A solid evening for almost everyone -- so why wasn't I more excited by any of the performances? My favorite moment -- by far -- was the cheesey scene at Graceland where impresario Tommy Mottola was standing by the piano chatting with a musician when the Idols walk in and Mottola turns around as if he wasn't expecting them. Oh, are you here? I hadn't noticed the cameras filming me or the lights and I had no idea you were about to walk into the room. Hilarious.
Taylor -- his best evening yet and the first one that makes me think he could put it together at the finale to beat Chris. "Jailhouse Rock" WAS karaoke, but fun karaoke. (And whoever told Taylor he could dance was crazy.) But good. "In The Ghetto," was much much better. I think it's the first quiet song that Taylor's nailed -- the first time he's basically stood still and sung a song and delivered.
Chris -- "Suspicious Minds" was a great choice and as the song kept going, I was waiting for Christ to let loose. And he never did. A mellow "Suspicious Minds" -- instead of a furious, passion-filled one is not a good idea. Mottola's last words were that Chris needed to really dig deep. He never did. "A Little Less Conversation" was, I thought, a terrible choice. It's a decent, throwaway single but not really a song you want to hear other people perform. But Chris actually did on this number what he should have done with "Suspicious." He was even funky there for a moment and he certainly got as raunchy as "Idol" allows when singing the line "Close your mouth and open up your heart." And then at the end he ripped into it just the way you hoped for. Too bad he blew it at the end with that abrupt howl. Still, two numbers that could have been much better but were still good.
Elliott -- Never been a fan but he's definitely dressing and singing better. (And which is more important? We could debate that for hours.) His first number was a relatively obscure bit of junk that Elvis used to close his shows...in the Seventies. That would be the fat Elvis phase and while he could still sing, he was generally rising above material like this. So did Elliott. It's a bad song, but gave him lots of chances for Idol-like flourishes that fit. "Trouble" was another matter. He delivered it pretty well. But when Elliott sings "I'm evil" or "My middle name is misery" it makes you giggle. He's about as convincing singing the blues as Pat Boone was singing rock n roll. However, these two numbers were a peak for him.
Katharine -- a disaster. "Hound Dog" -- while not quite as bad on a second listen -- was still a mess. She seemed out of breath the entire number and fumbled the lyrics and tried to end with a Wynonna flourish that sounded labored and harsh. "Can't Help Falling In Love" was worse in a way. I can barely remember what song she sang because she's just singing the melody and looking for a chance to vamp -- one song is much the same as the next one to her. And here she ended with a really harsh big note and then a flat finale. I assumed she'd be safe through the next round. But I can't imagine anyone else being cut. Maybe her and Chris in the bottom two?