It's Rock Week on American Idol! Former Guns N' Roses axman Slash has mentored the kiddies, so we'll be on the lookout for dangling cigarette butts and impeccably conditioned mountains of curly hair. I'm sure that Tuesday's proceedings will stretch the boundaries of "rock" in new and "interesting" directions, as the contestants are not all equally suited to more hard-edged songs (we're looking at you, Kris and Danny!).
Mickey O'Connor here, filling in for bona fide rocker Erin Fox, who, if Facebook is to be believed, is vacationing in Jurassic Park this week.
But let's get ready to rawk! [Insert rock and roll finger gesture here]
Seacrest reports that there was an accident during rehearsal, and that one of the flanking towers that bear the American Idol logo partially collapsed. In a statement, Fox said: "During rehearsal today, a crew member had a mishap on set and was immediately taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. We have no further information at this time." Seacrest later tweeted that stage manager Debbie Williams "is doing much better. She fell during rehearsal... she's my right hand during these shows." As a result, the contestants have not had a proper run-through, but the show must go on, Seacrest says.
Adam: "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin
"Adam's got some pipes, y'know?" says Slash. Yes, we know, Slash, but often Adam is just a smidge too much sizzle when it comes to his vocals (see: animalistic banshee screeching). So "Whole Lotta Love" is an inspired choice, as the song is essentially a series of plaintive wails separated by brief stretches of really dirty lyrics — "I'm going to give you every inch of my love," for example -- which are a nice match for Adam's penchant for eye-raping the camera. It's a fairly straightforward interpretation of the first Zeppelin song ever performed on Idol, but in this case, that's a good thing, as he really rawks the roll out of it. One small critique: His eyebrows, which are manicured within an inch of their life, are definitely not rock and roll. Randy and Kara say some things that are neither comprehensible nor worthy of mention. Paula calls it a "whole lotta perfect." Simon jokes that he thought the performance was a little understated, but says "nobody can top that now," which I'm sure is doing wonders for the nerves backstage.
Allison: "Cry Baby" by Janis Joplin
Slash thinks that Allison is perfect to sing Joplin, but that she needs to get past the fear. I have to say that I'm not loving this arrangement. It needs to be dirtier; this sounds like a wedding band is in the studio to record something for the St. Elmo's Fire soundtrack. I hardly even notice Allison's vocals, which seem unmodulated and flat; that's not what she wants to be at this stage of the game. Randy thinks the arrangement lacked melody. When Kara asks, Allison admits that she's always nervous, and I just want to take her 17-year-old self out for a hot-fudge sundae and tell her everything is going to be OK. (Am I too old to say that? Or too young?) Paula plays casting agent and says Allison should play Joplin in a biopic. Simon saw confidence, but not enough originality. He also thinks that she should have chosen a different song, but Allison argues that her original choice — Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" — would have been too safe. Simon then tells her that she should just beg for votes at this point, which is kind of rude. A feisty Allison responds that the judges always tell her that she doesn't talk enough, which may be true, but my personal pet peeve is when the contestants talk back to the judges. It's a lose-lose proposition for poor Allison, who looks defeated.
Kris and Danny: "Renegade" by Styx
Duet! This song's swooning melodies work well with two singers, and particularly these two singers. They acquit themselves nicely in the lower register. When the lights flare and the tempo soars, it's a little less interesting, as the pair ping-pongs through the lyrics and it's like we're at Wimbledon. Neither really rocks my world, to be honest. Randy agrees with me about the harmonies, though he says they're "on blast," a term I've personally never used. Kara says they were better united, even though they are the guys "who help the little women cross the street," not the outlaws that the song's title suggests. (Aside: Kara is slowly transforming into a Pink Lady from Grease, no?) Paula calls it "powerful and compelling." Simon says that Danny was better than Kris. Just like that. Mean.
Kris: "Come Together" by the Beatles
"The pride of Conway, Arkansas," got to play one of Slash's guitars. "I almost wanted to pee my pants," Kris says. Slash warns Kris that he needs to be a little more animated on stage. I think his smiley-sideways-mouth singing style works well with this song's surreal lyrics. Overall, though it's a competent performance, nothing really stands out. Randy appreciates that he picked something that matched his personality, and enjoyed his guitar-playing. Kara says he's the "softer side of rock," and apparently she likes it hard because this was not her cup of ju-ju eyeballs. Paula thinks his imprint on the song was evident, but that he needs a little more energy. Simon thought it was like "eating ice for lunch," in that it will leave you with nothing to remember. "It was a bit of a jam," he says, and I know what he means.
Danny: "Dream On" by Aerosmith
Slash says picking this song is all about whether you can nail the scream at the end, and boy, was he right! Danny starts out strong, despite the insane staring contest he has with the camera. In the middle, there's a little improvisational scatting that is both distracting and out of step with the song. But it's by far not the worst part. That would be that scream at the end of the song, which to my ears he totally botches. It's painfully bad. Randy gives him an A+ for effort, which is his way of saying, "No, dawg. Just no." Kara thinks he's better matched for "early Aerosmith -- like 'Cryin'' or 'Crazy'" — which, correct me if I'm wrong, are both definitely later Aerosmith. Later than "Dream On" anyway, right? Paula doesn't know if it was the right song for him. Simon says the last note was like watching a horror movie. And I agree with him. But he still thinks he's going to be safe tonight, which is pretty damning for Kris and Allison considering how bad this performance was.
Allison and Adam: "Slow Ride" by Foghat
I will betray my age by saying that I have loved this song since I saw Dazed and Confused, which, whether you're older or younger, will probably make you roll your eyes. So it's disappointing that I find it so boring, especially since I consider myself a fan of both Allison and Adam. When they break it down a bit near the end, there's the opportunity for both very competent singers to display some pipes, but the big finish is a little abrupt and definitely pat. Meh. The judges were watching something different though because it's raves all around. Simon says they win the battle of the duets, and that Adam may have given Allison a chance to stay in the competition as a result.
I definitely think either Kris or Allison will be packing their bags, which is disappointing since I like them both better than Danny, whose "Dream On" will surely haunt my nightmares for weeks to come.
What did you think? Which contestant rawked your world? And which do you think will be going home?
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