TV Guide Network's Justin Guarini (inset) surveys the jazz stylings of Adam and the rest.
Throughout American Idol's final weeks, as each sing-off signs off, TVGuide.com will be checking in with TV Guide Network hosts/Idol alums Justin Guarini and Kimberly Caldwell for their particularly qualified takes on who soared, who stumbled, and which judge's review most rang true.
This week, Guarini shares his thoughts on who Rat-Packed a punch as they tackled jazz standards.
TVGuide.com: Jamie Foxx as mentor — pretty cool, eh?
Justin Guarini: Jamie Foxx is a modern day vaudevillian entertainer, and I say that with the highest of praise in mind. He can do it all, and that's not an easy task in today's business. I think that he was the perfect mentor for this week. He's someone who is extremely current yet fully understands the essence of the Rat Pack era
TVGuide.com: Does a theme like this week's somewhat level the playing field, being more about an era than a genre per se?
Guarini: Not at all; I think it does just the opposite. Although this was dubbed the "Rat Pack" week, the songs were jazz standards. Jazz spans a much larger time period than just the height of Frank Sinatra and his crew. Jazz is a deceptively difficult genre to play or sing and requires a precise technical knowledge combined with the guts to just let go and live in the moment. The contestants did very well last night and those who know who they are — and aren't afraid to show it — excelled.
TVGuide.com: Kris Allen got a "best performance to date" from one of the judges. At this late date, how much does that energize someone hoping to inch closer to the finals?
Guarini: Kris has been my dark-horse — a phrase that's becoming increasingly associated with him — since about the third week of the Top 13. He did a great job last night, and is proving himself worthy to go all the way.
TVGuide.com: Given last week's results, I worried that perhaps Allison had peaked — but not any longer. Your take?
Guarini: I've always been a big Allison fan, and it was apt when Kara said something to the effect of it being a crime that Allison has gone into the bottom three as many times as she has. I agree, and although I don't believe this was Allison's strongest performance to date, she still deserves a place in next week's show. She will really have to step it up from here on out to rival the momentum that Kris has at the moment.
TVGuide.com: Does being the only girl of the Top 5 handicap Allison as far as vote-collecting? Is it really a lot of young girls with "dreamboats in their eyes" casting the bulk of the ballots?
Guarini: It's arguable. One might say that being the only girl will get you the vote from those girls who can relate. On the other hand, there are some serious girl-vote worthy guys in this year's competition. So it's a toss up. My question is: Who, among the guys, will be the vote-splitter?
TVGuide.com: I have to wonder if Matt made a questionable song choice. "My Funny Valentine" is damn tough to tackle.
Guarini: There's nothing questionable about that song. I've studied jazz and that's the end-all, be-all jazz song. Every jazz singer has that sewn into their DNA. My question is whether it was good to follow Jamie's advice and lower the key. We all know that Matt can sing, no doubt about it, but I didn't quite feel a connection to his lower register.
TVGuide.com: Danny has left me cold in recent weeks, but this time I think I finally saw what others see in him. But is he pop enough to win this?
Guarini: What's pop anymore? Pop, to me, is just short for "popular music." Keeping that in mind, back in the Rat Pack era, jazz was pop, and in the early '90s grunge was essentially pop. It's arguable, but that's the way I see it. Before this week, everyone knew that Danny could belt the phonebook, but last night he showed us the softer, more mellow side of his voice. Then he took us home with the high notes. It was a really well-rounded performance.
TVGuide.com: As Simon said, Adam by nature "is" theatrical. But do you think he might have — or should have — tempered his performance this week to better suit the theme? There has been talk that his boldness might turn off the mainstream viewers and cost him critical votes down the line.
Guarini: Adam is who he is, and I'm all for it. He's gotten this far by being clever and bold when he's needed to be. Regardless of where he ends up in the standings, he is the most unique performer Idol has ever seen. 'Nuff said.
TVGuide.com: Was it me or were the judges rather feisty with each other this week? I like it when they publicly critique each other's critiques.
Guarini: Take one part fiery-and-independent thinkers, add one part tension, one part time-constraint, and finish with a nice No. 1 Show in America demi-glaze. Serve chilled, and enjoy.
For the latest on American Idol, tune into TV Guide Network's Idol Tonight every Wednesday at 8 pm/ET and Idol Wrap every Friday at 8 pm/ET with co-hosts Kimberly Caldwell and Justin Guarini. Plus get more on your favorite Idols every Friday with American Idol Rewind at 7 pm/ET.