There can only be one explanation for the unmitigated praise that the American Idol judges bestowed on Adam and Danny last night: crack. Well, I suppose there’s a second explanation: the music must just sound different live. Danny and Adam, who admittedly have very powerful voices, must translate stupendously well in person because on TV, I just didn’t get all the adoration spewed their way. Similarly, I didn’t necessarily understand the lack of enthusiasm directed at Kris Allen (at least his first song). There’s some sort of topsy-turvy thing going on that makes crappy music sound good to them and vice versa. Whatever it is, I’m here to pipe in and say that no, Danny and Adam were not God’s gifts to music Tuesday night. In fact, they were rather ordinary. THERE. I said it.
First, let me get three things out of the way. A) I am a Danny hater. I admit that I have bias against him and his smug attitude and his predilection for adult contemporary interpretations that may never find a mainstream audience. B) I’m a light Adam hater, but truth is that he’s impressed me with his stage presence and attitude and technical ability enough that I must concede that he is very talented. As such, I’ve adopted the stance that he’s very good, just not my cup of tea. I don’t have a bias against him necessarily, but I do have a bias against the unchecked hype that flows his way. C) I like Kris the most. It’s not that he’s so amazing, but he’s very good, and while his vocal abilities may not be the strongest, he has the most commercial sound, and I can imagine him having a hit on the radio starting tomorrow.
So these are my biases.
That being said, I feel like I give credit where credit is due Ã¢â‚¬â€Ã‚Â and I’ve praised both Adam and Danny in the past, despite not loving them. Tonight, however, I truly felt like the two of them received unwarranted praise Ã¢â‚¬â€Ã‚Â especially Danny who seems to have convinced the judges that he’s wearing the emperors new clothes (did I just force that metaphor? It felt a little forced).
You see, Danny definitely has a husky, soulful voice. His only problem is that while he has husk, he has no soul. I mean, not LITERALLY no soul (wouldn’t want to piss off his congregation). What I’m saying is that he brings nothing emotionally exciting or noteworthy to the table. In his first tune, an obscure Terrence Trent D’Arby song selected by Paula (love the artist choice, but c’mon. Give us at least “Wishing Well!”), Danny danced around the stage in an unsettling way and forced the notes out with the subtlety of a jackhammer. He’s all power and nothing else, and as such, the song was just… forgettable. Plus, the arrangement was just stupid. You know, Kris got some flack about his arrangement of “Apologize” (more on that later), but at least it sounded current and radio-friendly. Gokey was just razzmatazz and bounciness Ã¢â‚¬â€Ã‚Â something I’d expect to see on a cruise ship, not Seacrest’s radio show. And yet, the judges barely said a word about it. Simon faulted the sax solo, but in general, the judges really praised Danny and his singing. Thankfully, there were some negative remarks Ã¢â‚¬â€Ã‚Â Kara and Simon did comment that it was a tad unmemorable (AMEN), and they both dissed his dancing, which was amusing since Simon literally spent twenty seconds complaining that this wasn’t a dancing show before he too critiqued the aforementioned footwork. Still, I feared the panel was giving Gokey way more credit than he deserved.
Later in the show, they all but jerked him off after he took on Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful.” This was truly more of the offensive situation because while the performance may have seemed awesome in person, at home it was a complete and utter snoozefest. It felt like dentist music (no disrespect to dentists). The arrangement was slow, old-fashioned, and shockingly boring. As usual, Danny cranked it up at the end, screaming to the heavens with the sort of gusto that might cause ten hernias to pop out of his sides. And as usual, the judges totally fell for it. Kara called it “unbelievable,” which in and of itself was unbelievable, and Simon labeled the performance a vocal master class (this despite Danny’s warbly voice in the first half of the song). He must really be fantastic live because both IndianJones and I were not feelin’ it, dawg. I don’t think this is my bias speaking. It was boring. I defy anyone to listen back to the performance and first imagine it on the radio in your car and then imagine it at a dentist office. Which environment seems more fitting? I suppose there’s nothing wrong with electing an Easy Listening Idol, but didn’t we do that with Taylor Hicks already?
