Singing hit songs from the 1970s disco era, “American Idol” finalists really turned up the heat April 21. The remaining “Idol” finalists continue to prove they’re one of the most gifted bunch of young rising stars, perhaps the best talent the popular television show has ever had.

One of the best and most memorable performances was Kris Allen’s version of “She Works Hard For Her Money” by Donna Summers. The most impressive thing about Allen’s set was the awesome musical ensemble accompanying him on stage. Allen played the guitar and his musical arrangement was right on. The chemistry he had with the other musicians really shined and his soft vocals were unique, original and masterful. Allen by far was the best performance of the night and his artistry really came through. Well done Mr. Allen, well done.

Another favorite was Allison Iraheta’s version of “Hot Stuff,” also by Summers. Iraheta looked hip, fresh and stylish. She continues to grow as a performer showcasing star appeal and great stage presence. Her vocal maturity is amazing and her performance was passionate, bluesy and highlighted her rocker edge authenticity, a big plus. Two thumbs up for the youngest and only Latina on the show. “Si se puede.”

Not one of my favorites, Adam Lambert’s version of “If I Can’t Have You,” from the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, was nice and different. The suit Lambert was wearing looked a little strange with bulging shoulder pads that made him look too stiff. Lambert continues to impress audiences and made the song cry with emotion. Nevertheless Lambert’s musical theater past makes his performances a bit melodramatic yet his vocal range and unique interpretations really make their mark. Overall Lambert’s version was bittersweet and the arrangement was original. He definitely gets props.

Danny Gokey picked up the tempo with Earth Wind & Fire’s “September.” Gokey was soulful and his musical vibes were good. Overall it was a solid performance but Gokey lacks star appeal and needs to work on his stage presence. His energy was high but it comes off to uncontrolled and Gokey’s focus gets lost. Despite his shortcomings, Gokey made it work and his performance was fun and spirited. Gokey will probably be safe this week.

Here are my not so good performances this week and my bottom three.

Anoop Desai sang “Dim All The Lights.” It was an interesting song choice but was not his best performance. He was even a bit pitchy at times. Overall his performance was mediocre at best. Desai is really talented and is very likable but he needs to be right on when choosing a song. I think he’ll be safe but will probably end up in the bottom three again this week. It’s questionable how long he will last as the competition narrows down.

Another poor performance was Matt Giraud’s version of “Stayin’ Alive,” by the Bee Gees. To start it was a bad song choice and too fast tempo for a voice like Girauds. Overall he did not show enough vocal range and even though the end of the performance was good he failed to execute. Last week the judges saved Giraud from being booted out by American voters. His performance this week proves that maybe the voters at home know what’s best. Sorry Matt, just saying.

Lastly there was Lil Rounds who sang, “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan. I think it was a good song choice but Rounds didn’t come close to pulling it off. Once again she lacked any emotional connection to the lyrics. The arrangement was bad and too fast. She came off screaming at times. The band behind her was also too loud and Rounds was all over the place. I don’t think she acquires much star appeal and has issues with her stage presence. I hate to say it but I think Rounds will be singing her last song this week.

So there you have it. I think Desai, Giraud and Rounds will find themselves in the bottom three this week and I predict Rounds and Giraud will be voted off. Since Giraud was saved form being voted off last week, two Idol singers have to go this week. Desai (Anoop-dog) is really talented and I like his personality but he needs to be extremely smart if he plans on surviving. He too might be singing his last song this week. The race for the boot this week is close and any of these three could be out.

But by far Allen, Iraheta and Lambert, I predict, at this point, will be the final three competing for the gold in the next several weeks. Gokey continues to be in limbo for me. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Stay tuned.

plozano @ pww.org

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