this was all happening for a reason.”

After the passing of his mother, Michael Lynche stepped back to where he started – with his love of music and specifically, the guitar. He recounts, “When I was a kid I picked up the guitar that was stashed in the back of my mom’s closet and learned to play it. I loved the sound of blues guitar. When she died, one of the first things I did was get a new guitar and start writing. At first, I was just writing music for the church. Then it became a singer songwriter thing. But nothing was groundbreaking.”

Moving to New York in 2006 to pursue his dream, Michael Lynche then hooked up with hip-hop producer Ming (of Ming & FS). Ming started adding beats to the more traditional singer/songwriter and soul songs that Michael was writing, and for Michael, it was like lightning struck. He exclaims, “I’m a soul singer at heart and a story teller, but I realized through Ming that it was the beats that make the songs fun. I was thinking about what kind of music that would be and one day I came up with a new genre name: ‘Dirty Blues,’ where gritty southern soul meets dirty south hip-hop.”

So watch for these Christian music artists starting next week in American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week and don’t forget to follow American Idol Season 9 on when we start live blogging when the show goes live on February 23rd.

In the meantime help us find more Christian music artists competing on American Idol Season 9.  Here is a list of some Hollywood Week participants we are researching.  If you know anything about these artists’ faith background, please share.

Aaron Kelly
Haeley Vaughn
Tyler Grady
Alex lambert
Paige Miles
Casey James
Katy Stevens
Andrew Garcia
Katelyn Epperly
David Duke
Jose Munoz

Next week we review the first two shows of American Idol Season 9 and start predicting the Top 24.

American Idol Season 8- The Year In Review

It would be a short article if we did an American Idol Season 8 Top 2 Power Ranking, so I thought we could take a look back at the Season 8.  The top story of the year is the very visual presence of Christian music artists in American Idol Season 8, followed by the emergence of Christian music artist, star Kris Allen.  I will also share a couple of my favorite moments.  We will finish the article with the Top 15 Performances of American Idol Season 8.

Christian Music Artists on American Idol Season 8

Season 8 enjoyed the largest, most visible group of Christian music artists in the history of American Idol. There was much attention in the press about their participation in American Idol and Christian music artists experienced unprecedented success with two of the Top 3, three of the Top 5 and four of the Top 7.   See our mid-season update in American Idol Season 8- The Christians. Here are the Christian music artists, in order of finish, who competed on live television of American Idol Season 8:

  • Kris Allen (he is gonna win)
  • Danny Gokey (3rd)
  • Matt Giraud (5th)
  • Lil Rounds (6th)
  • Scott MacIntyre (8th)
  • Michael Sarver (10th)
  • Ricky Braddy (semi’s)
  • Felicia Barton (semi’s)
  • Mishavonna Henson (semi’s)
  • Kristen McNamara (semi’s)

American Idols Season 8- Favorite Moments

Norman Gentle

A two stories stood out for me this season. The first was the the surge of Norman Gentle (played by Nick Western) into the Top 36. He was an unlikely candidate to move this far, because his campy, over the top performances seemed to mock American Idoland few competitors achieve success with that strategy. However, Western was so unrelenting in his commitment to the Norman Gentle character that he could not be denied. Here is his audition

The best part was that he neverrelented. WithSimon trying to run him off the show, he continued into Hollywood Week with crazier performances and in his brief stint on live television he called Simon “sassy pants”. Classic.

Michael Sarver’s Back-story

There were some very compelling back-stories on American Idol Season 8, but Michael Sarver’s transcended all. We heard about his dream to sing his way out of one of the most dangerous jobs in America, oilfield widcatter. What most of America did not see was the impact he was having on his hometown of Jasper, Texas. For 10 years Jasper had been the national symbol for bigotry and racial hatred because of the horrible murder of James Byrd Jr. Michael Sarver’s success on American Idol Season 8created a rallying point for the citizens of Jasper, Tx and Michael took on that responsibility and is using his new fame to try to bring healing. See our article American Idol Season 8- Michael Sarver.. Here is a funny clip of one of Michael’s post Idol promotional activities. He is in a TV studio in a mall in Beaumont, Texas, there is a crowed watching them.

Top 15 Performance of American Idol Season 8

I guess if you receive virtually no coverage during the auditions or Hollywood Week you really need to bring it when you get your chance. Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta did just that during American Idol Season 8. Kris Allen snuck into the Top 12 with the 3rd place spot in Round 2 of the Top 36.   Kris proceeded to deliver 4 of the Top 6 performances of the Season 8.  Each performance was fearless, with unfathomable arrangements, cool soulful vocals and a compelling ,if understated, stage presence. Allison Iraheta, on the other hand, used a huge, mature, powerful, bluesy voice to establish herself from the start then continually surprise everyone with her roof raising vocals and creative arrangements. Danny Gokey is well represented with four songs in Top 15.  The two performances that should be in the American Idol Season 8 Top 15 , but aren’t, are Adam Lambert’s “Tracks of My Tears” and Danny Gokey’s “Stand By Me”.

