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'American Idol's Top 7 finalists take to the stage and perform live again


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/22/2009 

American Idol's Top 7 eighth-season finalists took to the stage for the second week in a row during last night's live broadcast of the Fox reality competition series and performed disco hits.

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While disco royalty like Donna Summer, Chaka Khan and the Bee Gees were all represented, it was mostly a night of unconventional performances by the Top 7 finalists -- Danny Gokey, Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai, and Matt Giraud.

Since "The Judges Save" was used to keep Matt in the competition last week, two finalists will be eliminated during Wednesday night's live results show broadcast at 9PM ET/PT -- revealing the Top 5.

"Last Wednesday, 'The Judges' Save' was evoked," Idol host Ryan Seacrest noted at the beginning of the broadcast.   "The good news is, Matt Giraud lives to see another week on American Idol.  The bad news is, two people are going home tomorrow night based entirely on your votes."

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the finalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the four judges -- Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson -- as well as additional information about each performance.


Lil Rounds, a 24-year-old from Memphis, TN

Song: "I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan

Randy said:  "Well you definitely, definitely got the party started.  But -- god man, I don't know man -- it sounded so wild to me.  You definitely can sing. (boos)  It still didn't really show us what kind of artist and what you can really do at this point in the competition.  It was big.  It was grand.  You danced, the whole thing.  You got the crowd up.  But it didn't really show what kind of vocal control you can have."
Kara said:  "Lil, I think all of America including me has been waiting for you to sing Chaka Khan or an artist like that.  But I'm not sure it was worth the wait.  I've got to tell you, I kind of agree with Randy.  And the thing is, you've been every woman on that stage during this competition -- every other woman but yourself.  And tonight, you still didn't tell me who you are as an artist. ('Yeah, that's the problem,' added Randy.) But you look great.  You look beautiful."
Paula said:  "In Lil's defense, I was with her yesterday and she had no voice.  She was on complete vocal rest.  For the recovery that you made with your strong vocals, I applaud you for that. (cheers)  Having said that, the reason why Chaka Khan when she sang that song it became a classic is because she really tapped into her inner-goddess.  Although you were hot tonight, I don't think you hit quite the boiling point.  But I still think it was a remarkable recovery."
Simon said:  "Oh Lil... You look so sad. ('I don't mean to look sad,' replied Lil.  'I just want you all to know I actually had fun tonight.  I really did.  So I thank you guys for your comments.  You're right you know.  I'm really trying to show who I am as an artist.')  Sweetheart, I'm glad you had fun because I think this is going to be the last week we're ever going to see you. (boos)  I do.  I do.  I'll tell you why, because there's no originality.  It was very copycat.  The arrangement -- your vocals -- were a mess.  I absolutely believe this is your final shot.  Sorry."

Additional Info:  After the judges' comments, Ryan asked Lil what her "inner-goddess" was saying.  "My inner-goddess is saying yes, Chaka Khan is one of the greatest R&B divas.  But I absolutely don't believe I was karaoke tonight at all.  I mean you go back and listen to her song, I did some things that were changed up."


Kris Allen, a 23-year-old from Jacksonville, AR who currently resides in Conway, AR

Song: 
"She Works Hard for the Money" by Donna Summer

Kara said:  "So Kris... You took a real risk with that arrangement, and let me tell you, it paid off big time. (cheers)  So impressed with you to take a Donna Summer four-on-the-floor song and show us something about you with that?  It actually sounded like it could go on your record.  I don't know how you managed to do that, but I've got to give you props for that."
Paula said:  "It had a classy, Santana feel to it.  I've got to tell you Kris, a lot of women are known to shop in the men's department, but there aren't many men willing to shop in the women's. (laughs)  I must tell you that you shopped and found a perfect fit.  It not only showed your originality, but it shows us why you're a contender in this competition."
Simon said:   "Kris, that was a complete polar opposite to the first performance in so much as it was original, it was well thought out -- that was not karaoke. (cheers) Whether you buy or like ladies' underwear, I couldn't care less.  It was a fantastic performance."
Randy said:  "I don't care what you buy, what I love about you and what I'm looking for now -- we're looking for the best undiscovered talent... Dude, you know who you are.  You come out every week and this proves the fact that you are ready for the big time dog.  You know who you are.  You performed great, you picked great arrangements, amazing."

