Danny Gokey

The final showdown

Many people had been predicting a showdown between Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert in the "American Idol" finals (8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday on Fox). One person -- Simon Cowell, no less -- predicted Gokey would win.

Now, instead, he's out and Kris Allen is in the finals. Why? In the story below, Gokey says it might have been "the scream" that doomed him; Justin Guarini guesses that Gokey and Lambert split the older voters, while Allen had most of the little girls.

A great "Idol" moment

Even on a show that tries endlessly to manufacture emotion, nothing can match the real thing. The final moments tonight were "American Idol" at its best.

Here was Danny Gokey, a man who had entered the competition shortly after the death of his wife. Buoyant, outgoing, he was immensely likable. And the song he sang (wonderfully) at the end was perfect for this widower -- "You Are So Beautiful."

Danny had picked out that song for Tuesday's performance, a great choice. Paula Abdul had picked his other song, an awful choice.

Hey dude, they HAVE a piano player

On a night filled with great "American Idol" performances, the only mistakes came when people didn't do enough to show off their talent.
Two judges (Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi) chose "Apologize" for Kris Allen, expecting him to deliver beautifully muted emotion. Instead, he buried himself behind a piano. He played competently; he sang competently. It wasn't the kind of thing to do when everything is at stake; dude, they have plenty of other people to play the piano for you.

"Idol" has homecoming week

This is homecoming night for the final three "American Idol" contestant. We'll see Danny Gokey in Milwaukee and Kris Allen in Arkansas; chances are, crowds will go ga-ga.

And we'll see Adam Lambert in Los Angeles or San Diego. Hopefully, someone will notice.

Being from California sometimes seems like not having a home town at all. We sort of noticed that when Katherine McPhee returned to LA in 2006; it was the exact opposite of the civic glee that greeted Taylor Hicks in Alabama.

Allison is still a rock star

Allison Iraheta is an amazing show-business package. Look past the surface -- the big hair, the bigger voice and the leather jackets -- and you have someone who just turned 17, by way of 13. She's the kewpie doll of rock, Shirley Temple gone punk. And she has the voice to match the flash and flair.

Now, inexplicably, she's gone. Allison never seemed to engage the little girls with telephones. She spent a lot of time in the bottom two or three, then was bounced tonight.

Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

A fun night of ragged rock 'n' roll

This is what rock 'n' roll is supposed to be -- ragged, raw, rough and full of zest.

It was "American Idol" rock night, with an added element: Part of the set had almost crashed down before the show; as a result, no one had a run-through performance. You kind of expected it all to end with the phantom swinging down on a chandelier.

Hey, rock isn't about run-throughs. It's supposed to be fun and flawed. Here are a few of my comments, please add yours:

Adam in the bottom two? No way

Adam Lambert near the bottom in "American Idol?" Don't even toy with me on that.

There he was, alongside Matt Giraud in the bottom two. Adam looked calm on the outside; inside, he must have been as upset as I was.

Sure, I know there's a reason for it. Various idiots -- like, well, me (see previous blog) -- keep speculating on who will finish second to Adam this season. People start trying to choose; they assume he'll sail through.

Liars, liars, liars

Maybe I should have realized that magazine covers aren't always truthful. In his autobiography, David Brown admitted writing the cover blurbs for Cosmopolitan (which his wife, Helen Gurley Brown, edited) without bothering to read the stories.

Still, I fell for it again. There was TV Guide, with a cover photo of Simon Cowell and the giant yellow headline: "Why I'm Leaving Idol."

"Idol": OK is no longer OK

So they announced that everyone on tonight's "American Idol" would sing songs from the year of their birth. Danny Gokey started by singing "Stand By Me," the 1961 classic.

1961? Wait, is this guy 48 years old?

It turns out that Mickey Gilley happened to record it in 1980, the year of Gokey's birth. Sure, that's what we think of whenever someone mentions Ben E. King's soulful classic -- some guy in a Stetson sang it in Pasadena, Texas.

A weird night of "Idol"

This was a strange night of "American Idol," throwing away all the usual patterns.

Usually, the show is all about balance -- boy-girl, loud-soft, good-bad. Not this time. It started and ended with women -- fresh, fierce work by Lil Rounds and Alexis Grace; that left the middle with eight men and only three women. It started with seven songs the judges loved -- then three they didn't -- then three more good ones.

It was all odd, but interesting. Here are a few of my comments and then my should-go, will-go. Please add yours: