American Idol Season 8 has finally reached the Top Five. With Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai gone, it’s a solid group, with three that I rather like (Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen), one that I don’t (Matt Giraud) and one that can really sing but bores me (Danny Gokey).
The theme this week is standards made famous by the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop). It’s not clear exactly what this means.
At one time or another, Sinatra recorded just about every song ever written. Does the theme include the honorary female Rat Pack members like Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, Angie Dickinson and Judy Garland? And why did the American Idol press release neglect to mention Lawford and Bishop?
In any case, it certainly means a universe of great songs. One of the strengths of the American Standard is that its songs can be interpreted in so many ways. The trick will be to make them sound current.
This might be a good week for Matt, as he has more of the Rat Pack vibe than anyone else in the Top Five. He should put on one of those hats he loves so much and sing “Chicago”, popularized by both Frank and Sammy.
This is a hard week for Danny, as “cool” ain’t his vibe. He does like songs with an uplifting message, so he should perform “Pick Yourself Up”, which at one time or another has been performed by everyone from Anita O’Day to Tito Puente.
I’m envisioning something along Diana Krall’s relatively recent (and slow) version.
Another potentially tough week for Allison, as women were mostly window dressing for the Rat Pack. Her voice has more in common with Dean Martin’s than any of the guys, but I have a hard time finding a match stylistically from Dean’s songs.
She really needs to go the blues direction. Perhaps “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” might work. But, I’m thinking she should do a rock-ballad version of “Blues in the Night”.
Not nearly as cool-challenged as Danny, Kris’ choices are fairly wide open. I’d like to see him perform “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, also performed by Frank and Sammy. I think he can bring a modern flair to it.
One of David Cook’s most entertaining performances from last year was during the Andrew Lloyd Webber week. He took “The Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera” and performed it completely straight, without any of the rocker rewrites he had been making for weeks.
I think Adam should do something similar this week. Take one of these great old songs, and just knock it out of the park with a traditional interpretation. “Young at Heart” would be perfect.
Maybe the producers will let him take a martini glass up on stage with him.
Wednesday’s results show will include a performance by season-five winner Taylor Hicks. He will sing “Seven Mile Breakdown” from his recent independently released album, “The Distance”.