American Idol's annual "Songs from the year contestants were born" episode became a tribute to the music of the Eighties last night, since that's the decade seven of the eight remaining finalists were spawned (the lone holdout was Allison Iraheta, who was born in the Nineties — that's right, not a single singer from the 1970s, people). Sadly, the hopefuls stayed pretty middle-of-the-road with their selections and wardrobe, though Scott MacIntyre tackled Survivor. And once again, the show ran long (after eight seasons, they can't figure out how to time this thing?), meaning the last few contestants got one-line speed-round judging commentary — let's keep that format! — and anyone who TiVo or DVR'd the ep missed Adam Lambert, which was a shame since ...
Ones to Watch:
• Of course Adam Lambert performed the version of Tears for Fears' 1982 song "Mad World" as it appeared on the soundtrack to broody film Donnie Darko by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews. It's a stunning cover, and Lambert's rendition brought Simon Cowell to his feet. It's just a shame nobody started a "slow clap."
• The night's other judge standing-O went to Matt Giraud for his Justin Timberlakian take on Stevie Wonder's "Part-Time Lover." He obeyed their instructions and went back to soul, riffing his little heart out.
• Allison Iraheta's version of Bonnie Raitt's 1992 "I Can't Make You Love Me" made the judges compare her to Kelly Clarkson and beg her to talk more. Perhaps they're forgetting the first episode of the finals, when she made an awkward remark about cutting. Best to keep quiet, young Allison.
• We fail to see what was so awe-inspiring about Danny Gokey's gospel spin on "Stand By Me." Gokey = still baffling.
• Anoop Desai has the same birthday as David Cook and a weird compulsion to apologize for no reason (Kara accused you of being a frat stooge, bro — you were entitled to flick her off). His "True Colors" made the judges proud, but was still a bit dull.
• Kris Allen's judging for "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" included Kara telling him it sounded like "jazz-funk homework" and a fan yelling "you're hot!" during Simon's criticism. Both of those moments were more exciting than his actual performance.
Ones to Remove From Your Memory With Bleach:
• Lil Rounds, you are killing us. Rounds' take on Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It" lacked all the original's grit and grace — she can still sing, but she's likely running out of time.
Thanks for the Memories:
• Scott MacIntyre, we salute you and your guitar playing on "The Search Is Over." If only you hadn't said "It's my punk side coming out."