American Idol -- Top 7: Judges Silenced

05/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


Aargh! My Slingbox has no audio so I finally break down and go online and discover that I got the bottom two right: it was Matt and Lil. But instead of Lil going home, it's Matt. An then he sings again and then Simon says he wasn't as good as the night before and he can't win the competition but they're going to save him anyway. Huh? The Save is supposed to be used to right a wrong, to stop America from sending a talent home too early. A Save would have been used to protect maybe Jennifer Hudson or Daughtry or someone like that who could have won the whole thing. It's not supposed to just delay the departure for a week or two of someone who wasn't going to win it anyway. It's supposed to be used for the week when America assumes someone is going through and doesn't bother to vote for them. Period. Every finalist has their fans but would there have been shock and dismay if Matt had gone home tonight? Of course not. Utterly pointless.

So tell me, how was Miley and how was Jennifer Hudson and how was Matt's sing-for-his-life moment and what do you think of his being Saved?

Idol had a strong night ratings-wise. According to Marc Berman of Mediaweek, Idol hit a 13.5 in the ratings and was of course #1 for the night and presumably the week. He suggested the show expand to 90 minutes so all the judges can speak, but of course FOX has virtually no sitcoms available unless it breaks up its Sunday night animated block and that ain't happening. Their only other half hour option? Cops. Berman also picks Anoop, Matt and Lil with Lil going home.

Go here to read Ken Levine's take on the show. He too says Lil is going home.

Go Here to read Entertainment Weekly's Michael Slezak give his spin. He thinks Matt and Lil will be the bottom two with Matt going home because there are only two women left.

And here is EW's on-the-scene coverage of the show, which is always fun, as well.

So who are your picks for the bottom three, the bottom two and who is going home?

Only American Idol would label Movie Theme night "historic" because they had decided to only let teams of two judges (rather than all four) comment on the performances in order to cut down on the time. Historic? No. Stupid? Yes. VERY stupid. Idol could cut down on the time in about a million places (video intros, chats with Ryan, a timer on the judges so Ryan jumps to the next one after 30 seconds, the intro of the judges, the walk down the staircase by Ryan, etc.) but simply not allowing half the judges to comment in any way shape or form on a performance was disastrous and ruined the flow of the show. Simon looked very unhappy, mouthing as if he had something to say at one point and generally looking displeased. As he should. Heck, I even missed hearing what Kara had to say.

Yes, as one reader pointed out, having a fourth judge made the padding of some of those two hour shows less noticeable. But even with the strange change, they still ran over last night. Try any of the suggestions above, but all four judges should comment in some way on every performance. The singing and the judging are what really matters.

Anyway, Little Steven was in the audience for Top 7 night (which counts as a sign of the Apocalypse to this hardcore Springsteen fan) and Quentin Tarantino was the guest star, offering what seemed to be a little coaching on the acting side of performing to the kids.

ALLISON IRAHETA -- Sang Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" from Armageddon and did her usual, cool professional thing. She made good use of the background singers but for a change I thought she oversang a little. However, she had a great final note, which is exactly the sort of Idol moment that fans of the show watch; they love it when you nail that big final moment and Allison certainly did that. Paula said she had the "same special sauce" as Adam Lambert and Simon said she could make it all the way to the finals. In a preemptive strike against Lil Rounds, he said Allison was the last best hope for the women, not exactly a huge endorsement since there are only two women left.

ANOOP DESAI -- Sang the first of two Bryan Adams songs, "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" form the dreadful movie Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. (For heaven's sake, watch the Errol Flynn Adventures of Robin Hood.) I've felt Anoop's suffered from having a sort of dicky, frat boyish personality coming across onscreen throughout the show (which of course may have absolutely no connection to what he's really like), but if he's good, he's good. Tonight I thought he was very good, by far the best he's ever been, in fact, with a lovely ending and great control throughout. Since I've gotta criticize, I'm sure I'm projecting when I felt like during the dramatic pause before the last notes that Anoop was into the spotlight more than the song. But that's just residue from him not coming across well on camera. Randy and Kara both gave positive but backhanded comments. Randy said Anoop sounded really good but seemed surprised by it. Kara said it was one of his best. I wonder what Simon thought? He looked VERY unhappy at this moment. (But not to hear: Simon is under contract for another season and still generally having fun.)

