Pop Life

Idol Beat: The Final 36, Group 2

There were a few seconds during the Rolling Stones' 2006 Super Bowl halftime performance where formaldehyded guitarist Keith Richards let his inner demon peek out. I can't remember for the life of me which song the band was playing, but Richards let loose with a bit of gnarly fret nastiness where he could've played it straight; it was a quick, effective display of virtuosity, a reminder that dude could've run away with the entire mini-set if he'd so chose.

On last night's American Idol, Criss Angel lookalike Adam Lambert worked a similar angle, only in reverse. Covering the Stones' "Satisfaction," the Hollywood native opened his can of whup-ass all the bloody way, carving up the rock and roll staple like Emeril laying waste to a succulent turkey: running stunning falsetto and bass circles around the central vocal melody and crack backing band, working the audience like a seasoned pro, and generally just taking no-sweat ownership of that song in a way I'd never borne witness to before.

Of course, this episode-stealing whipsong - which may result in me accepting Ryan Seacrest's offer to buy an Idol performance via iTunes, something I never thoughr I'd actually consider - arrived at the tail end of a string of performances so unimpressive that I almost caught myself rooting for Nick fucking Mitchell. Yep, it was that kind of night, that kind of group; thank God we've got Lil Rounds and Nathanial Marshall fighting for their 15 minutes next week.

The poor-song-choice theme carried over from last week, with Matt Giraud huffing, puffing, and sucking his way through Coldplay's "Viva la Vida," Jazmine Murray - who apparently thought she'd be an extra in a Madonna video set in a nightclub - further demonstrating why "Love Song" shouldn't be an Idol standard, and Kai Kalama pulling a karaoke boner with "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted." I could go on, but I won't.

I'm repulsed and intrigued by Mishavonna Henson's weirdly structured face and pug nose; she's like a living caricature.

Notice how whenever Paula Abdul yammers on and on, time almost stands still?

Nick Mitchell: because America needed an affected, Sammy Davis Jr-esque version of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," complete with context-specific adlibs, at this time of national crisis.

If Jessie Langseth somehow manages to stay in this competition, I may have to kill myself. I can't stomach her Jeanine Garafolo/Kelsey-from-Project Runway snark, and she loses points for wearing a Lisa Bonet hat in her pre-performance package.

Also, Kai Kalama? Wearing a dread cap when you don't have any dreads is bullshit.

WE JUST WEREN'T THAT INTO YOU: Jasmine Murray, Matt Giraud, Jeanine Vailes, Jessie Langseth, Kai Kalama.

MAYBE, MAYBE: Nick Mitchell, Matt Breitzke, Mishavonna Henson, Megan Joy Corkrey.

COME AND ROCK THE SURE SHOT: Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta.

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Ray Cummings