  • Kris Allen-”Heartless” (May 12-Top 3)
  • Kris Allen- “Ain’t No Sunshine” (March 31-Top 9, iTune Top 100)
  • Danny Gokey- “You Are So Beautiful” (May 12- Top3)
  • Adam Lambert-”Mad World” (April 7- Top 8, Year of Birth Songs)
  • Kris Allen- “She Works Hard For The Money” (April 21- Top 7 II- Disco Songs)
  • Kris Allen-”Falling Slowly” (April 14-Top 7- Movie Songs)
  • Allison Iraheta- “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (March 24-Top 10, Songs of Motown)
  • Danny Gokey-”Come Rain or Shine” (April 28- Top 5, Rat Pack Songs)
  • Allison Iraheta- “Hot Stuff “(April 21-Top 7 II- Disco Night)
  • Danny Gokey-”Hero” (February 17th-Top 36 Round 1)
  • Adam Lambert- “Feeling Good” (April 28-Top 5, Rat Pack Songs)
  • Allison Iraheta-”Alone” (February 25th-Top 36 Round 2)
  • Danny Gokey- “Stand By Me” (April 7-Top 8, Year of Birth Songs)
  • Matt Giraud-”Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” (April 15-Top 7 Save, Movie Songs)
  • Lil Rounds- “The Way You Make Me Feel” (March 10-Top 13, Michael Jackson Songs)
  • Download these songs or make you own best of American Idol Season 8 mix from iTunes

    Apple iTunes

    American Idol Season 8- Rock Performances Review

    What happened tonight?  Debbie Williams, the American Idol stage  manager was injured and taken to the hospital when those retractable stairs retracted while she was on them.  Early reports are that her injuries were minor.  Then the stage started falling and one of the giant American Idol orbs and columns partially collapsed.  Dress rehearsal was cancelled.  MJ’s blog crashed and the MTV live blog stopped at 8:38 edt (I later read the rest of it).  I am grateful that no one was hurt tonight.

    I am at a loss for words to describe how much I hated American Idol tonight.  I hated the duets.  I think Slash was a waste.  I thought the judging tonight was meaningless jabber.  The song choices, for the most part. were terrible.  I thought the American Idol rock song performances were vapid.  The arrangements were cookie cutter.  I was so disgusted with American Idol tonight that I went to my office, made a mix of my American Idol Rock Song predictions and played them at a disturbing volume.  That would have made for a fascinating show.

    Now that my temper tantrum is over, time for a little empathy.  Missing the dress rehearsal obviously bothered the performers.  We don’t know how much of the dress rehearsal was completed before the accidents but some of the American Idol performers looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable.  Also, someone they know was injured and taken to the hospital before their eyes.  Allison was timid in her performance and then argumentative during her judging.  That is just the opposite of her usual demeanor.  Kris Allen seemed mad the whole night.  Danny Gokey was irritated during the judges comments.  I must believe that they were shaken and concerned about their friend and maybe a little nervous about the set. Too bad we can’t give the American Idol performers a pass tonight.

    American Idol Season 8 Rock Song Performance Ratings
    I am ignoring the duets tonight. They were meaningless filler. Really, what did you learn about Christina music performers Danny Gokey or Kris Allen from “Renegade”? What did “Slow Ride” tell you about Adam Lambert or Allison Iraheta, other than 17 year old girls singing inappropriate lyrics at 9 edt on national television is apparently something to be applauded? The only time rockers did these stupid duets was on stupid 70′s variety shows.  “The Weight” is cycling through my song preview mix for the second time.  I am feeling better. Remember last week when I said all of the performers earned an “A” in my Rat Pack performance review, well everyone gets no more than a “C” tonight so I am ranking on a curve.

    1. Danny Gokey, yep, that mess Danny Gokey threw out there tonight was my favorite Americna Idol rock  performance.  Why?  The opening to “Dream On” looked to be a struggle for him, his breathing seemed off and he fought to find a groove.  Toward the middle he cut loose with his voice and then he built the song until–The Scream.  So far, everyone hates it.  I liked it.  I don’t know how many notes he stumbled through on that final scream but we could probably score a few scrabble points with those letters.  But I don’t care, it is was guttural, primal, cathartic and insane.
    2. Allison Iraheta picked the right song but she held back.  “Cry Baby” is an angry, hurting rant at a former boyfriend.  Allison need to wring the emotion out of the song but, instead she sang the set-ups and transitions while avoiding the meat of the song.  I had high hopes but Allison played this American Idol performance uncharacteristically safe.
    3. Adam Lambert took the show by storm by cranking through Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”.  I am sorry, from the first moment all I could hear was Robert Plant screaming through he phone to Jimmy Page, “NEVER AGAIN WILL WE ALLOW THAT BLOODY, LAME SHOW TO GUT ONE OF OUR SONGS”.  I played the original for my wife and then replayed Adam’s American Idol version and she nailed it.  “He doesn’t believe in the emotion of the song.”  This was another in a long line of big, loud, brassy empty American Idol performances by Adam Lambert.  I don’t know what everyone is buying but I am not interested.
    4. Kris Allen seemed off tonight.  From the opening verse of his duet with Danny to his placid walk through of “Come Together”, Kris seemed angry and uninterested.  “Come Together” was a terrible song choice.  For the second week in a row, Kris Allen has kept his magical arranging skills under wraps.  There is just very little you can do with this song.  We have seen many others fail (isn’t this song the last one Carly Smithson did last year) with “Come Together”.  Kris sang well but you did not get the feeling he really cared that much.

    Just in case you did not notice, I was disappointed by American Idol tonight.

    Given all of the accidents and distractions tonight and given that Slash was such a terrible mentor, I think we should skip elimination this week and eliminate two next week. American Idol producers, don’t you agree? Just in case 19 Entertainment does not clip this blog for the producers, here are my predictions:

    Bottom two Allison Iraheta Kris Allen

    Going home Allison Iraheta

    On Thursday morning the studio performances will be available for iTunes and we will be able to see how much of tonight’s show was attributable to the dress rehearsal accidents and how much was Slash’s fault.  In the meantime download some of the great performances dating all the way back to Felicia Barton and Mishavonna Henson from the Top 36.

