We're down to the Top Three -- or "The Three Amigos" -- on "American Idol," a round which has always seen three performances apiece from the remaining contestants. Not this season. Not this "American Idol" production team. Instead, we're being treated to only two songs, one chosen by the judges and one chosen by the guys themselves. And even with only six performances, the episode is already scheduled to run at least four minutes into the next hour.
How did Danny Gokey, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert do? Click through...
Singer: DANNY GOKEY
Song: "Dance Little Sister"
My Take: What a very strange song choice courtesy of Paula, who thinks Danny has the same magical quality as Terrance Trent D'Arby. While not exactly an obscure song, I'd still bet this will be one of the least recognizable tunes we hear tonight, which puts Danny at an immediate disadvantage. Danny sounds fine when he's singing, but he really embarrasses himself with some soulless scatting with a nearby sax player. Actually, after the last note of "Dream On," is Danny capable of embarrassing himself anymore? Probably not. He's reasonably energetic and tuneful, definitely better than last week.
Ginger Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice and Simon Say: Dude, Randy is telling us that Danny was performing like crazy and sounded good. It was dope for Randy. Kara didn't like Danny's dancing, which was "too gyrating for me." Paula whips out her choreography credentials and says Danny's dancing was "really good," and that he did a fantastic job vocally. Simon makes a snide comment about "Dancing with the Stars," mocking both Danny's dancing and the sax solo. He suggests a different Terrance Trent D'Arby song might have been better. Danny is feeling spirited and excited about his performance, though the commentary devolves into Simon attempting to wrestle Paula to the floor.
Singer: KRIS ALLEN
My Take: Kara and Randy picked a song that Kara's been wanting people to sing all season. Kris at least seemed to know the song beforehand, which gives him an advantage over Danny. We're being pushed rather strongly toward a Kris/Adam Final, aren't we? It's Kris' genre, but it isn't really good song for his voice. The verses are monotonous and Kris' falsetto isn't his strong suit. Some of the times his voice cracks it's emotion. Other times, it sounds like he's trying to find the notes. Kris, who's spent so much time this season rearranging songs to his advantage, just does the One Republic original without any variation. This is a Kris "Who?" Allen performance, not a Kris "The Dark Horse" Allen performance.
Ginger Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice and Simon Say: You know what Randy loves about Kris doing the song? It shows who he can be in the future. Kara calls it "competent," which is actually a good word. She wanted him to make it more his own. Paula's proud of Kris for no reason she can articulate. Simon insults Kara for choosing the song and then criticizing Kris for being too literal. "You're gonna tell me about interpreting songs," Kara snipes. The B**** Is Back! Where has this needy, insecure Kara been for the past few months? It's like Kara's fighting spirit went out the window once she got rid of Bikini Girl. Kris meekly stand up for himself as Kara physically assaults Simon.
Singer: ADAM LAMBERT
My Take: Simon had to get U2's permission for Adam to sing this song, which he only mentioned to make it clear that he and U2 are bros. It stars off low-key and literal, but when we reach the chorus, Adam takes it off in his own direction, making it pretty much unrecognizable, his own wailing, emotional, unique version of the song. The people who don't like Adam won't have liked this. They'll call it shriek-y and theatrical. Everybody else will wonder why the other two guys are even around anymore. Do you think Adam could have done a note-perfect Bono impression? Of course he could have. He didn't want to and he didn't need to. The other two guys are performing to advance to the next round. Adam's already moved past this.
Ginger Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice and Simon Say: Randy says that Adam is one of the hottest three in the competition. Good call, Randy. Randy didn't love Adam going off-melody. Kara calls Adam a "amazing strategist," calling it unbelievable. Kara then does a really awful British accent. Paula tells Adam that she's staring at an American Idol right now. Simon thought it was a brilliant song choice and a brilliant performance. All four judges agree that it'll be outrageous if Adam isn't in the Finals next week.
Singer: DANNY GOKEY
Song: "You Are So Beautiful"
My Take: Danny correctly surmises that based on Taylor Hick's "Idol" win, the voting populace is eager to embrace a Joe Cocker cover artist. Disappointingly, it's Cocker-affectation-free. It's raspy and earnest and gently soulful. And all around America, everybody's guessing/assuming who Gokey is singing the song to, which adds an note of emotionalism. It's not a performance that blew me away, but there's little I can say to tear it down. He was very solid.
Ginger Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice and Simon Say: You know what Randy loved about what Danny just did? That he showed he's here because he can sing. Kara said Danny did everything right, repeating "stunning" several times. Paula was left breathless, that Danny nailed it. Simon didn't love the arrangement, but he calls it "a vocal master class."
Singer: KRIS ALLEN
My Take: Gee. This is either going to be a brilliant choice or a brilliantly stupid choice. Either way, you can't accuse Kris of playing it safe if he's covering Kanye West. It's just Kris and his acoustic guitar and the result is pretty tremendous. After all, Kanye can do many things, but he can't actually sing a lick, so hearing this song suddenly becoming yearning and melodic and powerful, as opposed to overproduced and silly is a revelation (the cover by The Fray is different and better, but overproduced in its own way). This is perhaps my favorite Kris performance of the season.
Ginger Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice and Simon Say: Randy loves the version better than The Fray's version and better than Kanye's version. Kara says it was "bold, brave and fearless." Paula makes a lame joke and then commends him. Simon says he'd written Kris off, "That however has all changed after that performance."
Singer: ADAM LAMBERT
My Take: It's like Adam is trying to mock Gokey, saying, "You thought Aerosmith was hard last week? This is how a pro does it." Adam is done a horrid disservice by the background vocalist, who has been overmic-ed. As a result, he stands out of tune leading into the chorus and say what you will about Adam, his pitch is pretty perfect. The song has been gutted to fit the time and the result is really frantic, disjointed and poorly arranged. This is not Adam's fault, per se, but it's a misjudgment on several levels.
Ginger Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice and Simon Say: Randy says Adam is one of the best they've ever had on the stage, that he loved it even more than "One." Kara says she'll see him in the Finals. Paula mutters something. Simon tells America to vote for Adam and to not assume that he's going to be in the Finals.
TONIGHT'S BEST: While Adam is, as always, the class of this competition, the single best individual performance of the night was Kris' "Heartless" cover.
TONIGHT'S WORST: That being said, the single worst individual performance of the night was Kris' "Apologize" cover. So it was a mixed bag, eh?
IN DANGER: Want to know the crazy thing? I think Adam may be in trouble. Danny is a safe artist. Kris is a safe artist. Adam is not safe and he's not middlebrow like the other two. Also, Adam's last performance was the weaker of his two performances. I'm just saying that Simon was correct to remind people to vote for Adam and I wonder if somebody has been showing him the vote totals from the past couple weeks. He may know that Adam's support is softer than we might think.
And what do y'all think? Who's safe and who's in trouble?