American Idling | 09.13

american-idol_sm.jpg"There but for the Grace of God goes Alexis!"







Week Two delivered a revelation: This season’s American Idol has arguably the best group of competitors ever. More than a few of the underdogs have teeth, and none of them are surrendering to their scripted parts as filler-material designed to take the fall for the early favorites on their way to the OK Corral. It is unfortunate, then, that the character that rode in on the donkey, the one with the floppy cowboy hat and the stupefied grin that all but telegraphs "Expendable: Shoot right here," dodged the bullet.

With what resembled hesitancy, Simon Cowell delivered the jury’s unanimous decision to not exercise the Judges Save, prematurely ending Alexis Grace’s run for the American Idol title. A surprising and sizzling rendition of Aretha Franklin’s "I Never Loved a Man" in the first round of the semifinals compensated the lack of screen time dealt to her by the powers-that-be; that night, she laid to rest the ingénue and "dirtied it up." She followed up, in case there were viewers who required further exposition, with a "Dirty Diana" that sent Kara DioGuardi into Sapphic heat. So what happened during Grand Ol’ Opry Night? Her "Jolene" wasn’t a complete disappointment; it certainly wasn’t outrageous like Adam Lambert’s Frankenstein reinvention of "Ring of Fire." In my book, she was the sacrificial lamb at the conclusion of a shoot-out that challenged the aesthetics of almost every competitor but one. And it was his to lose. And he should have. I’m talking about Expendable.

From good to bad, in my opinion, based on last Tuesday’s show:

ALLISON IRAHETA | Simon pegged her as the Dark Horse when the Top 36 was chosen. She offered the best female vocals of the night, so there wasn’t a reason for her to place in the Bottom Three other than viewer inattentiveness.

Advice: If you build it, they will come. What’s "it"? Jeez, I don’t know. Just build "it."

ANOOP DESAI | Mesmerizing. And that’s just his lip gloss. His Michael Jackson number was an indelible near-trainwreck. His cover of Willie Nelson’s "Always on My Mind" was all Anoop Dawg needed to show his fans that he’s alright, nothing is broken, he can sing, and he is worthy of their support.

Question: Who was that vision in cargo shorts sitting in your Friends and Family section, does he have a Facebook account, is he single, and will he at least let me lotion his legs?

KRIS ALLEN | Kill me. Just lay me down on a lush verdant meadow, with daisies and fluffy dandelions and, and…and butterflies and ladybugs and bluebirds and, oh, even squirrels, why not? Then kill me with your big brown soulfuls; with your youthful glow; with your soft, uncomplicated voice. Sing me a lullaby; dang, sing me the multiplication table, I don’t care. You have a wife? She can bring the shovel.

Advice: Lime hides the smell of decomposition.

MATT GIRAUD | I concede that he has more talent than your everyday garden-variety piano-dueller—those crafty clowns of the music hall—but I’m not on his vibe quite yet. Maybe tonight now that we’re safely out of the cornfields.

Advice: Have you found your corny ’80s ballad yet?

MEGAN JOY | Not to intentionally sell her short, but if there were a perfect least-common denominator time to catch the flu, it was last week’s show. Nothing heretofore foreshadows Megan taking it all the way to the Kodak Theater, but with the sympathy votes alone, Megan Joy assured herself some well-needed rest knowing she’s made the American Idol Tour. That she produced a more-than-decent cover of Patsy Kline’s "Walkin’ After Midnight" on a challenged set of lungs is nothing to sneeze at. Cough at? You know what I mean.

Advice: Take two and call Divine Intervention in the morning.

DANNY GOKEY | Did P. Diddy have a fire sale and no one sent me a mailer? Jacket notwithstanding, Danny’s vocals were a little subpar to previous efforts but, still, dependably Grade-A. "Jesus Take the Wheel," though?

Advice: Resist that little voice that convinces you that you can man up a chick song. Lambert has more testosterone than you and he has half-a-decade of Cover Girl on his face.

LIL ROUNDS | With all their "You’re too safe"s and "Take a risk"s, the judges should have given her a little more credit and appreciation. She stepped out of her R&B comfort zone by going old-skool country. Extra props for choosing Martina McBride’s "Independence Day": I heart that song! It stirs the emotions without descending into martyr territory.

Words of comfort: It’s Motown tonight, Little.

And, by the way: "I Will Always Love You"? That’s would’ve been your suggestion for her, Randy? You know what? Shut up, Randy…

ADAM LAMBERT | He’s a little bit rock-and-roll; he’s a little bit Bollywood freakmare.

Advice: When astral-projecting, careful with low-flying Paula Abduls.

The Adam Lambert shelf-life watch: Fresh, but the artificial coloring is fading.

SCOTT MacINTYRE | I can’t see him lasting for too long.

Advice: Channel Stevie Wonder tonight and you’ll buy another week: signed, sealed and delivered.

MICHAEL SARVER | "Ain’t Goin’ Down ’til the Sun Comes Up" is a fun song. Nothing wrong with fun. But this is American Idol, not American Opening Act.

Advice: You may have a home on one, but none of the range has rubbed off on you. | Alan Quisimorio

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