Posted by: dcmjlive | May 4, 2009

The Idol Journey of the Top 4

Another in-depth analysis of the idols but this time, I want to focus on bits of their journey from the auditions up to the finals, how they were shown and how they stand because of that.

NOTE: I do advice that you read this in parts rather than completing this whole thing in one seating. This is like 4 blogs in one so sorry for the inconvenience.

Kris Allen

AUDITIONS: All we knew of this guy was that he auditioned in Louisville with the Elliott Yamin popularized song, A Song For You. This prompted me to compare him a bit to Elliott. However, this was just a snippet along with other auditions like Felicia Barton (who sang Put Your Records On). What I liked about him though was his fashion style: a flat cap (my favorite accessory) and the plaid polo (which sort of became one of his trademarks).

HOLLYWOOD: He then was featured again in a small portion singing with two contestants who had already been established in the auditions: Matt Giraud and India Morrison. They formed one of the most talked about groups, White Chocolate, as they were first to perform and one of the best. They sang Michael Jackson’s hit I Want You Back. If anything, all I remember then was Matt and India. I learned that Kris was in the group via research.

TOP 50: He was again shown to have made it to the next round. Despite being shown to have gotten in, I did somehow said his face was familiar. Still couldn’t tie it up at that point.

SEMIFINALS: He was then put into the second group. The problem was, he was facing people who had tons of exposure. Among those with lots of exposure were Matt Giraud, Jasmine Murray, Kai Kalama, Nick Mitchell, Megan Joy Corkrey, Matt Breitzke and of course fellow top 4 Adam Lambert. Despite previous exposure, Kris wowed a number of people with his cover of Man In The Mirror by Michael Jackson. He was the one with the highest votes excluding Adam, the highest in votes for males and Allison Iraheta, the highest in votes for females. This performance of Kris is what has charted him to the top 12. Later, we also find out that out of all the performances during the top 36, Kris’s song was the 2nd most downloaded song in iTunes. (Later, I will say what ranks Adam, Allison and Danny got.)

FINALS: Dishing out Remember the Time with his guitar and plaid polo, he came off as the kind, friendly guy who had helped all the contestants with their arrangements for Michael Jackson week. This early, he has shown competence in the Soul/R&B field and I sort of labeled him in that niche together with Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey and Matt Giraud. His performance steadily got higher reviews each week from various blogs as reported by whatnottosing.com. He peaked with Ain’t No Sunshine at 85 points, which currently is the 2nd highest rated song of the season tied with Adam Lambert’s Tracks of My Tears. He then took the risk of singing Falling Slowly during Movie Week, which got mixed reviews but put the song out of obscurity (despite the song winning an oscar) and putting the song in the Top 30 most downloaded iTune singles (the original, not his rendition.) He then peaked another song the next week with She Works Hard For the Money during Disco Week. Not only did he tie 2nd again with 85 points but he ties with David Cook in the weirdest category: “highest score for a female song done by a male singer.” An aside, Matt Giraud takes 3rd in that category with his rendition of So Small. With these peak performances and risky arrangements, this southener has showed his versatility in making arrangements that don’t only sound great but also have that raw emotion attached to it. He makes all his songs believable and seems to pick songs that he relates to the most. The musicality and tenderness of this person was also highlighted with his rendition of Adele’s To Make You Feel My Love and Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight. He may have the smallest voice as compared to belters Adam, Allison and Danny but he sure doesn’t have the weakest streak. His only bad performances were All She Wants to Do Is Dance. The song The Way You Look Tonight failed simply because he was put in the death spot and that the others were also really good with their renditions. In average, his rank in whatnottosing.com is 3rd. But he has the 3rd most 5-star performances (2), the 2nd most 4-star performances (4) and the other three got a 3-star rank. I guess this proves that Kris is really EEE (easy on the eyes and ears.) This is proved further in the fact that 3 performances of his made it to the top 10 iTunes Idol downloads during the Top 7 phase of the competition.

