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The Post-Game Show » adam lambert

Posts Tagged ‘adam lambert’

Idol: Madam, He Is Adam

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

It’s an exciting week on American Idol. Officially, it’s exciting because last week the judges used their one-off save on Big Mike Lynche, which means two people go home this week, but that’s not so much a thrilling twist as a clerical adjustment. The real reason it’s an exciting week is because the guest mentor is Adam Lambert.

It’s also Elvis week, but Elvis is dead (by now, surely), so Adam is as close as they’re going to get. Now, I sneered at Miley Cyrus as a judge, because she’s only 17, yet she’s been a star for four terrible years, while Adam has been in the pop business for less than a year, so I’m surely being a big hypocrite.

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But I’m not, of course. Miley Cyrus is a performing puppet. Adam Lambert is a performing artist. The reason Lambert is the first former Idol contestant to come back as a mentor is simple; he understood how to play this contest better than anyone in the show’s history. He can give these kids smart advice that can really change their game. He may inject some life into what has been a pretty dull season. He’s a brilliant choice of mentor.

Before we get down to the performances, I should comment on the judges’ save. I think using it on Big Mike was the right choice. He’s the best male vocalist in the show, and he didn’t deserve to go home yet. I do worry that using the save now means it won’t be there if Siobhan has a terrible week, but it’s better to have the save out of the way.

This week’s performances, from least to most:

9. Andrew Garcia, aka Barrio Elvis
In the mentor scenes, Andrew nearly bored Adam to death with his Hound Dog. Adam told him to, “change it up”. So he changed it to ’still boring, but faster’, and that’s the direction he went with on stage. There are metronomes that rock out harder than Andrew Garcia. This was probably his best week in the live shows, and faint praise has rarely been more damning. (No change.)

8. Aaron Kelly, aka Toys R Us Elvis
What song can a person sing when they haven’t been on the planet long enough to have experienced their first emotion? Blue Suede Shoes! Of course! A song that stomps the stage without really saying anything at all! And that’s what Aaron did this week, with the most milquetoast Elvis impersonation I’ve ever seen. Any kind of toast is wrong on Elvis night. What we need is some deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. (Down 3.)

7. Katie Stevens, aka Sanrio Elvis
Every year the show has a Matt Girard - a contestant I’m so sick of that I just don’t want to write anything about them any more. This year it’s this creature and her grating faux-sassy head bobs. The song is, Baby What You Want Me To Do. I want you to go away, Katie Stevens. (No change.)

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6. Tim Urban, aka Surf Shop Elvis
Adam thinks he pushed Tim out of his comfort zone. Probably when he ravished him in the orchestra pit. The puppet poppet sang Can’t Help Falling In Love, which seems like a good choice for squee-inducement, but Tim’s voice is too low and expressionless to induce the sort of nether-tremors that Kris Allen was able to evoke at his most bedroomy. Adam’s advice - sing some falsetto - was spot on, because it got Tim to do some real singing for a change. Plus, Tim looked absolutely terrified while he was doing it, and that was hilarious. (PS. Good open-necked tight t-shirt choice this week, Tim.) (No change.)

5. Siobhan Magnus, aka Estate Auction Elvis
Siobhan and Adam. That’s a meeting of minds - and bouffants - for the ages. Sadly they didn’t speak to each other only in high-pitched screeches. After her sleepy performance last week, Miss Madness needs to be dragged back to the crazy, and I hoped Adam’s supervision would push her there. And it was crazy, but only in an odd way; she opted for an incomprehensibly smiley Sheena Easton-style rendition of Suspicious Minds. The vocal got stronger, but the smile never left, and her backchat was better than her singing. (Down 3.)

4. Casey James, aka Tackle Shop Elvis
I snicker at Casey’s hick-ness every week, so it tickles me that he chose to sing Lawdy Miss Clawdy, which I feel is a bit of a hick anthem. He didn’t do anything with it, though. He’s one of the most consistent singers on the show, but consistent can be very dull. Also, I feel he needed a banjo. (Down 3.)

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3. Lee DeWyze, aka Home Depot Elvis
Wise old Adam told Lee to shake himself out of his dullness, albeit he put it more diplomatically than that. Dullness is exactly the problem I have with Lee. He’s usually a concrete bag on that stage. He changed that a little bit this weekwith a clever country reinvention of A Little Less Conversation. It worked well enough that I actually enjoyed a Lee Dewyze performance. (Up 5.)

2. Big Mike Lynche, aka XXElvis
Apparently Mike didn’t know In The Ghetto. Has he never watched South Park? Probably better, actually, that he hasn’t. If you can get Cartman’s voice out of your head, this is a good song for Mike - it allows him to use his rich texture and enviable control without going back to his deep well of hot chocolate. A very understated performance, but elegant and well pitched. (Up 2.)

1. Crystal Bowersox, aka Thrift Shop Elvis
Elvis has a huge, huge back catalogue, but of course most of the contestants didn’t dig very far into it (while busily product-placing iTunes). Only Katie, Lee and Crystal avoided the most obvious hits, and only Crystal did the legwork to find a song that was a truly excellent fit. With Saved, Crystal took an obscurity from Elvis’s gospel songbook and put on a churchstorming show. It’s a shame she was the first act on, because you always know there’s not going to be much to keep you up after Bowersox. (Up 1.)

This was probably the strongest week so far, and I attribute that in large part to Adam Lambert. Now we get to boot two people off the stage, and I think odds have to be good that one of them will be Andrew Garcia. The other really could be Siobhan, but Aaron and Katie are welcome to bog off any time. It’s unlikely to be Big Mike, after last week’s save and this week’s performance. Because Tim actually sang this week, I think we get to keep him for yet another week.

What did you think, dear reader? Who do you want to see go home?

Gaylights 2009

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

It’s the end of the year and I haven’t done any ‘best of’ posts at all. And not because I don’t have any ‘best ofs’ to post. I’m a blogger! An erratic blogger, but a blogger none the less. Lists of stuff is what we do! If you don’t have year-end best-ofs, you’re nothing! And it’s the end of the decade as well! Surely I have some end-of-decade lists to post?