    Apple iTunes

    American Idol Season 8- The Christians

    Now that we are just past the halfway mark on American Idol Season 8′s live competition, let’s take a few minutes to remember the Christian music artists who made it to the Top 36 and see what we can find out about what they are doing.  At one21music we identified 10 Christian music artists who made it to the Top 36 and six of those made it to Top 13.  The contestants on American Idol Season 8 are barred from singing on their own until June because of their contract with the TV show.  That limits a lot of information about these American Idol contestants.

    Some of them made it through, some of them didn’t, but these are the artists we discovered through the search to find the believers in American Idol

    Felicia Barton

    Felicia BartonProbably the biggest tragedy of American Idol Season 8 was that Felicia Barton did not receive a fair chance to succeed.  She was all but invisible throughout the tryouts and Hollywood Week and she was eliminated in the mansion.  However, she was rushed to Hollywood at the last minute to replace JoAnne Pacitti in the Top 36 .  Her wonderful performance of Alicia Keys “No One” was mostly ignored by the judges and she was not selected for the Wild Card show. Barton, a wife and mother who has served as the minister of music at her church also has performed on the boardwalk in her hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

    Post American Idol interviews have revealed a believer with a great amount of gratitude for her American Idol opportunity and a wealth of confidence in the possibilities for her future in the music business.

    In an interview with the Virginian-Pilot just after she returned form Hollywood, Felicia Barton said:

    “I don’t think I cried. Maybe a couple days later, but not right away. You know, I really had a lot of peace about what was going on, and I feel really blessed to have gotten back in the competition, you know. Just that opportunity to sing in front of 30 million people.”

    Felicia Barton has been back to Hollywood and to Nashville to record songs and work on a recording contract.  We are waiting to hear new songs on myspace pretty soon.  In the meantime, you can download Felicia Barton singing Alicia Key’s “No One” on iTunes.  Follow the link at the bottom of the page and I will show you how.

    Ricky Braddy

    rickbraddyA gospel singer and Commercial Music major at Belmont University made it to the Wild Card but was not chosen by the judges to be one of the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  His performance of “A Song for You” in the Top 36 elimination show earned him a standing ovation from Paula Abdul, who was a big fan.  Michael Slezac of entertainment Weekly is still grousing over Ricky Braddy’s early departure from American Idol Season 8.

    Ricky Braddy possesses a pure, clear singing voice and a great falsetto.  In the Wild Card round he performed Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” but it was not enough to propel him into the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  Ricky maintains a Facebook and Myspace page and is a frantic Tweeter.  He is currently traveling between Atlanta and Nashville writing music and working on a record contract.

    Ricky created a little stir on American Idol when a fan website using the name the “Braddy Bunch” emerged to push his chances on American Idol.  His parents showed up on his first live performance wearing Braddy Bunch tshirts and the website received a “cease and desist” order from the producers of American Idol.

    Mishavona Henson

    mishavonaThis seasoned 18 year old singer/actor came onto American Idol as a returning American Idol contestant (she made it to Hollywood in Season 7) who had television acting credits (Frasier) and an EP  (From the Edge of The World Mishavonna Henson ).  In August of 2008, Mishavonna Henson received the “Certificate of Merit Award” for female vocal solo at the Assemblies of God “National Fine Arts Festival” in North Carolina.

    Apparently, Mishavonna Henson has received permission to perform a benefit with Debbie Gibson for the Gibson Girl Foundation which provides scholarships for talented youth to attend Gibson’s Electric Youth Summer Camp. She is already working on her second cd.

    Her Top 36 live performance was Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” and, as a result of that performance the song shot back into the iTunes 100, peaking at 15.  Here is the young girl, fully recovered from her experience and enjoying a day with her friends.

    Kristen MacNamara

    kristen macnamaraA veteran of Star Search and Nashville Star before she auditioned for American Idol Season 8, Kristen MacNmara has been pursuing her career since she moved from California to Branson, Missouri to work as a musician in this country music mecca.

    Kristen McNamara first gained fame on American Idol Season 8 when her Hollywood Week group’s meltdown was the centerpiece of one of the episodes.   Kristen  sang “Give Me One More Reason” in her Top 36 live performance and received very little love from the judges and did not receive enough votes to make it to the Top 13.

    Kristen McNamara is one of the founders of L.A.U.G.H., an organization promoting personal missions.

    Kristen has a channel on youtube called Kmactv, which is a set of videos following the adventures of her and her friends as they goof around.  There is no update on her myspace and we were unable to find any articles.  However, her myspace page does say that she is signed to 19 Entertainment (the company that produces American Idol).  Based on Internet chatter, that must have happened right around the time she was eliminated.

    Michael Sarver

    michael arverA fan favorite, Michael Sarver made it into the Top 10 of American Idol Season 8, so we will see him on the American Idol Live tour.   He shocked audiences when he was voted in over American Idol front runner Anoop Desai in round 1 of the Top 12 selection show.  He then survived the elimination of Jasmine Murray, Jorge Nunez and Alexis Grace before his performance of “Ain’t to Proud (To Beg)” failed to earn him enough votes to continue.

    A worship leader at the Harvest Church in Jasper, Texas, Michael Sarver started his American Idol quest with a hope to leave his life as an oilfield worker behind.  As I wrote in our article on Michael Sarver, his American Idol Season 8 journey became a healing process for a town torn and embarrassed by racial issues.  Many believe Michael Sarver has become the image of a new Jasper, He has put Jasper back on the map in a positive way and we appreciate all the help he has done to make Jasper alive again,” said Jasper Council Member Terrya Norsworthy.

