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American Idol recap: Too Much Inspiration

A night of supposedly uplifting ballads meant to set up ”Idol Gives Back” somehow falls flat, although Kristy Lee Cook suddenly seems amazing again

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Brooke Kristy

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

he annual American Idol charity special had better live up to its name and give back come Wednesday night, because this evening, the show that becomes my obsession for five months a year just took and took and took, and when it had run its 60-minute course, my good mood, my enthusiasm, and quite possibly my sanity had gone missing. All that was left, in fact, were some uneaten mixed greens and a couple of heinous trout bones on a dinner plate (et tu, grocer?), along with the unsavory task of writing words of praise about Kristy Lee Cook.

The weird thing is, I can’t even blame the episode’s theme, ”inspirational music”; where I’d expected eight consecutive servings of pabulum, the remaining finalists instead offered up a (relatively) decent(ish) assortment of songs, including unschlocky tracks by Robbie Williams, Aerosmith, and Carole King. Too bad most of the vocal performances didn’t live up to the material.

The worst offender of the night truly hurt. For seven straight weeks, David Cook has ridden a wave of great performances (”Hello,” ”Day Tripper,” ”Billie Jean”) to the front of the season 7 pack and has turned me from an early doubter into a fan who doesn’t even care about that comb-forward (though I was happy to see the sexy, stylin’ side part once again tonight!). And while, sure, it was inevitable that Rocker David was going to hit a pothole or two on his way to the Nokia Theater, nothing could have prepared me for his thoroughly disjointed effort on Our Lady Peace’s ”Innocent,” which he performed with all the awkwardness of a man who’d accidentally wandered onto the set of Dancing With the Stars and found himself asked to perform a paso doble with Edyta Sliwinska.

David, clad in what appeared to be an all-white high-school marching-band jacket, started his number just slightly behind the beat and in a key that was far too low for his vocal range. To make matters worse, he then drifted aimlessly into the Idol crowd, where I’m pretty certain the front-row audiencebots began to telepathically drain his life force, enough to fuel at least another week of off-the-beat swaying. (The ”give back” message scrawled on David’s palm was a nice touch, though.) Still, how Paula managed to praise this obvious belly flop — ”tonight was no exception of you being so good,” she babbled — is beyond me, but let’s give her a pass this week. After all, it can’t be easy to focus when your breasts are just a seal clap away from popping out of your bustier.

(Oh, and burning question of the night: Did Rocker David utter the word ”Cinnabon” toward the end of his performance, or is my brain just rebelling against this whole healthy-eating initiative I’m attempting?)

Actually, I might be drowning my sorrows in a high-calorie breakfast pastry by the end of the week, considering the way my other favorite contestant, Carly Smithson, put herself at risk of elimination with a histrionic rendition of ”The Show Must Go On.” Whereas last week the Irish barmaid used her glorious instrument to caress and reinvigorate Dolly Parton’s ”Here You Come Again,” tonight found her using a different tactic, lacing up her steel-toed boots and repeatedly kicking Queen’s angsty anthem in the groin. Every time Carly strayed from the melody and tried to fire up her number with a howl of passion, she seemed to run out of air, throwing herself off pitch and leaving herself gasping. It wasn’t pretty — unless you hit the mute button and focused on Carly’s flattering black-and-aqua tank and luscious tresses. What’s more, Carly’s excuse that Simon’s mid-performance facial expression threw her off her game did her no favors.

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