Well, maybe we’ll get to all that, and maybe we won’t, but I’d be no kind of blogger at all if I didn’t mark the end of the year with something. So, for your delectation, I present three of the highlights of the gay pop culture year, in video form.

From February of this year we have Dustin Lance Black’s Oscar acceptance speech for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ for Milk, the biography of San Francisco gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Oscar won’t allow embedding, so you’ll have to click the link to view it.

The movie itself was a terrific clarion call at a time when we really need it, but the speech was just as brilliant, and more immediate, and may have reached more people with the needed message; “to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than, by their churches or by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you”. Sean Penn’s acceptance speech was equally vital;  ”I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect, and anticipate their great shame, and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.”

Next up; Adam Lambert. This time last year, there was no Adam Lambert as far as the world is concerned. Some of you may wish to go back to that other time, but whatever you think of his talent, his style or his story, or of American Idol itself, the arrival on the US entertainment scene of such an unapologetically gay man who actually sells records is a breakthrough. The recent Video Music Awards ‘controversy’, in which Lambert did the sort of thing Madonna has been doing for years on TV and was swiftly dropped from a bunch of other TV appearances, shows that we really do need someone like Adam Lambert around to shake things up in this way.

With this video you can hear (but not see) his best performance from Idol, ‘Tracks of My Tears’, showcasing the range, pathos and blessed restraint that the man is capable of:

Finally, a TV clip from just yesterday, and it’s an odd one; it’s a sex scene from a daytime soap opera. You’re probably wondering why the hell I would bother you with such a thing, but this is a daytime soap scene with a difference; it’s the first love scene between two gay men on daytime.

Only as recently as last year, fans of As The World Turns actually had to lobby that soap’s network to get them to show a kiss between two men in a committed relationship. The makers of the soap featured above, One Life To Live, have been more courageous. The scene is cheesy, a little clunky, and very much what you’d expect from a love scene in a daytime soap, except that it’s a first, and it’s rewarding to see that the show’s makers have treated a gay couple exactly as they would a straight couple. (The blond, incidentally, is Scott Evans, the openly gay brother of actor Chris Evans.)

The best way to open people’s minds about sexuality is to introduce them to a gay person - a friend, or a family member, who can challenge their lazy, prejudiced views. The next best thing we can do is show them gay people in their music, their movies, their TV shows. All three of these clips are important, because they are all about bringing homosexuality out into the everyday. 2009 has been a banner year for gay visibility. My hope is that the trend continues into 2010.

The Movement to Protect Singing

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

My friends, I would like to speak to you today about singing, and the radical threat that could destroy the divine gift of song for all of us.

I refer, of course, to homosexuals.

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It is time that laws were introduced to outlaw homosexuals from writing or performing songs. We must also formally enshrine the definition of song as “a lyrical and musical composition originated and performed by heterosexuals”.

The soundness of my reasoning is self-evident, but if you will indulge me, I will explain my position.

In brief, homosexual songs undermine the value and sanctity of singing. They harm our songs.

Singing is a gift given to us by God so that we can praise Him. Song is used as a means of expressing faith and worship. Any songs that deviate from this standard will inevitably sully the importance of songs as a means of expressing ourselves to God. For this reason, it is important that all songs be messages of faith, reverence, and sanctified love, either between man and God, or between a man and a woman.

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Homosexual songs are by their nature heathen and spiritually bankrupt. They are often used to praise unnatural or harmful behaviour. One need only look at such songs as ‘Relax’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Marc Almond’s version of ‘Tainted Love’, or ‘Anything Goes’ by Cole Porter, to see the menace they represent.

It is no exaggeration to say that many people do most or all of their singing in church. If we do not take a stand against the growing storm of homosexual singing, it is certain that some day in the near future churches will no longer be free to choose songs for their congregations to sing. Uplifting hymns such as ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ will be replaced by decadent gay songs like ‘Fastlove’ and ‘Go West’. Can you imagine an evangelical assembly being forced to sing ‘Filthy/Gorgeous’ by the Scissor Sisters? It simply does not bear thinking about.

Of course, it is not just our churches that are under threat, but also our schools. Song is an important part of teaching, especially for the youngest and most impressionable children, who learn about the alphabet, mathematics, wildlife and even foreign languages through the medium of song. If we do not act now, teachers will soon be forced to teach children the lyrics to gay-themed songs such as ‘In The Navy’ and ‘Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other’. Do we really want our five-year-old sons and daughters to know that “[Candy] never lost her head even when she was giving head”? No we do not.

psmoregaysingers

Nor is this the end of it. Shops that currently make a living selling religious books and music will soon be made to sell Queen and Ani DiFranco, or else they will be forced out of business all together. Churches will be obliged to rent out their property for rock concerts by The B-52s and Judas Priest. Adoption agencies will be made to give children up for adoption to people who own music by Tracy Chapman, Rufus Wainwright or Stephen Sondheim.

Then there is the fact that gay singers and musicians are frequently intrinsically unnatural. One need only look at Boy George or KD Lang to see that the singing of ‘gay’ music has a corrupting effect on traditional gender roles. The sounds made by the likes of Antony and The Johnsons and Sigur Ros are barely songs at all.

Indeed it is surely not too extreme to suggest that the ultimate aim of those who would seek to promote homosexual songs is to do away with the concept of singing altogether. It is a stealth movement that is fundamentally opposed to our musical values. If we accept homosexual songs, what next? Will we have to define the noise a goat makes as ’singing’?

Homosexuals do not even need singing. There are already plenty of perfectly good words that describe the noises that they make, such as ’screeching’, ‘yelling’ and ‘wailing’; they will still be permitted to use those words.

psyetmoregays

Some people say that homosexual songs make people happy or joyful, or they argue that homosexuals deserve the same right to sing and compose as everyone else. It has even been argued that the sale of homosexual songs can have some economic benefit.

This very much misses the point; this is not about an individual’s happiness or rights, or even about money; this is about protecting the religious freedoms on which our society was founded. If we challenge those foundations it will be a threat to family, liberty and the right of individual expression. This has nothing to do with equality and everything to do with respect for our sacred traditions. People may say that this proposal is intolerant, but surely the true act of intolerance would be to oppose narrowly defining an activity in a way that excludes people based on their differences?