    Michael Sarver returned home to large crowds in both Jasper and his hometown of Sulphur, Louisiana.  He has already signed a record deal and expects to return to Los Angeles within a few weeks to start recording his debut album.

    Scott MacIntyre

    scott-macintyreThe most recent Christian music artist to exit American Idol Season 8, Scott made it to 8th place.  Scott MacIntyre was difficult to judge.  His singing did not measure up to that of the other American Idol Season 8 performers, but he possesses a certain intangible that the judges and the audience could not deny.

    Scott MacIntyre is a world class classical musician who has received dozens of national and international awards for piano, composition and vocal.  He was  the recipient of the Marshall scholarship, Fulbright scholarship (to the UK), USAToday All-USA Academic First Team and was a Rhodes Finalist for Arizona.  Scott studied in London, England where he obtained his masters degree in Performance Studies from the Royal College of Music and Royal Holloway University of London at the age of 19. He was also accepted to both Oxford and Cambridge for further graduate-level research.

    Scott MacIntyre has been featured and  profiled on CNN, Sky News Europe, USA Today, and other media as pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. He has independently released 6 full-length CD’s and has written in genres spanning pop, rock, punk, jazz, and classical.  You can buy Scott’s punk rock CD with his group The Glutes at iTunes by clicking here The Glutes

    To top things off , Scott MacIntyre told Access Hollywood, “I say blindness is only half of my story, I’ve been through so much more than that.” He added, “I dealt with kidney failure for two years. It’s something that I intentionally didn’t bring up on this show because, you know, the blindness is obvious, but I didn’t want to be voted for based on my challenges.” The 23-year-old singer was diagnosed with the disease in 2005. He then went to London and got a master’s degree in music, but had to return home to have emergency dialysis. In 2007, Scott MacIntyre was lucky enough to find a kidney donor: his former piano instructor from Arizona State University.

    That leaves us with the final four Christina music artists competing on American Idol Season 8.

    Danny Gokey

    danny-gokeyA favorite since he auditioned, Danny Gokey has performed at the top of the American Idol chart every single week.  Others have peaked above him but have fallen back behind him the next week.  Danny has been the best or second best performance in every week of the competition.

    His Hollywood Week group performance of “Somebody To Love” was the best of the season.  Danny Gokey hit the live competition with the Mariah Carey song “Hero” and tore down the house causing whooping screaming adulation from the judges.  He has maintained that level of excellence each week since.

    In listening to the exit interviews, Danny Gokey is mentioned more than any other contestant as one of the nicest people in the mansion.  From the outside in, it seems he has put a lot of effort into developing strong personal relationships with as many of the other performers as possible.

    Danny Gokey has a natural likability, a unique gravel, but soulful voice and ease about himself that draws America to him.  He is certainly one of four remaining contestants that should be considered a favorite for the Top 2.

    Kris Allen

    Kris AllenJust the opposite of Danny, Kris Allen flew under the radar into the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  This quiet business major from small town Arkansas was considered a handsome, good singer but no one really new.  We got our first glimpse of Kris Allen’s interpretive skills when he chose Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”.  In Kris’s hands this song took on a more epic arc.

    The second peak happened when Kris Allen made us forget Garth Brook’s ever sang “To Make You Feel My Love”.

    Then it happened.  With his amazing arrangement of “Ain’t No Sunshine” Kris Allen burst to the front of numerous American Idol Season 8 power rankings.  His only misstep was last week.

    Kris Allen has the looks, the music skills, the voice and the arranging insight to win American Idol Season 8.  He needs to continue to push himself to have as much confidence in himself as we all do.

    Matt Giraud

    84635271Simon described Matt Giraud as a musical yo-yo and he was right.  Matt has had some brilliant performances of classic R&B songs.  But he has also had some of the worst performances of the year when he took on Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”  and The Fray’s “You Found Me”.  The first performance nearly cost him a spot in the Top13.  The judges saved him in the  Wild Card round but his journey to the American Idol Season 8 Top 7 has been rocky.  He has been in the bottom 3 four times and the bottom 2 twice.

    Matt Giraud is a dueling piano player from Michigan who had two R&B CDs under his belt that proclaimed his faith.  We found some wonderful testimonials from his fans on the Internet.  Matt is a great singer who has strong, soulful sensibility and the ability to deliver his falsetto with feeling.

    Right now the general consensus is that Matt Giraud has fallen behind and has little chance of winning American Idol Season 8.  He has the talent to win, but he cannot afford another slip and he needs to deliver a couple of breakthrough performances.

    Lil Rounds

    lil-roundsFinally, we come to the displaced mother of two.  Lil Rounds emerged as a front-runner in the American Idol Season 8 auditions when Randy compared her to Fantasia and Mary J Blige.  She soared through Hollywood Week and she dazzled in the Top 36 selection show when she sang “Be with You”.  She seemed unstoppable with her combination of powerful vocals, keen rhythmic sense, good looks and great back story.

    However, something happened on the way to the confetti party.  Starting with Grand Ole Opry week Lil Rounds started to drift away.  First, she sang well but added little to the songs.  The last two weeks her vocals have even started to falter and she is in serious trouble.

    Her position on American Idol Season 8 has become so precarious that website “votefortheworst”  has taken Lil Rounds on as their latest cause.  One more shaky performance and Lil Rounds could be headed back to Memphis.

