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Haterade's Idol Anal-ysis: Round of 2

Last recap of the year. Sob. One more chance for Gordon and Jason to give their opinions - and crown a new American Idol. Let's see who they think it is.

This is it. Both people could sing their face off and sing the phone book, according to Randy Jackson. Both people can get a moment from Kara DioGuardi. Both people can get a standing ovation from Paula Abdul and scowls from Simon Cowell. But who will be the next American Idol?

Hard Rocker Adam Lambert squares off against pop/light rocker Kris Allen in what will likely be a close battle. The 3 songs tonight - their favorite performance, a song from producer Simon Fuller, and the winner's single, co-written by judge Kara DioGuardi. The judges are here. The bios are here. The incessant banter that takes up of the first 10 minutes of the program is here. So let's start it up!

The first round is best performances from songs that we've heard before. And starting it up for us is Adam Lambert, who gives us Tears For Fears' 'Mad World'. Can he remind us what made the audience go mad for him?
The Good: He's not going to screw the song up. He hits the emotional timbre of the song, while the lighting adds to the decor.
The Bad: When he sat down and sang the song the first time around, the emotional impact was much greater. Now he's walking with the dry ice in the background and while it is slicker in appearance, the choreography takes away from his pitch, which he noticeably warbles throughout the performance. And the dry ice combined with the trench coat makes him look like David Bowie's character in the movie 'The Hunger' as a bi-sexual vampire looking for his next prey. That may be why Ryan Seacrest is stepping much further away from him than usual.
The Jason: This is pure Adam. Over the Top. Theatrical. Believe it or not...I think this was too much. The first time he did this, he was relying on his voice. This is too much about the glitz. I liked it, but I felt that it was a bit overcooked.
The Verdict: In the first performance, you expected nothing, and you got a great vocal. In this effort, you wanted him to knock it out of the park, but the over-production of the piece made it a let-down. Paula inadvertently called it theatrical as a compliment, but like Simon, I think it's a detriment. A good start, but not great.

Kris Allen reprises Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine'. But can Kris provide sunshine for his chances to win the competition?
The Good: He played around and improvised more with the pitch, and that's a good thing. There was more passion, more emotion, more, as Simon likes to put it, 'Swagger', in this song. Kris may have finally come into his own as a singer, and at just the right time.
The Bad: Really flat starting off the song. He picks it up during the performance, but I saw storm clouds on the horizon to start this one off.
The Jason: This version is better than the first time he did it. I thought both singers were trying to express best who they are.
The Verdict: Adam's version of the song was better the first time around. Kris' version of the song was better this time around. This was a song that if you ignore the first segment, I could see as a hit single.

Winner of Round 1:
Gordon: Kris
Jason: Kris

Round 2! Fight! Adam Lambert fights with the song 'Change is Gonna Come', which was chosen for him by Simon Fuller. Can he change the judges minds after losing round 1?
The Good: Adam nails the pitch throughout the song. He completely vocally exploits the high notes. And the final money note section was perfect. MUCH better performance than the first song.
The Bad: This is not the background arrangement that I would have used on this song. Adam has a pure rock voice. So you're going to complement a rock voice with a bluegrass/r&b background? Really? I would have substituted the acoustic for electric and rocked out the song, especially since you're a rocker who's going to be stuck with singing 3 non-rock songs if you don't rock this one out.
The Jason: He just knocked the door in Kris's R&B House and blew it down. Much better than round 1. This is what he needed to do. Killer stuff.
The Verdict: It was a great vocal performance. If you had any sort of good background accompaniment, this would have been a moment. It's a nice bounce back from the first song.

Now it's Kris Allen's turn to face Simon Fuller. His song choice? 'What's Goin' On', originally performed by the legendary Marvin Gaye. So what's goin' on?
The Good: I liked what Kris Allen did with the song. It's a nice touch to make it acoustic with the guitar. He also diversifies his musical portfolio with the strength of his instrumental prowess, moving from piano in song #1 to guitar in song #2. Unlike Adam, Kris was able to get out a song that reminds his masses of who he is and why they should vote for him.
The Bad: However, the song does nothing for him vocally. There's a great vocal range in the song between the second cadence and the coda which Cyndi Lauper completely blew out in her rendition of the song. Kris did nothing with the range and completely blew a chance to show that he could nail the high pitch. And the bongos made the song sound like we're postponing the musical competition for a million dollar contract and instead taking a break to party at a Hawaiian Luau. Who wants to get Lei'd?
The Jason: It felt too weak, too wispy. This is in his wheelhouse...but it did NOTHING for me.
The Verdict: You've got to bring out the guns in the finale. During Round 1, Kris did. During Round 2, Kris didn't, and Adam did. And a special boo to Simon Fuller for slanting the songs in Adam's favor. We've known for the past 2 months who the producers and judges want to see win American Idol. You don't have to shove it down the public's throat.

