With 11 contestants left to go in the finals of Season Eight, here's a summary of American Idol's country performances ...
Michael Sarver's up first with what could be a high-risk move - Garth Brooks' mile-a-minute "Ain't Going Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)." It takes him a second to get up to speed with those lyrics. Fortunately, there's not much of a melody for him to worry with.
Allison Iraheta choose Patty Loveless' "Blame It on Your Heart" - judging from the mentor session with Randy Travis, it looked like she was going to take it a bit slower than Patty's original. But she brought her rock chops to it after all, which wasn't a bad move.
Kris Allen goes the cover-song route, picking Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love," which was a hit for Garth Brooks. Kris forgoes the guitar. He looks exceptionally confident throughout.
Lil Rounds, a singer you might not associate with a Martina McBride song, does pretty darn well with "Independence Day." Lil admits that she doesn't know much about country. Randy says it's a big song to sing and suggests she slow the verse down a little, but he's generally impressed: "She's got pipes on the top end."
Adam Lambert's choice - Johnny Cash's 1963 hit "Ring of Fire" - is a solid choice and Adam performs it unexceptionally, but certainly not poorly.
Scott MacIntyre picks a choice out of the blue - Martina McBride's "Wild Angels." Randy thinks he may not have made the best choice, "but he is liable to do fine." Turns out he was right.
Alexis Grace says she likes country music: "I'm from the South, and we all like country down there." Randy thinks she did a great job in rehearsal, that she understands the all-important concept of telling the story of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" softly and wisely. It doesn't sound like Dolly's version at all, but Randy's right: She knows how to tell the story.
Danny Gokey's mentoring session with Randy Travis looks like a blooper reel. Randy, the singer who invited Carrie Underwood to join the Opry, doesn't look like he's impressed with his take on "Jesus, Take the Wheel." By the time he hits the stage, though, Danny's learned the song, and well.
Anoop Desai admits that country isn't his forte. Randy Travis is suspicious about his choice of "Always on My Mind," but Anoop, for the first time, looks like he's serious about the competition. Desai turns in a solid performance, taking liberties with the melody that please the judges.
Megan Joy Corkrey has no more clue what to do tonight than she did last week. She's doing Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight." Randy Travis is impressed just the same by the liberties she takes with the arrangement.
Matt Giraud had a big version of "So Small" and looked like he had a problem at the end of the first verse, but it's an original take on the song. In his suit, and with the big string arrangement in the background, he comes across like he's doing the song on an awards show. It's not a perfect performance, but, at this point, Coldplay's just a distant memory, which is just about all he can ask for.
It's a tough call, but in the end, Matt Giraud and Kris Allen stole the show, with Adam and Anoop close behind, while Scott MacIntyre or Michael Sarver could find themselves crying in their beer tomorrow night.
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