    You can download full length studio recording each one of these Christian music artists performances, including those by American IdolFelicia Barton, Ricky Braddy, Mishavonna Henson and Kristen McNamara. When you click through to the itunes store, look just below the text and above the Top 13 photos and you will see a link to the Top 36 performances.

    Apple iTunes

    It has been a wonderful American Idol.   Season 8 has seen an unprecedented number of Christian music artists move further than we have ever experienced before.  This bodes well for us Christians looking for pop music over the next few years that embodies our hope and faith.

    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.

    American Idol Season 8- Top 8 Performance Review

    Tonight was not as dramatic as I thought it would be (read our Top 8 Performance Live Blog for immediate reactions).  American Idol had to cut the length of the songs tonight so I think that hurt the dramatic impact of the performances, except for one.  Adam Lambert tonight gave the performance that delivered on the American Idol judges love for him.  He was spectacular tonight.  The only other real surprise was Kris Allen. I think he stumbled terribly tonight.

    Allison Iraheta and Matt Giraud made nice comebacks from bad performances on American Idol’s Top 9 performance show.  But they both sang songs of questionable lyrics.  I am a little uncomfortable with a 16 year girl singing about spending one more night with someone who doesn’t love her.  This is the second time in three weeks that Matt Giraud has lyrics that conflict with his Christian beliefs.  I know Christians have affairs, but I don’t think we should romanticize them in song.

    Before we get to the American Idol Season 8 Top 8 performances we must hand out American Idol baby picture awards.  I would not dare rate the baby photos, because hey, when were babies, we had no control over how we looked when we were photographed.  I will not judge anyone who is at the mercy of their parents.  So two awards:

    No Shame Award (for allowing the most embarrassing moment of global television)

    Matt Giraud for his stand-up routine in the Church pageant, dressed in full angel gear (with wings)

    Cutest Baby Award ( a tie)

    Scott MacIntyre in his train engineer hat

    Randy Jackson with his bow tie

    American Idol Season 8 Year of Birth Song Performance Rankings

    1. Adam Lambert has been at the bottom of my American Idol performance rankings for most of the season.  Not tonight.  He performed “Mad World” by Tears for Fears (I corrected the live blog where I said R.E.M.).  Bathed in blue light, while he set in a chair, in the middle of the stage Adam delivered the most emotionally charged, heartfelt performance of his season.  He sang the entire song in a high register and the performance was controlled and subtle.  I loved Kris’s performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine” last week, but this was the most stunning American Idol performance since Jordin Sparks sang “I (Who Have Nothing)” in Season 6.
    2. Allison Iraheta did exactly what she needed to do at this point of American Idol Season 8.  She stood in the middle of the stage a delivered a crushing ballad with a tender, slow, nearly perfect performance. The shortened performance time probably served Allison well tonight.  She did not have enough time to really let loose.  She showed a little bit of her roaring voice but pulled back to capture the intimacy of the song.  Tonight, Allison proved to American Idol fans that she is more than a big voice.  She is a tremendous singer who knows how to wrap herself around a song.
    3. Danny Gokey is virtually tied for second with Allison.  I was not thrilled when I heard his performance live, but when I went back I was mesmerized.  He put together a well structured, complex, three act arrangement of a very simple song, “Stand By Me”.  He put more into the 90 seconds of this American Idol performance than most good 3 to 5 minute pop songs have.  And he sang exceptionally well tonight.  I thought he struggled a little in the beginning , but when he took the microphone off of the stand and let his voice go, it was magical.  I cannot believe he showed so much range in only 90 seconds.
    4. Matt Giraud delivered his best performance of the American Idol’s Season 8, but I am still miffed.  He performed Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” and he nailed it.  I think it is safe to say  he created a new version of the song.  His falsetto was amazing and he hit every technical and emotional note.  His dancing was good and he looked great. Matt, there are R&B songs that cover less illicit subjects.
    5. Anoop Desai also delivered his best performance of American Idol’s Season 8 and it still did not show me much.  He sang Cindy Lauper’s “True Colors” beautifully but his performance revealed nothing for me about the song or Anoop.  I found my attention drifting during the song.  I really like this song, but I question whether Anoop had much idea what he was singing about.  I know I don’t.  After hearing Anoop sing his best, I am surprised to say I think he is the 7th best singing remaining.
    6. Kris Allen made his first misstep of his American Idol’s Season 8.  He performed Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” as a funky, fun romp.   The song is actually a dark commentary on American’s narcissism and ignorance of their government’s policies around the world.  The image of Kris Allen, completely swallowed by a crowd of audience members as he performed, is a perfect visual for Kris’s performance.  We lost Kris Allen tonight in a crowd of noise.  Let’s hope he finds his way again next week.
    7. Lil Rounds, what happened to you?  She was a favorite out of the gate and was generally considered the best singer of the Top13.  The past two weeks she sang poorly and she seems to be trying to find out who she is.  Lil has been reduced to promising she will do better next time.  Tonight, she sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner and Lil Rounds was nowhere to be found.  You could see be her reaction tot he judges comments that she is highly frustrated right now.  She looked defeated tonight.   My only hope is that Syesha Mercado struggled through this stage of American Idol Season 7 and found herself enough to make it to the Top 3.  Lil Rounds is running out of chances.
    8. Scott MacIntyre, what can I say.  He chose a horrible 80′s power ballad “The Search Is Over” and sang it horribly.  This was his worst performance of the season.  Even though he has yet to be in the Bottom 2, this is the type of performance that gets you sent home.  An aside– the judges do know that Scott is a world class musician don’t they?  Where they really surprised he played guitar?  Really?  Were they?

