Kristen the Yellow Lab and I are sleeping in hyperbaric oxygen chambers! After all, what better way to honor The King of Pop, The Duke of Neverland, The Lord of Living Off the Wall? This week, American Idol's Top 13 (pressing your luck this season, aren't you Idol?) perform tunes from the songbook of the biggest pop star on the planet, Michael Jackson. For you youngsters in the house, he wasn't always known as Wacko Jacko, pervert freak. He was the crush-worthy frontman for the Jackson Five until he became one of the most successful and popular solo artists in music history with over 750 million records sold. (Not to be so heartless, Kanye, but before you start thinking you've got a shot at being the new Elvis, sell one quarter of that, then get back to us.)
Bubbles the Chimp opens the show. Oh, wait. It's just Ryan! He has the four judges ease on down the stage like bridesmaids at a Liz Taylor wedding. It's pompous and ridiculous, but if they'd at least had the brains to wear a single glittery glove, it could have been used as a segue into the theme.
First up is the 40 year old Lil Rounds. She plans to sing "The Way You Make Me Feel" while wearing an over-sized bustle. Oh, wait. That's her actual ass. Huh. Let's just say if she decides to shake her body down to the ground, she won't even have to bend her knees to get that butt on terra firma. Her performance is good, if nothing special. Kristen and I could do without the little yodel flourishes she adds to the end of each "the way you make me feel-oOO's." Randy says, "Yo." Kara rambles on about jealousy and radios.Paula heard angels, while Simon heard nothing of the sort! In fact, he thought it was a lazy song choice and thinks she's dressed like a whore. Well, he didn't actually use the word whore, per se. But it was implied. Kristen and I give her 7 sparkly gloves.
Watch Lil's Performance.
Lil is followed by Scott MacIntyre, blind inspirationalist. Scott has chosen the sappy "Keep the Faith." He plays the piano as he sings, and it's all very bland and out of key. Kristen, who aspired to be an assistance dog until she learned it would interfere with her nap time, thinks that if she were Scott's assistance dog, she'd tell him that it's obvious he's gotten a lot of mileage out of being a blind pianist/singer. And that's all well in good if you want to make a career of being patronized by church ladies and guilt-ridden Junior Leaguers. But, this is the big leagues. Time to get rid of the Garfunkle hair do (even if you can't see, your stylists can), ask Danny Gokey where you can pick up a pair of Vercase sunglasses, and bring the same cool you brought to the Bruce Hornsby tune in the semis. Meanwhile, Kara's all about the message. Paula's only interested in his instrument. Simon hated the song, thus insulting the entire country of Norway, where it was number one. Oh, and Randy says, "Yo." Kristen and I give him 4 and a half beat its, and the caveat: don't be AI's monkey by playing for the sympathy vote, Scott!
Watch Scott's Performance.
Oh, here comes Danny Gokey, widower and designer eyewear fanatic. Out of respect for his recently deceased wife, he's singing Pretty Young Things (aka P.Y.T.), a song about wanting to do the nasty with cute young groupies. If you're a Danny Fanny, you'll appreciate his excellent vocals and will make a million excuses for him choosing this particular song after he's basically spent the past month airing the mourning of his dead wife on national TV. If you're a No Way I'm For GoKey, you'll compare the ritualistic mating dance he performs to that of a swinger at a high school prom. Danny has the voice to carry him far, but his performance skills are off-putting. In fact, Danny? Taylor Hicks called, and he wants his ridiculousness back. Paula can hear him with her eyes closed. Simon felt the dancing was hideous. Kara thinks the young widower, whose wife recently passed, is full of joy. And Randy says, "Yo." Kristen and I give him 8 and a half We Are The Worlds and a warning to check his ego at the door.
Watch The Widower's Performance.
It's the rough neck, Michael Sarver! He comes into this competition at a definite disadvantage as he's neither gay, widowed, visually impaired, nor a single mom. He's forced to resort to the oldest trick in the book: having his child wear a t-shirt that says, "Vote For My Daddy." Michael sings, "You Are Not Alone." About 20 seasons ago, he would have been 1:5 odds in Vegas. But, this is Season 8, and we have no time for amateurs! Good voice, compelling backstory, but let's face it. Kristen was so bored she used the time to eat through dry wall. Simon tells him that he's not the best singer in the competition but he has heart. Randy says, "Yo!" Then, proves he was dozing off during Simon's critique by telling him he was best of the night so far. (What?!) Kara is glad he showed us can sing. Paula says he was very calm. Kristen and I give him 5 Got To Be There's and a Tito for good measure. (A roughneck deserves the most macho of the Jackson 5 brothers.)
Watch Michael's Performance.