So I call upon you all now to join me in my campaign. It is time to say no to David Bowie. Say no to Dusty Springfield. Say no to Linda Perry, and Aaron Copland, and REM. This is not about hating homosexuals; this is about protecting our music. Love the singer; hate the song.

Idol: When You Think The Road Is Going Nowhere…

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

It’s results night. I warn you now, I will say who the winner is by the end of this post, so if you’re trying to avoid spoilers until it airs in your timezone, stop reading this, and avoid all other media. Call in sick and go back to bed. Basically, you’re screwed.

Before I assess this evening’s performances, I want to look back over the season as a whole. Was it a good year?

It’s a good final two, that’s clear enough. Kris actually looks and sounds like I think people who have never seen Idol believe Idols look and sound, but he is a strong performer and a talented guy. Adam doesn’t look like anyone’s idea of an Idol, and he’s turned the competition on its head and put a shot of adrenaline into the heart of mainstream American culture. He inspires people to write hyperbolic statements just like that one!

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But what of the rest of the top thirteen? There are names you’ll barely remember, like Jasmine, Jorge, Alexis and Michael (though Alexis deserved to do better). There are a lot of names I think the world would do well to forget; Scott, Matt, Megan and, of course, Danny Gokey. Outside of the final two, I think only Allison deserves to go on to a successful career, and I suspect she will. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anoop Desai also somehow makes something of himself - he’s the new Constantine Maroulis. I don’t see the appeal, but what his fans lack in numbers, they make up for in passion.

That’s not to say there weren’t other singers who could yet make names for themselves in this competition; they just weren’t in the final thirteen. The likes of Ricky Braddy and Jesse Langseth showed far more potential than many of the contestants ‘cast’ for the live shows. I liked the voting-in format of the show this year, with three groups of 12, but the talent was poorly distributed across them. Fully six of the finalists came from just one of those groups, including four of the final five.

matt-giraud

The other innovation beside the wildcards was the judges’ save, which can firmly be said to have flopped. It was introduced to solve a problem that didn’t really need solving, and it was squandered on Matt Giraud, who didn’t deserve this save any more than he deserved his wildcard save; he was consistently the most horrible performer to watch all season.

Oh, and then there’s Kara. She showed so much promise when she started, offering refreshingly informed and forthright opinions on the auditionees. Compared to Paula, she seemed like a genius. Then the show went live, and Kara became so soft and so stupid that it was like she was a completely different person. Her every utterance was dumb and devoid of insight. By the end of the season, I’d found a new appreciation for Paula. And Kara gave us this year’s diabolical winner’s song (from which the title of this post is taken). The best anyone can say for Kara is that at least she isn’t Randy ‘I agree with Simon’ Jackson.

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On with the show! On with the unflattering white costumes! The top 13 return for another of those tortuous group performances, this time Pink’s So What, and it’s actually better than most of these performances simply by dint of the fact that it’s a shouty song and these people can only shout when dumped on stage together. They are not a chorus. Interesting to note that Blind Scott seems to be managing his way around the stage. Now the show is over, he doesn’t need to pretend to be blind anymore. Watch the audience; we’ll probably see Danny’s wife out there, alive and well.

Last year’s champion, David Cook, follows up with a song for his brother, who died a couple of weeks ago from brain cancer. Proceeds of the sale go to finding a cure for cancer. I have nothing funny to say about this.

Next; the loser awards, for people who humiliated themselves on international TV. I was hoping they wouldn’t do this again this year. It’s cruel and painful. By all means bring the losers back for a group performance, as they seem to enjoy that, but don’t give them medals for stupidity! Anyway, you can guarantee that the winners will be Nick Mitchell and Tatiana Del Toro, both of whom actually made it to the voting shows, which is a sad indictment of the circus this show has become.

Lil Rounds versus Queen Latifah. Winner: Queen Latifah. Then Jason Mraz turns up for a performance of his feelgood summer pablum I’m Yours, with Alexis, Anoop, and Anoop’s scary child abuser moustache.

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This is followed by a montage of Kris Allen’s side-mouth singing, and Kris’s duet with Keith Urban. That’s sad. If I got to the American Idol final, I’d like to be rewarded with something more exciting than a guy best known outside the South as Nicole Kidman’s other ex-husband. (And I just checked Wikipedia to check I’d got the right guy, and he’s not the one who got divorced from Renee Zellweger for being gay, and apparently Keith Urban is still married to Nicole Kidman. Well, who knew? Given that he’s wed to Ms Nicole, I presume Keith Urban is also a closeted gay man. Country music is evidently a hotbed of self-loathing homosexuals. Proof, if proof were needed, that what the world needs now is Adam Lambert, sweet Adam Lambert.)

The Idol girls sing Glamorous, and we’re promptly reminded that Megan Joy was much worse than either Alexis or Jasmine, despite her interesting voice. But the producers smile on Megan by putting Fergie on stage, and suddenly Megan looks like Montserrat Caballé. Aaaand fast forward…

Bikini Girl. Ryan Seacrest pretending not to be gay. Fast forward… and there’s an actual nice moment here when Kara comes out on stage to perform with Bikini Girl, whom she loathed. And by perform with her, I mean school her. Turns out Kara can sing, dawg.

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Allison Iraheta versus Cyndi Lauper. Was Allison even alive when Time After Time was released? In fact, no; it predates her by eight years. EIGHT YEARS! Well, it’s nice that Cyndi was given extended day release from the home for this. She’s a bit rude, though, concentrating on her zithering all the way through the performance.

Danny Gokey sings Hello with Lionel Richie. Thrilling. Fast forward. Either this turned into a medley half way through, or this the most HI-NRG version of Hello that’s ever been performed.

To sweeten that bitter pill, we get the Adam Lambert video package, set to Rule the World. A-ha-ha. Then Adam’s showpiece, wherein he’s dressed as a Starlight Express quarterback and backed by Kiss. What’s astonishing is how comfortable and composed he sounds - moreso than he did last night. I think it’s safe to say he doesn’t care what happens next; he’s just here to enjoy himself. It’s glorious. It may be the high point in Idol history.

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Matt Giraud versus Santana. The oiliest few minutes in television history. Thankfully the Idols come on to pour detergent on things. Then a Ford commercial.

