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.



"Idol": OK is no longer OK

So they announced that everyone on tonight's "American Idol" would sing songs from the year of their birth. Danny Gokey started by singing "Stand By Me," the 1961 classic.

1961? Wait, is this guy 48 years old?

It turns out that Mickey Gilley happened to record it in 1980, the year of Gokey's birth. Sure, that's what we think of whenever someone mentions Ben E. King's soulful classic -- some guy in a Stetson sang it in Pasadena, Texas.

Still, we won't complain. He sang it well, on a night when so many people settled for OK. Kris Allen and Scott MacIntyre did OK jobs; Lil Rounds neatly re-created the Tina Turner experience. That's fine, but this year it's not enough.

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

1) Life seems different without Megan Joy up there, dancing oddly. Please check my previous blog, which is a brief interview.

2) This is tough to believe: Someone (Lil) had heels too high for a Tina Turner song; someone (Allison Iraheta) had hair too red for a Bonnie Raitt song.

3) Still, both women sang with great power and Allison showed her individual flair. I really want them to survive; the show -- like the world -- doen't have enough women.

4) After showing a baby picture of Kara Dio Guardio with an angry expression, Ryan Seacret said she "looks like she just made a poopie." Hey, Simon Cowell often has that look; can we assume he's making poopies behind the desk?

5) We'll sort of accept Anoop Desai gloating about the victory for his beloved University of North Carolina. Still, we would have preferred to see him weeping about a loss.

6) Anoop also apologized for sort of talking back to Kara. That happened in the first "American Idol" year, when Justin Guarini apologized to all the judges. Hey, let's not be so wimpy; those judges are adult millionaires who can take a few knocks.

7) It was a great night for Matt Giraud of Kalamazoo. Taking a song by another Michigan guy (Stevie Wonder), he sang it with style and zest.

8) Then all other memories were wiped away by one stunning performance. Adam Lambert is a master showman; he also has the great voice to support that showmanship. That's one reason why being OK isn't good enough.

9) My should-go, based only on tonight: Scott at the bottom, with Kris second from last and Anoop third.

10) Will go? Definitely not Kris, who happens to be Zac Efron-cute. I'll say Scott will go, with Lil second from the bottom and Anoop third. Paula told Scott to step away from the piano; he did and everyone else said he shouldn't have. You can't win.