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I am not ashamed. I love “American Idol.” I have been a faithful follower for the past eight seasons. Until Saturday, though, I'd never seen the touring act — and had no desire to. What made the difference this year? Kris Allen, of course. But the rest of the ensemble proved much more capable than I expected. Below, a quick note on each in the order in which they performed.
Michael Sarver: I arrived late so I wouldn't have to endure his entire set. But a delay in the start time foiled my plan, so I ended up hearing most of it. He's improved and wasn't miserable to sit through.
Megan Joy: Wow, she's sexy. She sounded surprisingly good, too.
Scott McIntyre: He totally gets the Most Improved ribbon. As always, he seemed really comfortable by the piano, though Vanessa Carlton's “A Thousand Miles” was a questionable song choice.
Lil Rounds: The girl can flat-out sang. If only she had performed Mary J. Blige on the show, maybe she'd have stuck around a little longer. Her rendition of Beyonce's “Single Ladies” was a standout.
Anoop Desai: Close my eyes, and I hear Ne-Yo. Open my eyes, and I see the geeky frat boy. It's just weird to watch him. No doubt he's got talent though.
Matt Giraud: I liked him on the show, but really liked him in person. His highlight came when he showcased his skill as a dueling pianist, battling Scott on Billy Joel's “Tell Her About It.”
Allison Iraheta: I can't believe she is only 17. If she doesn't become a giant star, there's no justice in the universe. Her entire set jammed. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be “Cry Baby” by Janis Joplin. Allison 4ever.
Danny Gokey: Poor Danny. He thinks the games are on. He's still trying out for the throat Olympics. I did enjoy “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts, but it was followed by RFs' worst song, “My Wish.”
Adam Lambert: Adam has really grown on me. It's not entirely his fault that the producers, judges and everybody else all wanted him to win and made us hate him for all the pimping. The screeching is another story. He kept that under control on Saturday. His rendition of Muse's “Starlight” was my personal favorite, though he wailed on Zeppelin's “Whole Lotta Love.” I didn't think “Mad World” sounded nearly as good live as it did on the show. The David Bowie medley — um, all I can say it that Bowie is an acquired taste, and one that I was not thirsty for at an American Idol concert. There was this whole gyrating, hip-thrust movement during “Fame” that was more than a little gross, too.
Kris Allen: He couldn't begin his performance through the deafening roar. But, finally: “Heartless” — my heart stopped. “Ain't No Sunshine” — he showed the kind of artist he could become. “Bright Lights” — still loving it. “All These Things That I Have Done” — praise all that is holy it's not “No Boundaries.” “Hey Jude” — flawless. Only thing missing from his set was “Falling Slowly.”
Finale: “Don't Stop Believing” by Journey. I won't.