Additional Info: Prior to his performance, Ryan asked Kris what he thought upon learning it was disco week.  "I was actually pretty worried.  But trying to pick-up the song and stuff, it worked out okay."  Ryan then called "She Works Hard for the Money" an "interesting choice" and asked why Kris picked it.  "I thought it actually had something to say.  It's actually a story about a woman, and so... She has good work ethic."... Kris played the guitar during his performance... Simon acted as though he was confused by Paula's comments, asking her to clarify if she was insinuating Kris buy's women's underwear.  "I actually need a translator on this show. I don't understand anything," said Simon.


Danny Gokey, a 28-year-old from Milwaukee, WI

Song:  "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire

Randy said:  "Let me just say this, when I heard this was your song choice I was like, 'Dog, I don't know.  I'm kind of worried about this.'  But let me tell you something.  Let me tell you how hard you worked.  This is a great song, but it doesn't have a big melodic range.  You turned this into something that really worked for you tonight. (cheers)  Because I was worried that it didn't have enough melody to support what you do.  Man but you worked it out baby.  Good job, good job."
Kara said:  "I was kind of worried about you with disco night.  It was sort of like asking Simon to wear a plaid shirt or something. (laughs)  Not going to happen, you know what I mean?  But you are an incredible vocalist.  And the thing about you that you don't get credit for is that your pitch is so right on.  Always.  I mean you never have an issue.  It was, again, another solid performance for Danny.  The only thing I can say is I want to make sure we remember it at the end of the night, and I hope we do."
Paula said:  "One of the things I love about your voice is whenever I think you've hit the top end of your range you always take it up one step higher.  It's amazing.  You didn't change the arrangement to a song that's always performed.  Instead, you chose vocally to show your agility and your brilliance.  For that -- as a woman -- I think you have one of the sexiest voices ever. (cheers)  I think women of all ages will agree."
Simon said:  "I pretty much agree with what everybody's said.  I can't fault the vocals.  The arrangement was interesting.  As a performance though, I didn't really get any kind of star power from that though. (boos)  I'll tell you why.  because at this stage, that's when you've got to do something special.  I thought the performance overall was a bit awkward and a bit clumsy."

Additional Info:  After Simon's comments, Paula interjected, "I'll still see you in the finals!  I'll still see you in the finals!"... Ryan added Danny was "working late into the night" on his song.


Allison Iraheta, a 16-year-old from Los Angeles, CA who currently resides in Downey, CA

Song:  "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer

Randy said:  "I've got two things.  Whereas for me personally I didn't love the arrangement -- it was a little overindulgent for me -- but let me just say this, you're one of the best singers in this competition.  You really... And you always prove my point every time you come up and sing.  I don't care what age you are, you can really sing.  So I didn't love the arrangement, but I love you."
Kara said:  "I've got to agree with Randy on the arrangement.  I think that making it slower kind of hurt the performance.  But I've got to say you picked the right song because Donna Summer won a Grammy for her rock/vocal performance of that song -- so you were definitely in the right lane.  I also have to agree with him that you're one of the best singers. (cheers)  Just from a singing perspective, that was like a 9/10 for me -- just the vocals."
Paula said:  "Allison, the word compromised does not even belong ion your musical vocabulary.  because of that, the edginess that you brought -- I don't mind the arrangement at all because it does not at all veer away from your authenticity.  I've got to tell you, with that last note, you hit it off the charts."
Simon said:  "Allison I don't think this has got anything to do with whether it was slow or fast, I think you were always going to come into this week as an underdog.  But I have to tell you, taking everything into account, that was a brilliant performance."


