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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 8

'American Idol's Top 8 finalists take to the stage and perform live


By John Bracchitta, 04/08/2009 

American Idol's Top 8 eighth-season finalists took to the stage and performed during last night's live broadcast of the Fox reality competition's fifth finals round.
 
The Top 8 finalists -- Danny Gokey, Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre, Anoop Desai, and Matt Giraud -- all had the freedom to sing any song that had been recorded in the year they were born.

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Prior to the first performance, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest showed baby pictures of judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell. Abdul subsequently responded by showing a baby picture of Seacrest to even the score.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast -- which featured an unscheduled and inexplicable eight-minute overrun -- in the order which the finalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the four judges -- Randy, Kara, Paula and Simon -- as well as additional information about each performance. Barring the use of the new The Judges' Save twist, one finalist will be eliminated at the conclusion of tonight's results show broadcast


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

Song: "Stand By Me" by Mickey Gilley

Jackson said: "When you first came out you were doing your whole thing, you had the whole kinda R&B, gospel, jazz, chords. I did not love the arrangement but here's what I love about you: You're an amazing singer, you made me love it even though I didn't love the arrangement. That's what it's about. This is a vocal talent show and you got some talent!"
DioGuardi said: "I too was like 'What kind of arrangement is this?' But at the same time at the end you just killed it. You took it one level, two levels, three levels, it just kept going and going. And you turned it on its head and you made it your own and it's really unique. You did your own thing and you did it well."
Abdul said: "All I can say Danny is 'Wow.' You have opened the show setting the bar so high that everyone who follows you is gonna have to run as fast as they can to catch up. Honestly, everything from the creative liberties that you took with the arrangement, which I happened to like very much, to the chord substitutions, they equally match how brilliant your voice was tonight. Very amazing."
Cowell said: "I thought the beginning was good, I thought the middle was lazy and the end was terrific. So, overall, great."

Additional information: Gokey was born in 1980. His father, Charles Gokey, was blown away by his ability to sing as a young child. "I was just amazed, I would just almost start to cry," he said.


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

Song: "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" by Don Henley

DioGuardi said: "You know, I'm a huge Kris Allen fan and I was very excited that you picked an up tempo tonight because I think that's really important to you. You've been showing a little bit more of the slower, sensitive side of you. I wanted to see you really command the stage, get young, get up tempo. But that kind of felt like jazz-funk homework. It was like music class told you to go back and reinterpret it in that way, and it kinda lost a lot of its youth. And you're a really good singer. Still a fan though, still a fan."
Abdul said: "What's really wonderful about you is your quiet faith is heartfelt and it's genuine, and you took one of the most melodically same note songs and you did change it up to make it uniquely your own. I gotta say you have to be one of the most likable contestants we've ever had."
Cowell said: "Likable, yes. But it was indulgent, boring, forgettable.. Where I got disappointed was the fact that you came over as a guitarist who wanted to sing rather than a singer and it was a stupid, stupid song choice."
Jackson said: "You're right, I agree with Simon on that. Here's my problem with it, the arrangement was a little self indulgent. And when something's already great, Don Henley already made it so great, you didn't need to change the arrangement. I lost you. I was listening more to the band and the horns and all that and I lost you, You're the singer and you're in the competition, not the song. Don't forget that."

Additional information: Allen was born in 1985. As a child he dreamed of being a taxi driver, according to his mother Kim Allen. "I think it was because I always wanted to travel and I felt that if you are a taxi driver you get to travel a lot," Kris explained.  "And then I grew up and [realized] they only get to travel in one city."


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

Song: "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner

Abdul said: "You look very hot tonight. Okay, this is what I'm gonna have to say on this one. I thought this was the week that it was really important for you to take your own liberties, go outside of the box, and prove to us that you know exactly who you are as an artist. However I find myself repeating, you are a brilliant vocalist, we know that. But we also know that only gets you only so far. If you're not able to take the reins, and to Ricky Minor and the great band, I just think that you needed to lead Ricky and the band into creating your niche with a song that is so classic, and I don't feel that you did. And I'm
really worried that it's becoming a beautiful karaoke rendition, and you're wonderful, you're much bigger than that."
Cowell said: "I think what Paula was trying to say is that we're not looking for a second-or-third-rate version of Tina Turner because that's what it was. Even to the point where you were copying the way that she walks. So it became one of those ghastly copycat performances. Other than some nice points towards the end it's literally like we have lost you. I have no idea who you are. You're not making the impact you should be making on this show, basically because you're either getting wrong advice or you're making bad decisions, and you've got to start becoming original. You've got to take a song that no one's ever done before and make it our version on the show."
Jackson said: "Listen, we all love you, you are mad, mad talented and you definitely look hot tonight. But what those two just said is really important because it's really real. We tell you guys each week 'You remind me of this, you remind me of that,' so you know where your wheelhouse is. But it's almost like you're not listening to us because you can do a lot of stuff, but Tina is not you. And that year? There's an amazing bunch of songs you could've sung that could've been really you and you could've rolled them out vocally. But it's just not clicking right now, it's not happening, I don't know."
DioGuardi said: "Yeah, it's about making that leap from a singer to an artist and that's where you're struggling right now, and knowing yourself. If you look when you're up there performing your lower range really suffers, you've got to find your power down there. It can't all be about when you're up here. We have to see it during the whole song."

Additional information: Rounds was born in 1984. Her mother clarified that Rounds' real name was in fact "Lil," and added that the name had come Lil's grandmother, whose name was Lily. Following her harsh criticism Rounds said that if she made it through to the next round that she would listen to the judges' advice. "I'm gonna make a giant leap if America decides to vote me back in, then I'll see about changing the judges minds as well as America in letting them know that I am an artist," she said.


