Stripper or singer? More on that in a bit.
On Tuesday night's show, the Top 8 guys competed for the honor of making it to the elite Top 12 (including six gals). That means moving to another theater and, if you make it to the Top 10, going on the months-long "Idol" tour next summer. (Sac is typically one of the stops.)
Yes, advancing does have its perks...
Anyway, Tuesday was '80s night, which included songs that made me reminisce about guys who couldn't dance, music I didn't particularly like, and polyester.
* Luke Menard was up first with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! (George Michael and that guy with the dark hair.) Yes, it was up-tempo, which is new for Luke. The judges weren't getting it, though. Paula Abdul was "surprised" by the song choice. And Simon Cowell, who seems to be getting more obnoxious (is that possible?) with each show, didn't like it at all. "It sounded a bit girly," he said. And then, the death knell: "You have no chance to make the final 12."
* Audience - and viewer - favorite David Archuleta started off Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" by playing the piano, but eventually stood and did the audience thing. Randy Jackson said it was "like watching one of your concerts." Of course, David hit a couple of mini-clunkers, which Paula said convinced her he wasn't a "make-believe perfect person." Simon said the performance wasn't as good as last week. (Hard to top David A's "Imagine.") "You're getting a little gloomy, a little depressing," Simon said. But then, he put David way ahead in the competition - the final two, no less.
* OK, so I'm not sure the Votefortheworst.com campaign to keep Danny Noriega in the competition is going to work. Unlike last season, with Sanjaya Malakar, I think the viewers want the cream of the bad crop and Danny just didn't pull it off with a really goofy rendition of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love". I loathe this song, and Danny was dressed like he was going "disco snowboarding." Too-tight pants and a lot of outerwear. Paula said he was "sensitive and spicy." (Good grief!) Randy Jackson loved the arrangement. Simon, well, he said it was horrible and useless. "I didn't like anything about it." And I didn't like the purple hair streaks.
* After revelations that he worked as a male stripper in Glendale, Ariz., David H. was up next. Nothing was mentioned about the scandal on the show - obviously because it was taped before the news broke. Anyway, tackling the Celine Dion version of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" was, er, an interesting song choice regardless. Paula thought David was getting into his groove, finding his niche. Simon said the performance secured his spot in the Top 12 - unless, of course, America holds his past against him.
* In my book, Michael Johns could just talk with that great Aussie accent and get through. The guy is easy on the eyes. Loved, loved his version of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me") from the 1985 film "The Breakfast Club." Randy thought it was a good song choice. Simon liked it, loved it. "You're a huge talent," he said. But, as with some of the other contestants (especially the gals), Simon's still waiting for Michael to connect with that "big song."
* It took a shift in performers to get David Cook's guitar hooked up, and he took Lionel Richie's sad-sack "Hello" and turned it into sort of a rock song. Randy thought it could be a hit single. Paula loved that David C. always surprises her. Simon, who hasn't been too kind to our rocker/bartender, appreciated the risk-taking. "Lionel Richie would be happy (with that)."
* Jason Castro finally took the judges' advice and survived without his guitar. He performed "Hallelujah," which was written/arranged in 1984 but is more recently remembered as part of the first "Shrek" soundtrack (2001). "It was a tall order, but I give you props for coming out without the guitar," Randy said. Simon thought it was the strongest performance so far and that Jason is getting "better and better." "It was absolutely brilliant what you did."
* Chikezie put me to sleep (sorry dude) with an uber-slow version of "All the Man That I Need," a song recorded by Whitney Houston and Sister Sledge. Randy and Paula were on board with it, but Simon didn't think it worked at all, handing out his first "cabaret" reference of the night. "Not a smart move," he said.
Overall, Randy thought the guys were much better than last week, and I agree. But two of them have to go. My predictions: Luke and Danny with Chikeze a possibility if Danny has a strong enough fan base.
Tonight? The Top 10 gals perform (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40). Have you got all the blondes straight?