Two songs per singer tonight, one chosen by the judges, one chosen by the contestants. In theory, this is a night where everyone gets to look good. In theory. ...
I let the DVR run awhile, so I am skipping over some of the non-vocal material.
First up is Danny, and it's bad from go. His song, chosen by Paula, is Terence Trent D'Arby's "Dance Little Sister." Good song, but completely wrong for Danny, who is straining to sound powerful at the beginning and goes in and out of synch with the band. Paula dances during his song, and the trained seals are suitably, uh, trained to react positively. Randy says "let the games begin" and says Danny had a lot of energy and "that was dope for me, dude." Kara thought the dancing was "a little too gyrating" and she may not remember the performance tomorrow. Paula thought he did "really good." What a surprise. Simon reminds "the two girls" that this is a singing show, then says the dancing "was a bit desperate" but "vocally very, very good." Still, he thought it was the wrong song.
Kris the Cute gets a song chosen by Randy AND Kara. "Apologize" by OneRepublic -- which the band did on the season finale a year ago. Randy explains it's a big song and Kara says everyone knows it. Kris at the piano. He's got that tone that's become his trademark, with some awkward spots, but he's not making it anthemic. No more than OK. Randy says that right now it's about who's going to win but this shows what he could be in the future in the music business. Kara calls it "really competent" but Kris needs to swing it out of the park and make it more his own; she wanted guitar instead of piano. Paula heard a bum note "that was loud" but "I am so proud of you" and all three are worthy of being in the top two. Simon questions Paula and she gets defensive; Simon says Kara was copping out by choosing a song and then blaming Kris for doing it. Kara yells at Simon. He calls the performance competent. Kara-Randy-Simon bickering ensues.
Adam. Simon chooses "One" by U2; Simon says it's one of his favorite songs and he got permission from Bono to use it. Adam's in one of those beam-me-up spotlights. He goes musical-theater at the beginning of the song, then goes into his shriek, which just doesn't work with this song. Very Johnnie Ray. I expected him to be great. Wasn't. Randy says Adam is still definitely in the zone, although he wasn't sure about Adam going off the melody. Kara calls him "an amazing strategist." Paula proclaims him an American Idol. Simon calls it brilliant and says if he doesn't make the final, it will be one of the biggest upsets ever.
Much filler leads into Danny's personal choice, Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." Better for him than the D'Arby. He does it mellow, acoustic, understated -- almost as if he's trying to be Kris -- before going for a big finish, although even that's not as big as he might have tried a few weeks ago. Not to my taste, and not Cocker's ragged glory. But pleasant, I suppose. Randy says he can "really, really, really sing" with "mad vocals." Kara says it was "stunning. Stunning." Paula says it left all of them "bruthless." Simon says the song didn't need rearranging but it was "a vocal master class."
Kris goes for "Heartless" by Kanye West. Kanye's got the guitar, per Kara, but starts acappella and then goes into his Mraz thing. It's a Kris song; I detect no Kanye. But neither is it very distinguished. It's just there. Randy says that he likes that version better than Kanye's or the Fray's. Kara says he should have done that instead of "Apologize" (which, let us remember, she and Randy had told him to do). Paula says he is the bravest artist for doing a song "about Simon Cowell." Zzzzzz. Simon dogs the choice of "Apologize" again, but says the performance put him back into the competition.
Adam ends with Aerosmith's "Cryin'." Love the original. Love the video. While edits for these performances are inevitable, the cuts here make the song feel too abrupt. I won't argue that Adam is a strong stage presence. But I wouldn't want to listen to this again. As he said, Steven Tyler's the man. But the presentation is all designed to make him the star. Randy says Adam is one of the best ever on the "Idol" stage and he should be a rock star. Kara asks, "Who hits those notes?" and "We'll see you at the final." Paula says he has set the bar so high in the sky and once again says we'll be seeing him in the final "and many years after that." Simon says he will sail through to the final, and people shouldn't assume he will be there and need to vote for him.
And the show manages to end within its allotted 64 minutes. But I wasn't knocked out by anything. Adam does seem to be a lock for the final two. But who's the other? The early line was Adam and Danny, but I won't be at all surprised if it's Adam and Kris.