IDOLS MAKE AN IMPRESSION
My friends and I joined thousands of other “arm chair judges” for American Idol Season 8 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on August 4th to hear our favorite contestants perform. Many had differing opinions about who should have won but we were all there to show our support and enjoy an evening of good music. We were not disappointed. With few exceptions every performer sounded surprisingly good with a full band and backup singers for support.
Michael Sarver, the oil rigger, worked hard to get everyone up and dancing with fair results as he opened the show. Megan Joy was still quirky but now looked more like a Barbie doll in a slinky pink dress and heels with sparkles on her tattoo instead of the flower child she appeared to be on TV. Scott MacIntyre was the first to really connect with the crowd despite his blindness. He joked between numbers and demonstrated remarkable piano skills. Next up was Lil Rounds who finally looked like she was having fun by her third number, dancing and singing “Single Ladies” (Beyonce’).
Anoop Desai mixed it up with ballads and dance numbers throwing in a few moves that elicited squeals from fans. Then Matt Girard, minus his facial mole and sporting a faux hawk hair cut, took to the piano with confidence, singing and playing with plenty of showmanship and ability. I enjoyed his set as well as the piano duets he performed later with Scott during the group performance.
Allison Iraheta remained true to her rocker style playing guitar and belting out the lyrics with a wind machine blowing her hair all around. She definitely took ownership of the stage with the maturity of someone twice her age but not one of her songs varied in intensity. They were all fierce and it sometimes sounded like she was yelling. I hope she still has a voice by the end of the tour.
Of all the Idols, Danny Gokey surprised me most. He looked like he was truly enjoying himself dancing and singing “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson. I was impressed by how well he related to the crowd making eye contact and covering every corner of the stage. During his set Danny briefly mentioned the tragic loss of his wife and encouraged us all “not to let tragedy define you” and “don’t let it keep you from following your dreams.” He then proceeded to sing “My Wish” (Rascal Flatts) with conviction and emotion. I enjoyed his full, throaty voice and sincere delivery.
Judging by sound of the cheers and screams that accompanied his appearance it was clear Adam Lambert was the house favorite. The show quickly went from G to R rated with his seductive movements and flamboyance. Adam really knows how to work a crowd and he certainly did during the opening number “Whole Lotta Love” (Zeppelin). The songs “Starlight” (Muse) and “Mad World” (Tears for Fears) allowed him to show off his impressive vocal range and ability. Then he was joined by Allison Iraheta for “Slow Ride” (Foghat) and it was hard to tell who was having more fun – Allison or Adam. He wrapped up his set with a David Bowie Medley – “Life on Mars/Fame/Let’s Dance” shedding his jacket, strutting his stuff, and making me wonder how we’ve gotten here from the days when Elvis’ dance moves were considered shocking.
Kris Allen proved he was worthy of the Idol title when he opened his set playing guitar and singing “Heartless” (West/The Fray). His voice was full and strong. Kris delivered “Ain’t No Sunshine” (Winters) with equal intensity and abandon, getting lost in the lyrics. It was obvious he was in his comfort zone behind either guitar or piano. It was as if we were guests in his studio watching as he immersed himself into the music. If only he would look up and acknowledge our presence - but then it just might break the spell.
AMERICAN IDOL SET LIST 2009
In Love With A Girl, Gavin DeGraw
Put Your Records On, Corrine Bailey Rae
Tears Dry on Their Own, Amy Winehouse
Bend & Break, Keane
A Thousand Miles, Vanessa Carlton
Be Without You/Just Fine, Mary J. Blige
No One, Alicia Keys
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), Beyoncé
Always On My Mind, Willie Nelson/Elvis Presley
My Prerogative, Bobby Brown
Hard to Handle, Otis Redding/Black Crowes
Georgia on My Mind, Ray Charles/Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell
You Found Me, The Fray
Megan & Lil: Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, Four Seasons/Andy Williams
Scott & Matt: Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
Michael: Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
Anoop, Matt, Scott, Michael, Lil, Megan: Beggin’, Four Seasons/Madcon
SECOND ACT SET LIST
So What, Pink
Cry Baby, Garnet Mimms/Janis Joplin
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), Michael Jackson
Maria Maria, Santana
What Hurts the Most, Rascal Flatts
My Wish, Rascal Flatts
Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin
Mad World, Tears for Fears/Gary Jules
Slow Ride, Foghat (with Allison Iraheta)
Life on Mars/Fame/Let’s Dance, David Bowie
Heartless, Kanye West/The Fray
All These Things That I’ve Done, The Killers
Ain’t No Sunshine, Bill Withers
Bright Lights, Matchbox 20
Hey Jude, The Beatles (with several other Idols)
Group Idol Finale
Entire Group: Don’t Stop Believing, Journey (with a chorus of Steam’s Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye