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iTunes (Plug! Plug!) Does In the Idols

Tuesday night was the night America had been waiting for. That’s right, the show has gone from an overindulgent 120 minutes to a more manageable 85. Whew! My pop culture calories were getting out of control!

Ryan informed us that the theme was “most popular downloads,” which meant that they could sing “any song they want, as long as it’s a popular download on iTunes.”

Did you get that? At this very moment, you can go to iTunes and download the Idols’ performances of songs that are popular on, uh, iTunes.

We also got a visit to Ryan's radio studio. Is there no end to this man's self-promotion?

And, oddly, even though the Idols got to pick any song that is a popular download on iTunes, the performances were some of the weakest overall. Maybe these kids need structure in their lives.

Anoop Desai: Could not have been more earnest in his attempt at Usher’s “Caught Up.” Why then, did it seem so silly? Yes, he has a great voice, which I look forward to hearing from my balcony as he serenades me in our shared future. (Note to self: Get balcony.) But Kara’s critique was right on the money; his performance almost seemed tongue-in-cheek. To be the R&B artist he wants to be, he’s gonna have to get a little more street cred -- even more than he earned being in the “Clef Hangers” at the University of North Carolina! I said it before: He needs to stick to the sweet ballads.

Megan Joy: Finally got the chance to sing a song she “absolutely loves” with Bob Marley’s “Turn The Lights Down Low.” Of course, she loves it. And I’ll bet she only listens to Bob Marley for “medicinal purposes,” too. Sadly, it was hard to tell that she was singing a song that she enjoyed, as she looked ready to bolt from the stage at any moment. If she’s around next week, maybe she’ll follow Paula’s advice and sit on a stool and look pretty. Turn the spotlight up, turn the mic down  -- a perfect combination!

Danny Gokey: Gave what I thought was one of his weakest performances to date with Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most.” Surprising, as you’d think he’d be able to draw on the pain of his recent widower status. I guess I stand corrected, though, as Simon lauded it as his best performance. Yes, it was “so much better than the first two,” but Gokey is in a different league than Anoop and on a different planet than Megan. At this point, he can really do no wrong.

Allison Iraheta: Proved that the theme of “popular downloads” was really just another way to promote iTunes with her selection of “Don’t Speak.” Yes, it’s a good song and it WAS popular ... uh, 13 years ago! This girl can sing the phone book, though. And apparently she can do it while playing the guitar -- who knew? While the judges lambasted her wardrobe, the audience and I enjoyed it. I mean, Lady Gaga (tonight’s guest performer) wears costumes. And Adam Lambert dresses up every week!

Scott MacIntyre: Promised to “strip things down” to just the piano and him on “Just The Way You Are.” Looks like the glam squad also decided to “strip things down” -- on the sides of his hair while concurrently stripping up the ‘fro on the top. Was this an interpretation of an early '80s Billy Joel hairdo? Kara loved the new look; I’m hoping it’s not permanent. Yes, it’s true, this was Scott’s best performance yet. He hasn’t sounded this good since his very first audition; coincidentally, that was also a Billy Joel song. The lesson: Stick with what you know, even if that means sticking yourself behind the piano week after week (after week).

Matt Giraud: As talented as he is, he refuses to play to his strengths. Tonight’s performance of “You Found Me” harkened back to that Coldplay trainwreck earlier in the season. (In fact, I was shocked when an insightful Paula made the same observation.) We did get to bear witness, albeit briefly, to his mesmerizing falsetto but it was sandwiched between raspy mumbling. Giraud is a much better vocalist than the artists whom he aspires to be like. Let’s hope the voters look past this misstep and judge him on his potential.

Lil Rounds: Looked absolutely gorgeous but her vocals went from sharp to flat and back again on “I Surrender.” Surprisingly, Randy praised her singing and neglected to mention that it was “a little pitchy, dawg.” The judges really want her to “young it up,” and I have to agree. She’s vocally very strong but her lack of sparkle makes her disappear in the crowd.

Adam Lambert: Went back to his comfort zone, which is screech-singing, on “Play That Funky Music.” (Again, is this 32-year-old song really one of the most “popular” downloads on iTunes?) Glambert must’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from his look last week, as his hair was once again slicked back and not in the usual postmodern Robert Smith coiffure. Also the guyliner was replaced by simple mascara on the bottom lashes -- how demure!

Kris Allen: Has come from out of nowhere to prove himself as a real contender. We’ve seen him play “frat-style” guitar, and now he’s giving Scott and Matt a run for their money by busting out the keyboard. And is it just me, or is he getting cuter and cuter?

Judging by tonight’s performances, Anoop and Matt  could be in trouble. The bright side is, if Matt receives the lowest number of votes, there is a good chance (fingers crossed) that the judges will keep him around as their “Save;” that is, if they’re not holding onto it for Glambert.

I hesitate to even mention Megan because, well, voters seem to like having her around. Schadenfreude, anyone? (Look it up ... on iTunes.)