Idol Thoughts — 04.28.09

I’m not sure what Frank Sinatra would make of Adam Lambert. Or maybe I know EXACTLY what he’d think. I say they have more in common than Ol’ Blue Eyes would want to admit. The fact is they both bring swagger to their worlds of refinement. There’s never been an American Idol contestant like Adam, so completely confident and comfortable to do his own thing. Adam shakes up the Idol formula.

The Rat Pack also shook things up in their day. They were more than crooners. They were “rock stars.” They were “Diddys.” Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were singers by trade, actors when they felt like it, even comedians when it suited them. In other words, entertainers. They were also rebels in who they associated with and the way they lived their lives.

So it was “Standards of the Rat Pack Era” Night on American Idol. And Jamie Foxx mentored the finalists. It was an insipred choice! Foxx broke through and connected with the finalists in a way we haven’t seen recently. How many times have we seen the contestants go glassy-eyed while the mentor’s working with them? That didn’t happen last night.

Now, just because it was “Rat Pack Week” didn’t mean all Rat Packers would be represented equally. Just like it was in life, most of the attention went to Frank Sinatra, with the first four songs performed last night being ones largely known for their Sinatra recordings.

KRIS ALLEN, “The Way You Look Tonight” – Kris opened the night strong. He showed he could ballad AND swing with this arrangement. This was a huge performance for Kris. Maybe a little more Dean Martin than Frank Sinatra. But Kris raised his own bar. I’m still trying to figure out what Simon’s criticism was when he said it was a “wet” performance. I have to assume that Simon’s mission last night was to motivate by being contrary.

ALLISON IRAHETA, “Someone To Watch Over Me” – Great song choice for her. Allsion brought a raspy tenderness to this one that went down like grape soda for the ears. The only thing for me that prevented this from being one of the night’s best was her phrasing. I don’t think Allison’s phrasing (and thus, the ability to interpret and bring meaning to these difficult songs) was as advanced as the other finalists.

MATT GIRAUD, “My Funny Valentine” – It’s a song I always like to hear, lol. Go figure. So I have a vested interest in it being sung well. Two things about Matt were very apparent last night. He loves jazz and he’s schooled in jazz. But hey, I love money and took a business class. That doesn’t make me a millionaire! For my money, Matt tried to do too much with this. And while he was showing off his chops, he started to swerve all over the place and got pitchy. So yes, it was the performance that felt the most authentic. It was also the one I don’t want to hear again.

DANNY GOKEY, “Come Rain Or Come Shine” – I think Danny benefited the most from Jamie Foxx’s advice. Something Jamie said connected with Danny, and Danny connected with the audience on a whole new level. Danny was in-control, let the song simmer then boil, and told the story with his eyes as much as his voice. It was Danny’s best job yet of “selling the song.” A powerhouse performance. One that I watched again this morning and upgraded (slightly) in my rankings.

ADAM LAMBERT, “Feeling Good” – Leave it to the guy that always does something different to be the one that does something other than a Frank Sinatra song. Sammy Davis Jr. is the Rat Packer that recorded “Feeling Good.” Nevertheless, the version we watched last night is more based on a remake by the alternative band, Muse. Because it was Adam’s voice, this was the only song last night that felt contemporary. Was it showy almost to the point of cabaret? Yeah, a little bit. But there’s something transcendant about anything Adam sings. Amazing last note ranks amoung the greatest notes hit on Idol ever. Downgraded (slightly) after re-watching this morning.

Last night’s performances ranked:

1 – Danny Gokey (tie)
1 – Adam Lambert (tie)
3 – Kris Allen
4 – Allison Iraheta
5 – Matt Giraud

Bottom Two tonight: Matt, Allison

Going home: Matt

That’s what I think. You?

Greg Valentine
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