The Husband:

Are you excited for tonight? I know I am. While I would have definitely preferred an Adam-Allison finale, I think Kris is not only a talented contestant, but he is also a valid threat to an Adam Lambert win. This is definitely strange coming from me, the person who, when Kris somehow came out of frickin’ nowhere only to easily win his round in the semi-finals, prompting me to get pissed that he was only voted through over more worthy contestants because of his cuteness factor. Describing him as “bland but cute,” I said the following:


“I’m not as mad at the final selection [as] I was Thursday night, but I still think that both Kris Allen from this week and Michael Sarver from week 1 should not be in the Top 12.”


And yet, here we are, and I have nothing but respect for the man. He’s shaken up the competition in a way almost entirely heretofore unprecedented on Idol (save for the vastly less talented but interesting Blake Lewis) by being an incredible builder of songs, performances and themes first and being a singer second. It feels strange to put him on a pedestal over Danny Gokey, who I will always admit had a good voice, but just wasn’t cutting it for me.

It was the end of the line for Gokey, for sure. Yes, he sang “You Are So Beautiful” quite well, but it was a cheap song choice. I thought it was a cheap song choice when Taylor Hicks did it, and I was a big fan of the Silver Fox, so don’t think that I’m just being hard on Gokey. Going back on my notes, I realize I was actually fairly sick of Gokey by the time semifinals rolled around, that he hadn’t risen above his sob story to be a performer, and week after week, I became less and less interested in his growl. While people may say that Lambert screams all of his songs (which isn’t true if you actually watched all of his damn performances), Gokey has this ability to look pissed at everybody and everything even while singing the most beautiful of songs. And that turned me off above all else. Yes, I broke my own rule when it comes to contestant, which I call “pulling a Simon.” And yes, it’s a positive thing. It’s averting your eyes from the performance so you can simply listen, which is technically what this competition is all about. And when I pull a Simon with Gokey, he seems to work. But not nearly as much as the other two.

Adam, let’s be honest, has lost a good deal of his ability to surprise. By now, we’re expecting him to be wild, to be different, to be triumphant. But he also has this uncanny ability to take a horrible decision and make it work for him. And man, did he make two bad decisions. #1. “Play That Funky Music” on a non-disco week. #2. “Born to Be Wild.” And while his unicorn-raping version of “Ring of Fire” might have ill-advised, it definitely made him a complete character for the show. But you see, the fact that he can make something great out of something suck is a skill few have, and that’s why I want him to win. He’s that good. He makes you like Wild Cherry. And he survived the curse of performing “Feeling Good.” We’re a rapt audience for this man.

As for Kris, I still don’t think he has that great of a voice, but oh man is he interesting. While you can’t give him all the credit for basically finding other versions of assigned songs (see my response to his cover of Adele’s version of Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” during country week saying it’s a Garth Brooks song), he started to make it work for him by being honest and being fascinating. From “Ain’t No Sunshine” onward, he’s proven what any good Idol viewers know, that this is a performance showcase, and you’d better be a helluva performer. That’s why Lil Rounds ain’t around no more. That’s why Michael Sarver isn’t around anymore. They weren’t performers. They were just singers with passable voices. But no personality.

I mean, how could you not love him just a little bit after this picture?

I mean, how could you not love him just a little bit after this picture?

And yes, Kris somehow managed to take a rap song and turn it into something quite interesting and downloadable. While covering “Heartless” as a Jason Mraz-type song doesn’t eliminate the fact that nobody has seemed to notice that the song seems to have only seven notes in the entire thing and barely jumps out of its octave. It’s not really a singer’s song. But it is one ripe for rearrangement. YouTube doesn’t seem to be working right now (or if so, it’s moving verrrrrrry slowly), otherwise I’d show you Mia Carruthers’ own performance of “Heartless” on the damned addictive MTV show Taking The Stage, just to show that maybe from a different perspective, you too might realize that the song kind of sucks no matter how good the singer is. (And yes, Mia is great. Just find any of her original songs.) My problem with the song is that, since Kanye has somehow fashioned himself as a singer, he’s been writing these nonsense pop songs that could be done by anybody. Hell, I think you could replace Kanye with Britney Spears on “Heartless,” and it’d be about the same.

