Fantasia Barrino may have thrown her weight behind Danny Gokey on Tuesday, predicting his win on “American Idol” Season 8, but a new leader of the pack emerged during the live show who had all the judges drooling.
Adam Lambert, the 27-year-old raven-haired wailer from Southern California took the show and the judges by storm when he performed Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” midway through the evening’s competition.
All the contestants selected songs from the Michael Jackson songbook, but it was Adam’s take on his choice – full of heavy falsetto and rock ‘n’ roll runs — that prompted judge Kara DioGuardi to state, “I hope Michael Jackson is watching this tonight.”
Adam’s performance, which brought the studio audience to a standing ovation, led Paula Abdul to predict “we’ll be seeing you running all the way to the end in the final,” while Simon Cowell called Adam’s performance “in a totally different league to everything else we’ve seen.”
And Randy too complimented the singer, who cleverly picked a song about equality and prejudice just days after personal photos of the 20-something dressed in drag surfaced on the net.
“Right now, you could make a record… [and have it] sail to the top of the charts. I love you, I love what you do. If you’ve got it, you got it and baby, you’ve got it,” Randy raved.
While no one came close to the praise Adam’s performance elicited from the judges, Danny Gokey, a frontrunner from Hollywood week, was also thoroughly embraced by the panel for his rendition of “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”
His energetic, lively and soulful number, which saw Danny showing off his moves across the stage, made Simon draw comparisons.
“You are one heck of a singer. You remind me of like, Michael McDonald — you’re a white guy with soul,” Simon noted. “However, maybe because you were getting excited, the dancing was hideous… It doesn’t matter. I really, really like you.”
Kris Allen, the square-jawed, 23-year-old boy-band looking contender also was praised after taking to the stage to perform “Remember the Time,” with his guitar.
When he finished, the audience erupted in girlish screams, something Kara took notice of.
“One thing’s for sure – the girls love you. The girls love Kris. Wow!” Kara exclaimed.
“I’m not sure I would have brought out the wife so early,” Simon said in lieu of comments, referring to a clip package from Kris’ hometown, where he showed what life was like with his wife. “Keep her hidden for a couple of weeks.”
But not everyone managed to make good impressions on the panel.
Anoop Desai, who was chosen as the final member of the Top 13 in last week’s wild card round, was slated for his rendition of “Beat It,” by Paula.
“I think that song is untouchable,” Paula said. “It belongs to the consummate artist and everything else looks karaoke.”
And Megan Joy Corkery, like Anoop, a judge’s wild card pick from the week before, also delivered a performance that fell flat with the panel.
“Megan, we like you, we’ve established that, but what a stupid song choice,” he said of her version of “Rockin’ Robin.” “The vocals weren’t very good, the dancing was verging on ridiculous.”
The final contender of the night, Alexis Grace, performed “Dirty Diana” to average praise, but as the thirteenth contestant to hit the stage, show host Ryan Seacrest instructed viewers to call an unexpected number – 1-866-IDOLS-36 after a revelation early Tuesday that 1-866-IDOLS-13 was an adult chat line.
Ryan also revealed that two contenders would be eliminated on Wednesday’s show, while a judging move that could affect the competition — one which will be explained on the results show — will also be introduced.