Danny Gokey

AUDITIONS: If I must say, this guy is the most pimped out of everyone in the top four. This is further proclaimed by the infamous dead wife story, which has already given him a casual voter fanbase and infamity among internet critics, including me. He audtioned with his best friend Jamar Rogers and performed I Heard it Through The Grape Vine after Jamar had been congratulated in getting the golden ticket. The judges all agree that they wanted to see him go FAR in this competition. In my part, I loved Danny Gokey during this stage when I had been a bit ignorant about the dead wife story. I blame the “internets” for my dislike with Danny Gokey. I’ve talked with a few real-life friends about this and some of them did say that they found his sincerity ingenuine from that point alone. But heck, at that point, I really didn’t care. I was rooting for Danny to win this thang.

HOLLYWOOD: My fanship for Danny continued in Hollywood Week not only with his inspirational song choice of I Hope You Dance but also his group performance with Jamar and Taylor Vaifanua. Their rendition of Somebody to Love was stellar. The a capella arrangement with the harmonies and Danny’s riffs made him unstoppable in my eyes. His choice of phrasing was tasteful and I guess the pimping helped him a whole ton. Poor Jamar, who I look back as better than Danny, was sidelined because of pimping Danny showing support to Jamar. I miss Jamar’s risk cover of Hey There Delilah. But nevertheless, it was great.

TOP 50: The chair episode made me feel sorry not only for Jamar as he was kicked to the curb but to Danny as well for genuinely being shocked that Jamar did not make it to the top 36. First his wife dies then he loses his bestfriend in the competition. In the moment, I sympathized with him, cared about him so much. Looking back, I’m disgusted how the producers manipulated him to be this sob story in order to get a bigger fanbase.

SEMIFINALS: Danny is the only group one performer left in the competition currently. After being heavily pimped as the guy who has faced so many trials to get here, he gets the pimp spot and sings Hero. From that point, I felt something fishy. I was still rooting for him to win, convinced that Hero was a great performance indeed. Even people who blogged about him gave high scores, the highest in fact of the episode tying with Alexis Grace. I ignored the fact that his brother was holding a picture of his dead wife who now looking back was another way to push the dramatic take of Danny Gokey. Reality TV at its best. After the semifinals, the story came out questioning the tragic tale and many bloggers fished out the pimping of Danny. I was not pleased and was beginning to turn back against Gokey at that point. Saleswise, Danny ranked 4th in the top 36 being beaten by Kris and Allison.

FINALS: My appreciation for Gokey went back up with his performance of PYT. The way he commanded the stage and felt so comfy on it was amazing. I mean it was on my head for the longest time. But come the time he sang Jesus, Take the Wheel, I let go of my love for Gokey. Was it the hate for the pimping, not yet. That song was awfully boring at the start, pitchy in the middle and when it got to the end, I couldn’t care less despite being as good as Hero. His score after Hero in whatnottosing.com was obviously the same thing I was feeling, a receding love/a growing hate for Gokey. His score kept plummeting up until his lowest low: a 2-star performance rating with Endless Love (35pts). Many have attacked the fact that Gokey used a harp in the performance. And also, unintentionally, he has been channeling songs that have given reference to his former pimping. After PYT, he may not have mentioned the dead wife but the songs he was picking had undertones of trials, hardships, endless love and etc. After what a friend said, I know I’ve been too hard on my hate on Gokey because he chose those songs out of connection. But still, the fact remains that his motives are questionable. How could every performance after What Hurts The Most (the previous week, his granddad died) been related to the matter? Was it genuinely just looking for a muse to be able to connect to songs or was it an ulterior motive to bring back the flame of the tragic Idol story of this man? September did gain back some ground for him though and I genuinely liked the studio recording of the song. But, I couldn’t help but remember that September is not a song about trials and hardships but he found an arrangement that was so and used it for his studio recording, then after that being annoyed AGAIN at Gokey. Although, my grades have been true to performance only and just a teeny-weeny ounce of bias. Despite the tragic tale controversy, his performances were consistently pitchy at parts. Every time he went to the growl, he lost some tone to his voice but for Paula Abdul, gained sexy points. (Paula is such a cougar…) I can’t tell though if it’s sexy or not. His last performance Come Rain or Come Shine is no doubt to be his best performance since his shaky pitchy streak following Jesus, Take the Wheel. He learned some self-control there and he was only pitchy during the growl parts of the song. As it stands, he is the 5th person in average ranking, falling short of Alexis Grace, who was eliminated because of her uncredited great song, Jolene. To date, he has zero 5-star and 1-star performances, placing average 3-star performances mostly. (5 of them in fact.) He places 3rd in most number of 4-star performances (tied with Allison with 3) and of course Endless Love being the only 2-star performance. But because of Come Rain or Come Shine, Danny is slowly regaining ground. Will Simon’s prediction come true in that we’ll see him in the finale?

