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Idol Worship: The Final Three

The battle of the dudes has begun, Idol worshipers. Three contestants left, one week to go, and the title remains a toss-up, as Simon Cowell emphasized at show’s end. This is the last chance for Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey and Kris Allen to prove that they’ve got what it takes to be the American Idol, and each brought their A-game on Tuesday night with relatively few stumbles. But three dramatically different styles make this contest even tougher to call, and in the end, it feels like we’re all just guessing. Will it be the showman, the choir boy or the one who flew under the radar? If it were held today, we’d crown Kris Allen king of this sausage-fest. Read on for our final three analysis…

Kris-top3 1. Kris Allen – “Apologize” / “Heartless”
It took us this long to figure it out, but Kris Allen is season 8’s David Cook. Not necessarily in the charm or charisma department, but certainly when it comes to taking risks and, more importantly, being current. In fact, that’s something both Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey sorely lack: a true connection with today’s pop music. They gravitate towards songs that came before their time, which only makes them seem older; and each of their voices would be a challenge to market, albeit for vastly different reasons. But Kris Allen is all too aware of contemporary trends, as he’s shown time and time again. And he’s smart enough to know when not to reinterpret a song too liberally, as he proved last night with his true-to-the-original “Apologize.” Then again, for his personal pick, he did a complete 180 by opting for an open-mic night version of Kanye West’s auto-tune anthem “Heartless.” Just Kris, an acoustic guitar, and a simple melody written by one of hip hop’s greatest talents — talk about balls! He’s got ‘em. So while we know Kris is a long-shot, the dark horse, underdog or whatever you want to call him, when it comes to the mission of American Idol, to introduce a new artist who can sell a million copies of his debut album (give or take a couple hundred thousand units), he’s the best choice. That’s not to say his performance was perfect. Kris did indeed hit a bum note during the first song, but he was also playing an instrument, which means twice the effort and the pressure. Surely that’s gotta be worth extra credit, right?

2. Adam Lambert – “One” / “Cryin’”
Since there’s little doubt about Adam Lambert’s finale prospects (oh he’ll be there — with bells on!), we’re not just going to hand him the title a week in advance. Because while Kris Allen may have hit an off note at the top of his song, Adam had more than one bum crescendo during his Mary J. Blige-esque take on U2’s “One” (and he wasn’t playing an instrument simultaneously), proving that soul diva, he’s not. Now you’d think U2 would be a natural fit — after all, Bono hits the high range better than anyone — but not only did Lambert lose the essence of the song by taking too many liberties with the melody (which usually entails screeching at the top of his lungs), he managed to make a rock classic sound like something that came out of a hokey Broadway play. It was unbelievable, all right — unbelievably blasphemous. His take on Aerosmith’s “Cryin’” was only slightly more tolerable. It started out strong, but once the chorus kicked in, Adam sounded as if he was fighting the harmony (and one overambitious backup singer) and struggled to get back on track. There’s no denying the power of his voice, of course, but is it more show than substance?

3. Danny Gokey – “Dance Little Sister” / “You Are So Beautiful”
Did Paula Abdul do in the Gokes with her song choice?  Or did Danny redeem himself with the second number, at least enough to pull him through to the finale? We’re going with the first theory and blaming it all on Paula. Not that there’s anything wrong with Terrence Trent D’Arby, but, as Simon said, give us some “Sign Your Name” or “Wishing Well,” not the little-known (at least in the U.S.) first single “Dance Little Sister.” Hell, we were hardcore D’Arby devotees in the late 1980s, and even saw him live at the old Ritz in New York, but Danny didn’t exactly do the new-soul pioneer justice. Competent? Sure. Did the song fit his voice? Absolutely. But it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Throw in the awkward dancing and that unnecessary sax solo, and this performance was far from final two material. As for Danny’s second go-round, his hushed, breathy “You Are So Beautiful” started out promising enough, but it veered into lounge act territory halfway through, and, as a result, totally lost the emotional impact. Bottom line: If he’s attempting to go toe-to-toe with Adam in the vocal gymnastics department, he may as well give up because that’s a lost cause. Will the Christian contingent vote him through to the finale? There’s a good chance, but as we said last week (and thereby lost our near-perfect prediction streak on the LA TimesIdol Tracker), Danny should go home.

May 13, 2009 in American Idol | Permalink

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Comments

What a ridiculously biased review?

