So here are my rankings for the night, keeping personal favorites aside (otherwise I fear Alexis and Allison would always top my list)…
Kris Allen—“To Make You Feel My Love.” One of 3 original song choices of the night…and damn, Kris. Damn. His voice was just perfect and his delivery was filled with pure emotion. Except for that nervous tapping leg (which, lucky for Kris, the camera cut out mostly), this was a top-notch performance. He just proved himself a genuine threat in this little horse race.
Danny Gokey—“Jesus Take The Wheel.” Carrie’s vocals are no doubt better, but Danny certainly injected this song with the conviction it deserves. Even his biggest haters must admit he is an ideal Idol contestant in terms of his performance power. But I have no idea how he’s going to translate his sappy, Lite FM song choices on Idol into an actual singing career—I mean, “I Hope You Dance,” “Hero,” and “Jesus Take The Wheel”—should we expect to see him on Vh1’s next installment of Divas Live?
Anoop Desai—“You Were Always On My Mind.” Fantasia killed this one, but Anoop definitely came close. This was an honest and powerful performance—definitely his best so far. He needs to watch some of the runs because he tends to steer off-course, but overall Anoop showed he can sing and fully redeemed himself.
Matt Giraud—“So Small.” I don’t think Matt did a “more emotional, heartfelt” version than Carrie, but he did just fine (he really needs to kill the entitled attitude, doesn’t he? It’s highly unlikable). I’m glad he kept the band’s involvement to a minimum, and I do think this is the first time Matt pulled his performance together entirely. Not really worthy of the show-closer (see the above three males for a better choice), but still great. Welcome to the tour, Mr. Justin Buble!
Alexis Grace—“Jolene.” Alexis blew Brooke White’s manic version out of the water, and I totally ate this up. I thought it was emotional, heartfelt and powerfully delivered. I’m an unabashed Alexis fan, so perhaps that’s why I thought she was shortchanged (yet again) by the judges. Is she this year’s Syesha Mercado, destined to be the continual whipping post for the judges? Alexis was showing a more subdued side people, and I say she did it well. And do the judges just want her to strip on stage? How much dirtier can she get, and then how long will it take before they accuse her of being predictable?
Allison Iraheta—“Blame It On Your Heart.” Allison proved she can sing any genre on this diddy, and kudos for originality in this week of repeats. Sure, this song wasn’t perfectly suited to her style (a little bit too clean-cut), nor was it her best performance (the range was a little too low). But rock solid, like the judges said. Plus she has a fumbling likability that will serve her well, quite like one Ms. Kelly Clarkson. I fear for her safety this week, however, which scares the hell out of me!
Adam Lambert—“Ring Of Fire.” Microphone stroking and shirt lifting? Really, Adam, is that necessary? Well perhaps it is…he’s so consistently over the top, I can’t really fault him for it. But “confused” is the perfect word for my feelings on Adam—he’s the first Idol contestant to totally stump me. I honestly cannot make up my mind about the ever-entertaining Adam—do I love his voice or hate it? I really don’t know. Bottom line is, we’ve never seen (or heard) anything like him on Idol’s stage, and that’s a good (not to mention difficult) thing to do.
Lil Rounds—“Independence Day.” Carrie Underwood eviscerated you on this one Lil, sorry. But I must say for the first time I was somewhat excited by her—maybe it was because she wasn’t an R&B carbon copy. That being said, she still should have made the song her own in some way, like many other contestants. Also, Lil needs to stop presenting herself with all the genuineness of a pageant queen—what’s with that forced laugh? And I don’t like her signature mic pullaway on the last note. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lil in the bottom 3, if only because this was a standout night, and Lil falls firmly mid-pack.
Megan Joy—“Walking After Midnight.” The good news: Megan decimated Kellie Pickler’s take. The bad news: I can’t seem to care. Granted, this was her most promising showing yet, but still not enough to win me over. She made it into the top 12 by the power of her vagina and will make it onto the tour on the wings of influenza. But I relent, her unique style is starting to take on some depth…despite the bizarre mid-season name change. And stop that hip swivel, damn it!!
Scott MacIntyre—“Wild Angels.” You beat Carmen Rasmusen, Scott, but that’s not really saying much, now is it? His hair has improved quite a bit, but has his voice? The judges are asking for power notes from him, but I really don’t think he has it in him. He probably won’t go home just yet, but I don’t see his one-trick-pony act lasting past the next few weeks.
Michael Sarver—“Ain’t Goin’ Down Till The Sun Comes Up.” Refer to Latoya London, Michael, and bow your head in shame. He was monotone and breathless, and sure he “had fun,” but what about the rest of us? Michael certainly deserves to go, but I suppose we’ll see…
As for predictions, I’d obviously say Michael is getting the boot. I also think Lil and Alexis will be rounding out the bottom three, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scott or Allison (blasphemy!) down there either. I do think my A-Team is safe though, and if not, surely the Judge’s Save will come into play, right?