Tuesday (April 27) night’s “American Idol” features our Top Five singing Songs of the Rat Pack (toned down to Songs of the Rat Pack Era). It also prompts a key question: With only five people singing only five songs and getting only four critiques apiece, how will “American Idol” possibly still manage to run two minutes long? That’s the challenge faced by our producers!
Our contestants were guided through the standards by that Rat Pack legend, Jaime Foxx. And what a coincidence! Jaime Foxx, who just happens to have a movie currently in theaters, walked in at exactly the moment Matt Giraud was doing his Ray Charles impression. What a truly spontaneous moment.
Foxx promises he’ll tell the contestants exactly what’s on his mind, just as he recently advised 16-year-old two-time “American Idol” guest performer Miley Cyrus to go make a sex tape. Who knows what wisdom he’ll have for newly 17-year-old Allison Iraheta?
Performances after the break…
Singer: KRIS ALLEN
Song: “The Way You Look Tonight”
My Take: Before we start, has every lazy TV writer in America written a “Kris Allen is this Season’s ‘American Idol’ Dark Horse” story this week? I can wait if anybody’s still finishing up their story. You don’t want to be the last one on your block to call Kris a Dark Horse. After all, we’re in the Top Five. Foxx says Kris is his dude and that he’ll make an album with him. Does anybody else find Kris’ “I’m Being Sincere” face to be just a bit chimp-y? Don’t get me wrong. I know he’s all dreamy and stuff, but he does funny stuff with his mouth when he sings. The performance is easy, breezy and charming. I don’t know if it’s “Cool” in the way I’d want a Rat Pack cover to be “cool.” But it’s definitely easy on the ears, sticking close to the familiar melody, but embellishing it in ways that show Kris’ rang, rather than embellishing it in ways that make Kris look like an affected tool (The Matt Giraud Arrangement, if you will).
Barney, Betty, Wilma and Simon Say: Randy tells Kris that he’s in it to win it. He calls it Kris’ best performance to date. Kara warns that Kris has set the technical standard very high, raving about his phrasing, timing, diction and rhythm. Then Kara announces that Kris is a dark horse. Yay. It’s now official. Anybody who writes the Kris – Dark Horse story from now on is lamer than Kara. Paula raves that Kris was “near impeccable.” Simon says it was “a little bit wet.” He compares Kris to “a well-trained spaniel.” Simon questions after the performance if Kris can win.
Singer: ALLISON IRAHETA
Song: “Someone to Watch Over Me”
My Take: I believe we clarified the week’s theme as Songs From The Rat Pack Era because while the Rat Pack had many female satellites, the true members were all gentlemen. Allison, in case you haven’t noticed, is now our last remaining distaff contestant. While Foxx thinks Miley should make a sex tape, he thinks Allison is too young to have a boyfriend. What’s up with that, Jaime? This is Allison’s trap week, because it’s a theme that doesn’t allow her to rock out in the least. Following after Kris, Allison’s atrocious diction is a problem. The lyrics are lost entirely. Vocally, though, it’s the sort of nuanced and restrained performance I initially doubted that Allison would be capable of. The process of containing herself renders Allison’s overall performance a bit disappointingly boring, but other than a couple nasally high notes, she sounds terrific.
Barney, Betty, Wilma and Simon Say: Randy compares Allison to both Pink and Brittany Murphy, praising her ruff-n-gruff style. Kara “ain’t nervous” for Allison anymore, calling it “gut-wrenching” and “deeply emotional,” predicting a place in the finals for Allison. Paula says Allison was both “alluring” and “tender.” Simon asks Allison if she thinks she can win. Allison says they all can win, which was *exactly* the wrong answer. Simon wants to see more confidence from her, predicting that she may be in trouble after tonight. Kara tells Simon he’s crazy. Randy reassures Allison that she’s da bomb.
Singer: MATT GIRAUD
Song: “My Funny Valentine”
My Take: This week really doesn’t have anything at all to do with the Rat Pack, does it? This song is probably in my Top 10 all-time, or at least the Chet Baker version is. Matt makes it is own with the sort of runs that he thinks are jazzy, but which more often tend to be nonsensical and unilluminating. He just can’t help himself. He hits a beautiful note at the end, the full-voiced note Jaime Foxx said would bring the house down. And then he adds a pointless falsetto and vibrato that buries the note. It’s all the work of somebody who’s studied jazz, but doesn’t really feel jazz.
Barney, Betty, Wilma and Simon Say: It didn’t all quite come together for Randy. Kara appreciated the runs, but didn’t feel like he was emotionally connected. Matt protests and rolls his eyes. Paula, however, felt the emotional connection, calling it pure and simple. No. If there’s any accurate word to describe any Matt Giraud performance, it wouldn’t be “simple.” Simon says it was the only believable and authentic performance he’s heard tonight, calling it “absolutely brilliant.”
Singer: DANNY GOKEY
Song: “Come Rain or Come Shine”
My Take: Another song I think of in many, many different versions, though the Sinatra version (and this ain’t it) isn’t on that list. After the excessively buttoned-down performances that preceded him, I like that Danny tries to give a little intensity, tries to play to the audience, tries to imprint on the song a little. It comes across a bit like a boozy wedding singer, but there’s nothing wrong with being the lead singer in “The Commitments,” is there? Also, how frequently did Dean Martin come across as a boozy wedding singer? Nobody else has come as close as Danny to nailing what the evening’s theme was supposed to be.
Barney, Betty, Wilma and Simon Say: Randy says Danny could have an album of songs like that. Randy says that feeling songs has nothing to do with anything and that Danny can sing. Kara is really annoying me tonight, as she raves about Danny’s “swag.” Paula calls it stellar. Simon felt Danny’s confidence and that both his vocals and performance were outstanding.
Singer: ADAM LAMBERT
Song: “Feeling Good”
My Take: I know Sammy sang this one. But why does the arrangement begin with a riff taken from “The Logical Song”? The judges raved about Danny’s swagger, but he seems like a meek puppy compared Adam, who parades down the staircase in a shiny white suit like the cock-of-the-walk, the belle-of-the-ball. Is the performance a little Vegas? Well, yes. But last time I checked, the Rat Pack was all about Vegas, baby. The prolonged, penultimate note Adam hits is all about making a mockery of Matt and his piddly last note.
Barney, Betty, Wilma and Simon Say: Randy thought it was a little theatrical, which may be the most irrelevant comment ever made about Adam Lambert. Kara babbles incoherently. Paula lacks the words, but she calls him this season’s Michael Phelps. “It’s like complaining that a cow moos,” is Simon’s brilliant response to Randy’s comment. Oh and yes. Two minutes long. In a week we’ve traditionally seen two performances apiece.
TONIGHT’S BEST: Adam was the night’s best, but Danny was a perfectly admirable second-best. Heck, Kris shouldn’t be ashamed of his third place performance and Allison can take some solace in being fourth best.
TONIGHT’S WORST: Matt. That was easy.
IN DANGER: Matt and Allison have been Bottom Three regulars this season. I’d like to see Matt go home.
Agree? Disagree? Who’s going home tomorrow?