Disco Week on American Idol. Is there any other grouping of five words so capable of striking fear and terror into the hearts of millions? And yet, this is a theme the show keeps returning to. Not every season, but certainly whenever the show needs a little buzz. The cruelty of sticking a bunch of wide-eyed innocents with music so strongly dated and stylized that you need a time machine to understand it can always be counted on to draw attention and generate the chit chat. You’ll know they’re really running low on viewers when we finally get Spirituals Week.
She Said She’s Every Woman, Not Every Artist
But for that, you’ll have to wait until Idol 2010, because as I say tonight it’s disco. Of course we first all have to remember how Matt G. was almost eliminated but then together we made history and so people on reality tv 100 years from now will remember us as heroes. Since they used the save thingy, this week’s elimination will necessarily be a double whammy. This means two things: “NO ONE IS SAFE,” and we’ll be hearing a lot more about it tonight.
Ryan descends; everyone screams. Randy points to the sky and throws a peace sign when Ryan mentions his name, because he is number one in the hood, G; Kara is wearing a rather prim little ponytail and a rather self-satisfied little smile to go with her cute mauve dress. Paula is celebrating disco week by dressing as a hippie in a be-spangled peasant blouse, but she’s within ten years of the proper time, so I think that’s a triumph. Simon is in his standard tissue thin t-shirt.
According to Ryan an “unprecedented amount of pressure” hangs over the top 7 – unprecedented because the whole rest of this season is HISTORY IN THE MAKING, THANK YOU! To their credit, the contestants seem equal parts game for the evening and scared out of their minds. I really like this group this season. Sweet kids. Lil is up first for the night, doing her part to keep costumes alive in a sleek black bell-bottomed catsuit, big rhinestone hoops, and black Donna Summer wig. She’s singing “I’m Every Woman” though; I guess the Chaka Khan wig would’ve been a bit too heavy. Lil acts the part well, slinking around the stage like every woman does, and I think she sounds great on a pretty straightforward version; she vamps over the bridge and then goes to church for the finish. I liked it, but I like Lil, so there you go.
Randy says she sounded wild, but I don’t think that’s bad. Also, no artistry. Kara, same thing, some more. This is followed by a shot of Lil’s mama in the audience giving a classic reaction; she sucks her teeth and waves Kara away. LOL. I miss my mama. Paula wants everyone to know that Lil’s voice was shot yesterday, and that she is proud of Lil for coming out and singing well. But then she chides Lil for not finding her “inner goddess.” This is not fair criticism, though, because clearly only Paula knows where such things are to be found. Simon says some more stuff about how much they all hate Lil; she looks crushed some more, and then declares that she had fun tonight anyway. Ryan asks Lil to respond because he knows she will; she goes on to defend her performance and assert that it was not the same as Chaka’s and that she did put a Lil spin on the song. I agree; it wasn’t the same as Chaka Khan’s version. More like Whitney’s. Anyway, I still love you Lil. Maybe you’d do better on Sunday Best.
Different Strokes to Move the World
Kris Allen brings his acoustic guitar to the disco, because it makes it a ton easier to avoid doing the hustle. He confesses in a pre-performance chat that he was worried about disco week until he found a song with an actual story to tell. “She Works Hard for the Money,” which, as Kris informs us, is about a woman. Once out on the stage, he coffee-shops it like you wouldn’t believe – right down to the laid back white t-shirt and relaxed-wash jeans and a guy on the bongos – and I am digging it like a madman.
Kara is pissed that the audience won’t let her gush as soon as she wants too, and then she says anyway that she loved the risk he took with his arrangement. Paula thinks he gave off a classy Santana vibe, and she likes that he picked a lady’s song to sing. Yes, down with the patriarchy! Paula and Simon flirt and then he takes the opportunity to use Kris’s performance as another chance to rub Lil’s nose in the carpet.
Oh, I forgot about Gokey. Huh. Well, here he is right after commercials, on stage singing EWF’s “September.” He’s once again making equally gratuitous use of both the backup singers and his diaphragm muscles as he bops around the stage in his black leather jacket, and then all of a sudden he’s exhorting us, singing “Don’t you know you can make it through September,” because that’s just Danny Gokey’s way. I hope you feel inspired now.
Danny’s sisters are all in the audience wearing the same dress in different colors. They liked the song. Randy applauds Gokey for making an interesting melody out of almost no melody. Paula loves that his vocal range is so flexible, and she thinks his voice is sexy. Simon agrees with everyone but still doesn’t think Danny is a star. Clumsy, awkward, etc. Paula says he’s going to the finals though, so clumsy and awkward must be what we like.
Hot and Cold
And we’re moving right into Allison now, because Fox is tired of losing commercial revenues from the overages. The stirs are lit blood red for Allison (because she’s singing “Hot Stuff,” get it?), and she’s perched on them in skintight black leather and white go-go boots. She starts the song slowly, curling her voice around the opening bars, and then the guitars kick in and she hops up rocks the rest of it out like it’s a bar band classic. It gets a little cartoonish at the end – maybe it’s the incongruity of little Allison singing about hot stuff with such conviction, but anyway, overall an awesome performance.
