Wednesday, May 20, 2009

American Idol Top 2 - Retreads, Producer's Pick, and Worst Song Ever

It's the end of the road folks. The last episode of Idol voting and the first half of what will surely be a bonkers finale, filled with pimping, random cameos, the return of Shrill Rounds and that blind guy that turned out to be funny. Here's hoping Megan Joy gets a song about birds tomorrow night.

Unfortunately, none of that exciting stuff will happen in this episode (except the pimping). Instead we get the worst episode of every season of Idol... the top 2 performance episode. How I wish the finale allowed the final 2, who should theoretically be at their best, to interpret and change up three new songs of their own choosing. Instead we get one retread, one horrific pick by Simon Fuller, and Kara has kindly written the worst song in the history of music for the contestants to bleat!

This is American Idol? And this.... is my last recap, after the jump.

Adam Lambert - "Mad World"
The upshot of this performance is that for anyone who failed to set their DVR to go long and missed it the first time... it's new to you. Unless, like me, you just looked it up on YouTube. My first reaction is... that coat... really? It's very "Neo Sings." The vocal is impeccable but I kind of have to wonder if the theatrics on this don't just distract from the song. I mean... there's lots of smoke but he's just wandering around the stage aimlessly. Given what's coming up, this was his one chance to rock and pull a full on Tranny Squeal and I find myself really disappointed. Randy gives him "an A+ on that one, dude, an A for Adam." Kara talks but I'm still not over "No Boundaries" yet so I ignore her. Paula is "unbelievably proud." Simon thinks "it was a little bit over-theatrical" and it "reminded [him] a little bit of Phantom of the Opera" and he could not be more right. If Adam had a boat and a lantern he wouldn't be able to stop himself from belting out "Music of the Night," though frankly calling something "over-theatrical" is basically just acknowledging that the performer is Adam. 

Kris Allen - "Ain't No Sunshine"
This is a smart move on Kris' part because he doesn't have overwhelming expectations on this song, it lets him play the piano, and there's a good chance he can top the vocal from his first performance. He effing slays it! While Adam looked like he was confused about his blocking at a high school play... Kris looks like he's giving a concert. Randy "hopes the Lakers win tonight." Kara says that Kris "has a way of forming an intimate bond with everyone in the audience." Somewhere from the audience Matt Giraud screams at Kris, "Run! Run!" Paula says he "awakens the spirit in all of us." What? Oh apparently he does it by "Allen-izing" songs. And we're moving on. 

Adam Lambert - "A Change is Gonna Come"
Simon Fuller has inexplicably chosen this song for Adam. I have two problems with this song. It doesn't fit his style at all and it's so weighted down with the history of the Civil Rights movement that a white glam rocker singing it on Idol just seems weird. If they'd every acknowledged that Adam is openly gay or made that a part of his narrative on the show then maybe this could be a song tying those movements together and making a statement... creating a real moment for him. Instead I can barely listen to the performance because this selection is just SO odd. Adam does a good job with it, though it doesn't sound like him and marks the second subdued performance on his part and really all I wanted out of tonight's six performances was just one fierce Tranny Squeal to make America uncomfortable. Adam seems to be resisting that side of himself (the entertaining side) as much as possible tonight to avoid scaring away Gokey voters that are looking for someone to support. Randy says Adam "can sing his face off." She Who Will Not Be Named blathers on and prepares to climb mountains or some such. Paula stands up and goes bug fuck crazy, twirling an imaginary lasso. 

Kris Allen - "What's Going On"
Kris pulls out the guitar and further pushes this singer/songwriter image he's gunning for tonight, to further distinguish himself from Adam. The arrangement is a little mellow. There's bongos. There's lots of side-jaw on Kris' part. The vocal is great though, simple with just enough flourishes to show that he's got some range. During the close-up I can only think I'm glad he didn't shave for performance night. He's so much hotter with stubble. That stubble could be the thing that pushes him to win. Randy calls it "light for this big ole room." Kara hangs herself in shame. Paula says she "knows what's gong on... you tore that song up and made Marvin Gaye proud!" Simon says it "was too laid back for a night like this." Meh. Simon needs to learn that pop music is no longer Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. I think what Kris did could easily be an arena concert now. 

So here it is people. It's time to confront Kara's coronation song, "No Boundaries," the worst song ever written. Midway through Adam's performance I lost it, with full on out-of-control laughter, listening to the lyrics and I figured we should just deal with them upfront: 

With every step you climb another mountain
With every breath it's harder to believe
You'll make it through the pain
Weather the hurricanes 
To get to that one thing

Someone is getting saddled with this as their first single and frankly that makes me wish Danny Gokey was going to be our American Idol. It's rare that you get songs about giants asphyxiating during recurrent hurricanes. Also "You can go higher! You can go deeper!" being screamed by Adam Lambert is something only a small portion of the population was hoping to get out of tonight's show. With that said... how did they do with what they were given? 

Adam Lambert - "No Boundaries"
God this is so difficult. He misses a LOT of notes but keeps a pretty good hold on the song overall until he drifts off into what sound like random screeches towards the end. As soon as it's over... I start feeling the pain that comes with knowing I have to listen to it again. Randy again says "you can sing anything" and is kind enough to not add "and this song really tested the boundaries of that idea." Paula says "adjectives can't express what Adam brought to season eight." Simon correctly mocks the "mountains and hurricanes" and calls Adam "a worldwide star" in the making. 

Kris Allen - "No Boundaries"
Kris starts way too high and keeps getting further outside his range. He also drops a whole line out of the chorus and it's not even the one about hurricanes. I would have mad respect for him tossing that out. God this whole performance is painful. He seems out of breath and I really think something's gone horribly wrong here. The judges all seem to agree and try to push people to vote based on the whole season and not on this one, horrific, performance. 

Who should win? I think no matter who wins we should all take a moment to be thankful that no matter what the winner isn't Danny Gokey. I voted repeatedly for Adam. I think there's a strong case for both of them depending on what styles of music you're into. Personally, I want a gay Idol. Also I'm going to see the Idols Live Tour this summer and I'd really like Adam to end the show. 

Who will win? This is WAY too close to call but my immediate thought after the show was that Kris will very narrowly take it. I think he'll pick up the majority of Gokey's fans. Adam wasn't at his best and Kara's Musical Holocaust aside, Kris was really on his game. 

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