Where were Adam's off notes?

Please keep your constant pro-Kris rants in check. I didn't think it was possible for Apologize to be made more boring and be sung worse than the original but Kris succeeded.

Heartless was just a ridiculous choice of song. As if he could ever pull off "cool".

It is possible to sing current songs and sound more dated than a penny farthing and Kris has managed that time and time again. It is also possible to sing classic songs (I think that is the word you are looking for) and making them sound original and current. Hmmmmmmm ......... who does that I wonder ...........

If Kris makes the final of what is supposed to be a talent show, let alone wins, it will be a joke to sick to laugh at.

Posted by: Clare | May 13, 2009 10:41:22 AM

I absolutely agree with the article. The judges keep telling us, every chance they get, that it will be a Danny/Adam finale with Adam winning.
But while Danny was annoying, Adam screamed, Kris was AMAZING, managing to be original and current. He's a true musician, and the most interesting of the bunch.

Posted by: petunia | May 13, 2009 11:28:17 AM

Wow, I could not disagree with you more. So tired of hearing how great Kris was because he did exactly what he has done every other week, he changed the song to his own style...because that is all he can sing. Sorry, that's not brilliance, that's recognizing the limitations of his voice, of which there are many. He bores me to tears every time he sings and that Apologize was just a horrible karaoke version that was nowhere near the original.

Posted by: krys | May 13, 2009 1:48:04 PM

Kris has come from behind and won over this AI fan who swore to never vote again after last year. I voted and voted and voted for Kris last night. I think he is the only person deserving of the AI title. Adam is a scream machine and couldn't sell in todays current market. He is old fashioned and outdated and better suited for Broadway Drama/Musicals. He will do well on Broadway while Kris tears carves out a niche for himself on the charts.

Posted by: June | May 13, 2009 5:16:05 PM

I think they are all good in their own way :)

Posted by: Niki | May 13, 2009 5:23:05 PM

kris? or chris whatever...I leave the room when he sings...so boring...danny is good but always the same ...who will buy that! he needs help! and adam is too good for the show. I wanted alison to win!!!! whatever!

Posted by: gail | May 13, 2009 6:50:35 PM

Kris???
If Kris wins, American Idol will lose all its credibility! Kris is a joke!
This is just SAD!

Posted by: Mark | May 14, 2009 1:31:24 PM

Wow, I could not disagree with you more. So tired of hearing how great Kris was because he did exactly what he has done every other week, he changed the song to his own style...because that is all he can sing. Sorry, that's not brilliance, that's recognizing the limitations of his voice, of which there are many. He bores me to tears every time he sings and that Apologize was just a horrible karaoke version that was nowhere near the original. [2]


100% correct!

Posted by: Mark | May 14, 2009 1:33:20 PM

Kris is brilliant and more musical than the other two. Danny needed to go - couldn't connect emotionally and had terrible phrasing. Adam has a powerful, fantastic instrument but gets very dramatic and indulgent. He'd be great at a concert. But an artist for today with longevity and the most under-rated voice on American Idol ever ... Kris is the one.

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Posted by: Adam for the Win | May 15, 2009 12:55:54 PM

I agree with Clare. What a very biased review! Kris' version of 'Apologize' was terrible bordering on boring and his 'Heartless' although better than the former was off with his phrasing. Although I thought Adam's version of 'One' and 'Cryin'' were not as good as his previous performances, he is still miles and miles better than Kris. Danny could've been the more challenging competition. Thank God, next week is the finale. I don't have to read all your biased articles/reviews.

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Posted by: runescape accounts | Jul 6, 2009 3:51:42 AM

Adam was the winner on the night for me I think from memory that Clare was also right in that Kris' version of apologize was boring at best. Tough song to combat though!

Posted by: wind powered generators | Jul 14, 2009 12:13:16 AM

Yeah David Cook did a cracking job in the final. we just got the finale down under and I can say with out a doubt the performances are light years ahead of ours, although not necessarily the singing but more the production.

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Mark

Kris is brilliant and more musical than the other two. Danny needed to go - couldn't connect emotionally and had terrible phrasing. Adam has a powerful, fantastic instrument but gets very dramatic and indulgent. He'd be great at a concert. But an artist for today with longevity and the most under-rated voice on American Idol ever ... Kris is the one.

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