Random Thoughts While Waiting for American Idol to Start:

-Paula Abdul is doing her best Bjork dress impression tonight.

-That still image of Alexis Grace makes her look like a drag queen mannequin. Isn't it bad enough to vote her off prematurely? You had to show that picture?

-Despite the off-the-wall outfit choice, tonight Paula clearly isn't stoned. That's two weeks in a row! How strange.

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-What a great way to kill time! Introduce the top ten again after bringing them out during the cold open.

-Wait. Detroit was once a thriving mecca? When did Motown debut? The 14th century?

-Impromptu poll - Who's had more plastic surgery? Smokey Robinson, Bruce Jenner or Joan Rivers? I expect votes in the comments people!

-I wonder how many songs the Idols asked about before they settled on a tune actually recorded in that studio.

-Nothing says Motown like an overweight middle-aged white pianist on a Yamaha baby grand piano.

And now, on with the show!

Matt Giraud Sang "Let's Get it On"

Smoky Said: Matt did more than justice to it. That really touched me.
Randy Said: Challenging for the top spot.
Kara Said: Solid performance.
Paula Said: Great job.
Simon Said: A cool performance, great choice of song.

The Verdict:

The spare piano accompaniment is very reminiscent of a hotel cocktail bar at the beginning, but at least he stands up to reveal a strange little schoolboy outfit. It's interesting to see him up from the piano on a big stage; he can certainly work it and is certainly making the Justin Timberlake comparisons apt. His vocals are as pure and effortless as ever, but the arrangement is still a bit hokey.

Grade: B+

Prediction: Not as good as last week, but certainly good enough to carry him through.

Kris Allen Sang "How Sweet it Is (To be Loved by You)"

Smoky Said: Kris blew me away.
Randy Said: You hit your zone.
Kara Said: You made your mark on this song. Did everything right.
Paula Said: It's nice to see you come into your own.
Simon Said: Smart choice, needs more confidence.

The Verdict:

A bit karaoke with a lame introduction. He's really starting to sound and look like nothing more than a Jason Mraz rip-off. Kind of ordinary and a bit forgettable overall. He's certainly not challenging himself vocally, just drifting through the song. It's almost as if he's coasting this week, hard to see what made Smoky so excited. Still pleasantly sung, but nothing to really dig into with this one.

Grade: B-

Prediction: Though the performance may have been Alexis Grace-level forgettable, he got enough praise from the judges to send him through.

Scott MacIntyre Sang "You Can't Hurry Love"

Smoky Said: Brought the song up to date.
Randy Said: A hotel-type performance.
Kara Said: Brought some tempo (doesn't every song have tempo?). Took too many liberties with the melody.
Paula Said: A nice nice choice - liked the backup singers.
Simon Said: Completely the wrong song - the whole performance a bit cheap. You're better than that. (Actually made a lot of good points, but I refuse to let the judges influence my grades!)

The Verdict:

Did you know Scott is single? Somewhere there's a Tina Majorino joke in here, but I just can't find it.

I don't know what's going on with these slow a capella intros tonight. Was that in the rules? They're not working for anyone. Well, this is better than the Phil Collins version of this song, but that isn't saying much. The problem is that this is secretly a terrible song and hard to make very good. Scott does his best to make it pleasing with a funky arrangement and a solid vocal. Not the best song choice, but he got about all he could from it.

Grade: B

Prediction: Uh-oh. Scott's in big trouble after that evisceration from Simon. It didn't help that he tried to explain himself afterwards. At least the discussing got Paula to whip out crayons and a coloring book. I wonder how long she thought of that almost funny prop gag. Five years?

Megan Joy Sang "For Once in My Life"

Smoky Said: So different. Refreshing
Randy Said: That was a train wreck. Rushed, hectic and mad crazy.
Kara Said: You should have sang "My Guy"
Paula Said: Uncomforatable.
Simon Said: It was horrible. I would fire whoever's advising you.

The Verdict:

She puts a nice spin on this song, almost reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, but she just isn't singing it that well, falling flat on many notes at the beginning. It's nice to see her work the stage more than simply standing and waving her arms like they're just dead flaps of skin without bones. As the song goes on, she's greatly improving vocally, hitting all the right notes at the finale for what ends up as an okay performance that never fully recovers from the messiness throughout.

Grade: C+

Prediction: Things just got sunnier for Scott after the judges pounded Megan relentlessly and Simon gave her the "You're in trouble" kiss of death. She still has the Vote For Worst tag; that's about all that can save her this week.

Anoop Desai Sang "Ooo Baby Baby"

Smoky Said: I felt it so much when Anoop sang it. I wouldn't change a thing.
Randy Said: Randy already started talking about next week - that's a good sign.
Kara Said: Very hard to do, a pretty good job. You can sing.
Paula Said: Phrasing, delivery and falsetto sweet and tender.
Simon Said: A great vocal, but you looked as if you were half asleep.

The Verdict:

This type of music was always going to suit Anoop better than just about everyone in this competition. Starts off well, but sounds a bit too light as he hits the higher notes - the chorus. His falsetto really isn't where it should be for this song, he's very strong in the lower and middle register, but it's almost laughable when he tries to reach for the "Baby, Baby". The tempo is also a bit strange - it seemed both too slow and too fast and Anoop didn't know what do with his performance because of this.

