The top four American Idol rocked out to classic rock songs this week with help from their mentor, Slash of Guns 'N' Roses fame. They also, for the first time ever, did duets.
The Top Four American Idol Finalists
First, Ryan Seacrest explained there'd been an accident on the stage, with a tower nearly collapsing before dress rehearsal. This meant the contestants have not had a proper run-through, "but the show must go on."
First up was Adam Lambert with "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. Slash called his singing effortless and advised him not to improvise so much in the higher register, since his lower register is stronger. Adam, admitting this is his favorite of all the theme weeks, came out in a black leather jacket with studs, with black pants. He was sneering, Billy Idol style, as he delivered some tasty rock vocals, commanding the stage naturally, dancing with the guitarist during a solo, and offering up a great ending.
Judge Randy Jackson said, "This is the Adam I love." He predicted nobody would compare it to a Broadway this time: "You're a rock star tonight." Fourth wheel Kara DioGuardi said, "You're more than a rock star; you're a rock God." She advised him to do a record that was "classic rock from the '70s, glam rock from the '80s, Nine Inch Nails (um... three different musical styles, dear). She was also trying to look like a rocker, wearing a black leather jacket with studs. Nice judge Paula Abdul said the band sounds great. She said, of Adam, "You're a whole lotta perfect." Tough judge Simon Cowell had one criticism: "the performance a little understated." He was teasing, of course. He said that while it could have been a disaster to take on one of the best-known rock songs of all time, this was one of his favorites. "Nobody can top that now," he said.
Next up was Allison Iraheta, who revealed in an interview with Ryan that she'd her song redone by the woman who does Adam's hair. That hair stylist put some darker streaks in it and gave it more of an uneven look, as well as adding some extensions. Fab. She did "Cry Baby" by Janis Joplin. Slash said she's got a natural voice for it and that she needs to "get past the fear" and "bring it full on." She work a black silk top with dark jeans and black stiletto boots. This is one of my favorite songs, and if you heard me complaining earlier this season about somebody massacring this song during auditions, Allison did it the way she should. She still made it her own, showing some real emotion.
Randy said "You can sing your face off," but he "did not love the song choice." Kara said that "Janis is the right choice for you" but suggested that "Piece of My Heart" would have been better. She asked Allison, "Were you nervous?" To which Allison replied, "I'm always nervous." But Kara said, "You transform when you go on that stage, become larger than life." Paula called her downright fearless and said that "If they ever do a biopic on Janis Joplin, you've got the role." Allison just kind of laughed nervously at this. (Probably thinking, "So, I can play a rock star but not necessarily be one?") Simon observed that "the difference over eight weeks is staggering." He thought she had complete confidence and delivered a terrific vocal. But he said she was trying too hard to sound like the original He said he wouldn't have chosen that song but would have chosen the Queen song.
Allison said that it was a Jefferson Airplane song she'd considered but thought that was playing it safe. Perhaps realizing that her explanation could be confused for talking back, she joked, "You always say I don't talk enough, so maybe I should talk a lot."
Then Kris Allen and Danny Gokey did their duet: "Renegade" by Styx (Ryan introduced it as "the Styx"). They had decent harmony, but when he sang by himself, Kris was off pitch a bit. This was really not a great song for Kris. Danny did a little better, but it wasn't great for him, either. They should have done something with more blues favor. I noticed, near the end, that while Kris looked at Danny when they sang together, Danny didn't look at him while performing. They hugged afterwards.
Randy said he really liked the harmonies: "You guys compliment each other with that song." Kara complained that them singing "Renegade" "doesn't compute for me, because they're the guys that help women cross the street." She noted some pitchy moments but said together, they were "united and strong." Paula called it "powerful and compelling." Simon apparently hadn't expected to have to critique the duet and said he didn't know what to say. Finally, he said, "Who was better? Danny, you were better than Kris. How's that?" This made Danny frown and look at Kris twice, clearly uncomfortable, as Kris made an irritated face.