ADAM LAMBERT - Sang "Born To Be Wild" which appeared on the soundtrack to the landmark but not great flick Easy Rider. Suddenly, it's medallion night, with Adam meeting with Quentin and sporting a knit hat and a medallion. Soon, a bunch of the guys are sporting medallions. Did I fastforward past the moment when Quentin gave them as gifts or something? (I wasn't watching at home and had to be quick.) Adam just tore it up again tonight. I'm slowly getting won over; tonight was the first time I really saw him as a showman like Freddie Mercury rather than a showboat. He did the quiet moments great; now he's doing the big moments as well. When he came out in that leather jacket, I immediately thought of Grease, of course. But he stuck to the melody for a while and when he let loose with his melodramatic riffing, it was only after giving the song its due. I also liked how he laughed easily as it ended. Ignoring the visuals and just listening to the vocals, he sounded tremendous. And the roar of the audience was about 50 times greater than for anyone else. I was misled by the squeals for David Archuleta into thinking he was the frontrunner when it was apparently David Cook all along. But this season the crowd is roaring for his performance, not just because he's walked onstage. When the song ended, I wrote "just put it away." He does seem to be out of reach of the others. Paula said, "You dare to dance in the path of greatness." Simon said it was good but last week's was better. My main criticism was that his stomping around on stage was over the top in a bad way and distracted. Ryan joked, "You gotta come out of your shell" but in one of many moments tonight seemed especially jittery and amped up. Too much caffeine?

MATT GIRAUD -- Sang another Bryan Adams song, "When A Man Loves A Woman" from Don Juan De Marco, a charming oddball Johnny Depp film with Marlon Brando's last good performance. (Thank goodness no one sang the other Bryan Adams movie theme hit "All For Love" from The Three Musketeers. That's a bad song but I have to admit as overplayed as it was, I have a huge soft spot for this tune. Just a great, great melody.) And if Matt had just sung the melody, he might have scored highly. But as soon as Matt went for the falsetto he lost the melody. He got especially frantic towards the end with lots of unnecessary flourishes. I agreed 100% with Randy and Kara who both said he started off strong and then got lost and shouldn't have done all that Justin Timberlake riffing. While Kara is talking, Simon mouths as if he's gonna start saying something. But seriously, not hearing from him is like watching Happy Days without the Fonz or Family Ties on an episode that focuses on someone other than Alex. It's just no fun. Ryan Seacrest remains seriously wound up and ready for fun tonight.

DANNY GOKEY -- Sang the dreadful choice of "Endless Love." (Train wreck of a movie but a great, great novel you should read immediately. Seriously.) It's a good single, but still seems overplayed even though it's been decades since the song came out. Plus it's a draggy ballad helped immensely by being a duet. You know there's trouble when Danny begins the song by being spied through the strings of a harp. It's very boring at first and when Danny hits the "my" in "My first love" he goes off-key quite a bit. He regains some mojo as usual when he gets all soulful halfway through and seemed to be remembering a bit of stage direction on the last line when he started looking up to the heavens. It just didn't seem natural. Simon said he was bored and rightly so. This is the biggest test yet for Danny's fanbase. He should be in the bottom three but the song is so familiar and his nice guy demeanor might keep him safe.

KRIS ALLEN -- In the boldest move of the night (and one that makes me like him even more), Kris sang the brilliant, Oscar-winning song "Falling Slowly" from the delightful film Once. I wouldn't quite call it obscure, as Kara did, but it is certainly far less well known than any of the others and that can be risky. Kris would have to nail it and he didn't. This is an extremely tricky song to sing and -- like "Endless Love" -- much of the tension and release comes from the two voices that sort of dueted on it. Here Kris is front and center and he does a good job -- just not quite good enough to sell a quiet, elusive gem that most viewers had probably never heard before. But he does have a great last note, just lovely. Randy is not down at all but Kara says it was a brave choice and she liked it. I'm very worried for him.

LIL ROUNDS --- Sang Bette Midler's "The Rose," a really good choice that she planned to give a gospel spin. Quentin told her to be just as committed to the strsightforward first half as the gospel-ish second half. Good advice. Better advice would have been to make it rousing and gospel-ish from the get-go. The gospel spin works great but the first half is a little dull. It feels more like a performance someone would have delivered for the Top 11 or Top 10 round, when people are still defining themselves. it's better perhaps than the last few weeks but too little too late. Paula namechecks Amanda McBroom and doesn't even offer a comment, which is pretty damning. Simon drops the hammer.

It doesn't help that Vote The Worst has dubbed Lil as the weakest singer. Dial Idol has Danny as the only safe Idol this week, based on how many busy signals they got when dialing automatically.

My pick for the bottom three is (gulp) Kris along with Matt and Lil. Matt and Lil will be in the bottom two and Lil is going home. That would leave one woman and probably keep Allison safe till the top three. Danny should be in the bottom three and intellectually I'm worried that Kris will be in the bottom two and even go home, but I'm banking on the fact that he's never even been in the bottom three yet.

Come back during the day for rating updates and links to other reviews. And come back Thursday for my recap of the results show on this post.