Adam Lambert, a 26-year-old from San Diego, CA who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA

Song:  "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman

Randy said:  "One of the things that should be happening at this time for each contestant in the competition is that you should show us your range.  Some weeks you do the rock thing, you jump around the stage, you mix it up.  This week you do the slow vibe.  Dude I'm telling you something, you are ready right now. (cheers)  You have it majorly going on.  He is a hot one tonight America!"
Kara said:  "Adam, you're brilliant.  I don't know what else to say.  You're brilliant.  Every week you up it for me.  Tonight, this was the most memorable performance.  You look like the guy from Saturday Night Live meets Clark Kent.  It's incredible.  Just the emotion, the way you connected.  It's just... It's inspiring."
Paula said:  "Adam I've never questioned my visceral response when I see you perform.  Tonight, you chose to pick a disco song and not make it cliche and up-tempo.  I felt your pain, I felt your vulnerability -- which was beautiful.  It's as if you tore your heart out and left it on the stage.  You're fascinating, you're brilliant, you're awesome, and you will be in the finals."
Simon said:  "I didn't quite feel the pain with Paula.  I would have put $10,000 you were going to do Donna Summer. But you know, that's what's so good about you.  You did something that we weren't expecting.  But once again, what I loved about this performance was it was original -- never ever heard that song sung like that before.  Most importantly, you're going to remember it.  Even more important, the vocals were immaculate.  Congratulations."

Additional Info: Prior to Adam's performance, Ryan asked him about his song choice.  "I already did a disco song so I wanted to do something that I could connect to emotionally."


Matt Giraud, a 23-year-old from Ypsilanti, MI who currently resides in Kalamazoo, MI

Song: "Stayin' Alive" by Bee Gees

Randy said:  "Bad stuff first.  Didn't love the song choice, didn't love the arrangement.  But this is... Let me say this, you can really sing dude.  I think this bunch right here -- I'm just going to go and put it on blast right here -- this bunch right here is one of the most talented groups of seven kids we've ever had on this show.  You can really sing even though I didn't love the song.  You can really sing dude."
Kara said:  "You know what?  You brought disco back because for a minute we were away from the groove and you brought it back, you turned the mood back to disco.  So that was good.  Now I really like to see you move Matt, I like that about you.  I thought the vocals were pretty good.  It was a solid performance.  Was it crazy original in the way that Adam's was?  No, but it was still a good performance.  Solid."
Paula said:  "You pick songs like I bowl.  Sometimes you bowl gutterballs and sometimes you get strikes.  This was a strike. (cheers)  Last week the judges saved your life, this week you saved your own life.  You're staying."
Simon said:  "Matt, I'm sorry to put a damper on this but I actually didn't like that performance. (boos)  I'll tell you why, because I think you've got to get yourself out of Idol land for a moment and put yourself in the real world.  In the real world, that came over to me as a bit desperate. (boos)  I didn't think the vocals were great.  I didn't hear any originality.  So I'm not such a huge fan of that one."


Anoop Desai, a 22-year-old from Chapel Hill, NC


Song:  "Dim All the Lights" by Donna Summer

Randy said:  "Little bit of a rough last note, but let me just say this man.  What I've been saying all night, what I'm really happy about is sometimes I think we forget this is a singing competition.  The arrangement, all this kind of stuff, I didn't really love this one either even though you were trying.  Sometimes it makes these songs that are cool kind of corny in a weird sort of way.  It's very dicey with the arrangements.  But dude, you can sing also.  This Top 7 dude is so talented vocally that I'm happy to see your vocals.  We're sitting here going, 'He hit that note and that note!'  Anoop, nice baby.  Nice."
Kara said:  "I thought it was a great song choice.  Sort of a ballad feel, which is really your strong suit.  And I really liked the beat.  For me it sounded like it could actually be on the radio.  I really liked that.  For me, the last two weeks were your best performances.  Your best performances the last two weeks.  You're really hitting your stride. Nice work, nice changes, good vocals.  Great."
Paula said:  "Anoop, the look tonight, the growth... You look fantastic, and I've got to say real men know how to wear pink. (cheers)  No one can deny how beautiful your vocals are when the start of the song... You hit that magical zone in your voice.  When it went up-tempo, I actually saw you enjoying yourself.  Smile more.  You've got beautiful teeth!  Smile more.  Good job."
Simon said:  "Once again, I've got to completely disagree with these guys.  That was mediocre at best. (boos)  Sorry.  I prayed that the tempo wasn't going to come in, it did.  It was a horrible version of that song.  In my opinion, genuinely that was your worst performance by a mile."

(Photo credit Fox)


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