"American Idol": The Three Amigos
We're down to three guy singers on "American Idol" -- The Three Amigos, show host Ryan Seacrest calls them. This is the week each of the judges gets to choose a tune for one of the Idolettes to perform. But this year there are four judges -- The Four Locos, we call them.
How, oh how, will the "American Idol" producers get themselves out of this jam?
Judge Paula Abdul sticks Danny Gokey with the repetitive, generic, four-note Terence Trent D'Arby tune, "Dance Little Sister," which has him singing at the top of his range over a too loud band.
Judge Kara DioGuardi praises Paula for keeping Danny in his "money zone" with the tune choice but nicks Danny for his dancing -- "a little too gyrating for me," Kara says, revealing herself to be the secret head of the American Idol Decency Police.
But Paula fights back, saying she's the choreographer of the bunch and she believes Danny did a "fantastic job." Judge Randy Jackson digs deep into his book of "Snappy TV Lines" and comes up with "Let the games begin!" Simon also disses the dancing as "desperate" but only after nicking the judge-chicks for having discussed Danny's dancing at such length. More important, he's the only judge who notices Danny can't scat sing, correctly pegging him as having sounded like a kid going toot-toot-toot during the "toy saxophone solo."
Danny explains to the judges that he's not really a dancer and that when he "dances" he's feeling the pressure and shaking it off and "going ahead all the way forward." But the judges are not paying as close attention as Danny might have liked because Simon is now trying to wrestle Paula onto the judges' table and has clapped his hand over her mouth, which Seacrest declares "either second base or sexual harassment." We call it a free-speech violation.
While Seacrest begs the cameraman not to train the camera on the fracas, Paula is heard shouting "Help! Help!" Seacrest updates the audience, reporting Paula has just punched Simon in his left breast. Danny stands up on stage looking like he wants to smack them all into next week, which we would have cheered.
Poor Randy is forced to share Kris Allen's tune-picking with Kara because math is not the "Idol" producers' strong suit.
They've picked another generic four-note tune -- "Apologize" by OneRepublic -- because, Kara says, it's "dark" and has a "beautiful melodic line." It's pretty ho-hum stuff, with Kris at the piano. Kara nicks Kris for not playing the guitar and not making the song totally different. Simon savages Kara, calling her comment "a cop out...You can't choose a song for him, then blame him for doing the song."
"You're going to tell me about interpreting songs?!" Kara huffs. "Have you ever interpreted a song in your life?!"
"You didn't hold up to your responsibilities," Simon snaps back.
"He's just trying to make us crazy," Kara concludes, then moves behind Simon and claps her hand over his mouth, leaving him looking genuinely uncomfortable -- like a man being kidnapped by mediocrity. All the while, Kris is standing quietly on stage, staring at the judges as if he would like to join Danny in smacking them into next week.
Simon picks U2's "One" for Adam Lambert and prattles on happily about how he had to ask his good friend Bono for permission to use the tune and Bono said he would be delighted to have Adam sing it.
"I had lunch with Bono," Paula interjects.
The performance puts Adam back in his comfort zone: blue light. It starts off "Mad World" quiet but moves into major theatrics. Non-Adam-fans hate it; Adam fans find it just okay but decide even at his second best he's still more than competition for the other two.
"You're a strategist...You did your own version," Kara begins, in re Adam's performance, then turns and coos, "See what I mean, Simon?"
Suddenly, Kara erupts into some strange, bad Brit-speak -- a sort of beery Mary Poppins imitation -- and says, "I guess our boy's little point maybe wasn't proven!" And Paula begins to complain to Adam about how "miserable" she is sitting next to Simon "gloating." Simon declares it a brilliant song choice -- and a brilliant performance -- while Adam looks like he'd like to join Danny and Kris in smacking the judges into next week.
Things get only slightly better in Round 2 when the Idolettes pick their own tunes.
Danny Gokey shrewdly covers Billy Preston/Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" while Danny non-fans try not to think about who he's singing the tune to, and Danny fans wallow in it. It's one of Danny's best performances in this competition; Simon declares it a "vocal master class."
Kris goes with Kanye West's "Heartless" while strumming the guitar -- think hootenanny hip hop. Kris does the tune a huge favor with his performance, causing Randy to pronounce it better than Kanye's version -- duh -- and better than The Fray's take. Kara calls him "bold" and "fearless" and it appears that finally the judges have settled down and are focusing on the Idolettes's performances. Oops -- too soon! Paula makes a stupid joke about how brave Kris is for singing a song about Simon Cowell and we're right back where we started:
"After the lame song choice [by Karandy]...I had written you out of this competition," Simon sneers. "That has all changed after that performance."
Thanks to the judges's antics, it's past 9 by the time Adam Lambert begins to explain his song choice to Seacrest -- Aerosmith's "Crying." We assume he's inviting comparison to Danny's mangling of Aerosmith's "Dream On" last week. Only Adam's performance doesn't go so well -- an over-miked backup singer is louder than he is and the two of them are locked in a deathmatch over who gets to pick the key.
Nonetheless, Pakarandy declare him a shoo-in for the Final Two. But Simon, the only "American Idol" judges worth listening to, worries people (like the nincompoops with whom he is forced to share the table) will assume Adam will sail through to the final round.
"I want everyone not to assume you are going to be [in the final week], but to vote for you because you deserve it based on talent," he says. Simon's clearly worried the other two guys are just flat out more popular.
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