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May 6, 2009
'American Idol': Rock and wrong?


Well, I predicted it would take a major disaster happening to the Nokia Theatre for Adam Lambert to lose "American Idol,", but I don't think one of the big clunky "Idol" towers almost hitting the stage before rehearsals counts.

It was Rock Week this week, and last night it almost didn't seem like a level singing field - with Adam and Allison Iraheta rocking it out and Danny Gokey and Kris Allen being totally out of their musical comfort zones.

Unlike Jamie Foxx, who was a strong mentor last week, Slash, the legendary former Guns N' Roses guitarist, showed about as much interest in the "Idols" as I would watching people balance cups and saucers on their heads.

He lured the foursome to the Roxy on the Sunset Strip to show off his guitars and hear what they planned to sing. By the way, all the songs had to be released before 1979. That's "Idol's" cut-off year for rock.

I've been waiting for duets since Season 2. And last night we got 'em. How the show decided who would sing with who is uncertain. Did they draw straws, flip coins? It certainly was obvious that Adam and Allison (pictured) would have a distinct advantage over Kris and Danny. And they did.

However, viewers didn't get phone numbers or text numbers for the duets. The judges did get to give their two cents' worth. Here's how it broke down.

* Adam: His solo was a no-brainer. Led Zeppelin's classic "Whole Lotta Love" was a "whole lotta perfect," according to Paula Abdul. He growled the low notes and nailed the high notes. Kara DioGuardi said it was classic rock/glam rock. And Simon Cowell pretty much dashed everyone else's hopes by saying, "Nobody can top that now."

* Allison: She sang Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby," and the judges weren't wowed by the song choice because of its lack of melody. (They would have preferred Joplin's "Piece of My Heart.") Randy Jackson said it was missing the range, but Simon gave her props for gaining her confidence back. While the critiques weren't glowing, they were better than you might think.

* Kris: He was definitely going with something by the Beatles. Originally it was "Revolution," which, after hearing him sing "Come Together," would have been a better song choice - for me. Kara thought it was the "softer side of rock" and that he was trying too hard. Paula thought it was "artistic." And Simon, well he said it was like "eating ice for lunch. It leaves you with nothing to remember afterward." But was it worse than ...

* Danny: AHHHH!! "Dream On" was on Aerosmith's debut album (1973), and no one is going to hit that high note at the end except Steven Tyler or a cat screeching for its life. Unfortunately, the build-up to the note was all I could think about so I kind of got lost in the rest of the song. (And, on a fashion note, was that a vest Danny was wearing?) Randy said this wasn't Danny's genre either, but Kara thought he took the swagger from last week and added some edge. Simon tackled the last note attempt saying it was "like watching a horror movie - 'Friday the 13th - but I think you'll be safe."

As for the duets, Kris and Danny performed "Renegade" by Styx. I didn't like the song in 1978, and I wasn't particularly impressed by their version last night. Again, this just isn't their strong suit and they didn't seem comfortable though Randy liked the harmonies. Again, it was a major advantage for Adam - and especially Allison - to end the show with Foghat's "Slow Ride," one of my faves from the 1970s. Adam pulled Allison into her comfort zone. Randy said they should do the duet on their albums. Kara called them "rock god and rock goddess" and Paula said they were totally in-sync. Simon declared they won the battle of the duets, adding, "Adam, you've given this one (Allison) a chance to stay in."

Predictions? Unless Kris's fan base unites 'round the world, it's likely he'll exit. Danny's fan base is very strong, and he can rebound with whatever they throw at him next week. Allison's strong performances, in particular the finale, should keep her safe. And Adam should steer clear of teetering towers.

Daughtry, No Doubt and Slash will perform on tonight's live results show (9 p.m., FOX40).

In other "Idol" news, Season 4's rocker Constantine Maroulis (remember his Queen masterpiece?) is the first contestant to be nominated for a Tony Award. It's for his performance in Broadway's "Rock of Ages" musical. It would have been nice to have seen him on the show this year. But Daughtry is a bonus!

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