“Let’s rock!” says Ryan Seacrest, as he ushers in the 300th episode of American Idol. He then explains how this week, we are privy to footage of the Top 3 boys returning to their hometowns to have underwear thrown at them by teen girls and lonely middle-aged women. Ryan also alludes to some incident involving Adam Lambert and a fan, which he’s seen online. Loving that even a live show is no longer current when YouTube can beat it to the punch.
We also get an update on the now defunct Idol Gives Back from international correspondent Carrie Underwood, who comes to us from Angola with a report on malaria relief. It didn’t take more than 30 seconds before a remake of Toto’s “Africa” is piped in. Apparently instead of asking more of America besides their irreplaceable time, only Exxon Mobile is donating to Idol‘s cause this year. Weird.
Each contestant sings twice tonight: one judges’ choice and one individual choice. Here’s what happened, contestant by contestant. That means twice the amount of adult-contemporary doucheyness, super-hot blandness, and extreme flamboyance.
Danny Gokey is up first. He gets a text message from a phonebot disguised as Paula Abdul, telling him he’ll be singing “Dance Little Sister” by Terence Trent D’Arby. Should we know this song? Danny barks through the song with all the qualities of a laryngitic poodle. And he’s sure to throw in his signature awkward shoulder thrusting in his own attempt at dance, little sister. Randy predictably lauds Danny’s energy. Kara, however, calls him on the dancing, although Paula congratulates him for it. Simon liked the vocals, but not the song.
The “Pride of Milwaukee” chooses Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful.” He does an acoustic coffeehouse arrangement with the constipated concentration of a child trying to recite the 12s in the Times Table. He picks up the pace with some interesting “improvisation” in the second half though. Randy loves Danny, period. Kara feels Danny salvages his first performance with this. Paula’s glad he made it R&B and gospel. Simon says the song didn’t need rearranging, but loved the vocals.
Kara and Randy join forces to pick One Republic’s “Apologize” for Kris Allen. As Kris receives the text message, close up on his blue-painted thumbnail. Could Adam have finally penetrated Kris’s straight-laced exterior and convinced him to go all Wiccan or whatever? Mmm, penetrated. Vocally Kris is right on, but not different enough from the original. But on the piano, he’s got a little extra magic–hot and dexterous. Randy says the performance shows Kris’s future potential, but Kara’s disappointed he didn’t take more artistic license. Paula points out a bum note. Simon tells Kara she can’t choose a song for Kris and then blame him for it, which causes a minor freakout in which Kara attempts to suffocate the Brit.
Kris chooses Kanye West’s “Heartless.” Huh. He does an acoustic Jason Mraz-ish arrangement; it’s so weird but totally works. Way more interesting than Gokey. Randy likes it better than the original. Kara loves it. Paula says it keeps Kris relevant. Simon was ready to cast Kris off, but now he doesn’t know.
Adam, standing in front of an AT&T store, gets Simon’s pick–“One” by U2. Simon takes all the credit for getting permission from the band, though it hardly seems likely that U2 wouldn’t have been totally willing to whore themselves out without a personal phone call from an international reality show judge. Adam starts out quiet and simple, but doesn’t take long to bust out vocal craziness and glory notes. He sounds great, but it’s actually really weird to hear the song done almost gospel. It was like Scott MacIntyre-style inspirational. Randy doesn’t love the arrangement, but Kara is into it. Paula makes a play on the word “one” a few times. Simon calls it brilliant.
What’s it gonna be? Aerosmith, “Cryin’.” He takes a traditionalist approach, because there’s really no way to Adam Lambertize Steven Tyler. It’s great. Perfect song. Randy says Adam’s one of the best contestants ever. Kara says it was amazing. Paula tries to make it seem like she’s the first one to predict Adam would make it to the finals. Simon cautions viewers that Adam won’t make it through without votes. So true.