Idol Beat: The Top Four

Categories: Idol Beat
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Photos by Ray Mickshaw/ Fox

Man alive! Jamie Foxx mentored last week, and now guitarist-celeb Slash is in the proverbial American Idol house for "Rock and Roll Week"! Okay, sure, these people have projects and albums to promote, but these still feel like coups.

Lot to address, so today I'm skipping the expository rant and going straight to my patented bullet-point breakdown:

* Slash is looking rough! He's like a cross between Lenny Kravitz, Howard Stern and Bloom County asswipe Steve Dallas or something; you get the sense that he's bathed in the blood of the lamb, crawled the gutters, done unspeakable stuff in dark alleyways.

In short, he's sorta the antithesis of what Idol mentors usually are, for better or ill (I say for better). The square dude sitting to his right in the audience - blue button-down shirt, blank expression - doesn't look too thrilled to be sitting next to Slash, as if he's afraid he'll catch AIDS.

* Debut Slash solo album, coming soon to a Mediafire link near you. I guess those "Slash's Snakepit" records didn't count.


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Danny Gokey had the Idol judges dreaming of Howard Dean, not Aerosmith.
* Adam Lambert goes Bowie for his fierce cover of Led Zep's "Whole Lotta Love." Beforehand, Slash enthuses that Adam's "got some pipes" and advises that the out-and-proud hopeful doesn't "improvise so much in the high register." It's all very fierce, and the phrase "stalked the stage" applies, but somehow I wasn't blown away.

Maybe because this wasn't a song I was familiar with, or perhaps I'm suffering from Lambert Fatigue, finally. Randy offers a suggestion that's actually useful, insisting that Slash and Lambert should collaborate, while a channeling-Pink Kara ejaculates, "You're more than a rock star - you're a rock god!" Down, girl!

*Allison Iraheta has always had a Heart sound; now she's got a Heart 'do, as well. Slash: she's got a "natural rock and roll glamour and swagger." Her rip through Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby" - not to be confused with the Beatles tune - is "just" another grrrrrreat Iraheta performance, deep, bluesy and swinging hard; the song suits her well. Paula agreed: "I think you're downright fearless, and if there's ever a Janis biopic, you've got the role!"

* Kris Allen, dude: must everything - everything - you sing sound like a coffeehouse/quad jam session? Even the Beatles' "Come Together"? For Christ's sake.

* Remember Howard Dean's campaign-killing scream circa the 2004 presidental primaries? That last, long, agonizing note Danny Gokey ecked out in his cover of Aerosmith's "Dream On" brought it immediately to mind. The performance was servicable enough up until then, but that screech - dude, you're not Adam Lambert, and you can't gank his votes - shunted Gokey and his audience to a new, fresh dimension of hell and eclipsed everything that came before, maybe everything that's ever happened in even the worst of Idol audition shows. Randy, no! Gokey did not hit that note. He throttled it. He forced it. That wasn't "awesome." That was scary, like "Is his throat bleeding now?" scary, "Did he lose his fucking mind?" scary.

* My wife made a point about how, when Steven Tyler garrotes songs that way, no one complains and freaks out. But Steven Tyler has the range and persona to pull that sort of thing off, and he does it all the time.

* Simon, on the Gokey massacre: "The last note, it was like watching a horror movie!"

* So, this duets thing. This is a welcome first, and hopefully it's a concept that'll hang around for subsequent seasons. Danny Gokey and Kris Allen took on Styx's "Renegade" together, which was a boon for one of them. You only had to watch to tell whom: Danny was totally in his element for that sort of raging, hard-ass number. As for Kris, it's the sort of song that's beyond his abilities and out of comfort zone, that forces a singer to really push and bruise his or her voice. Simon says it plain: "I don't know what to say. Danny, you were better than Kris. How's that?"

* On the other hand, the Adam Lambert/Allison Iraheta duet - Foghat's "Slow Ride" - was pretty much the opposite: two well-equipped equals operating at the same level, dressed for the part, having a whale of a time. Solid, untouchable, awesome. Kara: "This is when a duet is done right - when you're pushing each other to be better."

*No predictions this week, true believers - anything is possible now.



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