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

Song: "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper

Jackson said: "Congratulations to North Carolina man, hot team. But you know what else was hot? You pulled it back. And you what I'm always impressed by you, like when you first came out on this show you were like the party guy and doing that whole thing, but dude you can actually sing. That was a very nice vocal. Very controlled, props to you man. I like that."
DioGuardi said: "Tonight you controlled the song, you didn't let it control you, and that's what it's all about. You showed that you can take a pop song and interpret it with soul. There you're using your soul but you're not trying to be something that you're not, Congratulations."
Abdul said: "Anoop, your choice of song, flawless. Your phrasing was beautiful, and where it sat in your voice was truly magical and you did show your true colors, just like a rainbow. Fantastic."
Cowell said: "You're like a singing yo-yo, one minute you're down and then you're up. Because last week was abysmal and this week was very good. And what was very good was what I was trying to say to Lil before, which was take a song and make it your version. You took a girl's song, and you do it so it becomes more original. I don't think it was fantastic. And by the way, you don't have to apologize to reacting to what we say, it is kind of two way, we can be horrible to you and you can be horrible back."

Additional information: Desai was born in 1986. Prior to his performance, Desai apologized for his "overreaction" during last week's comments by the judges and said he had been "caught in the moment." However, he laughed after Cowell's comments. Desai also mentioned his excitement over UNC Tar Heels's March Madness win to become NCAA National Champions.


Scott MacIntyre, a 23-year-old from Scottsdale, AZ

Song: "The Search is Over" by Survivor

DioGuardi said: "You know, I gotta commend you for coming out there, playing your guitar, who knew you could play? You took on a very difficult song, I'm not sure that I would have picked that song for you as a power ballad because I do see you more as a singer-songwriter at the piano. You had some good moments but you also had some off moments. I'm not sure it was your best performance, but there were parts I liked and parts I felt were just too over ambitious for you."
Abdul said: "I give you credit for stepping away from the comfort zone of the piano, I really do. I had no idea that would played guitar. I was a little confused when I saw you playing electric guitar, I think I would have picked acoustic... I just think that maybe reaching for some of those high notes came off at times a little bit screeching. But overall, bravo."
Cowell said: "Well I would suggest you go back to the piano next week. Seriously, because that's where  you're comfortable. The song was horrible, if I'm being honest with you... I'm not criticizing you, the song was atrocious. The guitar playing wasn't much better. The two actually didn't go together, it was just weird hearing the awful guitar over a very boring song. Like we said earlier in the show, there were so many songs that you could have chosen. This was you trying to be somebody else and absolutely not working. So I have to say I think Paula's advice was wrong."
Jackson said: "The problem for me really was it was just all okay. The song was okay, the vocals were okay, it didn't show you as a star as one of the best undiscovered talents in America, and I think at this point in the competition we're looking for that. Dude, I want you to leap off the stage vocally."

Additional information: MacIntyre was born in 1985. He wanted to be a train engineer as a child. After Abdul's comments about the use of the electric guitar, MacIntyre joked that "It's my punk side coming out," eliciting a laugh from Abdul. Following Jackson's comments, MacIntyre said that he had chosen the song to show his "versatility" as an artist.


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

Song: "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt

Abdul said: "You know what's so great about having you in this competition? You just hear one note and it's undeniably Allison. That's a gift that you can't put a price tag on, and I gotta tell you I love that you had some tenderness to the approach of the song that is so gut wrenching and haunting. But you gave all of your heart in this song. This is a perfect example of the same arrangement as the original but you making it your own."
Cowell said: "I thought that was very good, I really do. I think we've just got to sort you out a bit and make you a bit more likable... because I don't think your personality is coming over. In fact, when your mother said that you talk too much, you need to become a child again and actually start being talkative and likable because I still don't know much about you. And that in a competition like this is very, very important, so you've got to lighten up a little bit."
Jackson said: "Let me just say this. There was a girl that won the first season of this that you remind me so much of. I remember she talked all the time, in fact she talked so much that on the first tour she was coarse half the time. But let me tell you something, she could sing her face off, and so can you. Simon's right though, you need to engage the public a little bit more because you're one of the best of the night. I mean, dude you can really sing, and I love you for it."
DioGuardi said: "To take adult content, like what's in that song, and make it believable and young like you did today, that is truly talent. You cannot find that. And the other thing is, whatever they said, let's go make a record man."

Additional info: Iraheta was born in 1992. Her mom said she had first discovered that Iraheta could sing after taking her to the doctor as a baby because she felt she was talking too much.  "The doctor told me 'Don't worry, she's going to be singer, she's going to be a big star,'" her mother Sara Iraheta explained.  "I think my mom started believing I could be a singer when the doctor said that, that actually gave her a push," Iraheta added.


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

Song: "Part Time Lovers" by Stevie Wonder

Jackson said: "Vocally one of the best of the night."
DioGuardi said: "Incredible on every level! Unbelievable!"
Abdul said: "Two words: Standing [ovation]."
Cowell said: "A million times better than last week. Well done."

Additional info: Giraud was born in 1985. He would sing constanly as a child, according to his parents.  "Matthew as a kid, he would sing constantly -- on the way, on church, and then at the choirs," his father Dan Giraud said. The judges comments were cut short due to time constraints.

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

Song: "Mad World" by Tears for Fears

Cowell said: "The bad news is we're running out of time. The good news is I'm the only one that's gonna be talking. I think words are unnecessary but I'm going to give you a standing ovation."

Additional information: Lambert was born in 1982. He loved loved "playing dress-up" as a child and quickly decided he wanted to be a performer when he grew up.  Due to time constraints, Cowell was the only judge to comment on Lamberts performance.  All the other judges also joined Cowell in giving Lambert a standing ovation.

(Photo credit FOX/Michael Becker)

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