Idolator’s American Idolatry: It’s Not Quite A Hoe-Down, But It’ll Do

final7HS7K0013.preview.jpgLast night’s American Idol was country night, and it was surprisingly watchable, which we are going to chalk up to a better, more coherent theme than last week. There was a little bit of overindulgence in self-referentiality (can someone please tell Sanjaya that everyone’s sick of the joke?) and a little bit of controversy, and two really outstanding performances.

Also? We are never trusting spoilers again.

PHIL DOLES OUT THE BRO-HUGS: Somehow, Randy and Paula enjoyed Phil’s performance of Keith Urban’s “Where The Blacktop Ends,” although it may have been because he actually seemed a little less stiff last night, going into the audience and hugging various spectators. Or perhaps they were grading on a “not as creepy as last week” curve? While Simon thought that his improved standing wouldn’t be enough to save him, we’re not so sure–especially since

JORDIN IN MEMPHIS: Jordin was for the most part wonderful last night, pulling off a soul-filled “Broken Wing” that gave the song a Dusty In Memphis spin. She couldn’t hit some of the high notes, but we were completely charmed, and last night, our belief that she could come from behind and win this whole thing was only strengthened.

SANJAYA TRIES TO GET THE CHAT ROOMS GOING: Oh, Sanjaya. “Something To Talk About”? While wearing an Axl Rose bandana? Because you “often give a lot of people something to talk about”? And you’re asking them to talk about love instead? Idol producers: Please take away this kid’s Internet access ASAP, because the self-referentiality is about to collapse on itself. At least his performance gave Simon a reason to invoke Beyonce and tell him to move “to the left.”

LAKISHA DRIVES INTO A DITCH: Lakisha’s version of “Jesus Take The Wheel” got Martina McBride choked up, but it just made us feel all wrong; it seemed lifeless at first, then screamy, and it finally collapsed into a hot mess right in front of the judges. Even going after Sanjaya couldn’t help her.

CHRIS GOES TO MAYBERRY: First off: Points deducted for picking a song by the craptastic Rascal Flatts. Second off: More points deducted for a flat, nasal performance. As far as the Simon eye-rolling “controversy”: Watching at home, we did think it was a bit odd that Chris turned talking about why his singing was nasal into a mention of the Virginia Tech tragedy–he did seem a bit broken up about it, though, so maybe he panicked and knew that he’d be played off before he got a chance to mention his friends. But surely Simon wasn’t the only person in America cringing at what could have been seen, by the more cynical types, as a way to deflect criticism, right? (Seriously, how is this the top story on Drudge right now?)

MELINDA GETS INTO TROUBLE: We’re guessing that Julie Reeves will see a huge uptick in record sales after Melinda’s all-fire version of her 1999 honky-tonk track “Trouble Is A Woman,” which barely scraped into the country top 40 upon its initial release. Bet on a reissue soon: The judges loved the performance, the audience loved Melinda, and Julie Reeves probably loved the fact that her song was on millions of viewers’ lips this morning.

BLAKE GOES BRITPOP? Blake’s version of Tim McGraw’s Ryan Adams’ “When The Stars Go Blue” (which was credited to Tim McGraw) sounded like an outtake from Erasure’s upcoming all-country collection. Somehow, the judges liked it, although Simon, apparently tipped to the fact that he’d been caught rolling his eyes at Chris’ condolences, used his judgment opportunity to shoehorn in his support for the Virginia Tech community.

WHO WE VOTED FOR (IN OUR HEARTS): Jordin and Melinda. You know, for all the pre-show moaning by people about how some of the Idol performers wouldn’t “get” country night, the two best performances showed the link between the best country music and the best soul music.

WHO AMERICA WILL PROBABLY CUT: It’s a tough call, but we’re going with our gut, and betting on a surprise Lakisha elimination. Yes, Sanjaya’s admission that he was basically trying to use Idol as some sort of comedy-career springboard probably alienated a good chunk of “ironic” voters, but Lakisha’s performance was really inert and weird.

PAULA ABDUL OUT-OF-IT SCALE: 6/10. She actually seemed pretty lucid, but calling Lakisha “brilliant” tacked on an extra point.

American Idol []
Earlier: Idolator’s American Idolatry archives
[Photo via BuzzSugar]

  • d

    Idolators – When The Stars Go Blue is a Ryan Adams song. I was trying to imagine Adams watching that performance and dying just a little bit more on the inside.

  • Chris Molanphy

    [T]he two best performances showed the link between the best country music and the best soul music

    Agreed – and that’s why LaKisha’s performance failed. There was a brief, teensy moment in the first verse where she threw some gentle melismata into her vocal, suggesting that she was about to take the Underwood track in an appropriately soulful/gospel-like direction, but then…Simon and Paula had it right: the chorus turned all “shouty.”

    I’ve been defending Blake for weeks now, but even I was underwhelmed by him last night. Was kind of surprised all three judges gave him a pass, including Simon. I’m not a big Idol conspiracy theorist, but I do believe the judges (esp. Simon) think ahead to the marketability/”it” factor, and so I continue to believe they’re pulling for Blake because he’ll be an easy sell as a contemporary pop artist, unlike Melinda.

  • Maura Johnston

    @d: especially since they name-checked mcgraw, and not adams! i’ve updated the post. thanks.

  • Chris Molanphy

    @d: Dying? Are you kidding? Adams probably whooped out loud and downed another fifth of vidka, contemplating the fat royalty check that’s in the mail to him.

  • Chris Molanphy

    [vodka - sorry, bad typist today]

  • JudgeFudge

    I’ve figured it out! Blake looks like the lovechild of Michael Showalter and Steve Zahn.

  • Nicolars

    I thought Blake was great last night, I feel dirty and ashamed.

  • Rory B. Bellows

    @Nicolars: Were you drunk then? Are you drunk now? Blake took one of my favorite Ryan Adams songs and give it the worst pop treatment I have ever heard. He started in the middle, rather than letting the song naturally build. Then he jumped straight to the “laughing with your pretty mouth part.” WTF. He completely missed the entire feeling of the song. The musical arrangement was more over-produced Nashville then the Tim McGraw version. The singing was like a bad brit pop take on the song. And the dancing was completely unnecessary and out of place. In all, the only thing he did right was…well, nothing. He did nothing right.

    Completely awful. And I so wanted to like it.

  • katie_a_princess

    blake tried to sexify something that isn’t built for blakesexification. i call foul.

    i like the mental imagery of ryan adams watching “american idol.” like, he’s at peace only when he’s watching “american idol.”

  • The Mozfather

    Hey Jordin performed “Broken Wing” on another variety show! Check it out:

  • d

    @dennisobell: My imaginary American Idol-watchin’ Adams (yes, I really did just type that) alternates between feelings of omnipotence and self loathing. He dries his tears with that big fat check, then hits the vodka.