Idol Thoughts — 03.31.09

So let me try and understand this. It’s iTunes Week on American Idol. And apparently, you can pick any song you want. “As long as it was a popular download.” And your choice is, “Turn Your Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley? Yes, Megan Joy, we’re throwing our Nerf Balls at you on the TV. Remember, the theme is ANY song. Not “Reggae Songs Nobody Knows.”

Song choice. Song choice. Song choice! It’s the Golden Rule on Idol.

But dumping on Megan’s become easy sport. So who else failed the Golden Rule. Lil Rounds. “I Surrender” by Celine Dion? I don’t know it. And I make a point of trying have at least some familiarity with every song out there. Lil, is that how you view yourself as an artist? Will “I Surrender” be on your first album? Oh? No, it won’t? Then WHY would you choose it when you can pick ANYTHING? I’m just saying. And I have a quibble with my fave, Adam Lambert, about his song choice. But it’s a different objection. Because from what we’re seeing, Adam can LITERALLY sing anything and make it “Adam” and entertaining. So why not something a little less “novelty” than “Play That Funky Music”? Adam should start shooting for songs that people will download and still be listening to a year from now. Like last week’s, “Tracks Of My Tears,” an iPod keeper.

As for the performances last night, here are a few notes:

Anoop Desai: “Caught Up” by Usher. A serviceable version. Looked like he was trying too hard (the opposite of “effortless”). Needs to find “a look.” Anoop looks like the guy who sold me this computer at Best Buy. Doesn’t take criticism well. Yeah, your fans might save you… this week. But will you improve is the question.

Megan Joy: “Turn Your Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley. It’s becoming obvious that “off-key” is her default position. Bob Marley not “Jammin'” in his grave! Judges railroaded Megan into this competition, then proped her up when it was apparent she sucked. That all ends tonight. Goodbye.

Danny Gokey: “What Hurts The Most” by Rascal Flatts. Great song. Good singer. Good performance. But not great. Should’ve been a home run. Wasn’t. Danny’s awesome with the big notes, but less skillful on the quieter parts of songs. His phrasing needs improvement on these quieter sections if he truly wants to be a great interpreter of songs. More nuance. Yes, I’m sayin’ some stuff about one of your faves. Got a problem with that?

Allison Iraheta: “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. The second I heard she was doing this song in the video piece before she sang, I was convinced this would be the performance of the night. Well. The first half of her performance lived up to that. Once the music kicked it up a notch, she lost it. So I was surprised–because that’s normally what she does so well. Great promise as a future recording artist. But sub-par (for her) last night.

Scott MacIntyre: “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel. The surprise of the night. I’ve been less-than-generous to Scott in the past. Brilliant song choice. He “got it” when they said pick “anything”–and knew exactly the song that’d work for him. And while the “new hair” might not be 100% where it needs to be, I appreciate the (somebody’s) effort. Even so, Scott’s gonna need to step it up if he wants to stick around.

Matt Giraud: “You Found Me” by The Fray. A disappointment. He tried a different arrangement on the song, and I found it distracting. Especially the beginning–seems he got off on the wrong foot and was trying to recover the rest of the way. Matt has a great voice, but lacks confidence. What he needs to do is become more clear to himself what he’s all about musically.

Lil Rounds: “I Surrender” by Celine Dion. I liked this performance better last night than I do this morning. In the moment, I got caught up in the last part of the song where she was belting it out big and soulful. I watched it a second time, and realized a couple things: some flat notes, and my sense that she should’ve picked another song. This is a couple/few weeks in a row that Lil hasn’t lived up to the high expectations on her.

Adam Lambert: “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry. It was Adam. Wild. Fun. Over-the-top. Indulgent. And I liked it.

Kris Allen: “Ain’t No Suinshine” by Bill Withers. Great job. Something about Kris that’s been true from day one is that he KNOWS who he is as an artist. That gives Kris the comfort to be himself that Matt Giraud is missing at the moment.

Top three: Kris Allen, Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey

Bottom three: Anoop Desai, Megan Joy, Lil Rounds (yes, I’m trying to predict “the shocker”)

Going home: Megan Joy

Greg Valentine
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