Winner of Round 2:
Gordon: Adam
Jason: Adam

Round 3! The Final Battle! Adam Lambert now tackles the winner's song - 'No Boundaries' - which was co-written by Kara DioGuardi and was also credited to Cathy Denis. Can he take the song to new heights with a performance that surpasses all boundaries?
The Good: ...I like the lyrics. We have rivers and mountains and hurricanes that sound pretty. Maybe if we get a sequel to the song we can listen to basket weavers and chirping birds and nice young men with their clean white coats...
The Bad: ...because after that song, I wanted the men to take me away to the happy home. If the rivers and the mountains have to endure Adam's pitch continuously from the song, we'd have floods and avalanches. That was a mess. I blame Kara for having to endure that - and then having to endure it again once Kris Allen shows up with the same song.
The Jason: What the hell? This is crap. Both the single and the performance. This was not how you wanted it to end for Adam.
The Verdict: When Simon won't judge you via your performance and judges you instead by the body of work, that signifies the problem. The song was pretty bad, but Adam's off-pitch did him no favors. The door is wide open for Kris to win the evening.

Kris Allen finally gives us...the same song. Will he do it any better than Adam?
The Good: Unlike Adam, this is a song that fits snug into Kris' wheelhouse. And he doesn't shout out the words like Adam did.
The Bad: The reason why he didn't shout out the words is because he forgot half of them. When he finally did remember the lyrics, they were consistently flat. And the people with the clean white coats still haven't shown up to take me, Kara, or the producers who green-lighted this disaster of a song.
The Jason: See Adam.
The Verdict: Kara should be banned from writing any more Idol finalist songs. Ever. The penalty for doing a song should be getting a lap dance from Sanjaya.

Winner of Round 3:
Gordon: No one. That was dreck.
Jason: No one for the sucky song they had to sing.

Overall Verdict: If you could set it up so that neither of them win and we can give the title to Danny, Anoop, or any other singer this season, I'd do it. This week was an uninspiring mess. Do I really have to pick a winner here?

(Gets up and walks away from the computer. Turns around to see Scaramouch pointing a frying pan in my direction. Sits back down at the computer and starts to type).

Sigh...I guess I do. So when neither candidate did anything to deserve that they should win, we go to status quo. Last week, I thought Danny's votes would go directly to Kris, and it was up to Adam to take those votes. Not only do I not think Adam did enough, I don't think he did anything. In addition, Kris comes from the South, and they vote for their own - only once in the history of American Idol has the winner not come from the southern part of the U.S. And hence, for the first time since season 6, you're going to have an American Idol winner by default.

Winner: Kris Allen

The Jason: You had two singers who really didn't hit the ball out of the park tonight. Adam was Adam, over the top, And Kris was R&B/Pop all the way. The question is though, did Kris do enough to win as Ryan asked...my answer is NO.

Adam's Mad World was not as good as Kris in Round 1, and Round 2 was crushed by Adam. Round 3 was a draw of suck due to the crappy song they both had to sing, and the crappy way they did it.

So, if I were doing this. I am going to stick with the guy who was the most original, most unique and more talented.

Your American Idol: Adam Lambert

Thank you all for reading these columns. It's been our pleasure to give them to you. Join us in 24 hours to see who gets the pleasure of being the next American Idol.
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4 Comments

Man that was a train wreck. Someone please give Kara some of Paula's old drugs before she writes another song.

Good Lord. That stupid song made Kris sound like Tiny Tim on muscle relaxants, and made Adam sound like Klaus Nomi on a seatless unicycle.

Thank you, American Idol, for making me appreciate my inevitable death.

said Don't Swayze Bro on May 20, 2009 11:38 AM.

I just could not handle it....I turned it off.
I have been "peeking in" since the auditions and I remembered why after a few minutes. IMHO...the "Lost" season.

said EffenIdontcare on May 20, 2009 6:43 PM.

On the the other hand, I want to thank both Gordon and Jason for all their roundups this year, one of my favorite reads of the week, consistently. Great job, dudes.

said Scaramouch on May 20, 2009 8:23 PM.

Amen to that! Haterade consistently (and hilariously) cuts through the hurricane blizzard of positronic nonsense to really weigh the merits of the performances.

And Gordon is absolutely right: KISS fans weren't going to back Adam on the phonelines, and Kris has a shallower but wider appeal. Plus, Arkansas cares about one of their own winning a talent contest. San Diego? Somewhat less.

So, while Adam (to quote Simon) fills a unique glam/hard rock niche that isn't occupied right now and will likely be a bigger moneymaker, the winner of the mob-ularity contest was the talented but somewhat less-defined Kris.

It happens every year: the early, shocking "Odds on Favorite" (Gokey, Doolittle, Hudson) loses late after running on momentum, opening the door for a "dark horse" (Fantasia, David Cook, Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks) to upset the rising, clear judge favorite (DeGarmo, Archuleta, Aiken, Blake Lewis, respectively).

Remember when Bo Bice was the "obvious choice" and the majority of people said, "Carrie Underwho?"

There's a maxim (or a flotsam, I get them confused) in marketing that you want consumers to be passionate about what you are selling: either negative or positive, because this results in brand loyalty and repeat customers. American Idol is often the opposite in the end: its mob voting format is free and unfettered and, by nature will gravitate toward the status quo.

Creating passionate division probably sells records at a much faster clip, but it hamstrings you when trying to win a phoning contest.

said Don't Swayze Bro on May 21, 2009 9:11 AM.
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