American Idol, Scandals Overshadow Singing

As the top eight guys sing for survival, the scandals are starting to be more interesting than the performances.

Mirror mirror on the wall, what's the biggest American Idol scandal of them all? Or at least of this year?

Is it the "Carly Smithson Had A Record Deal A Long Time Ago" uproar? Nah, that's old news. Spilt milk under the bridge.

Is it the "David Hernandez Was A Stripper" scandal? If you haven't heard, the owner of a Phoenix strip club claims Hernandez worked there for three years as a nude dancer and performed lap dances, mostly for men. And he says David made pretty good money because he had "the look" that people like.

Funny, David didn't mention it Tuesday night when the pre-performance question was "What was your most embarrassing moment?" Although rumors of his revealing past have been circulating on the Internet.

It doesn't appear that the naked truth will hurt David. American Idol producers say they don't care and they're letting him stay. The show has had at least one former stripper before, Nikki McKibbin from season three, and other contestants have had questionable photos surface. Hernandez would probably get the boot if it ever comes out that he did more than give lap dances (and I think you know what I mean when I say more) but for now he's safe.

So maybe the best scandal is the "Robbie Carrico Dated Britney Spears" confession. Carrico, who used to be in a boy band, says he "once dated" Britney when his group Boyz N Girlz United opened for Spears in 1999.

Carrico was voted off the show last week, so I call this a case of grasping for straws at 14 minutes and 59 seconds with a claim that will probably never be confirmed or denied. And when you think about it, who cares anyway?

Alright, so none of these scandals really rises to the top. But compared to Tuesday night's performances by the guys, they're more entertaining.

The top eight dudes competed to make it into what Simon kept calling "THE finals." This week's theme was the '80s. Okay, previously I said the '70s was the cheesiest music decade. I TAKE IT BACK!!! The '80s makes the '70s look like the 1850s, compared to the 1730s. I know, that doesn't make sense, but you get what I mean. The '80s were cheeeeee-zeeeeeeee!

So how'd the guys do? Here's my take:

TOP TWO:

David Cook: Top honors in my book have to go to Cook this week for taking a boring-ass song like Lionel Ritchie's "Hello" and turning it into something even mildly interesting. Cook broke out the electric guitar and my first thought was that it would suck because a.) the song pretty much sucks and b.) it's not an electric guitar song. But less than halfway through I changed my mind and really liked it after all. Randy called it brilliant. Paula said it was fabulous. Simon said it was brave and he loved it. What else could you ask for from Simon?

Jason Castro: Jason performed without an instrument for the first time, giving us a rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Pretty low key, but pleasant. It didn't knock my socks off at a time when I think the contestants ought to be "wowing" us, but compared to everyone else he coasts into my top two. Randy liked it and admired Jason for picking a difficult song. Paula said he showed his vulnerability, but I think she meant it in a nice way. Simon thought it was absolutely brilliant.

MIDDLE OF THE PACK:

David Archuleta: Crowned-prince David slipped a little this week if you ask me. He came out playing piano and singing Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise," and when I saw him playing I thought, Wow, this kid is for REAL! And while he tried to put his own spin on the song, by the end I wasn't very impressed. Randy called it "nice" but didn't seem convinced. Paula called it perfect and imperfect at the same time. (How is that possible, Paula???) Simon said it was gloomy and wasn't as good as last week. He's right. It was nothing compared to last week's "Imagine." David is the clear frontrunner in the competition as far as I'm concerned, and this less than dazzling performance comes at a good time. He won't be eliminated this week, and can recover from a minor stumble.

David Hernandez: No, Hernandez didn't start stripping on stage. He sang a song I'd never heard before, "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" by Celine Dion. I was in high school in the '80s and listened to a lot of music, but I'll be darned if I ever heard that song. David had nice vocals, but not much range. He never really rocked the house. Randy said he was pitchy, which was almost refreshing since we haven't heard him say that much this season. Paula thought he's getting into his groove. Simon said it wasn't as good as last week, but that he's 100 percent into "THE finals."

Michael Johns: Sang The Breakfast Club anthem "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds, although I think Randy thinks it was INXS. Michael sang solidly enough, but didn't add much to it, and he conspicuously avoided some of the really high notes. Randy thought it was nicely done. Paula said she likes his strength in the low range. Simon said Michael's a huge talent who hasn't connected with people yet.

Chikezie Eze: One of last week's top three, Chikezie sang "All the Woman that I Need." I thought it was a strange choice, but he has a really nice voice and belted it out. Chikezie has really turned things around since week one, although this was not as good as last week. Randy said it was really good but a tough song. Paula spewed out something unintelligible. And Simon said it didn't work at all for him.

BOTTOM TWO:

Danny Noriega: I don't like Danny Noriega. There, I said it. He's too sassy for his own good. I can't help but think that he's trying to be this year's Sanjaya. But the thing about Sanjaya is that he wasn't trying to be anything. Sanjaya was just Sanjaya. Danny Noriega is just a Sanjaya poser. Danny sang "Tainted Love" and I'll give him credit that he really gave it a new interpretation. But it was so affected, I just didn't like it at all. Randy said he liked the end. (Like William Shatner in the Brad Paisley video?) Paula said Danny is a bright light. Simon called the performance absolutely useless.

Luke Menard: Luke sang Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." Why Luke? Why? Seriously, out of the entire '80s you picked a Wham song? And not even "Everything She Wants," which might be Wham's only halfway decent song. It came off just as you would expect: cheesy. The whole thing was not even karaoke bar worthy if you ask me. Randy called it corny. Paula was unintelligible (again). Simon didn't think Luke has any chance of making it any further.

Next up, the top eight girls fight for their place in "THE finals."

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.