Idol Opry Night: Live Blog

idolCountry Universe continues its annual tradition of live-blogging country night on American Idol.


9:55 Kind of boring night overall. I liked Anoop the most. Not too much stood out for me.

9:52 When I reviewed “So Small”, I think that I mentioned it would sound better stripped down. No surprise I liked the first half of this performance more.

9:51 Interesting that only the men took on Carrie this year. Probably a good move on the women’s part, as none of them could go toe to toe with her.

9:46 Ten down, one to go.

9:45 Again, I feel they’re just pushing certain people.

9:43 This is the second time tonight – the first being Adam Lambert – that I feel I’m watching a parody of Idol.

9:41 “Walking After Midnight” is the first song that I actually associate with the Opry that’s been performed tonight.

9:33 I’ll say it before Randy does. This sounds current. It’s also easily the best of the night.

9:31 I remember Fantasia nailing “Always on My Mind.” He’s got his work cut out for him. Love his name, though.

9:25 The show seems rigged this year.

9:24 Why do they keep suggesting songs that you can scream all the way through? That would sound terrible.

9:23 Jesus, take the mic.

9:21 This guy wants to be Color Me Badd on the verses and Linkin Park on the chorus. He can’t pull off either of them.

9:17 Seriously. “Jesus, Take the Wheel?”

9:13 That didn’t sound like Dolly Parton, but I guess Simon’s aware of the version she modeled hers after.

9:11 “Jolene” is a simple song in its original version. That’s what makes it so easy to put a new spin on it without making dramatic changes. I liked her performance of this.

9:10 This is the Mindy Smith version.

9:09 Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” The second song tonight that’s been covered by Olivia Newton-John. Let’s see if Alexis can do it better.

9:03 I think he could sing just as well on a stool as behind a piano, but he should only do it if he’s comfortable doing so. If he’s not, it won’t work anyway.

9:02 So they have hat picks for songs? Wow.

9:00 I think that if Martina had found this song today, this is how she’d perform it. Sadly.

8:58 It’s like Jim Brickman meets Martina McBride, without either of them along for the ride.

8:57 “Wild Angels.” Love that song.

8:52 Are Nine Inch Nails current, young, and fresh?

8:51 “Absolute indulgent rubbish.” Harsh.

8:50 Randy Travis in the audience. Looks tickled pink.

8:47 It burns. It burns!

8:46 This is out of the Daughtry/Cook playbook.

8:45 Oh, I don’t think Adam Lambert and Randy Travis are antithetical. That plays into stereotypes that don’t hold water for me.

8:40 I don’t see why they were so disappointed. Would showboating have been better?

8:39 Why does he keep saying “obvious?”

8:37 Good connection to the song being relevant. I thought about that when she was singing it.

8:36 Very controlled performance. Good.

8:32 Uh-oh. “Independence Day.”

8:25 So even with four judges, everyone’s still waiting for Simon to be the final word, even when he’s not. Why bother with the other ones?

8:23 This is country in the way that Lonestar was country at their peak.

8:22 I think I’m the only person who doesn’t care for Garth’s version of this song, but I love it by Trisha.

8:21 Amazing artist?

8:20 The judges don’t go in order anymore. Bleh.

8:18 Good Lord, it’s Patty Loveless meets Joan Jett. And I’m not gonna front. I dig it.

8:17 Allison’s the red-haired girl and she’s not singing “Memphis.” Darn. Let’s hear her take on Patty Loveless.

8:13 Doesn’t “More classic country” imply that there has been some already? Or am I too old and haven’t realized that “Ain’t Goin’ Down” is now in the classic country category?

8:12 “It should’ve been good.” I agree with Cowell. Should’ve been, but wasn’t.

8:11 Country music is not about having some fun. Good God.

8:10 Randy is less coherent than the guy who just sang that song.

8:09 He’s flubbing the lyrics, the melody and the rhythm. That can’t be good.

8:08 Sounds like he’s going down before the song even ends.

8:07 “You can sing a lot of great licks. But don’t lose the words in the licks.” That should be emblazoned in every recording studio.

8:07 “Ain’t Going Down” is a tough song to sing.

8:06 Randy’s been watching Idol for years? Good for him.

