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March 28, 2009

American Idol 8: Top 10: MoTown Week: There'll Be Singin', Swayin', and Records Playin'

Kristen The Yellow Lab and I are going to a go-go, everybody! After all, what better way to celebrate Motown week on American Idol? Ryan asks us what you get when you mix the most talked-about singers in the country with some of the best music in the last 50 years. Kristen and I hope the answer is "A night that will do Barry Gordy and Hitsville USA proud!" We worry, though, that the correct response is actually, "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing, Baby."

Ryan, looking Smokey-hot in one fine suit and tie, choreographs the judges in a Temptations-style line dance across the stage. In honor of the theme, Paula is wearing a tutu. (After all, Motown music just screams pas de bourree.)

We learn that youngsters were flown, via private jet, to the Motor City - Detroit, Michigan - where they met with seventy-nine but still-looking-fine Barry Gordy and the one and only Smokey Robinson. The kids were appropriately respectful and awestruck as they toured the Motown museum and received advise from the man who brought us some of the most iconic musical groups in pop history.

Later in the week, Smokey arrived at Idol Mansion to provide individual mentoring sessions for each of the contestants. When Smokey sang, did the kids hear violins? Kristen and I would love to know!

The kids are marched out for our approval, and Kristen is distraught because she can't find Adam. Where could her glam-emo rocker boy be?

First to perform is Matt who will be singing Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" while dressed as Mr. Rogers. Yes, Matt. There's nothing that screams hot sex like a Lands End Cozy Cardigan. Matt starts out at the piano, and it's quite good. He ups the volume and tempo, and begins to move around the stage. Here's the thing with Matt - he's got a great voice. Here's another thing with Matt - he got short-changed in the charisma department. He is like Justin Timberlake's anemic step-brother. Randy says he worked it out! Kara insists that there are women watching who are so desperate they are actually shouting, "Yeah! Let's get it on!" at their TV screens. Paula says it's like wearing an old pair of jeans. Simon, who has obviously grown tired of The Gokey, decides to officially declare that Matt is now a front-runner in this competition. Unfortunately, Simon, the only thing front about Matt is the wart on his forehead. Kristen and I give him 8 Marvellettes for a strong vocal. The Supremes weigh in:

Married Kris is up next singing another Marvin classic, "How Sweet It Is," while wearing what looks like a cross between a boyscout uniform and prison garb. As usual, Kris is sweet and wholesome, and his vocals are pure. But, Kristen and I don't remember this song ever lasting this long. It goes on forever with Kris strumming away, his hinky jaw popping out of joint on several occasions. Nice, but not the performance of anyone who will ever win American Idol. Kara tells him he did everything right. Paula was impressed with his high A. Simon insists he needs more swagger. Randy paraphrases Kara by telling him he didn't do anything wrong. It was a solid, if uninspired rendition, so Kristen and I give him 7 Vandellas. Mary Wells has a thing or two to say:

Guess who's not married? Scott. Guess who cares? No one. He plans to perform "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes while wearing pink pants. (Hey! At least, being blind, he has an excuse for his ridiculous wardrobe choices, KRIS and MATT!) Scott performs at the piano with the back-up singers gathered round. It's all very "Uncle Johnny plays the piano at Christmas while his drunk sisters sing along." Kristen and I agree that this is absolutely wretched. Paula tells him that when he feels it, the audience does too. Simon goes for the jugular. "How much more can I take? Sorry, but come on! That was not a good version of that song." Randy agrees that it was "hotel." Kara says, "Yo! I liked it!" That's nice, Kara. But, let's be clear. America wants to listen to Scott sing and play about as much as we want to get it on with Matt. Kristen and I give him 3 Pips, with Gladys Knight adding her piece:

Bird Flu Megan is up next, singing Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life" while dressed for a Hawaiian luau. Megan? A few words if Kristen and I may? a. First of all, Motown women wouldn't be caught dead on stage barefoot. Glamour was the order of the day. As pretty as you are, this should have been the week to go for the gown. b. The only people who should to take on a Stevie Wonder song are people with a little thing called A GOOD VOICE. Megan's performance is so awful, Kristen would find a heart worm test more appealing. Off-key, shouty, shrieky, embarrassing. So, why do we continue to love her? Because even as the judges criticize her, she's smiling and charming. *sigh* That's our Megan! Randy says it was bizarre. Kara tells her it was all over the place. Paula explains that at the beginning, she thought maybe the key was too low for Megan, but then at the end, the notes were too high. (In other words, stick to songs with a three-note range, Megan.)Simon says it was horrible and declares her in trouble. Kristen and I have nothing to give her, it was that bad. Even The Spinners can't muster much support.

