published Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Performances up and down on country night


by Phil Stacey

American Idol has gone country, choosing tonight’s songs from the catalogues of the Grand Ole Opry’s members. I have had the honor of singing on the Grand Ole Opry stage several times, a highlight of my career! The Opry has been very good to us Idol alumni. Carrie Underwood was inducted into this exclusive club last year and many of my peers, including Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington and Josh Gracin, are regular guests.

Country night was the week that I feel like I really hit my stride on the show. I obviously have a soft spot for the Opry and country music, having released my first album in the country market. Thanks to all of you who bought the record this week. I re-entered the charts and those who ponder these things attribute it to this blog! Now on to Idol …

Some of tonight’s Idols honored country music’s greatest stage with their performances. Anoop Desai left the silliness and returned to solid singing with Willie Nelson’s “You Are Always On My Mind.” This performance reminded us that he is a great singer. His vocals saved him because if this performance was not great, he probably would have gone home tomorrow.

Allison Iraheta rocked out “Blame It On Your Heart.” I loved her raspy powerful vocals on this song. Thought it was great!

Kris Allen is winning me over, more and more each week. I thought his version of Garth Brooks’ “Make You Feel My Love” was a great song to highlight his talent. It was a simple and nice performance that will definitely carry him through to next week.

Matt Giraud sang Carrie Underwood’s “So Small.” He did a great soulful job but seemed a bit out of breath during the entire performance. I have been a Matt fan from the beginning and tonight is no exception.

Danny Gokey also sang Carrie Underwood. My Christian brother was anointed while singing “Jesus Take the Wheel.” You could tell he was singing from his heart. I don’t see him coming to Nashville for country music, but I hope he does join me in some aspect of the contemporary Christian music scene.

Lil Round and Adam Lambert probably will not be hitting Nashville’s Music Row for a country record deal anytime soon either.

Lil Round was the least comfortable we have seen her all season. She sang Martina McBride’s anthem “Independence Day.” I think there were better songs for her, as did the judges. I am waiting for the season when the “R&B” gal sings Rebecca Lynn Howard’s “Forgive.” LaKisha Jones would have blown it out of the water during my season.

Regarding Adam Lambert’s “Ring of Fire” let me first say that I am a Johnny Cash fan. I live in Johnny Cash’s hometown of Hendersonville, TN. My house is right off of the Johnny Cash Parkway. I just didn’t like this rendition of “Ring of Fire.” Honestly, I felt like Adam knew country wasn’t his thing so he just went completely over the top and a bit gimmicky/ tongue-in-cheek with his performance, ensuring everyone will be talking about him tomorrow. That I can understand and can even respect; his version of “Ring Of Fire” … not so much. I couldn’t imagine him not sailing through.

I think that Scott MacIntyre and Michael Sarver will be in the bottom tomorrow. Both performances were just too forgettable.

So you think anyone from this crop of Idols will end up singing at the Opry? Did you love or hate Adam’s performance? Who do you think did the best tonight?

I will be writing my blog from the road for the next couple of weeks. I am actually on the “American Stars in Concert: Spring Break Tour” with Melinda Doolittle, Gina Glockson and Chikeezie. Check out www.philstacey.com to check out the dates. Hope to see you sometime soon!

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mcline said...

I had mixed feelings about Adam Lambert's arrangement of "Ring of Fire." It was almost surreal, like a Dali painting. However, having grown up around Hendersonville, Gallatin and Goodlettsville, I was familiar with June and Johnny. In Johnny's younger years, he would have hated for anyone to mess with his songs. However in his later years, as evidenced by his collaboration with Nine Inch Nails, he welcomed a wider range of creativity. I think Johnny would have liked Adam's version. June, however, would have hated it. Nashville would not welcome it either.

March 18, 2009 at 11:41 a.m.
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