Disco Night on "American Idol"
This crazy cockeyed world in which we live does not give us much to believe in, but one thing we should be able to count on: When "American Idol" tells us it's disco week, by gum we expect them to deliver disco -- and disco like god intended: loud, cliched, and uptempo. But no -- the Idolettes are too sophisticated for that. They've got better ideas!
Disco night starts off well enough. Lil Rounds did not actually hit a single note of Chaka Kahn's "I'm Every Woman" but she seemed to have a great time dancing around them. And nobody can pull off a catsuit and platform heels like Lil. Okay, maybe Adam Lambert. Still, Lil looks sensational -- the spangly hoop earrings, those ever-growing hair extentions, those incredible shoes. Her performance is followed by the weekly Judges Pull Long Faces After Lil Performance, which is followed by the never-gets-old Lil Tears Up, the ever popular Judges Say They Still Don't Know Who Lil Is -- that's "Idol" talk for "hasn't hit a right note yet" -- and the traditional Lil Goes Out Rebutting.
After Lil, Kris Allen shows us what Carlos Santana would sound like were he forced to perform Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money." Here's my impersonation of Kris doing his number:
"Look, I just met these cool percussionists two minutes ago and now we're jammin' together. Hope the tips are better than when I perform as a solo act, cuz usually nobody in the subway station can hear me over the trains."
Kris's performance has nothing to do with disco, so the judges lavish him with praise, saying "It's so original because you didn't actually try to do disco!" Really, we know, they just can't resist his waifish pastiness and his parallelogram mouth. And judge Paula Abdul wants him to know she's never met any man willing to shop in the women's department whom she liked better.
"Are you saying he buys ladies' underwear?" asks judge Simon Cowell, and I think I can say he is speaking for us all.
Paula and Simon are locked in a deathmatch these days to see which of them can gin up the most reports they are leaving "Idol" any minute now. Paula has no answer to Simon's ladies' underwear question, because her assistant did not anticipate it and put no response in her script.
Danny Gokey puts Earth Wind & Fire's "September" through his Michael McDonald-does-smooth-jazz strainer. And, once again, it's accompanied by Danny's hoe-down dance and his service employee's I'm-being-nice-to-you-cuz-I-have-to smile. Simon finally notices, and tells him he lacks star power. Thank you! Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Paula continue to give him the Gokey Pass.
Allison Iraheta, dressed in a black rubber number, gives Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" the Rocker Chicks Don't Modulate once-over. The judges praise her "authenticity" which we've learned over the years is Idol-speak for "you do the same thing every week."
This week they've stuck Adam Lambert in the middle. Let's pretend we've not been counting the days until we get to see extra-flamboyant Disco Adam.
Only he's gone and picked "If I Can't Have You" as his disco tune of choice.
Adam's already done a disco tune in the competition, a few weeks back when he sang "Play that Funky Music." He explains this to show host Ryan Seacrest as the Coca-Cola red-and-white undulates rhythmically in the background. This time, Adam says, he wants to find a disco tune he can "connect to, emotionally." Dressed in a stunning black sharkskin-ish suit, Adam is once again bathed in blue light; his thick bottle-black hair upswept into the most perfect pompadour ever imagined by a hairdresser. And the Yvonne Elliman number becomes a dreamy ballad, oozing aching, yearning, over-the-top emoting. The judges praise him for taking a disco song and not making it cliché and uptempo like, you know, a disco song.
"I felt your pain, your vulnerability," Paula wailed. "It's as if you tore your heart out and left it on the stage." We'll wait while you try and wipe that sickening image from your mind.
Lil is so far the night's only Idolette who even tried to sing disco, and she stank. But now, Matt Giraud steps forward and does an actual disco-ish version of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," which Simon finds unforgivable, saying it lacked originality. Of course it does -- it's disco, fool. Anyway, Simon tells Matt he's got to "get out of 'Idol'-land and into the real world," by which, we think he means viewers need to send Matt packing even though the judges used their one precious Judges Save on him one week earlier.
Anoop Desai rounds out disco night and he, too, tries to mess with the genre when he performs "Dim All the Lights." Anoop's style is a little disco, a little misbegotten Ralph Lauren male model. Seacrest compliments him on his perfectly tweezed eyebrows. Paula focuses on his pink sweater. "Real men known how to wear pink," Paula marvels, adding that she loves his early-beard look, but why doesn't he smile more when he has such beautiful teeth, while the American Idol Decency Police creep slowly toward the judge's table with a large butterfly net. Simon pronounces Anoop's performance "mediocre at best" and his worst ever.
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