Megan Joy and Michael Sarver versus Steve Martin. Uh… OK. It’s some odd country song about an old married couple, with Martin playing banjo. There does not appear to be a punchline. Finally, the male Idols perform If You Think I’m Sexy in anticipation of, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Rod Stewart. And, I swear to God, Blind Scott is definitely not blind anymore. Rod sings Maggie May, and oh dear, Rod Stewart is old. Actually, I think they’ve accidentally booked Rod Hull.

Tatiana Del Toro. Fast forward. Kris and Adam sing We Are The Champions with Queen. But who is the champion? Who? WHO?

The winner of American Idol 2009 is… well, by the time you read this, you already know that the boy-next-door pipped the gay glam rocker to the post. It ought to be a huge surprise, a huge upset… but it’s not. It was obvious at the end what a close contest this was going to be. It is a little disappointing that the gay guy couldn’t win, and I do have to wonder what part homophobia played in his defeat - I’m sure some of those votes for Kris were from anti-Adam bigots rather than Kris fans - but even in losing, Adam has gone further than any ‘theatrical’ ought to be able to get on this show, and he did it on talent, and I’m thrilled to think what he might do next.

And now Adam never has to sing that terrible winner’s song again. Bad luck, Kris.

Idol: The Final

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

It’s the final. The day of reckoning. Well, the day before the day of reckoning, because we don’t get the result until tomorrow. But still, this is the showdown, and… and it almost doesn’t seem to matter.

I mean, it doesn’t matter, of course, because it’s only a reality TV show. But it does matter because Adam Lambert has totemic value as an acceptable face of gay in the American heartland. But it doesn’t matter because… well, Danny Gokey is gone.

For a long time, the safe money was on a Danny/Adam final. I wrote last week about the allegorical power of this confrontation - safe Christian values versus debauched Californian liberalism. And then a miracle happened. God himself flooded the Idol phone lines with votes for Adam and Kris, pushing Gokey into third place and out of the competition, as if to say, “You do not sing for me, widowmaker”. Poor God, he must be tired of people saying the devil has all the best tunes.

If Gokey had made the final, this would have been a tense end to the season. But with the smug one’s ouster, it’s tough to care, and for the best of all possible reasons; I like both of the finalists.

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Adam is the favourite, and he’s the most creative performer the show has ever seen, and the best singer this side of Melinda Doolittle, so if he does win it’ll be entirely right and proper. Kris need not worry; he’ll get a career out of this as well.

But if Kris wins… well, it wouldn’t really change anything. Adam would still be a superstar. The Adam haters would be gleeful, but I think most Adam fans would take it in good grace. Most of them like Kris, and it’s still a victory for the flamboyantly gay contestant to have got to the final at all. The voting between Kris and Adam last week was reportedly close, and most of Danny’s votes will go to Kris, so victory for Kris could easily be on the cards.

There were rumours of a Kris/Adam feud in the papers at one point, but it’s obvious from the way the two interact - hugging, joking, sitting together - that they’re very close. The fanfic has already been written. Sharp-eyed fans spotted last week that Kris had nail polish on one thumb, while Adam had nail polish on all but one thumb. This was apparently a deliberate gesture of solidarity between the two. We’re also told that when the results were announced, Kris’s mum ran up to Adam’s mum and they hugged. Whoever wins, I think the loser will be legitimately happy for him. The final result is largely irrelevant.

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Perhaps the clearest illustration of this odd win-win situation is the conundrum that anti-Idol site Vote for the Worst found itself in. VFTW tries to propel bad contestants to victory because… I don’t know, really. Boredom, I suppose. Regardless, the site has had a terrible season. In the prelims they backed Tatiana, Alex and Norman, none of whom went through. For the show itself, they backed Megan, Scott, Lil, Matt and Danny in quick succession. They had no noticeable impact. (If they’d picked Matt Giraud as the worst, like I did, they’d have looked like geniuses!)

The point being, they capped their terrible year with an impossible choice. VFTW is consensus-led, and therefore tends to be musically conservative, so their natural choice for ‘worst’ would be Adam (an early poll showed that VFTW wanted Adam as their pick), but you can’t try to sway the vote in favour of the popularly acclaimed front-runner; it’s meaningless

As it’s too late to back Adam, VFTW picked Kris as its ‘worst’, claiming that Adam had pussied out of being his full queeny self, and that Kris would be a disastrous winner for the producers. Neither of those claims stands up to a second’s scrutiny. Vote for the Worst couldn’t pick a plausible worst in the final two, because there is no worst. There’s no bad result here.

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On to tonight’s performances. Adam starts things off with a Mad World reprise, backlit and wearing a long school-massacring coat. He doesn’t sound as confident as he did last time he did this number, and he’s not offering anything new, but it is a typically well acted and emotional performance. A safe choice.

Kris revisits Ain’t No Sunshine - lovely and unchallenging, I wish he’d gone with Falling Slowly, which was much more original, but much less well known. Another safe choice.

Adam’s next song is A Change Is Gonna Come, the producer’s choice - and it’s a good contrast to what’s gone before. This is a musically challenging, dazzling song that allows Adam to show some shade. He starts out controlled, but intense, then unleashes a trademark wail that could knock a man down. It’s a home run for Adam’s constituency of tweens and grandmas.

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Kris follows that with What’s Going On. And I’m suddenly very aware of Kris’s weird pubescent moustache. Is that an Anoop tribute? Kris is adorable as ever, but he’s definitely milquetoast compared to the competition, and this little acoustic coffee bar set demonstrates that very clearly. Of course, his best chance of winning this really is to run as the anti-Lambert; an island of normal in a flood of glitter.

Finally, the winner’s song, No Boundaries, by Kara DioGuardi (among others). Yes, her; the shite judge. This is what she otherwise does for a living, you know. The song is predictably rotten stuff, and not even rotten in a dependably stirring way. It’s not a very Adam Lambert song, but he does infuse it with a texture that I suspect it’s otherwise lacking. Ultimately, though, it’s kind of sad that this is the last song he gets to sing in the contest. Kris fares a little better with the MOR-ness, but he struggles with the range, and, let’s be honest, the banality of the song is beneath him as well.

