RESULTS SHOW UPDATE:
Goodbye to Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai. I probably got the bottom four right, but I picked Lil and Matt and it was Lil and Anoop who went home. Both seemed more relaxed and sang better once the ride was over for them. Some people just don't thrive on competition. (Me, I hate to lose at anything and took glee in beating a 12 year old kid in chess just yesterday.)
45 million votes were cast after a show that the Hollywood Reporter said was the lowest rated Tuesday Idol since 2002. Paula did the choreography for the group sing-along, which was really a group dance-along since they were lip-syncing. Then Lil Rounds was quickly put out of her misery, which was nice in a way since it seemed a foregone conclusion.
This was followed by a string of disco stars performing their biggest hits -- a shaky Freda Payne delivered her one and only Top 10 hit "Band Of Gold," Thelma Houston (by far the best singer of the trio) did her one and only Top 40 hit "Don't Leave Me This Way" (which hit #1 in 1976), and KC of KC & The Sunshine Band did the first of his five #1 hits, "Get Down Tonight." It doesn't seem possible that Donna Summer was too busy to show up, but her non-appearance surprised me more than Allison being in the bottom three. That was exactly what we discovered next, followed by David Archuleta (who looks like Kris Allen's kid brother) giving a flat and uninspired rendition of his catchy single "Touch My Hand" and then Anoop went home. This means Kris and Danny and Adam (who got delirious screams) have yet to face being in the bottom three and one of them will finally show vulnerability for the first time. Which one will it be?
UPDATE: American Idol was the top show of the night, of course. Marc Berman of Mediaweek said the show scored a healthy 13.4 rating -- which means Simon's threat to leave when the ratings slow down is fairly toothless for the next few years. Berman also picks Lil and Matt to go home.
Ken Levine weighs in here and says Lil is a lock to go home. (His funniest comment: comparing Adam's hair to Johnny Bravo.) You can get the full Entertainment Weekly recap from Michael Slezak here (Michael expects Lil and Matt to go home but wouldn't be surprised by Anoop OR Danny Gokey getting the shaft) and the behind the scenes lowdown here. Come back tonight to this post for a results show recap.
ORIGINAL POST ABOUT TUESDAY'S DISCO NIGHT:
The show began briskly with the producers finally deciding they didn't need to pad the Top 7 performances and judge critiques with video intros and other nonsense every single time. So let's follow suit.
LIL ROUNDS -- Sang Chaka Khan's first hit as a solo artist, "I'm Every Woman," which hit #21 back in 1978 courtesy of songwriters Ashford & Simpson. It's a great soulful tune but doesn't exactly have a great melody. You have to be deeply funky to pull it off. Lil looks fun in a black, tight-fitting bodysuit of sorts but she's rough on the chorus and a bit overwhelmed by the backup singers. I wondered if she was miked properly but Paula later said her voice was shot the day before. That's a bummer but keeping your voice in shape is one of the challenges of the show (and of being a pop singer). It was sort of adequate but forgettable and -- at best -- too little, too late. The judges are all quite negative.
KRIS ALLEN -- Sang Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money," which was a massive hit in 1983 (it stayed at #3 for three weeks) and seemed like the latest in a string of hits Summer had enjoyed since breaking out with "Love To Love You Baby" in 1975. But in fact she'd have only one more Top 20 hit in 1989 and after that nothing. Now is it just me or does Kris already seem like a star? Seriously, he just has the quiet confidence of someone who belongs in the spotlight. I won't be surprised if Kris wins it all and Adam proves more commercially successful or if the exact opposite happens. Everyone think Adam is a lock but everyone thought David Archuleta was a lock as well. Kris is definitely the David Cook of this season: he pulls out one terrific arrangement after another and constantly surprises. His acoustic, Latin-flavored spin on "She Works Hard For The Money" is just great and his vocals are spot-on. This isn't someone hoping to be a star. He's the real deal with talent to spare, like a shorter John Mayer. All the judges praise him with Paula correctly saying he gave the song a Santana vibe. Watch Santana provide the guitar solo on Kris's debut album. Of course, Paula also complimented Kris on digging into a tune by a female artist with a crazy reference to Kris shopping in the women's store that gave Simon great delight in mocking and had Kris doing one amused, awkward take after another. Thank goodness Paula said this with Kris and not Adam or it would have been "controversial."
