Come on now, friends, you didn't think I'd let something like a death in the family keep me from my weekly Idol ramblings, now did you? Of course not!
Before I start, I do want to thank everyone who has been so kind and supportive through the past several days. Just as people say that they don't know what to say to me, I don't know what to say either. I don't know that it has quite sunk in yet, and I know there are tough days ahead, but I know that I will make it through those tough days with the support system I have in my life.
Okay, now let's get down to the Idol!
I entered tonight's episode filled with a lingering bitterness. My girl Allison was sent packing last week. There was a time when such a move would have caused me to throw my remote across the room and declare, "I'm done!" After all, that's exactly what I did when Melinda Doolittle got the boot. I boycotted Idol for nearly a year -- which did spare me from what I understand was the nightmare that was "This Is My Now" but also did not allow me to really witness the transformation of David Cook into a true star (or bask in the glory awfulness that was Amanda Overmeyer -- oh, how I would have loved to mock her!!). I've come to realize that, well, I just can't quit Idol, as much as I sometimes might wish I could. It is my Ennis.
So we have three men standing -- Danny, Kris, and Adam. Going into tonight, Kris was the definite underdog. Who am I kidding -- he still is after tonight's performances. The judges just will not let go of their predetermined finale pairing of Danny and Adam even if Danny has only rarely proven himself worthy of that reserved spot. While Danny didn't do anything nearly as heinous as last week's "Dream On" (the final note haunts my dreams!), he also didn't really do anything that said, "Star!"
Tonight, each performer got to sing twice (the show has become so bloated with critiques and who knows what that we're getting fewer and fewer actual performances -- this used to be a 9-song night rather than a 6-song night). I'll take a look at each singer rather than going song-by-song.
1. Danny Gokey: For his first song, Paula chose for him to sing "Dance Little Sister" by Terrence Trent D'Arby. (Anyone else remember that guy? Somehow it seems appropriate to saddle the show's biggest ego with a song by a guy who basically destroyed his career by claiming to be bigger than the Beatles.) This was an interesting song that forced Danny out of his usual ballad safety spot, but it also subjected millions of helpless Americans to more of Danny's hideous dancing. It was an okay performance, but Danny just exudes such an aura of douchery to me that I can't get into his performances. (Maybe I need to stop looking at him and just listening the way I do with Adam!) I thought his second performance was slightly better. He selected "You Are So Beautiful." Yes, he chose more of a ballad, but he did play around a little with the arrangement and I did like the hint of gospel he brought to the song, but I just can't help feeling that Danny is not the right choice for the finals. A lot of that feeling stems from the fact that I just don't think he's a bankable, marketable artist. I would not buy his record, and it's not because I don't buy albums by douchebags. (I own Sting CDs!) I just don't see where he fits into the current state of music outside of maybe getting some play on adult contemporary stations -- and is that really where Idol wants to be? They had a blue-eyed soul artist in Taylor Hicks, and we all see how well that turned out. Of course, perhaps there's a touring company of Grease in need of some star power. Someone get them Gokey's number!
2. Kris Allen: Randy and Kara worked together to pick "Apologize" for Kris. Wow -- it took TWO PEOPLE to come up with that pretty uninspired choice. Kris commited the apparent cardinal sin of not really changing up the arrangement, choosing to sit at the piano and sing the song relatively straight. I'll agree with the judges that it was competent if not extraordinary, but I also agree with Simon for taking Randy and Kara to task for criticising Kris for basically singing the song they gave him. At this point, I, like Simon, pretty much gave up hope for poor Kris even though I still maintain that he is probably the most bankable, marketable artist they have right now. As if he rose from the ashes of his first performance with a defiant "Oh, hell no!", Kris came back out and did Kanye West's "Heartless." WOW! For me (I sound like Randy now!), this was hands down the best performance of the night and one of the best performances of the season. It was just Kris and his accoustic guitar out there putting this cool, cool vibe on the song. This could be what saves Kris. I'm not holding my breath, but I think he definitely made his case that he deserves to be in the finale next week more than Danny.
3. Adam Lambert: Simon chose Adam's song, apparently calling in a favor and getting permission from Bono himself for Adam to perform "One." Adam gave a solid performance that was a little U2, a little Mary J., and a whole lotta Adam. It was really quite gorgeous -- if you didn't look at him and see the tongue flying. His acting experience did him well because he also infused the song with a tremendous amount of passion, pain, and desperation. I loved it. I wasn't as crazy about his second song, Aerosmith's "Cryin'". (If it weren't for the fact that Adam seems like such a nice guy, I would almost think he chose this to taunt Gokey, as if to say "THIS is how you do Aerosmith, you stupid jag!!") Yes, Adam did a lot of his amazing dynamics and showed off his range, but it just wasn't as strong. Adam would have been better served by closing with "One." The judges practically coronated Adam on stage tonight (which he very graciously deflected by pointing out that his competition had done very well) and Simon all but begged America to vote for Adam. We'll find out tomorrow night if that worked.
To me, the finals would be a sham if Adam weren't in them. I know I've railed against him a lot this season, but it's hard to deny his talent. If the point of the show is to select a star, Adam has to be one of the choices presented to us. He already is a star -- he just needs the support to get him out there. I really think it's Danny who needs to go home tomorrow, but I worry poor Kris will be lost and forgotten. That would be a real shame. I just hope he's able to parlay his third place finish into a career ala Daughtry or Elliot Yamin rather than fading into obscurity. I really do want to buy a Kris Allen record!