That’s the end. Tomorrow we’ll have a winner. Bookies favour Adam, but I think Kris has an excellent chance - he’ll get a lot of votes from supporters, but I’m sure he’ll also benefit from people voting against the gay guy, sadly. Still, this time tomorrow we’ll either have a queer Idol champion, or a queer Idol superstar. It’s a win-win.

Idol: God, The Devil and Kris

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

American Idol is down to just three. Despite a performance so awful as to have already become notorious, Danny Gokey has survived, and poor Allison Iraheta has been given the boot. We now know that whatever Danny does, the judges will praise him and people will vote for him. As a consequence, we now have the first all-male top three in Idol history.

Last week’s final four saw two rock kids go up against two Christian music kids. It was a mini-referendum, and rock lost (and most of Allison’s votes should now go to Adam). If Kris goes home this week, as expected, we’ll have a final two of such blatant symbolism that the punditry will explode with glee.

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In the Red State corner: Danny Gokey. Church ‘worship director’. Tragic widower. Loves Jesus and talks a lot about heaven. His performances show a complete lack of imagination. He never does anything the least bit subversive or original.

In the Blue State corner: Adam Lambert. Musical theatre performer. Blatant homosexual. Loves eyeliner and lives in California. His performances showcase his tremendous range and presence. He is inventive, magnetic and shameless.

Stuck in the middle: Poor Kris Allen, a good-looking lad who has become the dark horse contender this year, but who realistically is expected to end his journey this week in the face of the warring fanbases digging trenches either side of him.

People hate Danny Gokey. They hate him because he’s dull. They hate him because he’s smug. They hate him because they’ve seen him dance, and, oh dear God, no-one should ever have to see him dance. They hate him because he auditioned with his friend Jamar, and Jamar was better but didn’t get through. They hate him because he gets praised by the judges every week despite being the musical equivalent of gruel.

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Mostly they hate him because, thirty days after his wife died unexpectedly from complications in surgery, he auditioned for this reality TV show. He also wept to the producers and sent them footage of his wedding day so they could tell his story. Then he gave a friend a photo of his wife to hold up during one of his performances. He has repeatedly made gestures of remembrance for his dead wife, or chosen manipulative songs like Hero, Jesus Take The Wheel, What Hurts the Most and Endless Love. He has exploited his wife’s death to win votes in a popularity contest, and that’s sickening.

And people love him, of course. He’s the only contestant this year never to have been in the bottom three, and, most times, that’s the contestant who wins. The judges love him; he’s the only contestant to get good comments every week without fail. Christian conservatives surely love him. He’s a good church-going boy, and he’s struggling on through the grief and hardship of his wife’s tragic death to become a success; an example of what a person can achieve with God on their side, no matter what life throws at them. And he dresses sensibly and talks politely and never tries to scare the horses. He’s intensely nonthreatening and middle-of-the-road. He’s Billy Joel.

People also hate Adam Lambert. They hate him because he shrieks and screeches. They hate him because he’s arrogant. They hate him because he’s over-the-top. They mostly hate him because he’s gay.

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That’s probably not fair to his critics. It is in theory possible to hate Adam Lambert for reasons other than his gayness, but in most cases I think what people object to is his… flamboyance. His theatricality. His loud, proud and unapologetic sense of self. His… how can I put this? His gayness. Even a lot of gay people hate his gayness, but it was ever thus. No queen likes to be out-queened, and Adam Lambert is the queen bitch in charge.

And people love Adam Lambert. Win or lose this competition, he’s a phenomenon like this show has never seen before; an Idol who already sells records, already sets the media afire, and already appears on magazine covers even before the contest has ended. But if he does win, then change has come to America.

Adam Lambert is secretly a handsome and wholesome pop star, but he’s also a subversive godless sinner. He sneers and writhes and glowers. He’s sleazy and sexual. It’s all in a safe, cartoon way, but still it’s all there. I’m sure there are people in the midwest who refuse to accept or even consider that he’s gay, but he remains a totem of gayness. It doesn’t matter if they don’t accept that Adam Lambert is gay; if America votes for Adam Lambert, they have already de facto embraced the gay.

Adam is the salvation! He is the promised gay messiah. Perhaps Adam is actually the new face of the divine, and menacing wife-slayer Danny is the devil preaching scripture?

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On to tonight’s performances:

Danny’s first song tonight, chosen by Paula Abdul, is Terence Trent D’Arby’s Dance Little Sister. If it has a melody, you wouldn’t know it. It sounds like a coffee grinder that’s been left to run with nothing in it.

Kris Allen’s song, picked by the count-as-one-choice budget judges Randy and Kara, is Apologise by OneRepublic; a popular contemporary ballad that fits well with the sort of soft radio hit you’d expect from Kris. Kris breaks out the grand piano in a bid to impress. It’s a fairly heartless performance, and Kris isn’t actually at his swoony best here - some of the low notes are too low, and he’s not entirely comfortable with the falsetto. But it’s better and more interesting than Gokey.

Adam Lambert is the chosen contestant, so of course Simon Cowell picks his song (and Simon has come right out and said he thinks Adam will win). The song is One by U2, which Simon tells us he personally got Bono’s permission for, because Simon is all-powerful. This is Adam’s ‘nude’ performance of the night - less make-up, no costume, lots of raw emotion. It’s an arrangement I’ve never heard before, and it’s impressive. The boy has an amazing voice.

Danny’s second song, chosen by himself, is You Are So Beautiful, by his soundalike Joe Cocker. No effort required there. He sings on a stool, with a string quartet. The song is actually a little quiet, a little delicate, for his voice, but when he gets into it it’s the same competent piano bar rendition we’ve come to expect. I simply can’t imagine anyone going out of their way to hear this man sing. Interestingly, Kara praises his second performance as if she had criticised his first performance. But she hadn’t!

Kris Allen comes back with Heartless by Kanye West. Two contemporary songs, Kris? This is unprecedented! And he’s singing with just a guitar! Which he’s playing! Playing two instruments in one night is also unprecedented. It’s a delightfully upbeat performance, great fun to listen to (and a bit incongruous given what the song is about), and probably the best he’s ever been. Great stuff.