DANNY GOKEY -- Sang Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," one of four straight gold records for the band back in the late 70s (the others were their wonderfully funky "Got To Get You Into My Life" Beatles cover, "Boogie Wonderland" and "After The Love Has Gone"). The group had eight gold records in all and you really need to own at least their greatest hits set. Gokey really needed this, a fun upbeat number to break him out of his rut. And it was...adequate. Fun and straightforward, sure. But not interesting or exciting. Randy, Kara and Paula were all polite and Paula said his voice was super-sexy but Kara adroitly worried it might not be remembered. Simon was blunter and simply said it wasn't special. I do like them sticking with the Randy to Kara to Paula order for the judges. Ending with Simon just feels right.
ALLISON IRAHETA -- Sang Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff," her first platinum hit single (it hit #1 for three weeks) and just one in a string of inescapable hits in the late Seventies when Summer was as big a presence on the radio as you can ever be. Allison started off slow (perched on a red staircase), then turned up the vocals and had a great ending complete with a false stop that had the crowd bursting into applause before she delivered one final power note, in classic Idol fashion. The second really strong performance of the night. Randy offered the faint praise of saying Allison was "one of the best singers" but saying he didn't like the arrangement. Everyone else liked her too, with Simon starting to get on board the Allison bandwagon but calling her brilliant. Obviously, she'll make it to the final three since she's gonna be the only remaining girl. She deserves it.
ADAM LAMBERT -- Sang "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman who rose to fame via Jesus Christ Superstar and had her only #1 hit with this tune from Saturday Night Fever, a soundtrack which sold 15 million copies and produced four more #1 hits. No wonder people hated disco -- it was so damn popular even fans got sick of it. I seem to be slowly falling under the influence of Lambert, who gains in confidence (he always had stage craft, of course) week by week. It's a nice, slow version and the close-up of Paula melting away was priceless. Adam did his usual wailing in the middle but somehow made it seem relatively restrained and ended on a lovely soft note. Kara said it was great and then said "I don't know what else to say" and then, unfortunately, nattered on. I'm sure it would take me time to get good at judging as well, but when in doubt, keep it short. Simon was very funny in saying he would have bet $10,000 Adam would sing Donna Summer. Clearly, Adam is nothing if not distinctive. He could shock everyone by coming in second but then turning into the most commercially viable artist a la Clay Aiken and Chris Daughtry (who didn't even make the finals, of course). This season might very well be a high water mark for uncovering acts who will have serious pop careers.
MATT GIRAUD -- Sang "Stayin' Alive," one of the three #1 hits the Bee Gees alone delivered on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. It was a witty choice, but nothing else about the performance showed any flair. Matt stuck to his faux Justin Timberlake look and also stuck very closely to the original version, except for a baaad final note. Before that his vocals were ok but his look really bothered me: it just seemed like dress-up to me, not a real artist hoping to make a statement. The first three judges were way too polite but Simon dropped the hammer.
ANOOP DESAI -- Sang yet another Donna Summer tune, the #2 hit "Dim All The Lights." Like Matt, Anoop seems to have adopted one of his own looks as a uniform: the tie, the vest or sweater and jacket for the casual preppy look. He too seems to be on the stage pretending to be a pop star. If your buddy got up at a bar and sang like him, you'd clap him on the back and say it was awesome. But as an original artist, he was dull and flat with a terrible final note that even he seemed ashamed about. Not awful (his vocals were fine) but thoroughly unexciting. Again, the first three judges were way too polite and then Simon dropped the hammer.
They'll probably have two bottom twos on Wednesday, with one person going home each time. My bottom three would be Lil and Matt and Anoop. If there are four people paired off, I'll say Lil and Anoop and Allison and Matt. And Lil and Matt will go home.
Go here to read about Paula's future on the show. Go here to check out Entertainment Weekly's Michael Slezak and his take on the show. Dial Idol is pretty worthless lately for predicting who is going home: it says EVERYONE is in danger of going home because it's just too close to call. (Lil has the second-highest vote total? I don't think so.) And Vote For The Worst remains convinced Lil will be going home. Come back to this post tomorrow: I'll update with ratings info and other links and then comment on the results show.
So which two singers do you think are going home?