My point? Kris can also rise above weird choices, and yet at the same time is defined by them. But give him a guitar and a worthy beat, and he performs the shit out of it. And that’s another thing we don’t get often enough on this show.

Adam and Kris prove that this isn’t just a karaoke competition. It’s a competition for stars, for great performers, and potentially for those who can actually alter the recording industry.

The Wife:
Does this year’s final two remind anyone of last year’s final two? We have a bona fide rocker going against someone cute, sweet and unassuming. While last year, that latter role was filled by a tiny child who best resembled a monchichi, this year it’s filled with an appealing (and married) boy next door, who, I think, is infinitely more listenable. I like Kris Allen a lot better than I did D’Archie the Monchichi, but I still need Adam Lambert to win. I think he’s much more of a showman than Kris Allen, although I would download a Kris Allen single or three, and for me, I like music and musicians that are very engaging and performative.

Vote for Adam Lambert or the terrorists win.

Vote for Adam Lambert or the terrorists win.

The soulful weight of his “Tracks of My Tears” haunted me for days, and he performed it honestly and openly. I said after that song that I would pay to see him in a revival of Jersey Boys, and that’s still true. I’d pay to see him in anything, because he understands lyrics, phrasing and performing a song. Because he’s an actor, he understands when and how much of himself to put into his songs. While Gokey had one look, Adam had many. Turning from swinging swagger to eye-ball raping edginess to straight-up rock n’roll energy whenever the song called for it. I believe that’s what you call versatility. He’s so versatile, in fact, that he can also tone it down and deliver a quieter performance with just as much passion and intensity. “Mad World”? I’ll never hear a better interpretation of a line on American Idol than when Adam Lambert pushed the “nervous” of “I went to school and I was very nervous” into a wavering falsetto, capturing the emotion and meaning of the song better than anyone. I’ll give Kris his due for his beautiful rendition of “Falling Slowly,” a song he truly seemed to understand and adore, but in the performance department, he’s no match for Lambert.

And besides, how could you not love Adam when he returned to his old theatre camp and that tiny little tot came up and asked him how he learned to sing and dance so good? Tears to my fucking eyes. I wish I could sing and dance that good, too, tiny boy.

Either finalist will make records. And they will make records that will make money. It’s really a win-win situation this year, which is an improvement over last years’ rocker vs. boy next door battle, in which one option was win and one was suck.

The Husband:

And the changes keep coming. Presumably due to the added fourth judge and the fact that the show has finally acknowledged its problem with running over their allotted time (earlier, anything they said always seemed to translate to “Fuck the Fox affiliates and their local news,” which is entirely understandable), this is the first time I can remember the Top 5 not getting to sing two songs. Considering how great Tuesday’s show was – all five were either reallllly good or great – it would have been nice to see twice and much awesomeness from them as well, but it’s also understandable that the sheer amount of talent that was on display was a direct benefit of only having to work with one song. Would Allison’s incredible (yes, incredible) performance of “Someone to Watch Over Me” been merely okay if she had done, say, “My Way” later on in the show? Would Adam have suffered just like Clay in season 2 during the Robin Gibb week, where he dropped Simon’s mouth with his performance of “To Love Somebody,” only to embarrass himself with “Grease” (as in “is the word”) less than an hour later? (And yes, I know that was a Top 4 performance, and Top 5 was Neil Sedaka week, but the principle is the same.)

On another note, I’m starting to understand all the love for Kris Allen. No, I don’t want him to win, but I’m finally getting that his performance style is pretty damn spot-on for those who, say, listen to Alice Radio here in the Bay Area. He’s easy-going and confident even when the song is difficult, and his is the face that launched a thousand glittery posters taped to a teenage girl’s walls and ceiling, right next to her dolphin art. I still don’t think I could simply listen to an album of his just yet, but this late in the competition, he is oddly growing on me. I guess the turning point was “Falling Slowly” two weeks ago.

