AMERICAN IDOL 8: TOP 4 ANALYSIS

First off, a get well soon shout out to Idol stage manager Debbie Williams, who took a tumble on the set today, just one of the problems Ryan alluded to on the show tonight.

Is having Rock Week this late in the game fair to all the contestants? Fair or not, let’s see what we got…

“WHOLE LOTTA LOVE” – Adam Lambert

Adam came on looking a bit like Elvis. I wanted to see him jump around a bit more early in the performance.  I think he held back a bit vocally this time out, sticking close to the recorded version of the song. Even so, it was a performance that was bigger than the Idol stage!

“CRY BABY” – Allison Iraheta

An excellent performance, but it would have been even better if she hadn’t been giving the audience little smiles here and there. Obviously Allison loves performing, but she could have been even more committed emotionally to the lyrics.

“RENEGADE” – Kris Allen & Danny Gokey

My friend Fred Bronson has always wanted to see an episode of Idol that features duets, perhaps pairing the contestants with past winners and runners-up (and I’m especially reminded of this as I could see Fred in the audience a number of times tonight). Still, while this would make for a great moment during the “Idol” concert tour, the contestants singing with each other doesn’t belong on the show.

That said, Kris seems more comfortable on the song, but Danny holds his own. I especially liked the breakdown when they sang together.

“COME TOGETHER” – Kris Allen

I was worried that after Simon said Danny was better on the duet, it might have seeped away some self confidence from Kris, but that didn’t happen. But while he gave the song his all, Kris turned in a performance that was good but not that special. One problem was that it’s tough to connect to a song that has nonsense lyrics, plus the verses of “Come Together” have an angry tone to them and that’s definitely not Kris’s strong suit. He probably should have rearranged a rock song, which would have wowed the judges. I also think if Kris is going to sing rock, he’s much more suited for power pop, a la Crowded House or a more poppy Beatles hit.

“DREAM ON” – Danny Gokey

This was the song that got Michael Johns booted off the show last year. At the time, I thought the problem was it’s a long song that was hurt by editing. This time out, Danny puts a spotlight on the lyrics before pulling out the vocal fireworks on the chorus, so I wasn’t bothered by his having to cut the song down. I did think adding a little jazz in the breakdown seemed weird and I’m still trying to decide if that final scream was musical or not (and if you have to think about it, it probably wasn’t). Too bad, because the scream Danny did in the highlights package at the end of the show (taken from rehearsals) was right on.

“SLOW RIDE” – Adam Lambert & Allison Iraheta

Just great to watch, as Adam and Allison played a musical game of “Can you top this?” Their voices matched perfectly, and given that it was a duet, I didn’t mind them having fun onstage.

So who should go home? If you’re judging just from tonight, you’d have to say it was Danny. But I think the voters will take into consideration that rock isn’t in Danny’s wheelhouse, plus the judges came down pretty hard on Kris. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night, but at least we got an enjoyable night of rock and roll!

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