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 'Idols' Shine, Stumble on Motown Night

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PostSubject: 'Idols' Shine, Stumble on Motown Night   Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:19 am

It was Motown night on "American Idol" and the judges threw down the gauntlet early. Paula Abdul said she wanted to see the singers challenge themselves, and Simon Cowell said that Motown created some of the best songs in the world and it was up to the singers to make them their own.

The "Idols" started with a tour of Hitsville, U.S.A., the home of Motown in Detroit. Mentor Smokey Robinson then led them through the finer points of their song selections back in L.A.

Overall, there were some solid performances and a few real stinkers -- one of which prompted judge Simon Cowell to say one particular finalist has "no chance" of winning the competition.

Beyond the singing, Paula and Simon took their shenanigans to a whole new level tonight. At one point, Paula tried to demonstrate how Simon acts like a 6-year-old by giving him a box of Crayons and some coloring books. At the end of the night, while giving Allison comments on her performance, Simon had drawn a mustache on Paula's upper lip and giggled, like, well, a 6-year-old as Paula tried to talk and cover up the drawn-on 'stache. If I'm being honest, it was a little odd.

Best of the night: Adam Lambert dressed in a silver suit and slicked his hair into a '50s-style coif. He was nervous to sing Smokey's own "Tracks of My Tears," and he wanted to do it justice -- maybe after hearing all the complaints after last week's "Ring of Fire" debacle. It was a softer, more tender side of Adam than we've never seen before. But it was all a bit weird, with the different outfit and the hairdo. It was a captivating performance, but it was another sign that Adam is playing a role as an actor in the competition. Will the real Adam Lambert please stand up?! Kara stood up and said she had six words: "One of the best performances of the night." That's eight words. She probably meant to leave out "one of," but got cold feet as she said it. Paula said Adam was completely in his own league and said he brought an element of surprise. Simon said "it was the best performance of the night." He said Adam emerged as a star. Randy said Adam showed he's not just a rocker.

Allison Iraheta chose to sing "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." When she sang it for Smokey, she stumbled over some lyrics. And she did it again during the performance, but covered it up OK. She gave it attitude and put a major stamp on it. Allison is a contender. Randy said she's "one of the dopest singers" in the competition and called it "blazing hot." Kara said it was amazing and told America they had to vote for her. "You can't teach that," Kara said. Paula, with a mustache drawn on her face, said Allison was "awesome." Simon, still giggling from having drawn the mustache on Paula's face, said Allison had a terrible performance last week, but bounced back with one of her best.

Matt Giraud went first on a night with 10 singers, so he had to shine brightly. He played "Let's Get It On," which excited Smokey because of his close friendship with Marvin Gaye. Smokey said Marvin would have loved it. Matt started the song by himself on piano before the band kicked in and Matt stood up to sing the rest away from the keys. He sure got it on to start the night. Randy said he there were other guys who were front-runners, but said Matt has "come up so far" and is challenging for a top spot. Kara said there were probably a lot of girls wanting to get it on with Matt. Paula said Matt was as comfortable behind the piano and he was out in front of it. She also praised Matt's runs, which were respectful of the melody. Simon said it was a brilliant song choice and it was a cool performance and echoed Randy's comment (which Simon took credit for last week) that Matt is a front-runner.

Solid performances: Kris Allen took on "How Sweet It Is," and tried to give it his own twist with the guitar back in hand. Smokey said he was blown away in rehearsal. Kris sang and played with the guitar again -- but I'm again not convinced he was really playing it. Kara praised Kris for not playing James Taylor or Marvin Gaye, but doing "everything right" and putting his own stamp on it. Paula said Kris was coming into his own. Simon said Kris was "having a good competition," but said Kris needs to develop a swagger and confidence that shows he believes in himself. "To be a star, you've got to be conceited," Simon said. Randy said Kris has hit his zone and was doing nothing wrong.