Does anyone like Jasmine Murray? If so, skip this paragraph. I suspect the bones of the Elephant Man would have more charisma than she. Jasmine has selected "I'll Be There" as sung by Ad Nauseum and Their Brother. She's a darling girl with a competent voice and knows her way around a stage. But, Kristen was so bored that, this time, she chewed through the sheet rock. Randy says he recorded with Mariah. Kara was on the edge. Paula thinks she's not hearing herself. Simon thinks she needs to lighten up. Kristen and I give her 2 Bens and a date with Emmanuel Lewis.
Watch Jasmine's Performance.
Kris Allen is this season's TeenBeat heart throb. Kristen stops her boredom-induced destruction long enough to gaze at the pretty, if slightly bland, Season 8 Cute One. The pre-performance package is the usual fodder - Kris strumming his guitar. Kris telling us this has been his dream forever. Kris introducing us to his pretty wife. *insert sound of needle scraping across record here* Say WHAT? Married?! Currently, tweens are joining hands across America via text messaging to mourn the heartbreaking news. At any rate, Kris strums his guitar and performs Do You Remember the Time. What's good about this performance is Kris "made it his own." He has a nice, pleasant recording voice, an album-cover worthy face, and a sweet nature. What's bad is Kristen and I are going to have to spend the rest of the season having people compare him to Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. Kara tells us that Kris has helped all the other contestants this week! That's great, Kara! Maybe he should audition for Goody Two Shoes Idol next season. Paula tells him she could never tell someone across the pond what she can tell Kris! (Why is Paula wearing a gigantic, gold-plated luggage tag on her wrist?) Simon doesn't understand a word Paula is saying and only wonders why Kris brought out the wife so early. (What? Contestants are only allowed to talk about wives if they're dead?) Kris' wife, sitting a few rows over, gives Simon The Death Glare of The Junior Leaguer. Oh, and Randy says, "Yo!" then tells him he's like Jason Mraz. Yep. It has begun. In honor of the wife, Kristen and I give him 8 The Girl is Mines with Paul McCartney thrown in for good measure.
Watch Kris' Performance.
Oh, here comes Allison! Kristen rushes to the TV because Allison is a yellow labs dream girl. She's adorable and fun, and would probably happily toss sticks into lakes for hours just to keep Kristen happy. All the while chugging down a couple of brews and lighting up a pack of Marlboro Lights. Allison is singing Give In To Me while a giant double wallet chain swings from her hips. THIS is the way to break it down. The girl Pinks up the song and has the whole angry anthem thing going. Kristen and I love her, but we fear she's not going to capture the imaginations of tweens (too rough around the edges for them to dream of being her), middle America (too "smokin' in the girls' room"), or bored housewives (too much like the girl they don't let their daughter hang out with or their son date.) Paula says she boggles her mind (which would be redundant). Simon thinks she should lighten up, to which Allison saucily informs him, "It's not like I'm cutting myself!" Ha!! Take THAT Simon. She's not cutting herself. (Say WHAT?) At any rate, Randy says, "Yo!" and tells her it doesn't matter if you're 16 or 17, cutting or not cutting, if you got it, you got it. Meanwhile, Kara thought the walls were coming down. Kristen and I give her 9 Billie Jeans and a HeeHeeee.
Watch Allison's Performance.
Anoop! There it is! Anoop! There it is! Kristen and I grab one another in glee because Anoop Dawg is in the house! Singing - um - "Beat It?" He's kidding, right? He looks like he's dressed for a day on the links with his khakis and geek boy hair style.He's off key, awkward, and, if we're being honest, rather like a drunk frat boy at a keg party. Paula says, "Here comes the boo!" Simon feels it was all horrible and stupid. Randy tells him it was the wrong song choice, baby! Kara felt disconnected. Wow! Even Anoop gives Simon the Junior Leaguer Glare of Death. Or maybe it's the pampered Frat Boy Glare of Death. Kristen and I can't be sure. We give him 2 Bads and a marriage to Lisa Marie Presley.
Watch Anoop's Performance.
Here comes sweet Jorge whose pre-performance package shows him with his huge, happy Puerto Rican family. His first mistake of the night? Choosing the song "Never Can SAy Goodbye." Hon? Have you not read Kristen and my book, "Idol Lore: 24 Things That Will Get You Booted From the Show?" Item #7: Sing a song with the word "Goodbye" anywhere in the title, and you better pack your bags. To make matters worse, our lovable Jorge looks terrified. He barely moves as he gives a dreary, amateurish performance of one of the dullest Jackson 5 tunes on record. The swaying girls at the side are shrieking for him, but he can't even move his one good eye in their direction, much less his physical self. The judges call him out for song choice, to which he replies, "I wasn't going to sing Michael Jackson's 'Bad!'" Simon, never one to miss an opportunity to get in a zinger, responds, "But, you just did." Ba-da-bing! Randy says, "Yo." Kara tells him it was the wrong song for him. Paula doesn't think he felt the song. Simon tells him the whole thing was horrible, at which point Jorge puts a curse on him with his wonky eye. Kristen and I give 2 Martin Bashir interviews, and a crush on Diana Ross.