Feeling a little awkward about this suit choice, actually.

Feeling a little awkward about this suit choice, actually.

And no, I wasn’t entirely surprised about Adam being sent to the bottom two. Okay, I thought he was great as usual, but it’s time for me to pull a Children Of Saint Clare Kibosh on “Feelin’ Good.” Yes, it’s a great song, so it’s not like I’m putting the COSC Kibosh on it because it’s entirely overused on the show. My thing is that it seems to be the American Idol song of death. I remember it being performed at least three times before, all in the semifinals, and not once did any of the contestants who used that song advance to the next round or the finals. Hell, I think in season 4 (the first one with a “guy night,” a “girl night” and a results show all in the same week), two people sang it within a day of each other, and both bit the dust. Something about it just rubs people the wrong way. I guess because it sounds angrier than it really is. Or the imagery is a little too strange. (It does, after all, demand that we share feelings with blossoms, dragonflies, reeds and pine scent.) Maybe I should just eliminate any song that could potentially be covered by the band Muse. America doesn’t really get prog rock. (Hell, I don’t half the time.)

And yes, Allison’s performance was the first of the year to move me to tears. This is the performance people have been waiting for, even if that person isn’t Simon. I don’t understand why he thinks that she lacks confidence, because damn, that girl is a performer. Maybe he’s just thrown off by the fact that she’s a minor and/or isn’t dressing like a hussy.

And sorry, Jamie Foxx, you may be an Oscar winner and all Zen now, but you can’t fool me. You will always be Wanda.

The Wife:

There’s a lot of talk from Simon about Allison’s “likability” or her perceived lack thereof. If only Simey read the interwebs and knew how much we all did, in fact, like her. I think her excellent performance this week and her garnering a Silver Stool of Safety were aided by one additional detail: the reveal of a softer, yet still totally Allison, look.

Happy Birthday! You look fabulous!

Happy Birthday! You look fabulous!

That multi-tiered black and white skirt paired with the black bustier? That was exactly what Allison needed for people to see her as serious. She looked appropriate for her age, and for the music of the Big Band era without being too literal or kitschy (say, by picking up a cherry print halter dress from Hot Topic that I totally used to have and coveted and loved the shit out of back when I was a 16-year-old Goth). She was the whole fucking package on Tuesday, from the new black streaks in her pink mane to the thick black straps of her sandals, and she was imminently likeable.

Good job, girlfriend. You fuckin’ earned that Silver Stool of Safety.

And, actually, so did Gokey, who for the first time in this competition actually sounded like more than just a fun wedding singer. Though I’d still like to see him go next week and have a Kris-Adam-Allison final three. That’d be sa-wheet.

I can’t say much about men in suits, but I wonder if it wasn’t Adam’s shiny, shiny white suit paired with the song my husband has just put the offical kibosh of this here blog on that did him in? How can you wear a white suit and not look like an asshole? I think grey or sand are the lightest colors you can safely enter into on the suit spectrum before people start writing you off as a complete douchebag. That said, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the suit in context with the performance. I can stand by a white suit in that context. And I can stand by Adam Lambert, even if he’s only wearing a loincloth. In fact, especially if he’s only wearing a loincloth:

The Husband:

Michael Sarver

Finally, Michael Sarver is gone. It had to happen sooner rather than later to keep my sanity, and I’m glad this is as far as it could have gone. I didn’t like a single one of his performances when the actual competition started, from his lame butchering of Gavin DeGraw and his completely unnecessary version of “You Are Not Alone” to, finally, being taken down this week by picking a song that, original aside, I can’t help but compare to Ruben Studdard and George Huff’s versions. (And, well, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Jeff Goldblum et al dancing to it in The Big Chill.) Point is, it’s a loaded song.

