"Idol" pulls a surprise rescue

OK, that's a twist I didn't see coming.

After Tuesday's "American Idol" (see previous blog), I predicted that Matt Giraud would have the fewest viewer votes, with Lil Rounds second-fewest and Anoop Desai third.

That much turned out to be true. What I never would have guessed was that judges would use their rescue -- the only one they get all season -- to save Giraud.

They did, which sort of makes sense. He's a good singer who just never quite got anything special out of his song this week, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?"

Now he'll have to scramble next week, when only five of the seven will survive. Here are a few of my comments; please add yours.

1) There was Jennifer Hudson on stage, showing her spectacular voice. I almost thought I heard Miley Cyrus (scheduled to sing later in the show) saying, "Uh, excuse me ... I just remembered I have an appointment somewhere else."

2) I have nothing against Miley, actually. She's a bright, vigorous kid with a perfectly presentable pop voice. It's just that few mortals could safely follow Hudson.

3) That would have been the one consolation for Geraud: If he had been voted out tonight, he would have finished No. 7; that's where Hudson finished and she's now an Oscar-winner and Grammy-winner.

4) Other famous people who finished seventh are Ace Young and Kimberly Caldwell; both now co-host shows about "Idol." And, of course, Sanjaya Malukar. Bucky Covington, who has had some country hits, finished eighth.

5) Wasn't it nice of them, after the Ford plug and the long "17 Again" plug, to pause for some commercials?

6) For once, Ryan Seacrest wasn't exaggerating. He said Miley Cyrus has "dominated the entertainment media." That's true. She's had the sort domination that Darth Vader or Simon Cowell might dream of.

7) Disco week? Lil Rounds -- a terrific talent, despite Cowell's sniping -- could be dynamite on a big song, one like "I Will Survive." 

8) Adam Lambert will kill on whatever he chooses.

9) Disco could be trouble for several of the guys -- Kris Allen, Anoop Desai and Matt Giraud.

10) I'm betting the entire disco era is already whirring through Giraud's mind. He has, after all, just surivived the closest call in "American Idol" history.






It all starts with Adam

"Anerican Idol," like life itself, starts with Adam.

There are no average singers left; there are six very good ones and Adam Lambert, who is on a different level. Like the best "Idol" singers (Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, etc.), he has a great voice. Like a few (Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice) he commands a stage. And then he goes a step beyond, packing originality. This guy has dared to do a song Mick Jagger did ("Satisfaction") and a song everyone did ("Born to Be Wild"); he Adam-ized them. He keeps doing that.

Here are a few of my comments, followed by my should-go, will-go; please add your comments:

1) Simon Cowell is dead wrong about Lil Rounds. She's a terrific singer who sometimes doesn't choose the right song. A few minor pokes are OK, but Simon keeps going at her. He started tonight's show by declaring Allison Iraheta as the only hope for females; with only one other female in the competition, that was a pointed (and incorrect) comment.

2) As long as Anoop Desai and Kris Allen sing ballads, they do fine. They are, let's face it, cute guys. On ballads, the camera focuses on cute guys showing emotion. They'll prosper.

3) Matt Giraud, by comparison, is a regular guy who has to sing the dickens out of a song each week. Tonight, he was OK; he's vulnerable.

4) Danny Gokey scored from the moment he chose "Endless Love." There was the young widower singing "my first love ... no one else will do ... my endless love." He felt it; the audience did, too.

5) Allison Iraheta was terrific, as usual. But no, she's NOT the only hope for female singers.

6) Am I the only person who things "Once" was an overrated movie and its Oscar-winning song was over-rated, too? Nothing much happened in the film; almost nothing happens in the song. Still, Kris Allen made it seem like something happened. People cheered; he's a good singer and (I might have mentioned this) a cute guy.

7) I kind of miss the days when there were bad singers to mock. Or bad hair or bad clothes or something.

8) OK, I'll criticize Ryan Seacrest for calling Quentin Tarantino "a legend." He's a good director, a zestful "American Idol" fan and creator of the classic "Pulp Fiction"; legendary directors have more than one classic.

9) My should-go, based only on tonight: Matt Giraud, with Kris Allen second and Anoop Desai third.

10) My will-go: Matt (I'll miss a strong Michigan singer), with Lil Rounds second and Anoop Desai third. 



"Idol" is going Scott-free

Most of the big, emotional "American Idol" stories are gone now.

The show has shed both single moms ... and its oilfield-worker father of two ... and now its virtually blind prodigy, Scott MacIntyre.

These are talented people, but most don't quite have voices good enough to be in the final crop. (The exception is single mom Alexis Grace, who really shouldn't have been dumped.)