As for Adam, I just didn’t think he was anything special tonight. His performance of “One” by U2 was a bit blah for me. Usually I like it when he slows things down, but this time, the quiet first half of the song sounded derivative of Adam’s previous slow arrangements. With a solitary, contemplative piano backing Adam, I couldn’t help but feel a tad bit manipulated by this return to “Mad World” territory. Adam did break out of the doldrums as the beat kicked in during the second half of the song, but that didn’t make things much better. He changed the melody too much, and it all sounded kind of generic. Adam tried to inject some life into the tune by letting out his trademark squeals, but I didn’t feel the passion (despite what his histrionic face was attempting to sell me). Once again though, the judges loved it. Only Randy made a passing negative remark about the arrangement, but the rest of them simply gushed. Truth was it was good, but not as good as it should have been for this stage of the competition. Five weeks ago? It would have been an eye-opener.
Same goes for Adam’s second song, “Crying” by Aerosmith. When he announced he’d be taking on Steven Tyler, I think everyone quietly chuckled to themselves. Gokey tried to step into Lambert territory last week with a phenomenally bad “Dream On” rendition. Now Adam was ready to show us all how it’s really done. I admit that a part of me was hoping he’d sing “Dream On” too. It would be such a dick move, but so great.
Nevertheless, Adam sang “Crying,” (or is it “Cryin'”?), and he again was fine, but nothing special. Actually, I’m gonna say that he was less than fine because the entire second half of the song was totally over the top. And not in a “Oh, but it’s Adam Lambert” kind of way. I mean, he sounded like a cat getting its tail repeatedly stepped on. There’s musical squealing, and then there’s anal-violation screaming, and this sounded like the latter. Granted, he did hit his notes (unlike Gokey last week), but Adam really went overboard. He looked like he was constantly on the verge of barfing.
I suppose that’s what you get with Adam, and honestly, my larger problem with his second performance was that it kind of lacked anything special. There wasn’t a whole lot of rock swagger, and honestly, the song itself isn’t terribly melodic. I can’t put my finger on it, but I simply thought Adam was just okay tonight (even IndianJones agreed, and he’s an Adam fan).
But of course, the judges thought he was fantastic. Simon literally urged people to vote for him. I don’t know. I’d prefer Adam in the finals over Gokey Ã¢â‚¬â€ that’s for sure Ã¢â‚¬â€Ã‚Â but people need to calm down.
As for Kris, I actually really liked his cover of OneRepublic’s “Apologize.” I didn’t mind that he maintained the original arrangement, mostly because I like that arrangement and even more importantly because it demonstrated how current and radio-friendly Kris’s style is. I was fairly upset when the judges gave Kris middling marks, calling him “competent” at best, and Paula criticizing a “bum note” was kind of bullshit compared to her lack of criticism of last week’s Gokey slaughtering (must I point you to the video again? Okay, I will. Check it out here). I genuinely thought Kris sounded great, even if his voice doesn’t have the same range as his competitors. Furthermore, he brought emotion to the song in a way that Gokey couldn’t all night.
Kris also spurred on a rather vicious tiff between Simon and Kara after the latter judge complained that he hadn’t been creative enough with the arrangement. Simon, of all people, attacked Kara for making a baseless accusation, and she turned on her anti-Bikini Girl, head-swiveling bitch mode (which I love) and bickered with him, ultimately covering his mouth with her hands and later doing a very bizarre and incomprehensible British accent. It made no sense.
Anyway, say what you will about Kris’s first song, his second performance was by far the best of the night. He covered Kanye’s “Heartless,” and like Randy later said, I liked it better than the original (of course, it helps that I don’t like the original at all). Still, I heard the Fray’s version last week, and I agree also that this was better than The Fray’s. Kris was totally in his element, he sounded great, he did something original, and basically, he put out something that again could totally be heard and do well on the radio. Thankfully, he received the sort of praise he deserved; although, I must admit that compared to the high praise that the other two always get, it did feel a bit tempered (but there, I concede, my bias may be kicking in). Honestly, I truly felt that Kris was the best of the night, and I can only hope his army of tween girls will send him onto the next round. Might be difficult. It’s hard to deny the Heartland that is Danny’s fan base…
As for the rest of the show, I don’t remember much. The Kardashians were in attendance tonight, as was Audrina Patridge and some other celebs who I can’t seem to remember at the moment. There was also a dumb segment about Carrie Underwood in Africa. I happily fast forwarded over that. Anything else? Don’t remember. Maybe you do. What were your thoughts on the show? Who do you want to see in the finals? What song was best? What was worst? And who else was distracted by the big stain on Simon’s shirt? (I think it came from Paula’s cheek)