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TV Recap: American Idol – Boys Night – 8 For 80s

On a night that featured the contestants’ embarrassing confessions, here’s one of my own: I love 80s music. I caught a lot of crap for my 1970s bashing last week, so I’m here profess my love for the decade of Reagan and John Hughes. No matter how cheesy the pop gets, or how much synth is in the song tonight, I probably know every word. And as much as I’ll try to focus on the music tonight, I can’t ignore the fact that the Idol talk this week has more about male stripping, Facebook pictures, and punk-rock rants. But enough about the gossip, let’s get to the songs, because tonight is the last boy/girl night before the merge to make the final 12.

Luke Menard – His embarrassing moment is that his sister dressed him like a girl. He sings “Wake Mo Up Before You Go Go,” and he’s singing it like he still has the tutu on they showed in his baby picture. He sounds like he’s in one of those Disney World reviews you see with local high school kids dancing in union (Embarrassing confession #2: I was in one of those, so I know from experience), and his cheesy smile is not helping. Luke is coming off cornier than a movie theater floor. Randy says he rushed it, but also drops a “corny, Paula is surprised about the song choice, but liked his interpretation, and Simon unload on Luke by calling the performance “weak and girly.” I thought he should have been voted off last week anyway, so it’s no surprise that I’ll say it again. Go home, Luke, and take your barrettes with you.

David Archuleta- His embarrassing moment was he went to Honduras and his mom finished a song for him when he lost his voice. He has obviously improved since then, so there is no fear Mom will be popping up any time soon. He sings “Another Day In Paradise,” and, amazingly, it’s actually better than Phil Collins’s nasal original. Starting at the piano is a nice touch, and being able to move seamlessly from it is a good move as well. How can Luke think he even has a chance this week when watching David? This is the first time this season that there’s a good performance in the first 15 minutes of the show. Randy calls it nice, Paula says it was good even when he hit bad notes because it shows he’s human, and Simon thinks David has to stop being so emo, and should be more cheery. I think it’s smart that he goes for sad songs, since he can’t stop smiling all the time.

Danny Noriega - His most embarrassing moment was falling down in front of his biggest crush. Will we ever find out who she (or he) is? Probably not. Anyway, he sings “Tainted Love.” He hits a good note about a minute in, but then it takes him a few seconds to recover from it. “Tainted Love” is always a big karaoke song, so I’m impressed that Danny manages not to turn it into a “drunk girl at the bar” performance. Randy says he started out shy, but it came around, Paula calls him a bright light in the show, and Simon says he thought it was horrible. Horrible is a little strong. It’s good enough for this week, and I will embrace my metrosexuality and endorse Danny’s purple highlights. He’s not going to make the Top Five, but he’ll definitely make it to the final 12 and the tour that comes with it.

David Hernandez I won’t even mention his embarrassing moment, because after pictures of him showed up as a male stripper on TMZ today, whatever he says on TV about “embarrassing” is pretty irrelevant. He sings “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” This is probably the weakest Jim Steinman’s long-title ballads, and David doesn’t do anything with it to dissuade that opinion. This is way too much like a Star Search audition, with someone over-killing every note to prove their range. Immediately following the performance Simon can be heard saying something that ended with what sounded like “strip to that” (Check your DVRs like I did, it’s there). Randy likes it but thought he overshot the song, Paula says he’s getting into a groove, and Simon says it wasn’t as good as last week, but he’s in the finals, although Simon’s comments under his breath about stripping will probably make some news this week. I think David is going to be voted out, not because of the stripping thing or his singing, but because his song choice was so weak. I’m sure that even Meat Loaf would drop that song from his tour if he had a choice.

Michael Johns - His embarrassing moment is when he was dressed as a kangaroo in a theme park and got tackled. He sings “Don’t You Forget About Me,” which is one of my fav 80s songs. He actually manages to take most of the 80s out of it, and make it a modern ballad. He totally listened to a lot of INXS back in his native Australia, because the last minute of the song is a pure Michael Hutchence impression. Michael’s mike technique definitely helps him too. Randy makes the Hutchence comparison, and loves the song choice, Paula likes the strength of his voice, and Simon likes it but he thinks Michael hasn’t had his moment. I think Michael is destined for the Top 5.

David Cook – His embarrassing moment was he forgot the second verse of a song once, which I would avoided telling on Idol because I’m afraid of jinxes. He sings “Hello” alone on the guitar. David, you are a braver man than I am. It starts out a little week, but when the band kicks in, it steadily improves. His voice is really strong, and the electric guitar sounds great both in the quiet and the rock-out moments. He turns a Lionel Ritche ballad and made it into a rocker love song. This could be my favorite song of the night because of the originality. Randy wants to make it a single right now and drops the “emo” tag on it, Paula thinks it was fabulous, and Simon says it was a brave choice and he loved it. I would not be surprised if it rocks the Itunes chart by the end of the week.

Jason Castro – His embarrassing moment on a date was when his dreds came apart while on a date. I thin it’s more embarrassing that someone still thinks dreds are a good look for national television. Seriously, when do the pot smoking pics start appearing on MySpace pages and gossip blogs? He sings “Hallelujah” The smartest move he makes tonight is not to play along with the song on his guitar. I was thinking he wouldn’t be able to perform without it on the show. He knows exactly when the vocals should have power and when they should be quiet. His voice runs out of steam right before the end and it almost costs him. Randy gives him points for difficulty, Paula likes that he’s shows he vulnerability, and Simon says it was brilliant and one of the best of the night. Jason is getting better with camera eye contact and his interviews, but he’s got to lay off the weed.

Chikeze - His most embarrassing moment was using the women’s bathroom. He sings “She’s All The Woman I Need” which is a man-ified version of a Whitney Houston song. It starts out a little shaky but when he hits the chorus he really hits a stride. I also like his eye contact with the camera. He pulls off the cool soul-singer thing which audiences loves. Randy is impressed with the song choice, Paula says she proud of him, and Simon says comparing if he’s comparing to Whitney Houston, then it’s not good and not a smart move. But Chikeze brings up the point that it’s not just a Whitney Houston song, and that it’s been done a bunch of times by other people. This little speech by Chikeze could be what saves him, since it deflates Simon’s argument pretty well. Randy think Chikeze deserves a spot next week, but I think he’s on the bubble.

Best of the Night – David Cook, David Archuleta, Jason Castro

See Ya – Luke & David H. (because he picked a crummy song, not really for his singing)