So, let me ask you something. Is there anybody out there who would have preferred to see Michael Sarver over Alexis Grace on the Idol tour? Raise your hand. [pause] Well, you’re stupid. You would honestly rather see a linebacker-type boy bleat on the stage for 2+ hours than see somebody with performance chops, spunk and true stage presence, just because she had one bad week? Blech. I think Kara DioGuardi put it best during Fox Reality Channel’s weekly special American Idol Extra that Michael didn’t understand the difference between being a singer and being an artist, and his days were numbered.

Speaking Of American Idol Extra

This is a really cool show, and if you have cable, I’d suggest watching/TiVoing it. It gives us a nice bit of extra time with the contestants and gives us answers we normally wouldn’t expect.

Some of the nice little tidbits from this week:

  • Adam likes Gossip Girl
  • Anoop is really into crossword puzzles
  • Allison likes ABBA
  • Kris owns up to owning a CD by Kris Kross
  • Matt Giraud is really into Disney movies

Also, interesting development, Michael isn’t really that into country music. He fesses up to having a “country heart,” but having grown up in a big town in Louisiana before moving to Texas, it wasn’t necessarily his music of choice. Well, you fooled us, Michael, and I would have loved to seen, maybe, a more rocker edge instead of the namby-pamby sweet country boy nonsense that became your persona and your voting base.

Also, while I miss Gina Glockson, Ace Young is a surprisingly good co-host. And his new Kenickie hair (he, along with fellow s5 Idol contestant Taylor Hicks, did Grease on Broadway) is a vast improvement over his wavy Tarzan bullshit when he was on the show, and even when he made a cameo on Rock Of Love Charm School. Dude, what if there’s a Kenickie curse, and Ace Young, 30 years down the line, ends up like Jeff Conaway? Man, VH1 destroys my concepts of celebrity.

Adam Lambert

The Vampire Lambert: Slicked and Smooth for Motown Week.

The Vampire Lambert: Slicked and Smooth for Motown Week.

I was kind of hoping to prove a point, that starting with Ace Young in s5, there would be what I call an Ace Young Curse. This is when somebody with trademark hair slicks it all back to fit into a certain theme week on Idol and somehow loses their fan base. It happened with Ace during Big Band Week, which got him voted off the show. And if Adam Lambert, who turned his crazy spikes into a Muddy Waters coif, would have dropped considerably in votes (believe me, I don’t want him off by any means), I would have had an official curse to trademark. But, according to DialIdol, he was the top vote-getter this week. Well, whatever. He did an incredible job this week, so I’m willing to give up a trademark for that.

Lil & Danny

It seems that each week I can lump my critiques of Lil and Danny into one. This week, both bored the shit out of me by simply singing a song’s melody with nary a personality- and vote-increasing variation. Do both feel so confident and safe that they can’t be bothered to have any fun with their choices? I don’t like any contestant to feel safe. While I still like Danny (hard to tell, I know), I simply won’t vote for him until he gets tossed into a bottom three or even a bottom two, which I think will put a fire under his ass and teach him to make every moment he’s onstage count.

The Final Song

A lot of people seem to really hate the final sing-for-your-life performance, calling it desperate and sad. Me, I think it’s a major improvement over the send-off performance of seasons past. I always felt that to be sad, underperformed and simply a producer’s way to end a show on a high note. But it always seemed like wasted time. Now, we get somebody putting energy and fight into their performance, not feeling safe, and doing what they should have done in the first place, which is to inspire. I just think that Simon could perhaps be a tad nicer about rejecting them at the end. Or maybe he could hand the task over to the other judges. (Not Paula. When asked to give the final verdict last night, she almost melted into a puddle of sad.)

The Children Of Saint Clare Kibosh

This is going to be a regular thing, the COSC Kibosh, wherein I scream to the Idol gods to ban certain songs from ever getting performed again. This week, I have two songs to destroy.

#1. “(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave.” If it can nearly destroy Jennifer Hudson (who I remember Simon describing as “mad” when she sang the song), it would have no chance with Lil. It’s gone, buds.