8:05 I remember Garth Brooks heavily promoting his Opry induction when he broke through big, and I love that Underwood is doing the same. I can’t think of a superstar in between who did the same.

8:04 I wonder how much of Music Row actually knows the Opry history?

8:03 Country music has a lot to do with Idol’s enduring success. They should be a bit less flippant, don’t you think?

8:02 Country week is always the tough week. Is that for the contestants or for the viewers?

8:01 It’s Saint Patty’s Day. I forgot about that. Cue the corny “luck of the Irish” joke.

8:00 Okay, so maybe it’s not a parrot on his head. Just a really bad weave.

7:58 I’m wondering how active a role Underwood played in Randy Travis being guest mentor.

7:52 So somebody fill me in. All I know about this season of Idol is that there’s a guy coasting on his recent widow status, another guy who looks like he has a parrot on his head, and a red-headed gravel-voiced teen who I’m hoping rips into “Maybe it Was Memphis” tonight, though I’d settle for anyone doing a Pam Tillis song.


  1. I’m excited because Kevin’s live blogging is always amusing. I don’t know any of the contestants; I couldn’t name any of them. I always tune into country night though.

  2. Damn, I got to work tonight, so I can’t take part of the live blog! No matter…I’ll add what I would have said at 8:06 eastern;

    “Wow! this is countrier than the CMA awards!!!!! – what a treat!”

  3. I’ll watch tonight although I haven’t been impressed with this years group. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s Carrie & Randy duet though.

    Here’s the official release:

  4. I’ll be watching with notes and dvr recording for a roughstock follow-up article tonight but won’t be around here too much for it. Have fun y’all…

  5. Charlie: That’s what I was thinking too.

    I think that Allison did pretty good. She has a nice gravelly tone to her voice, which sets her apart from others on the show.

  6. So far, not so bad. I always thought Sarver was a country guy at heart, even if it’s the current ‘party country hick’ variety, but he did himself no favors there. Allison and Kris could both have country careers if they wanted to, even though I agree that Kris sang that song straight up. It wasn’t really much of a ‘country’ song anyway…

  7. I don’t think that anyone should be allowed to do Independence Day, I will forever compare whoever sings it to Martina McBride. Lil Rounds is doing it decently, I guess, but she’s no Martina.

  8. Carrie did this a few times on the show and it made it to the B side of the AI cd. A lot to live up to and I don’t think it is working.

  9. I only caught a few minutes of Idol last week, but Alison stood out as slightly interesting. Is she the young red head? I can’t say that I’m a fan, but she has something. What song did she sing? Once again, I’m 3 hours behind…

  10. Who’s the guy everyone dislikes? Didn’t I read that there’s someone that people thought the judges pushed through?

  11. I suppose it would be hard to sing a song from a genre that you don’t like at all, which seems to be the case for a couple of these people.

  12. Leeann,

    Lots of people that the Judges pushed through Scott McIntyre, the blind guy (who oddly doesn’t wear shades). There are also discussions that the Judges fawn over Danny Gokey too much.

  13. So im guessing its just COUNTRY songs, but country renditions?

    If they really wanted to challenge them….

  14. The contestant “no one likes” is Danny Gokey…his wife recently died, and a lot of people and critics seem ti think the fact is capitalized on to gain “sympathy” votes…I think Danny’s good, but overrated…BTW Adam just murdered ring of of the worst performances on the show…EVER

  15. That wasn’t one of the worst performances on the show. He was in key had perfect pitch, etc. I do agree with Simon though, it was indulgent. At least they didn’t ‘love’ it.

  16. K, they’re hearing something different. Had it not been ‘ring of fire’ and some more ‘current’ song, perhaps people would’ve thought differently. I mean, c’mon, this guy was NEVER gonna be a country artist so to even try to do a straight up country song doesn’t make a whole lot of sense….

  17. I’m not saying Adam was off-key, and I think he’s talented..but it was a HORRIBLE choice for him I think, and I heard a lot of screamiing…

  18. 8:25 So even with four judges, everyone’s still waiting for Simon to be the final word, even when he’s not. Why bother with the other ones?

    Randy’s been useless from the very beginning– have to love that he just cited Nine Inch Nails as somehow being current, which is the new “pitchy” in terms of being the judges’ buzzword for the season– and Kara DioGuardi has proven herself just a marketing shill since the live episodes began. Paula’s been more lucid this season than ever before, which is deeply disturbing, but she’s actually thrown in a couple of well-observed criticisms about song arrangements and key changes amid her usual nonsense about how much she likes crayons and body glitter and vicodin or whatever it is she’s prattling on about most of the time.

    Simon is almost always right, even if he’s not always as clever as he thinks he is and just as often hurts his own case by over-doing the negative comments and rounding up sympathy for the likes of a Jasmine Trias or a John Stephens or a Sanjaya Malakar.

    All of which is to say: I came in late and missed the first three performances, but Lil Rounds attempted to impose an R&B singer’s phrasing on Martina McBride’s signature song with mixed results, and Adam Lambert actually has a terrific voice but is kind of insufferable about it most of the time. I’m all for interpretive risks, but his “Ring of Fire” just did not work at all, and “indulgent rubbish” just about sums it up.

  19. My boy, Randy Travis, isn’t being especially helpful tonight. I don’t think this is his element.

  20. Am I wrong in thinking “friends in low places”or “thaank god im a country boy”would be an easy homerun for any of the guys?

  21. Leeann Ward (8:08): I don’t think that Randy really knows how to help. He seems like he’s too nice to tell somebody that he doesn’t like their choice or take on it.

  22. Considering how bad the practice session sounded, he wasn’t half bad. Really, though, my expectation wasn’t super high.

  23. Given the short format they are working with, it appears to be an unwise choice to go with songs that have any sort of slow build in them. When they sing the shortened versions of the song it just squeezes everything together.

  24. They also have all gone with well-known songs, for the most part. Many of them have been done on Idol before. They had more interesting songs to choose from but they didn’t pick them.

  25. I’m disappointed we didn’t hear “Memphis” tonight. I guess there’s still a little time left. They can’t help that they don’t like country, but I’m still sad to keep hearing it from everyone.

  26. None of these voices that I’ve heard tonight have interested me. Sure, they can sing, but…Maybe it’s because I haven’t been following them all this time.

  27. This is the least interesting Idol group (and Idol Season) for me to date. I just couldn’t get into the audition rounds, the format changes or any of the contestants. There are some that I think are decent, but none so far that I really want to hear more of. Anoop’s got a shot, though.

  28. Randy seemed unsure about another version of “Walkin’ After Midnight”, but ends up being positive again in the end.

  29. It sounded off to me. But then again, I might have been thrown off by it being so different from the original vocally but without a change to the arrangement.

  30. I enjoyed it as well, actually, this version of “Walking After Midnight” was actually the first thing that I thought didn’t have a karaoke feel. I doubt it will do well for her though, it definately isn’t for everyone. Reminded me a tiny bit of Bjork as well–and not just cause Leeann put that in my head while it was on.

  31. I liked Megan…glad she did well..

    But no one should cover Carrie…Not only is she one of the best vocalists of the genre, but it seems like a lazy move to me..

  32. Wrong choice for Matt…Carrie put more soul and feeling into it, even in the recording version. There were no power notes or emotion…But I think Matt is talented…

  33. I wasn’t a fan of it, but I think that Matt will end up going far since he appears to have some polish in the performance department. It was a little boring.

  34. While Adam was performing, I remarked that he should never go to Nashville, seeing as he would not come out alive after that creepy “performance”, and I’m glad Simon agrees.

    Liked “Jolene”, “Blame It On Your Heart”, “Independence Day” and “So Small”, everything else was just blah. Michael Sarver was terrible though.

    Has anyone heard the version of “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele? I think that’s where Kris ripped his from:

    It seriously is exactly the same, but that might just be me.

    All in all, decent night; I expected more trainwrecks.

  35. So I loved Kris and Anoop tonight, I thought they were the two best followed closely by Danny and Matt. I’m suprised those two took on Carrie songs but I was even more surprised that they were able to pull it off! This season is all about the guys in my opinion, they are overall just way better than the girls.

    For the girls, the best was easily Alison. I thought that was a great song choice for her and she did awesome!