Here comes Anoop! He's going to perform "Oooh, Baby, Baby" by Smokey and the Miracles while dressed as a frat boy attending rush parties. (Is anyone giving these kids any sort of fashion advise this season?) It starts off a little shaky, but Anoop has a lovely falsetto that he lets shine with this one. Unfortunately, the tempo is far too slow. Kristen and I feel we're at a Catholic high mass. Overall, Kara connected with it. Paula is amazed to see him singing in front of two legends. Simon thought it was a good vocal, and congratulates him on two good weeks in a row. Randy wants him to turn it up. Kristen and I would like him step off the ballads for a week or two as well. Also, we'd like him to think about dressing like a grown up. And while we're complaining, can we ask him to try to act maybe a tiny bit more humble? Kristen and I give him 8 and a half Temptations and a message from Stevie Wonder, himself:

Big Daddy Michael Sarver is going to sing "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by the Temptations while wearing the only clean thing he could find in his closet. He tells us he's going to take it to church. Kristen and I suggest he do just that. And pray for forgiveness. Michael might have actually saved Megan! He shouts his way through the song as the band outpaces him by half a beat. Paula has to deliver the first blow. "It was Las Vegas lounge act. Sorry, Michael!" Simon tells him he has no chance to win this competition. Randy tells him he's not an R&B dude. (Say WHAT? Haven't they been shoving him in that box from the beginning of the season?) Kara tells him when he goes home one week (huh?) he needs to come back the next and bring it. She'd also like to know who he is as an artist. Michael tries to defend himself, but really, even he looks defeated by the time his number is handed out. Kristen and I have big hearts, and we like the roughneck, so we'll give him 3 Junior Walkers and a word from Eddie Holland:

Onto Lil. She's taking on Martha and The Vandella's "Heat Wave" while looking the part in a sort of 60's flapper style dress, topped off with an atrocious wig. The stylists coudn't figure out how to turn Lil's short hair into a cute 60's bouffant do? Lil grabs one volume at the start of the song and holds on for dear life. This is not good. She's fortunate that there have been three other performances so much worse than hers that she will be spared. She shrieks her way through the final "Like a heat wave!" then proudly turns to face the judges. Lil has obviously begun to believe her own press. Randy wants to know what's going down, baby. Lil's feeling pretty good! Randy tells her it was not the best. Lil glares at him. Kara feels it was the wrong song. Lil's not likin' it. Paula, still shaken from having to be the one to break the bad news to Michael, tells Lil that it was fresh. Simon says it was the wrong song, and feels she should have chosen something that would have given her "a moment." (Dear God: Please make the judges banish "moment" from their vocabulary this season? Thanks! Signed Kristen and Zsus.) Simon, who long-ago declared Lil a member of the future Top 3 and can't bear to be wrong, shouts over Ryan before he can banter with Lil, "I'd like to remind everyone that Lil has one of the best voices in this competition!" Ok, Simon. I guess we'll just have to take your word for it on that one. Kristen and I give her 4 1/2 Velvelettes and a question from Diana Ross:

Annnnnd here comes Adam! *collective gasp of surprise* Good lord, but this boy sure cleans up pretty! He is singing Smokey's own "Tracks of My Tears" stripped down to just a guitar, bass, and box player. He sings entirely in falsetto, and it's one of those "you could hear a pin drop" performances, it's just that lovely. At the end, his face flushes and his eyes well with tears. Smokey Robinson, sitting in the front row, leads the standing ovation. Kara loses her ability to count. "Six words," she says, "One of the best vocals of the night!" Paula tells him she did, in fact, take a good look at his face, and it's clean, classy, handsome. Adam squirms. Simon declares it THE best vocal of the night, and he feels Adam has emerged as a star. Randy thought it was hot. Ryan pulls an overwhelmed Adam across the stage and informs him that he won't make him talk after that, for which Adam seems grateful. (See Noopy? It's not that hard. A little humility goes a long way.) Kristen and I give him 10 Supremes with a little message from Smokey and the Miracles:

I never thought I'd feel sorry for Danny Gokey, but he has to follow that. Good luck! Danny's singing "Get Ready" by The Temptations. Uh-oh. It looks like the producers have soured on Danny for some reason. Strange. They show a clip of him working through the song with Smokey Robinson. Smokey wants him to sing the end lines of each song, rather than turn them over to the back-up singers. Just before he performs, Ryan asks us, "Will Danny take Smokey's advise?" Guess what? He doesn't. Ouch. Get ready to be called smug, Danny Gokey. This is not a bad performance, but Gokey reminds me more and more each week of a poor man's Taylor Hicks. At one point, he rushes over to dance with the back-up singers, and it's all very frantic and desperate. Paula tells him he's identifiable. Simon calls it clumsy and amateurish. Randy has the gall to compare him to Levi Stubbs. And Kara tells him it was good, but not great. Kristen and I give him a 6 Spinners and a little concern from Jimmy Ruffin:

Oh, it's Allison! Kristen, who has had to keep her paws over her ears for most of the night due to excessive high-pitched shrieking, leaps to her feet and bounds to the TV to make nice with her favorite red-headed teen. Allison is singing "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by The Temptations. Ooo. Nice opening riff. Allison is a bit mumbly with a spoken part, but wow! Once again, this young thang proves that she can, in fact, SANG! She powers her way right through to the last "Papa was a rolling.......STOOOOOOOOOOONE!" BAM! Kristen and I are on our feet and paws! Allison and Adam for Final 2! Per his usual, Randy brings up the age issue, "Just 16, but one of the dopest singers here!" Kara tells her she has a gift from God. Paula, trying to hide the mustache Simon drew on her mouth with a crayon (yes, the judges were imbeciles this evening. Why do you ask?) tells her she was awesome! Amazing! Simon says it was one of the best performances she's ever done. Kristen and I give her a 9 1/2 Jacksons and special message from Michael, himself:

Our rankings:

The Sky's The Limit:
ADAM, Allison

Riding Shotgun for now:
Matt, Anoop, Danny

Better Reach Out a bit more:
Kris, Lil

Probably Going To a Go-Go home:
Scott, Megan, Michael


36 million votes. The most ever received on Top 10 night.

Horrific Motown medley performed by top 10 made even more horrific by the fact that they are not only lip syncing, but they have pre-taped the dancing.

Ruben Studdard sweats his way through his dreary new single called "Together."

Results: Dim the lights.

Stand up Adam.

Adam, you are....hmmm. What could Adam be? Could he

(As if we didn't see that coming by a DialIdol mile.)

Simon and Paula react to the news:

Shockingly, Matt is in the Bottom 3! Lil is aghast!

But relieved that it's Michael instead of her also moving into Bottom 3.

After this week, no one will ever accuse Lil of being a class act.

In keeping with the new tradition of creepy pairings, Smokey Robinson is
singing a duet called "You're The One For Me" with 22 year old Joss Stone. Smokey still sounds sublime, and Joss' jazzy vocals spruce up the song. Nevertheless, Kristen and I do not approve of the age-inappropriateness. What's next? Miley Cyrus and Bob Dylan crooning about a crush?

More results. Allison's safe!! Safe also are Anoop and Danny. (No suprise.) It's between Megan and Scott, and we learn Scott is in the bottom 3. Ryan escorts him to the Stools of Death.

Then, he immediately returns him to the Sofas of Safety. It's Michael and Matt in the bottom 2.

Stevie Wonder comes out and performs the best medley ever in Idol history!!

Back to results. Matt is safe. Michael will go home unless the judges decide to save him after he sings for his survival. Michael's no fool. He's well aware the magical save is being reserved for judge favorites Lil, Danny, or Adam. He goes out like a man, giving the song his all, shaking hands with the crowd. When Ryan asks the judges if they've made their decision, Simon insists they haven't decided yet. Oh, please! They pretend to debate some more, leaving the kids on the Sofas of Safety distraught with the suspense. Except Lil, of course.

Finally, Simon says a decision must be made. "Michael, you're going home." He smiles broadly, watches his vote-off package with pride. When it's all over, he shouts to the crowd, "I'm going on the tour!!" Everyone says goodbye to the Roughneck!

Except Paula who has other things on her mind.

This week, the Idols will sing Top iTunes downloads, thus forcing everyone over the age of 40 to croak, "They call this music? Why in my day...."

Check here Thursday for the review. And thanks to my partner in blogging crime, Murghi, for use of her fab screencaps. Check out Murgh's co-caps with the brilliant Shnuglet at Bored Morons.! Luvs ya! And while you're at it, check out the new season of Death of a Bromance written by yours truly.

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