Down to the ‘Shoe-In vs. Dark Horse’ Moment

Seacrest opened the show by touting the upcoming bout as “acoustic rocker vs. glam rocker,” “Conway (Arkansas) vs. California” and “the guy next door vs. the guyliner.” Love that last one, Seacrest, but you seem to have forgotten “amateur vs. professional,” “straight vs. (allegedly) gay” and, of course, “shoe-in vs. dark horse.” Last night the […]

Last Updated: May 20, 2009 @ 8:39 AM

Seacrest opened the show by touting the upcoming bout as “acoustic rocker vs. glam rocker,” “Conway (Arkansas) vs. California” and “the guy next door vs. the guyliner.”

Love that last one, Seacrest, but you seem to have forgotten “amateur vs. professional,” “straight vs. (allegedly) gay” and, of course, “shoe-in vs. dark horse.”

Last night the finalists sang three songs: their favorite performance from the season, a song chosen by the show’s producer, Simon Fuller, and the (usually crappy) winner’s first single, which was co-written this year by — surprise, surprise — Kara DioGuardi.

Kris won the coin toss and chose to perform second, perhaps in order to leave a lasting impression with the viewers. It worked, too! I was thinking of his dimples all night, even in my sleep.

No big surprise here. Glambert chose to sing “Mad World” as his favorite performance. Believe it or not, I found it stunning the first time he did it, and this time it was just as great (maybe because of the dry ice). He is strongest when he uses his range but still shows some restraint, i.e. no screaming.

I would’ve also enjoyed a reprise of the love-it-or-hate-it “Ring of Fire.” I mean, he was already sporting the goth/cowboy duster anyway. Randy liked the look, calling it “Twilight”; not a compliment in my book. Simon, however, thought it was more “Phantom of the Opera,” which seemed more on target. Don’t get me wrong; both are lame. It’s just that “Phantom” is more “theatrical” (like Adam), while “Twilight” was a little light on the actual acting.

I was hoping that Kris would do “Falling Slowly” as his favorite performance, but he chose “Ain’t No Sunshine,” probably a safer choice, since it showcased this season’s buzzword, the oft-mentioned yet elusive “artistry.”

I’m still not 100 percent on what Kara means when she throws that word around, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it has something to do with taking a song and changing it up … unless, of course, it is a “classic” song with a “strong melody” that doesn’t need to be changed.

He got nothing but praise from the judges and when prodded, Simon even declared Allen the Round 1 victor.

Fuller chose “Change Is Gonna Come” for Glambert. Though it got a little screechy towards the end, it was a great (and unexpected) choice. He truly did look like a star in his retro-style suit and he showed that he could sing something bluesy without being overly dramatic.

For the first time, I could really envision him singing at the Grammy Awards or at — I don’t know — like, a vampire convention or something.

Randy said that he could “sing his face off.” I’m not sure if he can sing off his whole face, but he can definitely sing his pancake foundation off.

Kris performed “What’s Going On?” as Fuller’s choice. Smartly, he played the guitar and showcased the one undeniable strength he has over Lambert: the ability to play multiple instruments. Granted, it was kind of low-key and, as Simon mentioned, a little “three friends in their bedroom strumming along to Marvin Gaye,” but what did you expect? It’s not exactly a rousing rock anthem. There are plenty of artists out there with lame acoustic songs; John Mayer comes to mind.

Cowell called Round 2 for Lambert.

The winning single performances are always interesting in that you have two singers doing the same song. This is where “artistry” comes in (I think). This is also where they let you know again that Kara cowrote the song.

When Glambert gave us his take on “No Boundaries,” it was clear that this is a song he would never chose to record himself. Lyrically, it called to mind the new Miley Cyrus song (thanks, Kara!). Someone like him singing something like this brings up the age-old (OK, not so old) question: is it sometimes better to come in second and have more freedom to be the performer you want to be? (“Artistry!”)

Kara made her comments all about Kara, and Simon pretty much called her out on it.

“No Boundaries” was a much better fit for Kris. Don’t get me wrong; it was still a pretty lame song, but it sounded like something you could hear on the radio (perhaps a station like “The Blend” on XM radio?), while Adam’s version was kind of a joke.

Carrie Underwood performed for the second time this season. Her version of “Home Sweet Home” was set to clips of this season’s losers — er, “memorable contestants.” It made you wonder what Norman Gentle and Tatiana del Toro are up to these days. It also made you wonder how the heck Megan Joy Corkrey lasted longer in the competition than Alexis Grace.

Set your DVRs! Seacrest promised that tonight’s three-hour show is so packed with goodies that it’s likely to go over. (Please let it involve Clay Aiken!)

While this season has been anti-climatic to say the least, the race may not be as clear cut as it seems. Sure, the judges have been kissing Adam’s butt from the very beginning, all but handing him a spot on last night’s penultimate show. But I have a feeling that Hokey Gokey’s conservative fans will come out in support of Allen. It could be a real “Idol Shocker,” so be sure to set your DVR accordingly.

We don’t want another “and the winner is David … ” — DELETE RECORDING — moment!