Adam’s song choice is Aerosmith’s Crying. In two words; it rocks. It’s not actually as extravagant as I was expecting it to be. He must be saving something huge for next week.

So is Adam Lambert going to be in the final? It would be the biggest shock in the show’s eight seasons if he didn’t make it. Is Danny going to be there? Almost certainly. But I’ve been hoping to see him sent home for weeks now, and this week is no different. An Adam/Kris final would be a wonderful thing. But Jesus wants a Danny/Kris final, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint Jesus.

Idol: Poppy Rock Out With Your Poppy Cock Out

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Last week, shock, tears, angst, as Adam Lambert found himself in the bottom three. It was the lip-tremble heard round the world! How could this happen?

It is conceivable, when you get down to this few contestants, that anyone could find themselves in trouble. Fans of Adam may feel so confident of his popularity that they didn’t bother voting. With two contestants voted off the week before, all their votes may have gone to anyone but Adam. Allison was very good last week, and Danny was the same as he always is, which some folks somewhere seem to think is good enough. Adam might have been third. He might even have been fourth.

On the other hand, it is also conceivable that the producers of Idol would pretend Adam was in the bottom three just to drive up the number of votes for this week’s show. From ITunes sales to Google Trends to internet buzz, the data suggest that Adam is soaring above his rivals in popularity, and that should translate to a top two finish even on a bad week. I’m not buying last week’s result at all.

Besides, how can Adam even come close to losing when he has support like this?

It’s rock week this week, and the mentor is Slash. Hurray for a ballad-free zone! It’s also the first week - nay, the first time - that the show has paired up the contestants to perform duets, which could be interesting. One assumes they will pair Adam with Allison, because Adam has the gay, and he can’t be seen giving it to good Christian boys Danny or Kris. America is a land where you can choose same-sex singing or opposite singing, and when it comes to Adam Lambert, I think that I believe that singing should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.

Adam’s solo number is up first, and he’s singing Whole Lotta Love, aka the Top of the Pops feem toon - the first Led Zeppelin song ever performed on the Idol stage! Adam’s rock drag looks terrible - hedgehog hair, biker bling and enough eyeliner to render him cross-eyed - but he’s turned the Elvis sneer up to 11. Adam does have a great rock voice, and he gives this the usual full dose of welly, but I have to admit, it’s far from my favourite performance from him. The judges love it, though. Interestingly, this is the first time I can recall that he’s sung a song about (or rather, aimed at) a woman, though, despite the title, it’s not exactly a love song.

Allison is next, in her own rock leathers plus Ronald McDonald hair and lipstick. Allison is the show’s natural rocker, so this should be her week, though the fact that she’s a girl rocker on Idol means it’s a minor miracle she ever got here. The song is Cry Baby by Jackie Jormp-Jomp. Sorry; Janice Joplin. I think there are many better Joplin songs she could have sung. I’m not feeling this one. Her other choice was Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane. God, I would have loved that. I’m now going to pause the show and go listen to that on YouTube.

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Aaand I’m back, and we’re into duet territory already, with Kris versus Danny on Renegade by Styx. Aww, seeing these two together, it’s like Katherine McPhee and Taylor Hicks all over again! I note that, while all the other contestants are wearing black with at least some leather (or, more likely, pleather), Danny has apparently popped out to American Apparel for a safe red shirt, because he don’t have no truck with no devil worshippin’, no sir. Renegade is a great campy song with terrific harmonies, but these boys aren’t exactly rockers. Simon tells Danny that he was better, and man does Kris look pissed.

Kris’s idea of classic rock is… The Beatles. Look, I know that technically that’s permissable; The Beatles belong to that era, and they produced some bona fide classic rock hits, but it’s not exactly true to the spirit of the theme, is it? It’s kind of a pussy choice, Kris. The song is Come Together. He survives it, just about, but Kris Allen does not rock.

Danny Gokey is singing Dream On by Aerosmith, aka all the awesome bits in Sing For The Moment by Eminem. He starts flat, and gamely carries on in that vein for much of the journey. There were no full dress rehearsals this week because of an accident on set, which may explain the general lack of confidence this week, but Danny seems to be suffering from it more than most. His screams at the end are just horrible, and if ever Danny is going to be in trouble, this is the week. His usual flat matt competence is missing.

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It’s been a lacklustre show, but there is one last hope for redemption; the Adam/Allison duet. On reflection, it’s a good thing they paired these two up, because they should be able to have some fun together. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Dead Ringer For Love. Sadly it is not to be. The song is… Slow Ride by… Foghat? Is that a real thing? Foghat? Never heard of them, but never mind. Adam and Allison give it their all, they sound terrific together, and they’re having a great time.

I have to say, I thought Allison would be going home this week, but after that last performance, and after Kris gave such a poor accounting of himself, I think it’s time to say goodbye to Idol’s pocket pin-up. Danny was far and away the worst of the night, but his supporters are immune to both reason and music.

Idol: Stupid Stupid Rat Creatures

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

It’s suits night on American Idol, where all the men wear suits! Awe-inspiring. Officially, they’re calling it ‘Rat Pack’ night, because swing was very in years and years ago when they started doing this, and somehow the show never got over it. Once again, no modern, relevant music for these aspiring modern, relevant performers!

Before we get to the songs; iTunes accidentally revealed the sales figures for Idol downloads in their chart last week. Of the seven most popular Idol tracks, six were by Adam Lambert (which, at that time, was all the available songs by Adam Lambert). Kris Allen had three of the Idol top ten (including number two). That left Danny Gokey with one entry at number nine. Allison and Matt’s highest entries were outside the top ten and safely out of the Adam Lambert zone.

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So, if iTunes is a reliable yardstick, we’re probably looking at an Adam/Kris final, which would be a surprisingly good result for a top 12 that was bogged down with crap like Megan, Scott and, well, Matt Giraud. Last week they sent home Lil and Anoop. I’d be perfectly happy if they sent home everyone else this week and we just cut to the chase.