Tonight, we see the final seven performers work with Quentin Tarantino on movie-music week. (Please catch my previous blog, a rather silly one.) Meanwhile, here's the interview story I wrote the day after MacIntyre was eliminated:

Scott MacIntyre grants that he never quite fit the "American Idol" mold.
Many contestants grew up on rock and pop music. For MacIntyre -- who was eliminated from the show Wednesday -- that was almost an afterthought.
"I really had no idea what was going on in pop music and what was hip and on the radio until I was 14," MacIntyre, who is virtually blind, said by phone Thursday.
By then, he was already a classical piano prodigy. He had studied intensively when he moved to Toronto (from California) with his family at 10; he continued after moving to Arizona at 14. He graduated from Arizona State, added a Master's Degree from the Royal College of Music in London; he also studied in Boston and Salzburg, Austria.
"I'm kind of the academic-guy-turned-pop-star," he said.
Definitely academic. MacIntyre may be the first person in "Idol" interviews to use the word "expressivity" and the phrase "vocally and pianistically."
Still, he said, his passion is now on the pop side. "I actually have a huge catalog of original (pop) songs."
In recent years, he said, he's been working on several fronts. In addition to classical -- he's won competitions and soloed with orchestras -- he's had:
-- The Glutes, a duo with his brother which he calls "punk pop power-rock."
-- Solo work. He calls it "pop, rock, singer-songwriter" music in the John Mayer vein.
-- The MacIntyre Family Singers, who do acoustic jazz, Broadway and such. It includes the entire family, except for his father. "He auditions for the MacIntyre Family Singers every year and never makes the cut."
MacIntyre hadn't tried out for "Idol" previously, but couldn't resist when the auditions came to Phoenix, near his Scottsdale home. He said he savored being on the show, with fun-loving contestants.
Judges were less relaxed. One week, Paula Abdul suggested he perform without his piano; he did that this week and the other three judges said it was a mistake.
"It's very common," he said. "They will tell you one thing and then something very different the next time."
Still, he said Abdul's urging wasn't the reason he made the change. He wanted to surprise viewers with some electric-guitar licks.
Viewers were surprised, but didn't vote for him. A narrow margin -- about one-tenth of one percent of the total votes -- separated him from Anoop Desai, who had the second-lowest total.
Judges split 2-2 on the question of saving him, but MacIntyre seemed in good spirits the next day,
He's looking forward to his recording career he said, and to the "Idol" tour. "There's something magical about being on stage in front of that many people."

Some Idol thoughts

Three "American Idol" thoughts:

1) Quentin Tarantino will be the mentor Tuesday, with a movie-music theme. It's too bad there are no all-out balladeers this year; I was looking forward to hearing the love themes from his "Pulp Fiction," "Grindhouse" and "Reservoir Dogs."

2) Jennifer Hudson and Miley Cyrus will sing Wednesday. I hope the tween viewers aren't asked which one to keep.

3) Some people have asked me what I thought of last week's performer, Flo Rida. Basically, it's this:

-- As rappers go, Flo Rida is OK, but I probably would prefer Al Aska, Minnie Sota and Ida the Ho'.

-- In the punk field, I think Ill Annoy is sick, but I do admire Tek's Ass.

"Idol": Grand drama ... almost

Simon Cowell has a great sense of music, but not of drama. Tonight, "American Idol" barely missed an epic moment.

The viewers had put Scott MacIntyre at the bottom, with Anoop Desai next and Lil Rounds -- a great singer who had an average week -- third from the bottom.

The viewers got it right, but there was still a chance for the judges to save him. For a while, this seemed like it had been scripted for one of those feel-good menus.

Starting with the words "How can I convince you," MacIntyre sang better than ever, much better than the night before. He soared; the audience roared. If the judges had saved him, it would have been an immensely emotional moment.

It didn't happen. The vote had to be unanimous; two of the four judges (including, apparently, Cowell) dissented. MacIntyre is out.

Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

1)  The night's biggest honor should go to the clean-up crew. In one commercial break, they had to clean up a ton of confetti that fell on Flo Rida.

2) I kind of liked Lil Rounds' dress, which seemed to be made of pseudo-armor.

3) OK, we all wanted Anoop Desai to go, instead. There's been enough trouble with North Carolina in basketball; we don't need its biggest fan winning "Idol," too.

4) Maybe Michigan people didn't need to win the basketball tournament, after all. Right now, it has one of the people in the final seven of "Idol" and three in the final seven in "Biggest Loser." Victory, somewhere, looms.

5) Matt Giraud, the Michigan "Idol" guy, had a great week and stayed out of the bottom three. He even got to introduce Kalamazoo's mayor, Bobby Hopewell.

6) Incidentally, you know that the mayor made up that name. A black politician, in Barack Obama's year of hope, named Hopewell? Before Obama, he was probably named Bobby Gloom.