American Idol Goes Rock of Ages

alisonrockAdam Lambert hit rock bottom last week, or at least the bottom three, as America proved it is still incapable of voting with any sense of logic, mostly. It’s about as big of an accident as the one Ryan Seacrest alluded to during the opening of Tuesday’s “American Idol.” The set was falling, and it fit right in with the rock vibe this week. Slash was in town, attempting to kick ass with the top four.

Wails. Riffs. Leather. The only thing missing that could have authenticated a true rock and roll theme was some type of drug binge. It was the era of Woodstock, Hendrix and Joplin, after all. Of course, that wouldn’t be safe family fare, so that scenario will have to remain a pipe dream.

Adam kicked off the night with a high-octane Led Zeppelin classic, “Whole Lotta Love.” There was some major glam going on and Adam easily shot down the competition. He’s no Robert Plant, at least not the Plant of the Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham era, but I’d pay to hear Adam tear down the walls of any venue if he keeps up the energetic performances. The big question is, can he top that intensity next week? I’m thinking so.

This was also the week for Allison Iraheta to shine since she always looks the rocker part. There was no fooling around as she kept the classic train chugging along with Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby.” The problem is, when thinking of Janis, it’s hard to separate the iconic voice from the songs, and Alison hasn’t chugged enough booze to cut up her vocals enough. Copycat is not the way to go, but something fierce needs to happen when channeling the iconic rock chick, and it wasn’t happening for Alison this week.

rockduetAnd then there were two, on stage at the same time. Danny Gokey and Kris Allen knocked out a duet, 1980’s style. It was a milk toast take on “Renegade,” but kudos for picking Styx. Adam and Allison’s tag team of “Slow Ride” fared much better, but not enough to warrant any further duet segments. “Idol” producers need to ditch the new format. It’s far too cheesy.

Slash and Kris came together and tried putting a hard edge on the Beatles, but seeing Kris try rocking out bordered on bizarre. He can’t escape the adult contemporary label. Instead of trying to shake things up, he should stick with light tempo tunes. That’s where he works best. Leave the hard-edged stuff to the real talent, like Adam.

Big and loud were the missing factors from Danny’s take on “Dream On.” The song starts out with a simmer but quickly swells to a full-blown boil and is topped off by that classic Steven Tyler scream. Danny opted to throw a random scat in the middle, which was just awkward. But, he did yelp at the end. That’s something, at least, but not enough to come off as credible. Danny’s a soul man, like Kris is an acoustic kid. It’s not always wise to defy music logic.

Save for Adam’s always-stellar performance, “American Idol” failed to capture that classic rock energy it was shooting for. America would be better served by heading to Broadway’s now Tony Award nominated “Rock of Ages” for a true taste of all things electric guitar and big hair.

Photos by Ray Mickshaw/FOX


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