Randy wants to say two things: indulgent, and she can really sing. Kara didn’t like the arrangement either, but Paula liked the arrangement because it was authentic Allison, and she likes that. Simon knew Allison was going to struggle with the theme this week, so he’s not bothered by the arrangement, and he thought she ruled. Post-judging, Allison stands as tall as Ryan, so he makes a point of reminding us that she’s wearing heels. Ha. At least there’s no gargantutron like Jordin Sparks around this season, or Ryan might never be able to get over it.
Seriously, let’s all watch Glee when it starts okay?
Until then, Adam Lambert. Adam is in one of Tony Bennett’s old suits with Bryl Cremed hair; I think he missed one or two memos about this week. Or maybe he just refuses to submit to the indignity of rayon pants and platform shoes. Adam already did disco, so this week he’s concentrating more on connecting with the song instead of lampooning the style. Connecting with a song in this context means singing “If I Can’t Have You,” as an ethereal but dull pop ballad. This is very New Kids on the Block at the mall, slowing it down for a moment, is what this is. Paula’s crying though, so he must’ve done something right.
Randy says he has it majorly going on; Kara says he is brilliant; Paula is still crying and she takes that as evidence that Adam is God; Simon didn’t quite go that far, but he appreciated Adam’s unpredictability and thinks his vocals were immaculate. Somebody in the band helped Adam with the arrangement that everyone but me loved, and Adam takes care to let us know that. Ryan is in awe of Adam, specifically his ability to melt “Paula” into a puddle of goo. Right, Paula’s the only one he melted. Meanwhile Ryan’s so shaken up he can’t even complete the pun on Matt G’s song choice – all he can do is mumble something about Matt “staying alive” before the commercials kick in.
Mixing the Metaphor
When we return, he’s got his composure back; he introduces Matt and alludes again to the metaphoric resonance of his song choice without the slightest hitch. And then Matt dances out to center stage and tries to do “Staying Alive.” He’s injecting some of original disco’s soulful groove into the beginning of the song; Matt’s version has quite a bit of swing, and the fedora and maroon leather jacket are just the right notes of “I’m only doing disco under duress” for him to hit, but then he loses me. Okay, say what you will about the Bee Gees, but that stuff is no picnic to sing. This song demands high degrees of agility and precision, and Matt does his best, but he doesn’t quite make it happen, especially as we head into falsetto territory. You can totally tell that he’s putting all his heart and soul and breath into this performance; he looks positively exhausted when he’s finished. Awww.
Randy hated the song choice and the arrangement but thinks Matt can really sing. Kara thinks he succeeded in turning the night back to disco and that he gave a solid performance. She then brings up Adam because he is our God. Paula makes a bowling analogy and says sometimes his song choices are gutter balls, but this one was a strike. Simon on the other hand wasn’t bowled over (*ba dump tss*); he thinks Matt should stop trying to calculate what could make him a success on Idol, and start thinking more about what will sell him in the real world. You’re not fooling me, Cowell; this is just some more artistry talk, couched in your bloody analogies! While Ryan speed talks about numbers and how to vote for Matt and how he made HISTORY, I TELL YOU but may still not be safe because of the double elimination, Matt makes gestures of gratitude and says thanks to everyone who votes to keep him in the game. Aw. He’s really been growing on me this season.
Meanwhile my love for Anoop has waned proportionately. I haven’t been really wowed by him since “My Prerogative,” and this new mustache and chin scruff isn’t doing much to help that. He’s closing the show with yet more Donna Summer, making me think how fantastically wonderful it would’ve been to have her on as a mentor for the week. Anyway, Anoop is dressed for the a cappella spring show in a grey suit and pink sweater vest. He’s singing a little-known Donna tune, or at least it’s one I didn’t know before called “Dim All the Lights.” He starts it off as a slow jam, and then turns it into a regular watered down disco jam. His singing is very strong in general, although the ending note is the flattest thing to come out of this evening. Kara loved his choice of a ballad, and thinks he’s done his best work in these past two weeks. Paula delivers a “you look great” and compliments the manliness Anoop is displaying by deigning to wear a shirt in as girly a color as pink is. Also, his voice is beautiful, and his teeth are beautiful, and she encourages him to smile more. Simon immediately discourages him by saying the whole thing was mediocre and that he was disappointed when the tempo came up and it turned from something interesting into something ordinary. Worst performance ever by a mile, nothing redeeming about it, and he wishes Anoop would die. I guess he didn’t like it.
On another note; we must have finished on time, because I actually caught the performance recap which reminds me that Lil is a goner and that Kris is sneaking right up to steal the win from Adam; Danny Gokey is a casserole, and Allison really, really wants that hot stuff; Our Lord Adam sometimes sings slow songs so he is a genius, Matt may not be rightly understood on this show, and Anoop is a sweet guy who will be eliminated this week with Lil.
And that’s all for the evening! For once, the disco theme turned out to not to be so bad. I can’t say anyone was really terrible, although that may be due to their almost universal determination to un-disco every song. I’m pretty sure who the eliminees will be, but do you think that’ll stop me from waiting through 50 minutes of tangential performances and superficial clip packages to see the final results? You bet your sweet bippy! I’m skipping it, and I encourage you to do the same because my brilliant partner MsFroggy will be bringing you all the news, minus the nonsense, plus funny! You can’t lose. Unless you’re Anoop. Or Lil.