AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 — Contestants Work Hard for the Money on Disco Night

There were some nice surprises tonight but waaayy too much Donna Summer. I get it, she’s the queen of disco but the way I remember it (yes, I was alive in the ’70s), there were lots of fun disco songs sung by many different artists. Why no love for KC & the Sunshine Band? Couldn’t get clearance for ABBA?

Lil went first and I was glad because we got the bad stuff out of the way. She sang Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and just couldn’t seem to get a firm grasp on it. Her performances seem to get more panicky every week as she gets more confused about what her stage persona should be. She tried to pump up the crowd, flinging her notes all over the place, and ended up giving a wild performance but not in a good way. Kara said it best when she said Lil seems to be every woman but herself. Lil responded by saying how much fun she had but that’s no excuse for detonating a huge stink bomb on stage.

Kris went next and, whoo! He surprised me again by continuing to make the most original song choices in the competition. Following last week’s “Falling Slowly,” which had never been done on Idol before, Kris took Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” and poured some salsa on it. And it worked! He completely reinvented the song, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, stripping the song of its disco feel and giving it a mild Latin flavor instead. This kid has chutzpah and I like him.

Danny followed with Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” and gave another solid, if unexceptional, performance. He was on key, even on the higher notes, and his gravelly voice added the right amount of soul. He also kept his chicken dancing under control, which was good.

Allison sang another Donna Summer song, “Hot Stuff,” which neatly labeled her own performance. This teen really is hot stuff when she’s on stage. Such control and power! The judges seem so sure Adam and Danny are going to be in the finals but Allison deserves a spot, too.

Then it’s Adam’s turn. Seeing him in the suit got my hopes up since the last time he wore one, he struck gold with his aching version of “Tracks of My Tears.” He announced he would sing Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You,” which I like (I’ll admit it—I like most of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack). But I got confused when the music started slowly and then I realized he was turning it into a ballad! I prefer Adam to slow things down because he’s less shrieky that way but I didn’t want him to slow down this song because I like it uptempo! His vocals were impressive but tonight he reminded me of Sam Harris, the first Star Search winner in the singing competition. Harris was also a very talented singer with the ability to effortlessly hit high notes but ended up doing a lot of musical theater and never made it big as a recording artist. I’m afraid Adam’s headed in the same direction.

Matt followed with “Stayin’ Alive,” and, like Allison, his song title described his own performance. This was better than last week’s but it came across like a desperate attempt to stay alive in this competition. He was trying to bring disco back like JT brought sexy back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t great and I’d put money on him going home tomorrow.

Anoop closed out the show with the third Summer song of the evening, “Dim All the Lights.” It started out slowly and I thought, “A ha! He didn’t take the disco bait and is keeping it sloooow!” The song then picked up the pace a bit but stayed in Anoop’s comfort zone, veering nowhere near the scary “Beat It” territory of a few weeks back. He was in tune but overall, the performance was very safe and didn’t give me any chills, which I seriously needed in this sweltering L.A. heat.

So, best for me tonight were Kris and Allison. Who’d you vote for? Did you think Kris and Adam succeeded in reinventing their disco selections? Who’s going home tomorrow? Discuss below!



  • Reply
    Steve Mackel
    April 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Good critique. I only follow one AI blog but he hates Danny so I think I’ll add yours. I can only hope for Adam, Alison, Danny and Kris to be in the top 4. I wish they still had the save. We’ll see tomorrow

    • Reply
      April 21, 2009 at 11:40 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Welcome and thanks for your comment. I agree with all your top 4 choices. Early on, I thought Danny had it sown up but the other 3 are really gaining momentum. Should be a tight race to the finish.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2009 at 11:11 am


    I loved Kris, Allison and somehow Adam, although it also freaked me out that he slowed down the song so much. I think Danny’s growing on me, but he doesn’t quite convince me yet (but I do think he should be top 4); and I felt his “September” very uninteresting.

    I think Lil is way past overdue in the show, and though Matt and Anoop are gaining strength, I think the other four have left them far behind.

    My two cents.

    Regards from Mexico.

    • Reply
      April 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm

      Hola Poncho!

      Bienvenido. Looks like you pretty much feel the same way Steve and I do about who should be the top 4.

      Can you vote from Mexico? Do those 866 numbers work?

      • Reply
        April 22, 2009 at 3:32 pm

        Thanks for the welcome. And nope, those numbers don’t work at all. In fact, I watch the performances ahead of their screen time in the AI webpage (they don’t play them ’till they’re subtitled, you know? And that is until Saturday evening), so I can’t vote.

        We can just vote on Latin American Idol which airs about when AI ends each year. But last year sucked big time! -at least in contrast to a year before which was amazing.

        Anyway, AI’s just a hobby for me. Maybe too much of it I might say. I guess I’m a pop culture nerd as well!

        • Reply
          April 22, 2009 at 4:01 pm


          Su Ingles es excelente. Estudie Espanol en la universidad por 5 anos pero no lo practico. Entonces, no puedo recordar mucho. Mucho gusto un otro pop culture nerd! (Lo siento si hay errors.)

  • Reply
    April 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Disco night is rarely fun for me. It’s always just a bit off, but I like what Kris Allen did with She Works Hard for The Money. Didn’t care for what Adam did. I think he was trying to recreate the magic he grabbed with Mad World.

    What Allison did with Hot Stuff was perfect because it felt nasty and kitschy at the same time.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Something Adam has going for him (besides a ton of raw talent) is that he doesn’t do the distracting hand gestures the other contestants like to do

    • Reply
      April 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm

      Yes, I will agree with you on that point. Danny’s the worst offender when it comes to hand gestures while singing.

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