Pop Life

Idol Beat: The Top Ten

Man, Sarvernator! What happened? When first we met, you were so dope, flexing serious white-soul chops - minus a soul patch - and you had the sort of blue-collar backstory that seemed to make you a lock for the Top Seven or Top Eight. But it turned out that you had an Achilles heel: the audience.

When you sang for the American Idol judges' panel, you were golden; when you had to get up in front of a studio audience and millions of television viewers, the gig was up and you devolved into a smarmy caricature of a karaoke jackass. I haven't the heart to delineate here how pathetic your rendition - more like extraordinary rendition, really - of "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" was on Wednesday night. Simon Cowell can do it for me: "In the real world, that wasn't good enough."

America - if America was honest with itself - will send you packing, Sarvernator. And the judges - who need to use that save soon - won't overturn your dismissal.

In case you weren't paying attention, this is "Motown Week," which is always a trickier proposition than it appears to be because everyone on Earth is so intimately familiar with these hits - from the radio, from commericials - that unless hopefuls can work real magic with them, we're in for two hours of rote cover versions.

During the commercial break before he sang, I found myself praying that Adam Lambert would put his trademark spin on "Tracks of My Tears." Then he actually did, and killed it, bringing "Motown Week" mentor/legend Smokey Robinson to tears and to his feet. Lambert accomplished this without the extravagant falsetto affectations that have characterized earlier performances, instead going for a gilded, oh-so-tender tone that was the pop equivalent of hot, melted butter; it was sort of a "More Than Words" (cf. Extreme) version of this staple. Plus he thought he was Elvis, which helped.

This is where I preemptively declare Season 8 of American Idol over and done. Baring a scandal or a serious misstep, Lambert and Allison Iraheta - who later slew "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" - will be your Top Two, though both are equally deserving of the Season 8 crown. Everybody else is cannon fodder, even Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds, who will probably be the second and third runners-up. They don't stand a blessed chance in Hell, and their appearances more or less are just filler.

In other news:

* These new talking conveyor-oven Quiznos commericals are all kinds of wrong. Must everything be sexualized, somehow?

*Has Smokey Robinson aged really well, is he a believer in clean living, or does he just employ a superb cosmetic surgery team?

*Didn't a Hannah Montana movie just come and go? And now another one, where she has to chose between two dudes or something. They're gonna milk this cow until it's dry, aren't they? Or until Miley Cyrus gets knocked up, or until naked pictures of her show up on Scandalist.

*It's over, Scott MacIntyre. If it isn't, the republic is doomed. Oh, wait: we already are.

*Idol Beat's readership includes a bunch of Bucky Covington fans, it seems. We're sorry to report that Bucky Covington didn't come up at all on last night's episode, and we have no hot new Bucky Covington dish to share here.

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Ray Cummings