    Predictions for American Idol Season 8 Top 8 Results

    Last week, Anoop and Allsion were in the bottom three.  Allison clearly proved she does not belong in the bottom, but I don’t think Anoop Desai showed enough to avoid the bottom this week.  The question is did Lil Rounds stumble into the bottom group or is the Scott MacIntyre magic over.

    Bottom Three: Scott MacIntyre, Anoop Desai, Lil Rounds

    Bottom Two: Scott MacIntyre, Anoop Desai

    Going home: Scott MacIntyre

    As much as I hate it, I don’t think Scott survives his American Idol performance on Tuesday night.

    I don’t think the judges save any of these bottom three.

    I urge you to download the performances by Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta by clicking on the icon below.  It may take a minute for your iTunes store to pop up but this link will take you straight to performances.

    Apple iTunes

    Join us tonight at 9e/8c as we live blog the results show.

    American Idol Season 8- Top 8 Performance Live Blog

    I can feel it.  Something crazy is going to happen tonight.  American Idol’s “songs from the year of your birth” is going to be a night where dreams are made and hopes are dashed.  Tonight  Anoop Desai, Scott MacIntyre or Lil Rounds could stumble to their exit or create enough buzz to stick around for a few more weeks.  Matt Giraud and Allison Iraheta could reveal themselves as pretenders tonight or they could hurdle themselves into the Top 3.  Front runners Danny Gokey, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert could slip on their way to the Top 3 or separate themselves from the pack.  It is face off in the middle of the stage tonight on the American Idol Season Top 8 performance show.

    At One21music we are covering Christian music artists performing on Season 8.  Tonight five of the final eight competitors, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Matt Giraud, Lil Rounds and Scott MacIntyre, are Christians making music on American Idol Season 8.  They will be joined by Allison IrahetaAdam Lambert and Anoop Desai singing songs mostly form the mid-80′s tonight.  See my Birth Year Songs Preview to laugh at my song predictions.

    This is the first one hour performance show so it should move quickly.  It will be tough for the judges to get all of the comments on the air.

    We start with the American Idols on the stairs and what is up with black tonight?  Don’t they know it is the 80′s?  Sweet, baby pictures of the judges!  Who is that Lurch looking character on the front row?  I am afraid.

    We start with Danny Gokey who will be singing “Stand By Me”, Mickey Gilley version, good choice.  It starts a little rough and I don’t like the Nashville orchestration at the first.  I think it is different than Mikey Gilley’s version.  Danny is so cool and comfortable as a performer.  He adds some riffing at the end.  Interesting but I don’t love it.

    Randy and Kara hate the arrangement but love where he took it.  Paula thinks he set the bar very high.  I need to see this again.  Good commentary again from Paula.  Simon says great.  The commentary is abbreviated tonight.

    Kris Allen sitting on the stools talking about his day at the beach.  Kris is singing  Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”  Standing in the audience, his own personal mosh pit.  I think he is missing the point of the song.  His arrangement is super funky and I like funk as much as anyone, but this is a little light for me.  He sings it great, though.   A little bit disappointing.  It feels like he missed tonight.

    Kara didn’t like it. The judges think the arrangement did not work.  Simon says indulgent and boring.  Randy is right, we lost Kris Allen.

    We learn the story behind Lil Rounds‘ name, it was from her grandmother.  Singing “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner and what has happened to Lil Rounds?  The start is very rough.  She sounds like a lounge singer and she is off key.  I don’t like this very much.  Lil is in trouble and I hate that.

    Paula thinks she missed and did not display herself as an artist.  Simon calls her a second rate Tina Turner and he is right, we have lost Lil Rounds.  Right Kara, she is struggling to make the leap from singer to performer.

    So far, this is a rough start to the show.  I need to watch Danny’s again but Kris disappointed and Lil continues to struggle.

    Scary dude in the front row is in Fringe tonight.  Beware.

    They are making Anoop Desai grovel in front of Kara because he was a naughty boy last week.  He is singing “True Colors” by Cindy Lauper.  Once again pretty vocals from Anoop, but something is missing. What is he singing about?  Is he feeling anything or is he just singing.  Am I in a bad mood?  Ho hum.

    Randy loves it? Kara thinks he interpreted the song with soul.  The judges love it. Even Simon. Not fantastic but good.

    I said tonight could be a minefield and, by my count, we have three casualties out of four performances.  I looked at the songs Kris and Anoop sang and talked myself out of predicting them because I did not think they would work,  I wish I had not been right.

    Scott MacIntyre is up singing “The Search Is Over” by Survivor and he is wearing a guitar.  Yep, Scott has dug into the dregs of 80′s music.  I don’t like this at all.  I am sorry Scott, I like you but this is a bad song sung badly.

    Kara tries way to hard to be nice.  Paula gives him credit for stepping away from the piano but nobody talks about his singing.  Simon suggests he go back to the piano and, thank you Simon, the song is horrible.

    Allison Iraheta used to talk too much.  Is that a surprise?  She is singing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt.  Could be good.  Perfect song choice.  Nice slow start with great phrasing and here she goes lifting the middle on her husky voice.  Really nice, she controlled the pace of the song and she did not over sing. Nice comeback.

    Paula complimented the tenderness of her singing tonight.  Simon agrees about the song but tells her to lighten up.  Randy compares her to Kelly Clarkson.  All the judges agree, she was really good tonight.  Allison is back.

