It makes perfect sense that "American Idol" would pick Elvis Presley as a theme this season. Like Elvis, "Idol" was once a young, fresh, exciting force that changed music and television. Now it's a bloated carcass of its former self that will probably end up dead on a toilet one of these days. (For the sake of argument, let's call the seventh and eighth seasons of "Idol" their version of the "'68 Comeback Special.")
In a move that raised some eyebrows, producers enlisted last year's runner-up Adam Lambert to mentor the top nine. Sure, the guy didn't win, and apparently he's not selling as many records as Ken Warwick had hoped, but Lambert knows how to use the "Idol" machine to maximize buzz and court media attention while on the show. Let's face it: Although Adam has one of the best voices in music today, why should he waste his time giving these "singers" voice lessons? That'd be like Jackie Joyner-Kersee teaching long jump to the legless.
Tuesday night's (April 13) show began with Ryan Seacrest over-emphasizing the stakes. "Two contestants must fall," Seacrest announced, an odd sentiment since the nine singers were all standing precariously on a staircase. (Although watching a few of these singers tumble down stairs would be infinitely more entertaining than hearing them sing.)
After a "Who is Elvis?" package recycled from season five, Seacrest sat down to awkwardly interview Adam Lambert, visiting the show with his mom. (How Jeremy Piven of him!) The chat began with "You got an extra two inches tonight!" (a reference to Lambert’s spikey coif, I hope) and ended with the tanned host saying, "My tongue is not nearly as talented as yours." I would have spit-taked but I was suppressing vomit at the thought of Seacrest doing anything with his tongue.
Before I go on a rant about how Lambert promised to be an "honest" mentor in the same breath that he said "they all have great voices," let’s get to the performances.
Adam Lambert (smartly) urged Bowersox to plug in and go electric for her gospel-meets-rockabilly cover of a song about being a party animal saved by Jesus. (Note to Brian "Head" Welch: This is your theme song.) The front-runner gave yet another solid, sparkling performance, this one punctuated with a sick-nasty half-time breakdown and a glittery guitar that made me ponder this philosophical question: If a bedazzled guitar makes a noise in a forest and no one can hear it because trumpets and keyboards are drowning it out, does it make a sound?
Oh, and obviously the judges loved Crystal's performance.
Song: "Hound Dog"
Verdict: Cruelty to Animals
Adam Lambert patiently listened to Andrew Garcia take "Hound Dog" for a walk and then said, "It's boring. I was bored. I'm going to be totally honest with you. I know I can be straight up with you." Yep. Lambert called him boring and then used the words "straight up." And the Emmy for Best Mentor Ever goes to...