Due to time constraints—which caused many a peeved DVR user to miss Adam Lambert's much-hailed closing number last week—American Idol's Top Seven were only subject to two judges' critiques tonight.
Meaning, not all were privy to Simon Cowell's thoughts.
But everyone got to meet with guest mentor and longtime Idol fan Quentin Tarantino, who in his second featured appearance on the show helped the contestants rehearse for movie-song night.
Tonight's tunes spanned 30 years of cinemagic, from the 1969 classic Easy Rider to the 2007 indie romance Once. Interesting choices, all—some in a good way, some not so much.
At least one wunderkind managed to get Simon to utter the magic words: "You've got a chance of winning."
Allison Iraheta: The opening arrangement was kinda funky, but Allison (who, incidentally, was 6 when Armageddon was in theaters) ripped the chorus of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" a new one. According to Simon, she vocally stopped a proverbial asteroid from obliterating a girl's hopes of winning the competition. "We could see you all the way through to the end now," the Brit said, while Paula Abdul told the 16-year-old she possesses "the same special sauce" that Adam Lambert has. Anyway...
Anoop Desai: The 21-year-old charmer assigned himself another tough task—the Bryan Adams hit "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," both from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack and every high school dance since 1991. Energy wasn't exactly pouring from Anoop tonight, but he actually managed to add a wee bit of his own vocal flair. "You have definitely found your zone, dude," an enthused Randy Jackson said, while Kara DioGuardi appreciated that the changes he made to the melody were "coming from the heart."
Adam Lambert: The 26-year-old frontrunner sounded great and he had his Easy Rider leather jacket on, but… Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild"? Really? It was still kinda awesome, in that Adam sorta way. But we already knew he could do the howling glam-rocker thing. We like it when he slows down and lets the power of his stage presence sink in. "Fortune rewards the brave—and you're one of the bravest contestants I've ever witnessed," prophesied Paula, while Simon quipped, "I think you've got to learn how to express yourself a bit more." The more discerning of the two judges predicted that this week's go-round wouldn't be as popular as last week's.
Matt Giraud: More Bryan Adams, this time "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?"—a far more memorable tune than the so-so film it came from, 1995's Don Juan DeMarco. Matt's rendering could be split into halves—the first being a by-rote imitation of Adams, the second a more soulful, falsetto-utilizing denouement to bring the ballad to a close. Unfortunately, the first half was better. "You fell down more places tonight than you won," Randy concluded.
Danny Gokey: Another reliably pleasant ballad from Danny, who definitely has the soulful timbre to pull off tunes like Lionel Richie's title song from Endless Love—which also made a great cameo in Happy Gilmore. It wasn't a standout performance, though. Paula spoke of Danny grabbing them at the beginning, wowing them in the middle and slaying them at the end, but Simon was disappointed by the unimaginative arrangement.
Kris Allen Ballsy—Kris tackled the 2008 Oscar winner for Best Song, "Falling Slowly," from the indie Irish romance Once. And he made the slow, sensitive guitar ballad into all kinds of hot. Well, not for Randy, who didn't quite get it. But for Kara, "it was one of [his] best moments." That sentiment earned a supportive shoulder squeeze from Paula, who must have been just dying to tell Kris where his magic lies.
Lil Rounds: Another safe, boring choice for Lil, who showed such diva potential early on. She couldn't do anything but turn in a perfectly fine rendition of "The Rose" by Bette Midler. Paula made no point whatsoever when she spoke of the road being long but worth taking, but Simon said he was "getting frustrated." And he wasn't the only one—after yet another lecture about being a singer and not an artist, Lil returned the favor, arguing that she had injected that beautiful song with an R&B feel and her own beat.
So, Tuesday's show ended with tempers flaring. Will Lil get another chance to prove she's finals material, or will she reach the end of the road tomorrow night, following performances by Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson? Did the Top Seven make the most of movie night?
(Originally published April 14, 2009, at 6:28 p.m. PT)