"Idol": some mixed Motown moments


It was the right advice tonight on "American Idol," even if it was given to the wrong person.

You can't just choose a great song, the judges said. You need one that lets you stand out. There has to be enough space to do something special; you need room to make moments.

As it happens, they were saying that to Lil Rounds, to whom few rules need apply. She chose "Heat Wave," a bullet train of a song; all the singer can do is run at top speed, jump on and hang tight. Fortunately, Rounds is good enough to do that; she nailed it.

Others, however, could have used that advice. There was Danny Gokey with "Get Ready," Michael Sarver with "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," Scott MacIntyre with "You Can't Hurry Love" and (rather horribly) Megan Joy with "For Once in My Life." These are great songs by (mostly) fine singers; there just wasn't much room for the singers to seem special.

Then what did I like tonight? There was:

-- Adam Lambert, once again. After all those Goth weeks, he came out looking like early John Stamos and singing ("Track of My Tears") like a current edition of Smokey Robinson. This guy is a consummate performer.

-- Anoop Desai. On consecutive weeks, he's done the classic ballads of Willie and Smokey, nailing them both.

-- Lil Rounds and Allison Iraheta. They didn't make their own moments, but they rode great songs (Allison did "Papa Was a Rolling Stone") skillfully.

A few other comments; please add yours:

1) Although I generally oppose government intervention in esthetic matters, it wouldn't be unreasonable to pass a law banning Paula Abdul's poofy skirt.

2) Everything they said about the Motown museum in Detroit is true. Go there this year, during the label's 50th anniversary. You'll marvel at the great music made in small spaces; you'll even visit the tiny apartment where Berry Gordy lived while making music history.

3) For this week, I think Megan Joy should and will go. Michael Sarver could also be vulnerable, but he brings a sort of decent-guy vibe when he takes the criticism calmly. Sarver is a good-looking guy; Joy is an immensely beautiful woman. With this voting block, however, hot-babe rarely translate into votes.