    Matt Giraud did stand up as an angel in the church pagent.  He is doing Stevie Wonder’s ” Part Time Lover”.  He throws down with his falsetto right from the start.  Very funky, nice dancing, this may be Matt’s  best performance of the year.

    Randy calls it vocally one of the best of the night and the judges are going crazy.  Standing ovation and incredible from the judges.

    Adam Lambert sings in overtime.  The show is supposed to be over now so we are infringing on “Fringe”.  Adam is singing ” Mad World ” by Tear for Fears.  He sings  on a chair bathed in blue light.  For the most part he uses a well controlled falsetto only screaming once.  Very well done.

    The judges are flabbergasted.  Simon gives him a standing ovation.

    I will go back and watch the performances again and give you my assessment over night.

    If you want your own copies of these performances or the stage performances you can download them from iTunes

    Apple iTunes

    American Idol Season 8- Birth Year Songs Preview

    Minefield ahead!  As last week proved, too much American Idol freedom results in bad song choices.   Last week’s “iTunes Top Downloads”  theme fueled the weakest show since the Top 13 was selected.  Combine that with the reality that all but two of the American Idol Season 8 contestants were born in the mid-80′s and you have a recipe for disaster.

    With all apologies to Randy and Paula, the period between end of true new wave and the birth of grunge was possibly the worst era of pop music in the 20th century.  This was the era that took new wave to synth pop and soul to R&B . Once I remind you that the super group of Dionne Warwick, Elton John and Gladys Knight had the number 1 song of all of 1986, I think you must agree with me that the mid-’80′s were difficult for radio listeners. For me, the only real musical genius to come out of the era came from Prince, REM and U2.  Even Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen struggled during those years. If you don’t believe me, try to sell your LP’s from the mid-80′s.  It could be one really bad American Idol show, but the American Idol Season 8 group has surprised us before.

    As I said yesterday in my American Idol Season 8 Top 8 Power Rankings, the competition is tightening up and I think five of the top eight are at risk this week if they have a bad performance.  It is also time to start watching the competition for the Final 3.  The front runners right now are Kris Allen, Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert.  I don’t think they will be the Top 3 but I do think two of them will make it to the American Idol Season 8 final trio.  Allison Iraheta has the best shot at breaking into the top 3 but she needs to get back to blowing us away with her huge voice.  Lil Rounds and Matt Giraud could also make a big push in the next few weeks to jump into the finals.

    Now to American Idol’s Season 8tour of the  mid-80′s:

    1980 was the year that Danny Gokey came bouncing into the world.  The number 1 song of 1980 was Blondie’s “Call Me”, and then new wave died.  Bette Midler reached the height of her popularity in 1980 as she starred in her first movie, The Rose, a loose bio-pic of Janis Joplin that denied any similarities to Joplin’s life.  The title song from that movie, “The Rose” provides a wonderful platform for Danny Gokey’s singing and arranging skills.  This is the type of platform Danny could use to create his American Idol moment.

    Danny Gokey- “The Rose”    Download the original Bette Midler - The Rose (The Original Soundtrack Recording) - The Rose

    In 1982 Adam Lambert came screaming into this world.  Olivia Newton John topped the charts in 1982 with “Physical” and pop music was in full decline.  Adam  has two good choices.  Journey dropped the American Idol untouchable “Don’t Stop” in 1982.  Soft Cell twisted Grace Jones’ “Tainted Love” into a synth pop American Idol booby trap. Expect Lambert to latch onto the freedom of arrangement that “Tainted Love” affords and drop on us a version closer to Marilyn Manson than anything we have ever seen on American Idol.  Expect drooling Nine Inch Nails references from the judges.

    Adam Lambert- “Tainted Love”  Download the original Soft Cell - The Very Best of Soft Cell - Tainted Love

    Lil Rounds may be in trouble.  She was born in 1984 and that was not a good year for big-voiced  R&B singers.  Prince ruled the R&B charts that year and his best song ever “When Doves Cry” was the number one song of 1984.  If Lil could get the rights to “Purple Rain” she should give that a shot, but I think she will sing Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It”.  I promise, that is all I could find.  Good luck Lil.

    Lil Rounds- “What’s Love Got to Do With It”  Download the originalTina Turner - Private Dancer - What's Love Got to Do With It

    1985 was a banner year for American Idol Season 8Kris Allen, Matt Giraud and Scott MacIntyre were all born that year.  Maybe Live Aid inspired musicians to write some good songs  but regardless, 1985 was a bright spot in the 80′s so there is plenty of good material for these three guys.  Kris Allen can take on the British pop superstar Paul Young and arrange his ballad “Everytime You Go Away” into a modern hit.  I hope Matt Giraud can turn Wham’s “Careless Whisper”, the overall number 1 song of 1985, into a cool 21st century R&B rave.  Scott MacIntyre should choose Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” and made it his own keyborad driven anthem of love.

    Kris Allen- “Everytime You Go Away”  Download the original Paul Young - From Time to Time - The Singles Collection - Every Time You Go Away

    Matt Giraud- “Careless Whisper”  Download the original Wham! - Make It Big

    Scott MacIntyre- “I Want to Know What Love Is” Download the original  Foreigner - Agent Provocateur - I Want to Know What Love Is

    Anoop Desai joined us in 1986, just in time for Elton John to join Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight for the number one song of the year, “That’s What Friends Are For”.  I beg you Anoopdawg, don’t sing that song on American Idol.   Luckily, Anoop has a few choices that are more appropriate for him.  If he wants t bring his attitude he can take on Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”.  I think he will stick with R&B and sing Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Years”.  If he is ready to go back to North Carolina he can fool himself into thinking he has as much soul as Tom Jones and perform Prince’s “Kiss”.  That would be the kiss of death.  I hope you are having as good a time as me.