Here comes Megan, AKA The Poor Man's Duffy. She's singing a Jackson 5 classic, Rockin' Robin. She's plastic as a Barbie and not really showing off the unique quality of her vocals. Chalk it up to stage fright. What she does have going for her is she's probably one of the prettiest girls to grace the Idol stage. Will that be enough? Well, considering she lets out to loud "Caws" at the end of the song, maybe not. Megan, dear? Robins tweet. Ugly old crows caw. Kara thinks she puts her signature on everything. Paula believes America is in love. Simon thinks America believes the judges were mad to put her through. Randy says "Yo." Kristen and I give her 3 Got To Be There's and a LaToya for good measure.Watch Megan's Performance.
Up next? Adam Lambert! Now, I like Adam, but during his last performance, Kristen assumed he was screaming at her, so has scurried behind the couch for safe-keeping. Adam has selected my personal favorite, Jackson's "Black And White." First of all, he looks smokin' in a powder blue leather jacket and v-neck t worn overtop tight jeans and boots. Second of all, his voice starts off a bit pale and reedy, but he immediately goes into rockstar persona and absolutely brings down the house. Adam's strength is not in his vocal abilities but in his stage presence, charisma, and ability to draw in an audience. THIS is the way to sing a Michael Jackson song. Or any song for that matter. Kristen has emerged from behind the couch to roll over on her back. Oh, Kristen. Have you learned NOTHING from your devotion to Michael Johns and Bo Bice? They never write. They never call. And the people you pick never win. At any rate, Paula is babbling about Adam being the way and the light, Simon's eyes are $$ $$, Randy's yo's have gone up and octave, and Kara is trying to crawl across the judge's table to do the infamous Jackson crotch grab on Adam. All in a day's work! Kristen and I give him 10 Thrillers and a moonwalk.
Poor Matt Giraud is up next. Right about now, he probably feels like a baby being dangled out a a hotel window. Fortunately, Matt is able to hold his own as he sings "Human Nature." There's really nothing wrong with Matt, other than he's not Adam. He has a great voice, excellent skills at the piano, and is confident on the stage. But, a little time in a tanning booth and a trip to Charisma R Us might up his odds of making it past 6th place in this competition. Randy says he's like Justin Timberlake (Um. Matt's not bringing sexy back anytime soon, Randy.) Kara hopes to see more of him. Paula thinks he's sexy (which means she's upped her meds again.) Simon calls him meat and potatoes, which is probably his latest insult since he's no longer going to be able to call anyone "Broadway" since Adam is openly "Broadway." Kristen and I are feeling generous with Matt, so give him 8 ABC's and a Saturday morning cartoon.
Last of the night, and the one stuck with the odd number, is teensy Alexis Grace. Alexis is tiny doll with a big, big voice. When she auditioned, Kara told her to go home and "dirty herself up." Alexis has apparently taken that advise to heart by not only singing "Dirty Diana," but by doing it while dressed as teenaged prostitute. Alexis appears to be all of 4 feet tall, 80 pounds dripping wet. She makes Ryan look like an NBA point guard in comparison. But, despite her small stature, she's absolutely fearless when it comes to throwing down a song. She gets a bit lost in the light show, and does a hideous shriek at the end, but it's a good performance. Kristen likes her thanks to her resemblence to a small squeak toy. Kara tells her she's back. Paula says she's sexy naughty. Simon sniffs, "not as good as you thought it was," Randy parrots, "Not that good." Oh, go kiss Lil's ample ass, Simon and Randy! Tiny Girl rocked it! Kristen and I give her 9 I Want You Backs and a Ben for good measure!
Our picks for the night:
Adam, Allison, Danny, Alexis
Hideous group dance with the only redeeming factor being Scott's full-on participation. Dudes? The guy is blind and is more in step than the rest of you. Get it together! And Danny? Get your big mug out of the camera lens. Adam? Get your pretty mug in there.
Then, Ryan tells us about the new twist. This season, the judges have been given a one-time-use only Get Out of Jail free card. They can decide to allow a contestant they feel was unjustly voted off an extra week to prove themself worthy of staying on, thus eliminating the American Idol staple: The Shocking Boot. WHAT??? How dare they cheat us out of this:
Kanye begs us to forget the idiotic things he says in interviews, not to mention this hideous performance. While Kelly shows the Idols how it's done. (Although, girlfriend is in dire need of a stylist.
America sends these two sweet kids home:
And awaits the arrival of Grand Old Opry night. (Kristen and I might need a few green beers to make that one go down a bit easier.) Till then, Kristen out!