Then Kris did his solo song, "Come Together" by The Beatles. Slash advised him to pick up the live performance, meaning I guess, that he needed more energy. He dressed in a typical Kris outfit: button-down khaki shirt with dark blue shirt and jeans. This song was good for his voice and was kinda rocking. It was a strange choice, though, because of the nonsense lyrics. It might have been difficult for viewers to identify. Apparently, he'd originally picked "Revolution," but I don't think that would have been any better.
Randy said that, though Kris isn't a rock guy, he's found a way to still be himself. He loved his playing on the guitar and enjoyed the performance. Kara said this was "definitely the softer side of rock" and that "this was not great." She accused him of trying too hard. Paula said it was "kind of risky to do a Beatles song," but she liked his artistic delivery. She agreed with Slash, though, that he needed more energy. Simon said he actually didn't like it that much. He compared the performance to eating ice for lunch. "It will leave you with nothing to remember afterwards." He found it "quite a boring song, quite a safe performance."
Danny Gokey chose "Dream On" by Aerosmith. Slash called him naturally gifted and said it's important to get the scream at the end, apparently anticipating it would be a problem. Danny wore a purple shirt with a pinstripe vest, and as soon as he began it, I wasn't sure about this song choice for him. Adam maybe, but I thought he needed a song with a little blues inflection. He was flat on his first sustained note, and the rest of the song was just kind of limp (along with the weird "doo, doo, doos" he injected). But the scream at the end was just painful. I'm sorry, Danny, but you officially lost me.
Randy said it was all right and gave him "an A plus for a valiant effort." Kara said that he'd taken the swagger comment to heart but "took it a little too far." She would rather have seen him do "Crying" or "Crazy." But she commended him for taking chances. Paula, who by this point was falling out of her shirt, called it a "tricky genre for you." She proclaimed herself a huge fan but said this was "not my favorite." She also gave him "an A plus plus for going for it." Simon said "The last note was like watching a horror movie." He called the performance a little bit over the top and noted, "Where it worked with Adam, with you it didn't work so much." Still, he predicted Danny would be safe.
Danny commented that he didn't think it was as bad as they said it was, but conceded he might change his mind when he listened to it back. He said he'd been trying not to sing "a song in my safety zone." At this point, Ryan reminded the viewers Danny was the only contestant who's never been in the bottom three. This might soon change.
In the pimp spot were Adam and Allison with their duet, "Slow Ride" by Foghat. Allison kicked it off, with Adam joining in. Throughout the song, they seemed to be taking cues from each other, as well as actually singing to each other. That's the way you do it. They both also worked the audience. Their voices were perfect for this. It felt like a real concert. When they were done, they rushed together in an ecstatic hug, knowing they'd done well. You could hear Adam saying, "I love you baby" and Allison replying, "I know."
Randy: said, "You guys are two seasoned rock stars in the house." He said they should do a duet on their albums. Giving it the highest Randy praise, he said, "That was the bomb." Kara called them a "rock god" and "rock goddess." She said, "This is when a duet is right, pushing each other to be better." Adam interjected about Allison, "I love her." Paula said, "You two are a perfect blend, a perfect marriage (unlike us)," gesturing at Simon, "you're perfectly in synch with each other." Simon said that "In the battle of the duets, you win the show." He said it was completely different from the other one. To Adam, he said, "You may have given this one a chance of staying in the competition because of that."
Adam added, "She's like my little sister, kinda." Throughout the whole critique, he kept a comforting arm around her. So cute!
Kudos this night to Adam and Allison, the rock god and rock goddess.
Kris and Danny should be in the bottom two, and Danny SHOULD be going home. But if his fan base comes through, I'm thinking there will be some disappointed viewers saying good-bye to either Kris or Allison.
All video clips come from mjsbigblog.
If you're going to scream, make it musical!