    Worst was definitely Adam. Thank god Simon said that it was horrible because it really was. I can’t wait til this guy gets voted off…it really should be tomorrow night.

    Other than that, I wasn’t impressed. I’m super excited for Carrie, Randy, and Brad to show these contestants how country music is done tomorrow night! Can’t wait!

  36. According to “Dial Idol” the current lowest vote getter is Alexis Grace annce the judges love her, They might use their ‘save.’ Still, I’ll be shocked if Michael Sarver makes it through.

  37. I think Chris nailed it…Adam’s performance of Ring of Fire was “creepy”. Randy Travis’ wife Lib looked VERY uncomfortable during Adam’s performance, and I cant say I blame her..

    I really liked Alexis’ rendition of “Jolene” and thought Kara was way off base for wanting her to do one of Carrie’s screaming songs instead, and for calling for her to “dirty it up”…I don’t think this new judge adds much at all to the panel.

    And I thought Megan Joy’s interpretation of “Walking After Midnight” was quirky but brilliant…and a fine blend of Country, Blues and Jazz…And she looked like an old timey Country singer as well. She missed a little on two of the falsetto notes towards the end, but I thought she did very well overall.

    I do think that Randy Travis did an excellent job as mentor, and gave great advice and was funny in his reactions to Adam…Country meets Creepy, for sure. :)

  38. I also don’t like how the singers don’t have enough time to sing the entire song on AI, because most country songs are a three-part story. So since they weren’t able to sing the entire songs, therefore most of the performances felt incomplete. For example, when Lil sung ‘Independence Day’ she wasn’t able to sing about the abused mom burning down their house.

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  41. I’m a recent Adam Lambert convert (I missed most of the season, but have now caught up due to my new Lambert fascination); so I just had to come back and read what Kevin said about him during Opry night. He was fair; Leeann not a fan. And Simon hated something on country night? lol. No surprise. He hates country music.

    For what it’s worth, I probably would have hated Lambert on Opry night knowing nothing about him. But now that I do, the fact that Randy Travis was a little freaked out makes me chuckle. If Lambert does anything in the future in the vein of Freddie Mercury, I’ll be a happy camper. I’d even be interested in hearing him cover some Johnny Cash. He could kill some of his older stuff.

  42. I thought Adam was a little creepy on Opry night…and Randy Travis’ wife seemed a little freaked out as well, judging by her expressions from the first row when Adam was “interpreting” Ring of Fire.

    But yeah, I am an Adam Lambert convert as well, and I hope he wins tomorrow. I’m just not counting on him for anything Country! ;)

  43. Fabulous to see more Adam fans :) He is one of a kind, and the best thing to happen to Idol since Carrie.

  44. I only know of Lambert from that one Opry night. The cast didn’t impress me enough to keep watching Idol for the season. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about him though. Can you suggest a good performance for me to check out, knowing that I was not a fan of his take of “Ring of Fire”?

  45. Pretty much anything else by Adam is excellent Leeann. It was only when it came to Country that it was a bad fit for him.

  46. Tracks of My Tears
    Mad World
    Black or White
    Whole Lotta Love

    I assume you watched “A Change is Gonna Come” last night which I thought was BRILLIANT. And fitting.

  47. Excellent choices Tara! I especially loved “A Change is Gonna Come.” Leeann, I’d check out his performances on the Idol website, as they’re best live:

    I have to also recommend some of his YouTube stuff. You can browse. He’s a musical theatre geek, which I appreciate, and there’s stuff on there from past stage performances. You can almost get a better feel for his singing voice through those performances.

    I’ve also spent the morning (shamelessly) reading Ann Powers Idol-related blogs on the LA Times website. She’s a huge Lambert fan and she’s written some really interesting pieces about him. I’d definitely check it out:

    This is really sad. I’ve always hated Idol for the most part, but this guy is totally intriguing. :)

  48. No, it’s not sad! That’s the beauty of Idol. Every once and awhile a superbly talented contestant comes along that grips you, musically and emotionally…and it is so, so rewarding to watch him (or her) grow as an artist and get the recognition he deserves.

