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American Idol Season 8 (2009)


March 17 -  Please go down before the sun comes up (Grand Ole Opry)


It's Grand Ole Opry Night!  AKA Country Night!  AKA The Night When No One Who Will Possibly Record Country Will Try To Sing County While Randy Travis Looks On and I Thwack My Head Repeatedly On the Laptop Night!  Yeehaw!


Michael Sarver (sings Garth Brooks' "Ain't Going Down 'Till the Sun Comes Up"):  Randy T. likes the way he changed some of the melody, but tells him not to lose the words in the licks.  The camera man likes the guy playing the harmonica almost as much as Michael, who manages to screw up all those words only once.  I think.  Kudos to him for tackling something with that much verbiage, anyway.  Randy says it was a cool song choice but it didn't show anything different with Michael's vocal ability.  Kara says they saw a lot of his personality, but she wanted to hear his big notes.  Paula said it allowed them to see his fun side, and country suits him (after they told him to get away from country during the semi-finals - okee dokee).  Simon feels it should have been good, but he couldn't understand a single word, and he felt it was a bit clumsy.  Michael says if the contestants were all perfect, they wouldn't need this show.  Heh.


Allison Iraheta (sings Patty Loveless' "Blame It On Your Heart"):  Randy T. knew she'd do a good job on anything she sang but tells her not to be too cute on stage.  Her rock voice suits this song, and she sounds decent enough on it.  She just needs a little more stage presence.  Kara is starting to think that Allison could sing the alphabet well, and she's getting better and better every week.  Paula calls it another rock solid performance from her.  Simon thinks it was good but a little tuneless in parts and verging on precocious.  Randy thinks the performance was dope.


Kris Allen (sings Garth Brooks' "To Make You Feel My Love"):  Randy T. says Kris is a strong ballad singer and believes that Garth would be proud of his version.  Kris sits on a stool and just sings this very simply.  And it's simply beautiful, echo effect and all.  Awwww.  I want to pat him on the head.  Paula is pleasantly surprised by his honest, pure, and vulnerable performance.  Simon thinks it was terrific and believes he has a shot at doing really well in this competition.  Randy likes the fact that he went out on a limb, and calls him a Tender Dawg.  Kara didn't even recognize it as country, just as Kris.


Lil Rounds (sings Martina McBride's "Independence Day"):  Lil wants to sing this as a country song and not put her own interpretation on it.  Ruh-roh.  Randy T. wants her to slow it down a little bit to get all the words and licks out.  Then Lil sings and it's just all wrong.  Trying to get the R&B out of her voice doesn't really work.  In fact, it drags her pitch down.  There's nothing wrong with making a song your own, girl, even (or especially) on country night.  Randy calls it an ambitious song choice, but it didn't feel comfortable for him.  Kara says they know she's a great singer, but it took her until the second half to sound better.  Paula believes that everything is going right tonight for Lil but tells her she should have cut out a verse to get to her soaring vocals quicker.  Simon keeps calling her Little.  He says the performance came over like someone who was forced to sing a song at a wedding and says it just wasn't her.  Lil keeps talking back to them until I'm shouting at the screen, "Shut!  Up!"


Adam Lambert (sings Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"):  Randy T. is speechless at the arrangement.  So am I.  The first half with the sitar is a little too weird for me, but when he begins to wail in his upper range, I start getting all hot and bothered again.  Or maybe that's just menopause.  Anyway, I suspect that the audience will either love it or hate it, but hey, you won't confuse him for anyone else up there.  Kara calls it interesting and strange, but she kind of liked it.  Paula says he's true to who he is as an artist and compares the performance to Led Zeppelin.  Which, oddly, I can see.  Simon asks, "What the hell was that?"  He thinks a lot of people are throwing their television sets out the window right now, and he calls the arrangement indulgent rubbish.  Randy thinks the greatest thing about it is that it was like Nine Inch Nails doing the song - the arrangement was current, young, and hot.  When asked, Adam readily agrees that he's not going to Nashville any time soon.  True enough.


Scott MacIntyre (sings Martina McBride's "Wild Angels"):  Randy T. thought it might not be a good choice for him, but he feels he'll do fine.  Scott is at the piano again, singing another boring ballad.  Zzzzzz.  Oh, wait, it picks up a little.  I wake up just long enough to go back to sleep.  Paula calls tonight another impressive, lovely performance, but believes the piano is a bit of a crutch for Scott at this point.  Simon thinks she's stupid, and Scott should stay behind the piano if he wants to, but he wants him to choose better songs.  Scott says he keeps losing the hat pick of songs.  Well, dude, so what?  Randy is looking for hot, crazy vocals, and he's not getting them.  Kara says they want him to up the game a little bit, but she admits he brings class and poise to the stage.