Just so we’re clear; Adam Lambert is now a bona fide cultural phenomenon. He doesn’t have to win this thing (though he almost certainly will); he’s already a star. How it happened, I don’t know, but there are widespread reports that he’s a favourite of the grandparent set, who regard him as something of a throwback to the golden age of rock ‘n roll, while he’s simultaneously winning big with Twilight kids, and he’s even the most popular contestant in places like Arkansas, Utah and Oklahoma, according to Google Trends - and they can’t all be hoping to hunt him down and burn him. (Even in their home states of Wisconsin and Arkansas, Danny and Kris are getting fewer searches than Adam. Only in his own home town is Kris more popular than Adam.)

As the theme is the Rat Pack, the mentor is… Jamie Foxx. The first person you’d think of. As Ryan Seacrest explains, “like the Rat Pack, Jamie Foxx has gone on to break the boundaries of the entertainment industry”. Thanks Ryan.

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Wearing a suit first tonight is Kris, whom Jamie identifies as his favourite. He’s my favourite too, Jamie! Apart from Adam, of course. The song is Someday, and it’s a little low for our perfect package pop-star, and there’s not much for him to do with it other than add some runs and hit the end-note. A workaday performance, but who cares? He’s adorable. (Randy calls it Kris’s best performance to date, but remember, Randy didn’t like Kris’s actual best performance to date, which was Falling Slowly.)

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Allison is not wearing a suit. She’s wearing a lampshade. Her song is the Gershwins’ Someone to Watch Over Me, and it’s a great choice, because all through the competition Allison has been showing how good she is at rock vocals, but she’s never shown her softer side. This is a tour de force performance that, for the first time, let’s us hear some softness and emotion in Allison’s voice. It would be a real shame if she went home after a performance like this one.

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Matt is wearing a suit and another from his collection of too-small hats! It now occurs to me that he’s been wearing hats all the time so we couldn’t see the witch’s nipple on his forehead. Matt says this week is his week. His My Funny Valentine gets off to such a flat, shaky, unconfident start that I’m not sure he believes that. It’s a horrible exercise in tortured vowel sounds. Simon is bizarrely nice about it, and I’ve no idea why. I don’t know why he gave Matt a wildcard slot, I don’t know why he gave him the judges’ save, and I don’t know why he’s being nice to him now. I can only theorise that Matt has some incriminating dirt on Simon that he’s holding over his head. Literally nothing else makes sense.

Danny is wearing a dark suit and dark-framed glasses. His song is Come Rain or Come Shine. He sings it the way you would expect him to sing it. I have completely run out of things to say about Danny Gokey. I don’t even have the will to insult him anymore, he bores me that much.

Finally, the man you all came to see; Adam Lambert. And of course - of course - he’s doing Feeling Good, and I don’t know if he’ll be doing it Muse or Nina. Oh, and he’s wearing a white suit. He wears shiny suits a lot already, so there’s no way he was going to just wear a suit today; it had to be a white suit. This may be his most dragalicious cabaret performance yet, but of course it’s a tremendous display, and the last notes are showstoppers. Simon actually mocks Randy for calling it theatrical - this is how Adam Lambert has changed the face of this world.

It’s obvious that Matt should go home this week, and I still think he actually will, but I’m entirely open to the possibility of an early exit for Danny Gokey. The world demands a Kris/Adam final!

Idol: Feed A Fever

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

It’s disco night. Must we?

Last week the public decided it was sick of Matt Giraud and said could we please not have him and his Davros mole and his sickly rictus on our screens anymore? After all, he was a wildcard contestant; the public didn’t want him there in the first place. And what happened? The judges saved him. They used their one and only veto on that.

Did Matt deserve a third chance? Of course not. He’s always been a terrible, mewling, miserable streak of piss. But the judges were running out of chances to use their special save, and if they didn’t use it at all, it would suggest that the idea was a bad one, and they couldn’t have that. So for the third time, Matt Giraud was forced on a public that didn’t want him. Thankfully, he’s about the least disco person imaginable, so he has little chance of surviving this week, where two acts will now be sent home.

The first to sing tonight - and very probably the other person going home - is Lil Rounds, busting out of a black catsuit and singing I’m Every Woman. Lil’s cavalcade of dead ferret wigs must finally be exhausted, which means her time is through. I was once sure Lil would make the final three, but she’s made bugger all effort to impress and given every impression that she thinks she should get through on brass balls alone.

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Kris Allen has picked She Works Hard For The Money, and a loose white t-shirt. Both odd choices. Wouldn’t a tight white t-shirt have made more sense, dinky little sex-smurf? He’s reimagined the song as a Santana number. (I’m very annoyed that Paula has said exactly the same thing, which makes me fear for my sanity, but she then went off on a rant about men in women’s clothing, so no-one will remember that.) I think we’re going to see a lot of un-disco tonight, which is just as well. I actually like disco. But I like it done well.

Danny Gokey is singing September, by Earth Wind and Fire. And isn’t he looking chunky? Every week, there’s a little bit more of him to be bored with. This is one of his least comfortable performances, but it doesn’t matter; there’s no accounting for the appeal of Danny Gokey. Maybe it’s because he’s a good church-going boy? Maybe it’s still sympathy votes for his dead wife? Or maybe people just like safe and dully consistent? If we get the expected Danny/Adam finalé, it’s going to be very interesting cultural schism; the dependable holy widower versus the flamboyant godless homosexual. Porridge versus popping candy. And then Danny will win, because America is a soulless place.

(You’ll note I’m finally calling him Danny, not Downey. I know the joke wore thin about two months ago, but I just genuinely have trouble remembering that his name isn’t Downey.)

Allison Iraheta’s hair this week is styled in the fashion of the Cowardly Lion, and she’s wearing a PVC and rhinestone emo bee costume. It’s all very bold. The song is Hot Stuff, with rocks on - Donna Summer is this week’s Bryan Adams. It’s not Allison at her finest, but I think she now has some momentum behind her.

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Adam. The pattern says that Adam should go for something stripped down this week, and that he’ll have his hair swept up away from his face, but can he do ’stripped down’ in disco week? He has got the hair back in the pompadour, so the signs are good. The song is If I Can’t Have You, and - shock - he is sticking to his pattern. He is not going for 12-cylinder disco. He’s singing a Bee Gees song as if it were an emotional ballad. Not as good as his Mad World or Tracks of my Tears, but he’s still outsinging the competition and cementing his place in the hearts of grandmothers everywhere.