#2. “For Once In My Life.” You’re not gonna do it as well as Stevie Wonder, and it might end up terribly embarrassing you. I think I’m done with Megan Joy after this week. That was just all kinds of wrong.

The Wife:

For this week’s Idol Fashion Review, let me start by praising Adam Lambert for doing something incredibly bold and unexpected by reminding me that he is, in fact, a working actor. And a good one. That shiny, shiny suit (like Barney Stinson’s suitjamas, actually) and the slicked back hair cemented something I noticed during his polarizing (but fucking awesome!) performance of “Ring of Fire” last week: the dude looks like Elvis. There was a shot of him on the big screen last week where he looked exactly like an early-Vegas-years Elvis, and this week, he inhabited the body and hair of the Elvis America fell in love with. He transformed himself, and, in doing so, made his performance as transcendent as is possible on Idol.

Adam Lambert is a fucking star. And if he doesn’t win, I think he will soon become the pinnacle of Idols on Broadway. Previously, I thought he’d only be good in shows with bombast like Wicked, or rocker shows like Rent or Spring Awakening (as Mortiz, not Melchior), but now I am convinced that he can do anything. He has opened up a whole new world of possibilities to Broadway casting directors with this performance, and I would definitely see Jersey Boys again if he were playing that falsetto-loving Frankie Valli.

I feel like she bought this at a cheap boutique on Melrose, but it's still pretty cute.

I feel like she bought this at a cheap boutique on Melrose, but it's still pretty cute.

The ladies all looked great this week. Lil Rounds made an excellent decision to wear that retro wig and don a flapper outfit, which is possibly the first thing I think she’s looked good in since that yellow-and-black number from the Top 36 episodes. Megan belongs in cute, short colorful things that are kind of weird but kind of cute, and she was back in a bright blue bubble hemmed dress this week, complete with 70s Hawaiian hotel singer hair and a little flower. On anyone else, this look would have bombed, but it worked on her. Kudos. As for tiny dynamo Allison Iraheta, I am so glad that she took on a more Kelly Clarkson-meets-Fergie type look this week, with the cool turqouise tunic and chains and the strange leggings. She looked young, she looked hip and she looked like a fucking star, as well as imminently more approachable than when she was dressing like she smoked ciggies behind the dumpster at her school a few weeks back. The girl is a rocker in her soul, and she knows how to embody that, both in her style of dress and with every performance she gives on this show.

Three of the boys need some attention here: Anoop, Kris and Scott. I loved Anoop’s 70s-style collegiate bowling jacket, because I think he’s best when he tries to nod to his academic career in his clothing. (But if he ever sports an honest-to-God letterman’s jacket, that will be one step too far.) Scott wore pink pants, and he knew he was wearing pink pants, and I am offended that someone in the wardrobe department thought those would be a good idea to put on a blind man — as though they wanted the bloggers to write jokes about it. I think they were trying to give him a sort of extra-on-Life on Mars vibe, but the pink pants with the pinstripe chocolate blazer and the pale paisley shirt just came off as . . . douchey. I’m extra confused by that ensemble because, last time I checked, it was Motown week, not BeeGees week. So . . . why didn’t he get a suit? Wouldn’t that have made more sense?

And then there’s Kris Allen’s shirt, which reminded me of what a guard would wear in a Nazi prison camp. There’s only a certain kind of man that shirt works on, and Kris Allen is not it. (But if Adam Lambert had worn it, I might have thought it was cool. Or even if Randy Jackson had worn it.) I kind of don’t like Kris because he is a dead ringer for a friend’s ex-husband, but I’m trying not to hold that against the guy. He is a good singer, but I want him to return to the boy-next-door vibe he’s been cultivating this season. I like him much better in plaid button downs, jeans and flip flops. It suits him.

Just . . . no.

Just . . . no.

But, overall, this week was pretty good for the Idols. I think they (and the wardrobe) department are kind of getting it. They’re packaging themselves better, and showing off their post-Idol potential.