Grade: C+

Prediction: Not the best performance, but you wouldn't know that from the judges overwhelming praise. He'll stay put.

Michael Sarver Sang "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"

Smoky Said: Michael needs to make sure not to sweet talk 'Ain't Too Proud to Beg'.
Randy Said: The song is too big for you.
Kara Said: (Absolutely no idea, something about being an artist. Hope you enjoyed your one year on the show, Kara.)
Paula Said: Felt Old Las Vegas lounge-y.
Simon Said: I couldn't wait for it to end. Taking part in this competition rather than trying to win it. (An excellent point. This is why Simon gets the big bucks.)

The Verdict:

This is a big-time cruise ship performance. Michael seems like the type of singer you see in a turtleneck working an audience filled with middle-aged women just happy to be out of the house. The vocals are mediocre at best and jumbled at times. He's definitely showing how limited a performer he is. Also, the vocal stylings go from Gospel to country to smooth Adult Contemporary at different points in the song. Just a total mess.

Grade: D

Prediction: After hitting the bottom three last week, it's clear his likeability isn't going to carry him forever. That awful performance and similar reviews from the judges mean he's the one most likely to go down thus far.

Lil Rounds Sang "Heat Wave"

Smoky Said: Who knows - his whole segment was Lil Rounds crying about millionaires.
Randy Said: Front of the song was a little messy. Rushed throughout.
Kara Said: Not the right song. (Followed by a ramble)
Paula Said: You owned that song.
Simon Said: Wouldn't have chosen that song. Too fast.

The Verdict:

Well this was never going to be bad. Perfect song choice that unfortunately results in the ridiculous fire background. Why do the producers always whip out these Burger King commercial graphics for any song about something hot? Oh yeah, the singing. Very good but not mind-blowing, much better at the end than at the beginning. Would be nice to see Lil put her own spin on a song.

Grade: B

Prediction: She's safe but the judges' criticisms don't make her an absolute lock.

Adam Lambert Sang "Tracks of My Tears"

Smoky Said: I was very proud of Adam's interpretation.
Randy Said: Unbelievably hot. The bomb tonight.
Kara Said: I've got six words for you: One of the best performances of the night (eight words).
Paula Said: (Missed her, laughing about Kara's counting abilities)
Simon Said: The best performance of the night. (Which would have been six words)

The Verdict:

So Adam looks like a cross between Danny Zuko and the tin man. Or Don Draper at a David Bowie concert. No he looks like an encyclopedia salesman from the year 2853. Wait, he looks like Elton John's butler. No no no, he looks like a kid who got into the Crisco and tin foil in the pantry at the same time.

Oh wait. He was singing? Yeah. That rocked.

Grade: A-

Prediction: If he didn't go out after that ridiculous Johnny Cash bastardization of a week ago, then there's no way he goes out after this sensational interpretation.

Danny Gokey Sang "Get Ready"

Smoky Said: Gave Danny some good advice about singing at the end, which Danny noted was probably good since Smoky had been in the industry way longer than he. Yeah, 50 years > zero. Good point.
Randy Said: Remind me of Levi Stubbs. Not your best but you have a dope voice.
Kara Said: Good, not great. Still a huge Danny fan.
Paula Said: First class performance.
Simon Said: Clumsy and Amateurish.

The Verdict:

Well, Danny comes right out and ignores Smokey's advice. Doesn't really make a difference, just a bit funny - would have been nice to have seen a reaction shot. Danny still looks like a fourteen-year-old as he runs around stage with no rhythm or sense of the audience. The vocals aren't his best. He seems more concerned with running and doing Elaine Benes-level dancing than hitting every note. Still a pretty good effort though.

Grade: B-

Prediction: The performance and criticism were so rushed that it's possible for him to go home, just because it may get lost in voter's memory. Doesn't seem likely though.

Allison Iraheta Sang "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"

Smoky Said: I think she'll do really really great.
Randy Said: Blazing Hot.
Kara Said: America you got to vote for her. That is from God!
Paula Said: (With crayon-moustache) You are awesome, you are amazing.
Simon Said: Really one of your best performances.

The Verdict:

I'll just say first off that this night and her voice were made for ideal American Idol song "River Deep, Mountain High". So I'm a bit disappointed off the bat.

I think Allison is from the same planet as Miley Cyrus where 16-year-olds have the maturity and stage presence of 35-year-olds. She absolutely kills the nearly scatty, quickly-sung verse. This is a very hip and cool performance, which Allison really makes her own. Hitting every single note and just working the stage like a seasoned pro. Simply put: Cool.

Grade: A

Prediction: When you give the best performance of the night in the last slot of the night with one less girl to split the female vote, you're a lock to go on.


Kind of a lackluster Motown night. It's surprising that a top ten devoid of country singers actually did better on Grand Ol' Opry night.

The only two standouts were Adam's slick interpretation of "Tracks of My Tears" and Allison's absolutely killing "Papa Was a Rolling Stone". The rest was all kind of mediocre and a bit karaoke.

Except, of course, for Michael Sarver. Which brings us to our prediction: Sarver is gone. He was in the bottom three this week and America has to know that he has the worst chance of winning of anybody left.

The bottom three will round out with Megan Joy (who could definitely go) and probably Scott if only for the judges' relentless pounding of his performance.

Who do you think should be eliminated? Let us know in the comments!

Story by Andrew Payne

Starpulse contributing writer