    I will defend that show as long I can because underneath all the junk, it’s about the American dream. And Adam is a perfect and, like you said, intriguing example.

  49. I’m a Glambert junkie, too. I agree with all the journalists who think he pretty much saved Idol this year – he’s certainly the only reason I ended tuning in here at the end. I just wish the judges and producers hadn’t pimped quite so hard for him, because it’s gotten to the point where I’m not sure even he can live up to the hype.

    Anyhoo, his “Tracks of My Tears” is my favorite. I would have pegged that or “Whole Lotta Love” as his stand-out moment over “Mad World.”

  50. Wow! I trust you guys, so I’m gonna have to check him out. I’ll watch the finale tonight…since everyone else is doin’ it.:)

  51. Denial is called for, Tara. America is clearly homophobic and can’t stand the notion of an American Idol who is openly gay man and embraces all that it means to be gay: make up, painted nails, sequins, spangles and drag-queen style performances. Gay-baiters win and we can thank them for Kris Allen.

  52. I couldn’t get into Idol this season, but Kris Allen was one of the only artists on it that I kinda liked. I would’ve voted for him over Adam.

    I think people are reading way too much into the reasons for Kris winning. Given that Adam made it all the way to the final, it’s hard to make the case that America was against him. They’re both going to be stars anyway.

  53. I didn’t get a chance to catch the finale, but I did check Lambert out. I’ll have to admit he’s just not my taste. Maybe it was the songs he chose…I don’t know. I don’t know anything about the winner, Chris, though.

  54. Kris did a killer version of Kanye West’s “Heartless” last week that really sold me on him. I’m not into big rock vocals in the first place. The Kris approach is closer to my personal taste.

    The one I really couldn’t stand this year was Danny Gokey. His mere presence, along with the judges shamelessly promoting him over better acts, really turned me off this year.

  55. I wasn’t shocked Kris won. Adam is great at what he does, but what he does is so polarizing in the first place. I was honestly impressed that he even made it as far as the final two.

    I’m with you on Gokey, Kevin. EW’s coverage of Idol this year was hilariously biased against him, too.

  56. I wasn’t shocked that Kris won either. He’s very sweet, harmless and mainstream. Even though I wasn’t a fan, you couldn’t even begrudge him the win. I just didn’t care about his music one way or the other. He came off as a less interesting version of John Mayer.

    I too was surprised (and thrilled) that Adam made it as far as he did. He’s so far out there but people really got on board. One cool thing I’ve noticed from reading around is that his fans are really passionate. He’s really inspired them in positive ways, which is awesome.

    I liked Adam because he managed to hit a bunch of my sweet spots. He’s a musical theater geek (shout out to Brigadoon!). Any time he slowed it down, it was so obvious in his vocals; and it was clear in all of his performances. He understands stagecraft and selling a song with choreography, lighting, facial expressions and vocals. That doesn’t work in country music, but it works everywhere else for me.

    He is also a huge glam rock fan, which I am as well. Queen happens to be one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve seen them twice in concert (sans Freddie unfortunately) and “We Will Rock You” (the Queen-based musical) in the West End three times. I wanted Kris to step aside last night when Queen appeared. My favorite moment of the night by far.

    And finally, he grew up in San Diego, went to one of my rival high schools (I saw him on stage growing up); and he seems like a sweetheart (even if he does have the ability to terrify 10-13 year old girls…lol!).

    Don’t even get me started on Gokey…

  57. He is captivating. I am hardly a rock fan, but Adam has made me love every single rock song he’s performed. I think “glam rock” is a bit more up my alley. I do find it interesting that a good number of us are Adam fans, because the majority of “country” fans I’ve come across in the past few months have been Kris or Danny (yep, don’t get me started either) fans.

    It’s so refreshing and endearing how Adam and Kris come from complete different walks of life and have formed such a strong bond. This is my favorite post-Idol quote from Adam:

    “And if there’s anything that could come from this experience that I hope all the fans out there can pick up is that even if you’re really different, there’s a way to get along with each other. It’s not about, “Oh, you beat me because of this” or “You’re different.” It’s about finding the common stuff that makes it work. We got up there and did the Queen duet, and we made it work, because we found a common ground with each other.”

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