Allison Iraheta

AUDITIONS-TOP 50: She had not that much exposure at all. She was interviewed for 6 seconds during auditions. We heard nothing of her during hollywood week. There was then a clippet during the chair episode where Allison sang Natural Woman and all the judges could say about this red haired girl was that she had raw natural talent. Indeed, she did.

SEMIFINALS: Her breakout performance was Alone by Heart (can’t forget how she said it so uninterestingly). She too like Kris was in the second group and had to face against so many like Adam who had the most exposure. But with vocals to match against Carly Smithson from the previous season, she went from zero to frontrunner just like that. Her song ranked 3rd in the iTunes popularity bars being beat by Kris Allen despite the awesomeness of Allison’s vocal.

FINALS: During the finals, she is known so far to have had three bottom three showings. The first was when she sang the rock cover of Blame It On Your Heart. Probably in the bottom three not because of song choice but because of wardrobe choice. This carried on during the season with Don’t Speak and Hot Stuff. Interestingly, all those three were rock arrangements. She however has the second highest average in whatnottosing.com because of Alone in the semifinals and three more five star performances: Give In To Me, Papa Was A Rolling Stone and I Can’t Make You Love Me. The first two of which were rock influenced versions of the original. But what strikes as interesting is the last five star performance, wherein she showed more of her power ballad skills not only being a true belter but also one who could connect given a ballad. This is futher proved by the fact that she was in the Top 2 last week with her rendition of Someone to Watch Over Me. She has transcended her age to give classy ballads that show the tender side of her. In total, she has the most 5-star performances albeit not the strongest as these are overshadowed by the higher scores of Kris’s, Adam’s, Matt’s and Anoop’s 5-star performances. She also has the 3rd most 4-star performances (3 along with Matt and Anoop) and the other two being 3-star performances. She is actually one to beat because not only does she have the power vocals but if she chooses to, can connect to people. The problem with this girl is one, her fashion sometimes turns off voters and she has so far connected only emotionally when she sings ballads/power-ballads. Her inconsistency as shown by Don’t Speak is telling of her inexperience as a 17-year old. But given the right song choice and right guidance, this girl is amazing. She is also, take note, the only rocker chick to have made it this far in the competition beating Carly Smithson and Amanda Overmyer by a mile.

Adam Lambert

AUDITIONS: It was not directly said but from that point, people learned that he is a professional because Paula did say that she saw him as a cast of Wicked (he played Fiyero before going to Idol.) Also, the main concern about him was that he was too theatrical, given his experience. But in my honest opinion, anyone who chooses Bohemian Rhapsody as an audition song must be nuts! But he delivered it with such ease and finess and he haven’t even gotten to the ridiculously long and hard to pull off bridge. (This reminds me, it’s Rock and Roll Week and I want him to perform Bohemian Rhapsody on stage!!!) He was instantly a favorite not only to the judges but also to many fans, including me. And it was plus points for him to say that his first ever concert was that of Paula Abdul. (Kiss up!) He then shows how much of a gentleman he is by kissing Paula and Kara by the hand. Thanks to MJ’s big blog for the reminder on what went on at the auditions.

HOLLYWOOD: Not only was he pimped early in this competition, but it continued in Hollywood Week. He was focused with the “amazing singers” that stood out in the group performances, more so than the others (Michael Sarver, Matt Breitzke and Jesse Langseth) while doing the same song Some Kind of Wonderful. (They were in different groups.) He really showed his killer falsetto at that point of the competition. His falsetto was also fully utilized in his cover of Cher’s Believe and really, he did it with a voice not unlike Cher’s. Creepy really but he has awesome vocals. If Danny got his way with not only vocals but also a tragic story to back it up, all Adam needed was his killer falsetto.

TOP 50: He is of course seen to be accepted to the top 36. Not much surprise there.

