7. Lil Rounds: (Last week: No. 7) Got publicly dumped by Simon Cowell last week — during Allison’s positive critique! — then wound up in the bottom two after experiencing her usual onslaught of pitch problems on “The Rose.” True, the overhyped belter at least tried to do something original with her Bette Midler cover, but it would take a Disco Night miracle for her to crack the top five. No matter how Lil performs, let’s all pray she keeps her trap shut during (and after) the judges give their feedback.
6. Anoop Desai: (Last week: No. 6) Delivered a lovely, pitch-perfect vocal on “Songs of the Cinema” Week. Unfortunately, his choice of the schlocky, tepid “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” led to yet another bottom-three encounter. Now, heading toward Disco Night, ‘Noop Dawg will have to prove himself capable of delivering a convincing uptempo performance, something he hasn’t done since his Wild Card take on “My Prerogative” nearly two months ago. Last call for a radical style upgrade to convince America a vote for him is not a wasted one?
5. Matt Giraud: (Last week: No. 4) Yes, he got the lowest number of votes from Idol voters after his cover of the insipid “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” fell to pieces on the bridge. But as the recipient of Idol‘s first-ever “Judges’ Save,” he carries a much-needed boost of emotional momentum heading into Disco Night, and that might be enough to help him sneak into the top five. Kara will be panting on his behalf, to be sure, but he’ll need to be more “Part Time Lover” than “Viva La Vida” to avoid elimination.
4. Danny Gokey: (Last week: No. 5) True, his idea of a relevant musical arrangement includes a harp (seriously!), but nonetheless, six weeks into the season 8 finals, Danny has yet to appear in the bottom three. That said, the bespectacled growler has been slowly losing Simon’s support, and with Disco Night upon us, there’s a good chance we’ll have to see more of his horrific dance moves. Needs a stellar, breakout performance — and soon! — to prove he’s got superstar potential and convince viewers of the merits of the producer-preordained Adam-Danny final showdown.
3. Allison Iraheta: (Last week: No. 2) Finally scored enthusiastic praise from Simon last week, but oddly, it was for her worst performance of the season — a pitch-imperfect, slightly disconnected take on “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” That said, she’s made her mark this season with powerfully sung, emotionally gripping covers of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” “Give in to Me,” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” And what’s more, she’s totally likable.
2. Kris Allen: (Last week: No. 3) Rebounded from a subpar “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” with an absolutely fabulous cover of the Oscar-winning (or “obscure,” if you believe Kara) “Falling Slowly.” Not only was Kris’ number the best, most unexpected song choice of Quentin Tarantino Week, but he sang it with a heartfelt sincerity that’s proven all too rare in the season 8 finals. Upcoming disco theme doesn’t seem like a natural fit, but don’t forget he nailed Michael Jackson’s R&B-flavored “Man in the Mirror” in the semifinals.
1. Adam Lambert: (Last week: No. 1) “Born to Be Wild” was a peculiar song choice to say the least — particularly on the heels of his haunting, moving “Mad World” — but once again, the long-standing front-runner hit every note of his Steppenwolf cover. What’s more, whether you love or hate Adam’s unbridled theatricality and manic energy, he’s certainly never dull. Until or unless his competitors start consistently taking big (and successful) risks, the season 8 crown is his to lose.