    Anoop Desai- “Holding Back the Years”  Download the original Simply Red - Simply Red: 25 Greatest Hits - Holding Back the Years

    That brings us to 1992, the year Allison Iraheta and grunge were born. We were all amazed when the opening chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” burned out of the radio and we realized that rock could be rejuvenated. The problem for Allison is that grunge does not really lend itself to her big bluesy rock voice and the best of the rest is Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” which charted in a duet with George Michael.  The exception is a little gunge number, off a tribute album, sung by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell called “Hunger Strike”.  If she was able to find the song, she will be able to tear tiles off the American Idol roof with this song about the unfair distribution of wealth in America.

    Allison Iraheta- “Hunger Strike”  Download this song  Temple of the Dog - Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike

    If my predictions are correct it will be a night of ballads.  Join us as we live blog the tonight at 8e/7c.

    If you want to check out the past performances on American Idol Season 8 just download songs and videos from iTunes

    Apple iTunes

    American Idol Season 8- Top 8 Power Rankings

    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.

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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?
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.

    Apple 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.

    American Idol Season 8- Top 9 Results Live Blog

    I said I wouldn’t but I can’t help myself.  Yes, I will live blog the American Idol Season 8 Top 9 results show tonight. I am a live blog addict. I need help.

    Are we going to see our first shocker tonight?  Will the judges be forced to use their “save”.  I think Matt Giraud is on the cutting block tonight and I don’t think the American Idol judges will save him.  However, there are several sites on the Internet suggesting that Allison Iraheta is in trouble. If Allison is voted off I think the American Idol judges will be forced to use the “save” Despite what many hope, I will be shocked if Meagan Joy goes home tonight.  See our American Idol Top 9 performance review.

    David Cook and Lady GaGa will perform tonight.  David Cook should be okay.  I did not know Lady GaGa (girl or group?) until I just saw a blurb about her (girl) on Entertainment Tonight.  I am not sure I will enjoy her perorfmance but we will wait and see.

    The time is now so let’s get us some results!  Well maybe not now.  Let’s wait an hour so Fox can present the show with an asterick Lie To Me*.  See you in an hour.

    That was a wasted hour.  Lie To Me is funny, but I don’t think it is a comedy.

    The just went through a montage of last night and they did not include Kara’s reference to Studio 57.  Jason Castro and Alexis Grace.  They were happy that 36 million people voted.  They are making Kara apologize to the audience for arguing with them last night.  Keep up with Adam!  Did American Idol just set Adam Lambert as the standard to judge the others by? Oh my gosh!

    The Ford commercial used that whole face mixey uppy thing that Michael Jackson did 15 years ago.  The Top 9 are lip synching Journey’s “Don’t Stop” and they are letting Scott MacIntyre pretend he is playing the piano.  Will Adam Lambert do his hair metal scream?  Almost, yep, there it is.  Adam delivers the same old thing.

    Back to the results?  Ryan has his results stand out.  Ryan, they are not singing for their lives.  Alexis Grace is proof that there is no firing squad behind the set.  Girls are swooning all over the country as Kris Allen goes through his photo sexy faces.  I can hear girls screaming up and down the street.

    LOLOLOL! at Gokey’s impersonation of Giraud.

    No more laughing.  Meagan Joy, Matt Giraud and Kris Allen are the first three up to the far side of the stage.  Then Ryan calls  Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds and Allison Iraheta to the center of the stage.  Is everybody going home?!   Anoop Desai is by himself.  Three groups of three.  Who is in the botom 3?  We must endure Lady GaGa first.

    No, first we get David Cook.  I like David Cook.  I liked him all year last year.  This song is a little slow.  This song is a little bland.  I am glad he is having some success. I hope he will be able to break out of this soft rock straight jacket.  But the drummer is having a really good time.  At least the boy can sing.

    David Cook get his first platinum album.  Congratulations David.  I like him more everytime I see him.

    Who is in the bottom 3?  Kris Allen up first and he is safe, go sit down.  Matt Giraud is safe.  Ryan did one of his mean misdirection things.  Mean Ryan.  Megan Joy is the last of her group and she does a stupid bird impersonation to the bottom 3.  What was that?

    To the next group and Lil Rounds and she is safe to sing only Mary J Blige songs in the future.  Allison Iraheta is up next and she is in the bottom 3.  Of, course Adam Lambert is safe.   Meagan quit with the bird dance.

    Next group and first is Danny Gokey, who is safe.  The last spot in the bottom 3 is to Scott MacIntyre and Anoop Desai. Scott is safe and Anoop is on the bottom 3.

    Anoop, Allison and Megan, the bird lady, are our bottom 3.  We wait until after Lady GaGa to find out the results.

    Lady GaGa is number one on the charts.  She is showing some chops but the song is a little weird.  Is that bubbles or balloons in her piano?  This song is okay.  It is dance pop with a lot of dancers and a big sound. Better than Britany Spears. That was pretty crazy.  Old zipper eye is pretty wild.

    Allison is safe.  Good.  She does not deserve to be in the bottom Two.

    Meagan Joy was voted off.  Will the judges save her.  They told her she will not be saved before she sings.  Thank you, at least she can finish her last performance with dignity.

    Be sure to grab your favorite American Idol performances and the the full studio recordings on iTunes.

    Apple iTunes

    Way to leave Meagan Joy. Good luck on your future.