Alexis Grace (sings Dolly Parton's "Jolene"):  Randy T. says Alexis sings like someone who knows what telling a story is like.  She's got the pipes, but I keep comparing this to Dolly's version, and it comes up short for me.  Pitch problems don't help.  Eh.  Randy doesn't think she hits the notes very well, and it wasn't a great performance for him.  Kara thinks she lost her edge a bit.  Paula believes she showed a different side of her vocals.  Simon thinks it was okay and a little soundalike.  They all miss the dirty in her.


Danny Gokey (sings Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel"):  Danny got nervous in rehearsal with Randy T. and kept screwing up, but Randy says that Danny has soulfulness.  He's a boring performer, and I hate this song, but his voice is fine, albeit a little too shouty near the end.  The crowd goes wild, though.  Kara says when he hits his stride, he's like none other.  She likes to hear his power notes.  Paula is incoherent, but ends up saying he's brilliant.  Simon's only problem is that bulky white jacket Danny's wearing, which reminds him of a polar expedition.  Randy says the verses needed more support.


Anoop Desai (sings Willie Nelson's "You Were Always On My Mind"):  Randy T. had his doubts about this, but the doubts went away in rehearsal.  And then Anoop starts to sing and...well, what do you know?  He's touching and vulnerable.  I'd say he acquitted himself quite well on this.  Quite well.  And I'm not comparing him to Willie Nelson at all.  Good job, dawg.  Paula says that Anoop is back, and the song fit him like a glove.  Simon says he managed to go from zero to hero, and it was one of his favorite performances of the whole night.  Randy says this is the reason they wanted him in the competition and calls the arrangement dope.  Kara calls it the best performance of the night because it was the biggest surprise.


Megan Joy Corkrey (sings Patsy Cline's "I Go Walking After Midnight"):  Randy T. isn't sure about this, but he calls it totally unique.  She starts singing, and while the song suits her, I'm totally distracted by the jerky arm movements and that arm full of tattoos.  The vocals are just too off for me, but when she's done she hacks and hacks and gets a pass because she has the flu.  Randy is quite impressed and thought it all really worked.  Kara calls it the perfect song and the perfect look.  Paula calls her the consummate professional and tells her to keep being sick.  Simon says she should have the flu every week, since it improves her vocals so much, but he says her stylist is taking away her quirkiness in her prom outfit.


Matt Giraud (sings Carrie Underwood's "So Small"): Once again, Randy T. isn't sure about the song choice, but again there's a soulfulness he likes.  Matt is back at the piano, too, but he's about ten times better than Scott McIntyre.  Well, except for that funky last note.  He puts a lot of emotion into his performance, though - the most of the night, I'd say.  Kara says there ain't nothing small about him.  Snort.  Paula calls him an authentic performer, and he pierced her heart.  Simon believes he hasn't been given enough credit for his vocals, and it was one of the best performances tonight.  Randy calls it his favorite performance tonight.


My ranking:


1.  Matt Giraud - the most genuinely emotional tonight

2.  Anoop Desai - such a turnaround from last week, and it was quite touching

3.  Adam Lambert - I'm sure country lovers detested it, but it was definitely the most unique version of a song tonight (even if I think he got part of it from Dilana's Rock Star: Supernova performance), and I love it when he wails.  So sue me.

4.  Kris Allen - throw the puppy a plush toy now

5.  Allison Iraheta - a solid vocal performance from the littlest rocker chick

6.  Danny Gokey - good enough to put him in the middle of the pack

7.  Megan Joy Corkrey - I don't know how well she would have done without having the flu, but I suspect those stupid arm movements wouldn't have changed

8.  Michael Sarver - okay, but not as memorable as the other contestants

9.  Alexis Grace - meh, but I liked her voice better than...

10.  Scott MacIntyre - another snoozefest

11.  Lil Rounds - wrong song, wrong interpretation


Bottom 3 (announced on March 18 results show):  Allison Iraheta, Michael Sarver, Alexis Grace

Eliminated:  Alexis Grace


Review 2009 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail


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