Ryan Seacrest looks hilariously tiny next to Adam’s hair.

Matt Giraud is singing Stayin’ Alive, because you really want to be doing another Brothers Gibb number after Adam, oh yes. Bad falsetto, a hectoring pace, and appalling sub-Timberlake shuffling. Did we really deserve another week of this guy and his supermarket fish counter hats? Why? What did we do wrong?

The one good thing about saving Matt is that they can’t save Anoop, who is last up this evening. I’ve learned that Anoop’s fans love him because of the R&B timbre of his voice. And also because they want to hump his cartoon eyebrows. They don’t care about his limited range! They don’t care about his lack of vocal control! They don’t care that he’s been in this contest three months too long! They lurve him. The song is Dim All The Lights, by… Donna Summer! Simon gives it the worst comments of the night; he has decided that Anoop has got to go. I can’t disagree.

Two people go home this week, which changes the voting dynamic quite a bit. It ought to be two of Lil, Matt and Anoop, and any such result would make me perfectly happy, but after last week’s reprieve, I’m very keen to see Matt kicked out of here. Go home, Frankenstein!

Idol: Goes To The Movies, Talks All The Way Through, Spills Kia-Ora All Over The Seats, Probably

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

This week on Adam Lambert and friends; Quentin Tarantino and songs from the movies. But first; the reality show contestant people have been talking about this week is not La Lambert, but this lady, Ms Susan Boyle.


Susan Boyle Sings on Britain’s Got Talent 2009 Episode 1 @ Yahoo! Video

You’ve probably watched that clip at least a couple of times before, but you probably just clicked play again anyway, because it’s fully awesome.

Reality show audiences have been conditioned to expect terrible things from their freak-show contestants. These unglamorous, socially inept weirdoes are put on the stage because the show wants us to laugh at them, like the braying subhuman bastards that we are.

With her melting chins, her bushy brows, and her confession that she has ‘never been kissed’, Ms Boyle seems the definitive shat-upon auditions outcast; she’s putting her heart and hopes on the line for one last shot at public acceptance only to be turned into an object of national ridicule. We expect this woman to fail because we’ve been told that these people will fail. So it’s a moving moment when she transcends and ridicules our prejudices and breaks out a set of pipes that are very nearly ready for the stage. Life has handed Susan Boyle a shitty hand, yet suddenly she’s a star.

Of course, her success will empower even more freaks and weirdoes to take to the audition stage in the delusional belief that they too are Susan Boyle, and the intellectual cesspool of the audition rounds will have enough putrid meat to feed another season.

Enough of this jollitry! On with the motley, Madam Lambert! On with the show!

As mentioned above, the theme is movie songs, and the guest mentor is shambling palsied homeless guy Quentin Tarantino, the king of the mixtape! Amusingly, they show a filming clip from Inglourious Basterds, but Ryan Seacrest refuses to say the film’s name.

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Allison Iraheta is singing I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing, because, being 16, she knows exactly what it’s like to be Liv Tyler’s decrepit drug-addled father. Allison is in constant danger on this show, having been at the bottom twice, so tonight’s woozy, flailing performance (complete with a ‘fighting my way out of this black plastic bag’ punching dance) could leave her in trouble.

Anoop Desai is singing Jai Ho from… oh, OK, no, he’s doing Everything I Do, the first of two Bryan Adams numbers tonight. Quentin has asked Anoop to rough it up with a big vocal, and since Anoop can’t do rough or big, it’s clear Quentin hates Anoop and wants him to fail. Hurray for Quentin Tarantino! But Anoop isn’t listening, and is doing the song so sedately that he’s managed to make the original sound jazzy and peppy. Big key change? Not for Anoop. Anoop has fewer keys than a jailer at an open prison.

Adam Lambert never saw a ridiculous song choice he didn’t like, so of course he’s doing Born To Be Wild, with leather jacket, chains, and all the guyliner you can eat. This is a song that allows Adam Lambert to be fully Adam Lambert, and it will change absolutely no-one’s minds about him, but this is the clever game Adam is playing; one week he’s celebrating being him. The next he tones it down and wins more converts to his cause. At this stage America is eating out of the palm of his bedazzled gay hand. Grandmothers, mothers and daughters all love this ‘mo, and mo’ power to him.

Miserable Matt Giraud is often compared to Justin Timberlake, seemingly for no other reason than he sometimes wears Justin Timberlake’s hats. His song is Bryan Adams’ When You Lurve A Wurman. Some people actually like Matt Giraud and his scowling arse of a face and his whiny, leg-shagging voice, which just goes to show, there’s no accounting for people being morons.

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Downey Gokey - formerly Orm of Orm and Cheep - gets some interesting advice from Quentin; keep your hands still so that the emotion comes through your eyes. It sounds like bullshit, but at least Quentin is giving this mentor thing a shot. The song is Endless Love. Downey hits some bum notes, and I’m damned if I can sense any emotion streaming out through his wife-murdering gimlet piss-holes, but it’s competent, in a samey, Downey Gokey way. (Note: He didn’t really kill his wife. He did kill JonBenet Ramsay, though.)

When I heard Kris Allen was doing Falling Slowly, the beautiful Oscar-winning song from Once, I thought his would be the breakout song of the night. Short of tripping over Ricky Miner and skewering himself on the band, Kris ought to be delivering a knicker-twisting rendition of this song. Unfortunately it starts too low for him, and it’s not a home run, but I don’t think it will matter; this is the song every Kris Allen fan wants to imagine Kris Allen singing to them. The votes should flow like adolescent liquids.

Finally, Lil Rounds, the girl no-one gives a damn about anymore, because she has staunchly refused to live up to her promise. Simon has written her off, and so have I. She needs a solid gold diva performance to turn things around. Her rendition of Bette Midler’s The Rose isn’t quite it, but when she goes gospel there is a spark of the Lil Rounds I used to get excited about. It’s Lil’s best performance in months, but it may be too late, and that last note wasn’t right.

As Kris failed to fully deliver, the night is sadly without a standout performance. It’s also without any standout disasters, but I’d like to think Anoop and Matt are in trouble, even if only on aggregate.