Allison Iraheta‘s funky outfit got more attention than her performance on “American Idol.”
The judges’ panel seemed too distracted by what she was wearing to offer much criticism of her performance. The 16-year-old rock prodigy belted the No Doubt hit “Don’t Speak” — not that it mattered.
Judge Simon Cowell said Iraheta’s look resembled “something out of `The Addams Family.'” Her poofy red dress, black leggings, white heels and spiky magenta hair led Cowell to joke that the night’s theme must be Halloween.
For Tuesday night’s performance show, the nine remaining contestants were asked to choose from the most popular downloaded songs on iTunes.
Most failed to win over judges. Cowell said Anoop Desai‘s take on Usher’s “Caught Up” gave him a headache. Randy Jackson compared Megan Joy’s reggae-lite performance of “Turn Your Lights Down Low” to “watching paint dry.” The foursome brought Lil Rounds to tears after criticizing the soul singer for playing it safe with a Celine Dion song.
It wasn’t all gloom and doom. Adam Lambert, the 26-year-old theater actor who defies labels and vocal limits, continued his hot streak with a not-so-corny rendition of “Play That Funky Music.” Paula Abdul called Lambert a “genius” in the vein of Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler.
Cowell told Kris Allen, Danny Gokey and Scott MacIntyre they gave their best performances so far in the top-rated Fox singing contest.
MacIntyre, from Scottsdale, Ariz., stuck to the piano again, tickling the ivories for Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are.”
Download free mp3: Danny Gokey Hero, Pretty Young Thing, Jesus Takes the Wheel, Get Ready, What Hurts The Most Adam Lambert Satisfaction, Black or White, Ring of Fire, The Track of My Tears Lil Round The Way You Make Me Feel, ABC – Top 13 AI, Allison Iraheta Give it To Me, Papa Was A Rolling Stone Matt Giraud Let’s Get it On
“Of all the contestants that have graced the stage, I am most proud of you,” Abdul told MacIntyre, who is legally blind.
The fate of these singers will be determined during Wednesday’s results show. One will be sent packing — unless judges choose to use a new rule that allows them to save someone they feel has been wrongly booted by voting viewers.
Knowing the judges usually don’t take too kindly to failed attempts at reworking songs that are currently on, or only very recently left, the pop charts, most of the contestants reached deep (at least 10 years or so) into the catalog available to them and pulled out a typically eclectic mix of melodies.
Considering the artists covered Tuesday ranged from Celine Dion to Billy Joel to Bill Withers, it didn’t seem as if the rules encompassed any Top 40 hit that you can currently buy for 99 cents.
Anoop started things off with the most contemporary song we were to hear tonight…
Anoop Desai: Ugh. Back to the drawing board for ol’ Anoop-Dogg, who couldn’t do much with Usher’s “Caught Up.” We don’t know about you, but we were caught up grasping at straws to single out any highlight from his performance. Sure enough, things perked up toward the end, but it was too late to salvage what was mostly a karaoke-grade performance. It was kind of “like a bunch of frat guys dared you to get up and sing Usher,” Kara DioGuardi commented, while Simon Cowell found it “a complete and utter mess.”
Megan Joy: Degrees better than last week was Megan’s mellow take on “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” a tune done by both Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill that suited the blonde beauty’s pleasant but nasally Nelly Furtado pipes to a tee…or not. Paula Abdul insisted that Megan needs to sit in a chair and sing a simple ballad to show her vulnerable side. “So she needs a chair?” Simon asked skeptically. “Indulgent” and “monotonous” were two of the words he used, while Randy Jackson compared the performance to “watching paint dry.”
Danny Gokey: Slow is the way to go for the very appealing Danny. The mournful “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts was a good fit for the 28-year-old fan fave, who had to fly back to his native Milwaukee over the weekend to attend his grandfather’s funeral. With the band’s string section wailing away behind him, Danny put a soulful spin on the country tune and duly impressed the judges. “I know we’re only three in, but it was so much better than the first two, like two snails competing with a racehorse,” Simon said.
Allison Iraheta: This 16-year-old worships at the temple of Fierce. Despite adding her own guitar accompaniment, she didn’t do anything different, melodically speaking, to No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” but her raspy voice added a nice angry edge to the song—and unwittingly launched a battle of the sexes: Randy and Simon couldn’t get over her questionable outfit but Kara and Paula thought it a very grown-up performance. “Your vocal prowess rivals singers twice your age…Your intonation and delivery is masterful and effortless,” rambled Paula.
Scott MacIntyre: He promised to get up from the piano at some point, but it didn’t happen tonight. Instead, Scott went with one of the best ballads in the book—Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”—and gave his most natural, unaffected performance to date. He didn’t improve on Joel, of course, but it was definitely the right artist for Scott to act like. “You’re very, very lucky that you didn’t listen to madame’s,” Simon said, pointing to Paula, “advice about not playing the piano.”
Matt Giraud: Matt took to the keyboard tonight for the Fray’s “You Found Me,” but whether it was enough to save his Idol life after a close shave last week remains to be seen. The judges were thoroughly disappointed by his rock-band impersonation that lacked the vocal range that he showed in weeks past. One Republic’s “Apologize” would have been a far mightier choice, according to Randy and Simon.
Lil Rounds: Voices don’t get much bigger than Celine Dion’s, and for a moment it sounded as if Lil was about to sink under the weight of the Dion song “I Surrender.” She didn’t, but to what effect? Her voice came booming out at last when she reached the chorus but the overall performance was boring. The lady judges praised the effortlessness with which she reaches those high notes, but Simon “found it quite similar to a wedding performance.”
Adam Lambert: Just when you thought “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry couldn’t sound new again… All it needed, apparently, was Adam adding his falsetto riffs and a variety of other vocal flourishes to make it sound like something you might actually want to listen to on purpose in 2009. It wasn’t exactly hit-single material, but it could have conceivably been an encore performance at an Adam Lambert concert. Simon forgot to call it indulgent and Paula compared Adam’s brand of genius to Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler.
Kris Allen: Kris’ light shined bright on the bluesy “Ain’t No Sunshine” as he turned in another emotionally effective performance that highlighted his vocal range and his musicality. Simon praised the “very cool” arrangement on the 1971 Bill Withers tune and Kara had three words for him: “That is artistry!”
So, Kris and Adam’s stock continues to rise, while Danny returned to form. Has Lil Rounds plateaued or will one great song choice put her right back in the thick of things?
Wednesday’s elimination show will feature Lady GaGa and a taped performance by David Cook, who canceled shows on his college-campus tour Monday and Tuesday “to deal with personal family matters.” His rep wouldn’t elaborate, but it’s confirmed that Cook spent time last week with his brother Adam, who has been battling brain cancer for more than a decade.