SEMIFINALS: He like Danny, one of the three chosen pimped ones together with Lil Rounds, was placed in the pimp spot. He also, like Kris and Allison performed in group 2 like I said in both Kris and Allison’s journey analysis. Unlike Kris and Allison who had minimal exposure prior to the semi-finals, he had an obvious advantage being pimped to the extreme level. Also, his rendition of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction made me love Adam Lambert as an artist. Certainly, Adam was a force to be reckoned with in that not only was he extremely pimped without a tragic story but because of his power falsetto and killer performance of Satisfaction, he ranked FIRST in the iTune Idol Top 36 downloads beating Kris, Allison and Danny by a HUGE GAP! Not only did this further his frontrunner position but almost made it clear that he has a spot in the finale.

FINALS: He continues his streak by making his first performance a 5-star performance (81). Black or White not only focused on his mad vocals but countered the controversy that he is homosexual. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white after all. He then delivers this pattern of Flamebert-Lamebert, which means flamboyant then ballad performances right after. His lowest performance comes from the very controversial Ring of Fire that creeped me out again. This is also Adam’s only 3-star rating. And even so, this song was one of the six songs that placed in the top 10 idol downloads as of the top 7. More fans flocked to Lambert after his great renditions of Tracks of My Tears and the unforgettable Mad World. (I had finally gotten used to the creepy Cher-like falsetto of Adam and just basked under the emotional connection he has with ballads.) These two are also his other 5-star performances. Tracks placed 2nd like I said previously and Mad World placed 1st in the current top 10 whatnottosing.com performances for the season. His emotional connection to ballads are his highly acclaimed and was futher seen in his renditions of If I Can’t Have You and Feeling Good. Despite being connected greatly to ballads, I did feel that his flamboyant performances were really too theatrical but vocals-wise out of this world! Allison and Adam share the same problem in that department whereas Kris has more often than not connected to all of his songs. But still, those performances ranked 4-stars (5 of them, including Satisfaction). His sudden trip to the bottom two shows that despite his inclination to be a sure spot in the final two, Adam is still vulnerable to America’s vote. But next week is rock week and I can’t wait to see him do his mother genre. And of course, here’s to crossing fingers that he does Bohemian Rhapsody again. Lastly, he has the highest average ranking this season beating Allison by just 1.9 points.

I hope I gave you a clearer picture on how the contestants stand after this whole process so far. I’m tired and must go to bed now. In essence, this final four is actually the rightful final four and I’m glad that despite the minimal exposure, Kris and Allison has made it this far.

The thing is, will Kris and Allison be able to defeat either Gokey or Lambert who from the beginning received tons of pimping this season? If they were to, they must be able to bring out the best assets in them (Kris – his powerful arrangements, phrasings and connection. Allison – her power vocals paired with a power ballad of emotional bearing) to bring down the 2 who have been in so far the most pimped contestants ever in Idol history. Cheers to those who read this! I know you and I both will celebrate that you finally finished reading it.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the summary! Just what I wanted to get the big picture. How much do I owe ya?

    • Nothing really. HAHAHA. Just glad you’re glad.

  2. All the contestants need to choose songs wisely for rock week. Everyone assumes next week will be easy for Adam but because of the immense pressure & hype, the pressure is really on for him. I hope last week didn’t knock his confidence – Matt G revealed in his exit interviews Adam was so disappointed in his performance that he put himself in what he thought was the B3 group. Adam is his own worst critic, he really sets a high standard for himself & anything less must make him feel like he was off his game. It’s understandable but you can tell from from the backstage interviews, he’s experiencing frontrunner fatigue. The others need a good performance each week – Adam needs a Great one, THAT’S pressure. He must be emotionally & physically drained. I think Adam would maybe be wiser to pick something not quite so classic & switch it up to make it classic. I would love to hear him take on a Led Zep, Queen or Guns song but I’m just hoping he chooses something not too predictable unless as I said he can do it justice – big shoes to fill. A Zeppelin song WOULD be perfect for his voice though, he could really beautifully showcase all the layers of his register whilst giving a hot, powerful performance. I hope he kills it & marks his place in the Final 3. Kris will be fine, he’ll pick a song he can connect to and will use an arrangement to suit his style. It will be interesting to see Danny rock out…Allison will be awesome.

