‘American Idol’ finalists channel their inner rock stars; some shine, some stumble.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

‘American Idol’ finalists channel inner rock stars

NEW YORK — The “American Idol” finalists channeled their inner rock stars Tuesday. The result? Some shone. Some stumbled.

The remaining four singers performed duets along with their solos on the rock-themed show.

The pairing of Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta yielded glowing reviews by the judges’ panel.

“In the battle of the duets, you win the show tonight,” Simon Cowell declared after the duo’s electric rendition of the Foghat classic “Slow Ride.”

Cowell said Lambert might have given his 17-year-old duet partner a chance to stay in the competition. The 27-year-old theater actor hugged Iraheta, saying: “This is like my little sister, kinda.”

Danny Gokey and Kris Allen performed “Renegade” by Styx. Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi enjoyed their harmonizing; Cowell, judging them individually, said Gokey bested Allen, who seemed overshadowed by the song.

Cowell saved harsher jabs for Allen’s solo performance. The Arkansas heartthrob sang the Beatles’ “Come Together,” and Cowell compared his cover to “eating ice for lunch.” Meaning, it leaves “you with nothing to remember afterward,” he said.

Allen — who’s more Jason Mraz than Axl Rose — appears much more at home playing acoustic guitar than he did jamming with guest mentor Slash at the Roxy in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Lambert one-upped his competitors yet again. DioGuardi crowned Lambert a “rock god” following his rousing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” that showed off his signature banshee howl.

“The problem is, nobody can top that now,” Cowell said.

The judges mostly agreed that Iraheta should have picked another song besides Janice Joplin’s “Cry Baby.” The singing prodigy explained that another Joplin classic, “Piece of My Heart,” had been done before and she was really feeling “Cry Baby.”

A goofy grin on her face, Iraheta playfully needled Cowell: “You’re always saying I don’t talk enough, so maybe I should just talk a lot!”

Gokey, 28, of Milwaukee, also defended his performance. He stepped out of his soft pop-soul comfort zone to perform “Dream On” by Aerosmith. While Jackson gave his rendition an “A-plus for valiant effort,” Cowell said Gokey’s final note “was like watching a horror movie.”

“I don’t think it was as bad as they said it was,” Gokey said before halfheartedly conceding: “I’ll try better next time.”

Gokey and the rest of the finalist will discover their fate on Wednesday’s results show, and the two-part finale is just two weeks away.

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