Anoop "Dogg" Desai took on Smokey's own "Ooh, Baby Baby." Smokey said the song actually came up by accident when he started riffing during a medley in a live show and the Miracles joined in. Anoop said it was the "ultimate dream" to sing the song for Smokey, who'd said he wouldn't change a thing about Anoop's performance. It was interesting. Anoop showed off some falsetto that we didn't really know he had. Kara said it was "probably one of the hardest songs to sing" and said he did a pretty good job of it. She said she was just now seeing what Anoop can do and wanted him to push it more. Paula liked it and said she wanted Anoop to challenge himself more. Simon said "it was a great vocal," but he looked like he was half asleep during the performance so he had to work on his showmanship. Randy said he liked seeing "the serious Anoop Dogg," but wanted him to turn it up next week.

Lil Rounds decided to sing "Heat Wave" and Smokey said she could sing the phone book. Lil said she was struck by the history she discovered in Detroit and wanted to dedicate her performance to the women of Motown who paved the way. LIl gave a high-energy performance, but it felt like she was shouting a bit most of the way through. Randy said the first part of the song "was a little bit torture." He said she seemed to have some trouble keeping up with the tempo. Kara said Lil was the diva people were looking forward to this week and she picked the wrong song. Paula said, "I disagree completely with these two." She said Lil "owned that song." Simon said Lil did an authentic tribute to Motown, but it wasn't a good song choice. He said she missed a chance to have "a moment" this night.

Good enough: Danny Gokey chose to sing a fun song, "Get Ready," and took Smokey's advice to sing the ends of each line with the backup singer. Or, at least he said he was going to. In the end, he didn't take Smokey's advice, and it left the song feeling a bit flat, with the backup singers doing a key part of the song. It was Danny's sloppiest performance this season. Paula said it was another "first-class performance." Simon said it was "clumsy and amateurish." Randy said it wasn't Danny's best performance, but he loved the energy and feeling. Kara said it was "good, not great," but she was still "a huge Danny fan."

In serious trouble: Scott MacIntyre decided to use the piano again, saying he wanted to be true to himself. At first it seemed like he was going to give his easy-listening slant to "You Can't Hurry Love," by Diana Ross and The Supremes. But he kicked it up a notch and went uptempo with it. He seemed to stumble on a couple of lyrics, but covered it up well. Paula said Scott did change it up well, which she appreciated. Simon used the line from the song "how much more can I take?" as a prompt to ask the same question. He said it just didn't work, and that it felt cheap, and said that "week after week, you're choosing the wrong song." Randy agreed it was a "very hotel kind of performance," and said Scott has to take some risks. Kara disagreed, saying Scott brought tempo, but she didn't like that he took liberties with the melody of the song and didn't nail it.

Megan Joy (hold the Corkrey) showed Smokey how different she is, offering up her rendition of Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life." He said she was one of the most original contestants he's seen on the show. For once this season, Megan's performance really didn't work for me. The problem is that she started buying into the idea of a "Megan" style. She also struggled with the timing and crossed up a lyric. Randy called it "a train wreck." He said it didn't fit with her jazzy thing because the song was too fast. Kara agreed, suggesting Megan should have done "My Guy," and said the song took Megan over. Paula said Megan's "stunning beauty" took her breath away, but agreed the song was bad. Simon said, "the good news is you look good, the bad news is it was horrible, and whoever is advising you, I would fire." He said she could be in serious trouble. He's right.

Time to go home: Michael Sarver came on, reminding me that he's still in this competition and Alexis isn't. Michael said he was going to take his song to church. He performed "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Smokey told Michael not to "sweet talk" the song, but "pound it." This couple of minutes felt like a different show. He gave it a big finish, of sorts, but it fell a little flat. Paula said, "Oh, boy," and called it "a tough performance." She said it felt "old Las Vegas loungey." She said he missed some of the higher notes he was shooting for. Simon said, "Let me make this a little more easy; actually, I couldn't wait for it to end." He told Michael he has no chance of winning the competition. Randy said the song was too big for him because he's "not an R&B kind of dude." Kara said "it's not about singing, it's about artistry," and suggested Michael bring some of his own personality as an artist to his songs in the future.

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