    • Yes, I could assume that Adam was really shaken by his own performance. He kinda is competing against himself and when he does feel that his performance is not the best he can give, he does sorta beat himself up. But I’m not so sure he thought that Danny and Allison were part of the bottom three.

      Remember, everyone thought Matt G was a shoe-in for the vote out…

      And I feel Kris won’t be that fine because Slash wants to keep the week to classic rock and roll of that era, I can’t help but be afraid for him in that he has the smallest vocals. I do hope Slash lets him arrange.

      And yes, it would be interesting to see latest VFTW pick Gokey to finally hit the stage and belt a rock song with his raspy voice of his. It could either be VFTW worth or just really good…

      • I don’t think Danny will struggle with rock week. He may struggle with being convincing in a rock genre but he won’t struggle with the vocals.

        Kris may and I hope he is not allowed to cop out as he is did on disco week.

  3. Re: Adam
    I believe he was only the understudy for Fiyero, and so rarely performed in that role. He has said that he was usually singing in the back (ensemble). Big difference in exposure level and paycheck šŸ™‚
    GREAT recaps! Thanks for doing this. A really fun read.

    • Yeah, I sort of forgot it was understudy and not the real thing, but Paula sure knew of it. Well, either way, we sort of knew that from the start, he was a professional.

      Thanks for reading too. I tried to make it as interesting as possible.

  4. Apparently Adam’s reasoning was based on Simon’s comments to Allison about being in danger and his high praise of Matt.

    • Well, Adam could have been thinking that. I’m just not so sure. Matt and Kris did joke why Adam didn’t pick them. Hmm…I don’t want to go to an argument about perspective. Let’s just leave that Adam was hard on himself. šŸ™‚

      As for Danny, like I said, he can be really good, or really bad. Depends. True, he can struggle with being a convincing rocker. But vocally, I think he’s still going to struggle as well. He hasn’t been up to match pitch-wise in the lower register. And even in the higher register, when he chooses to growl, he does become pitchy. Former performances have proven this.

      And with Kris, Slash may want to keep it rock and roll but Kris’s style, which I keep forgetting is folk/rock and soul/r&b. It is so American Idol recently to arrange songs to their own style. If this weren’t implemented, then people like Chris Daughtry, Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert and etc wouldn’t be as recognized. It’s not really much copping out if Kris still does have a rock edge to his arrangement. He can still do well without having to belt. Rock and Roll isn’t about belting alone. And Kris has had a good song choice streak. I do hope he does well.

      People play to strengths. If you want Kris to not be able to arrange his songs, then have Adam and Allison karaoke. You just want Kris to not do this because you think he has the weakest vocals. True, he’s not a belter but his pitch has been better than Danny all season.

  5. RE: Adam. Seriously, I don’t care either way *but* seeing as he was disappointed with his performance that night (trying to match the almost phenomenal studio version he recorded earlier in the week), it makes more sense to me that he placed himself with the lowest vote getters – particularly as he said, “based on last night?”. Matt also revealed Adam was very nervous before results night. Judging from the fact that Allison had been in the B3 every other week, Cowell’s comments to her stating she will be trouble, the fact that Kris had never been in the B3 and the fact that Cowell gave Matt praise galore, it’s not difficult to to understand why Adam thought Allison and Gokey were the B3. Hell, Simon’s comments from the night before were imprinted in MY mind.

    Just can’t wait for Slash mentoring. I hope he gave Adam a boost because he needs to be in his element this week. Watching his latest Confessional, it really seemed like he was going through the motions — frontrunner fatigue (and backlash as he does read the internet) were the first words that came to mind, bless him. I’m looking forward to seeing what lovely Kris will do with his arrangement and I’m not worried about Allison, she will do awesome šŸ™‚ I’d love to see Allison, Adam and Kris in the Finals. Sadly I don’t think it’s going to end that way.

    • True, it’s not difficult to understand that he chose what he thought was the bottom three. If it’s true or not, it doesn’t really matter. I still think Adam can take on this week well.

      As for Allison, Kris and Adam…I do hope they make the final three and that Gokey goes due to the kiss of death being the VFTW pick. I can’t wait on how Kris arranges his song too!

      Oh btw, people should really listen to the Brand New Shoes album of Kris. It’s the shiznit-o-bam as Daughtry would say.


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