The theme this week is one that’s repeated annually on “Idol”: A finalist's naughty past is made public.

The theme this week is one that’s repeated annually on “Idol”: A finalist’s naughty past is made public.

In this case, David Hernandez’s stripper experience hit the Internet yesterday. David won’t be kicked off the show, however. And somewhere Frenchie is cursing Simon Fuller.

Oh, and the boys sang ‘80s tunes.

Remember when malls used to be equipped with personal recording studios that would offer “demo tapes”? I would go with junior school cronies to sing Kim Wilde songs in hopes of making it big. My sister practically lived there. That’s why I love ‘80s night on “American Idol.” It’s almost exactly the same thing, but with a slightly larger audience than the group that would gather outside the Panda Express to watch you make a fool of yourself.

Is it me or were judges at their weirdest in this episode? Randy looked like he just got off chaperoning duties from Sparkle Motion, Simon couldn’t control his catty side and Paula seemed unable to grasp the concept of pronouns. Kathy says she was speaking in tongues, but I think she was just chatting with her other personalities. Perhaps the ones that once led her to a duet with MC Scat Cat.

Wasn’t only you, Erin. The panel was just weird last night. I hope Randy plans on sharing whatever it is he’s been smoking at the Top 12 party on Thursday night. And I think Paula must have, upon exiting her spaceship, conked her head hard enough to damage the portion of her brain responsible for language. I didn’t understand a word she said all night. She did seem to enjoy the mostly sucky performances though, based on how she kept standing up and trying to clap. As for Simon, I thought perhaps he’d been afflicted with Tourette’s overnight what with how he kept blurting out insults.

Luke Menard (TV Guide power ranking #6/last week #9)
Most embarrassing moment: Sister dressed him up as a ballerina when he was little, which might be directly responsible for his song choice.
Song: “Jitterbug” (Wham!)
Erin: The night starts off with a whimper as Luke takes the stage with a Wham! song. It’s just his way of saying that he’s having fun with the competition. Either that or, “Hi, Mom. I’m gay!” His rendition is slightly on the pitiful side. It just doesn’t work without the Day-Glo and “Choose Life” T-shirts. At this point, he seems less likely to follow George Michael on the path of a successful solo career and more likely to follow George Michael into a public restroom. Sorry, Luke. It was nice meeting you. I look forward to forgetting your existence next week.
Kathy: I should have stuck with my original plan to watch Luke with the sound turned down. But he was so bad from the first note I completely forgot to hit the mute button. His high, breathy voice makes George Michael sound like a baritone in comparison.

David Archuleta (TV Guide power ranking #1/last week #4)
Most embarrassing moment: Forgot the words to a song during a performance and his mom had to come onstage and finish it for him. Meanwhile Paula keeps racking up embarrassing moments all episode.
Song: “Another Day in Paradise” (Phil Collins)
Erin: David embraces the new “Idol” trend of starting the song with a musical instrument and disregarding both it and the union labor it took to get a piano on the stage by only playing a few opening notes. I like little David, but I agree with Simon here. He’s a bit of a bummer these days. His version of “Another Day in Paradise” should have been used for the “Idol Gives Back” special, not for the ‘80s round. At least Paula isn’t threatening to decapitate him this week.
Kathy: Simon has already downgraded David A. from “You’re going to win” to “You’ll be in the top two.” At this rate Simon will be predicting David A.’s demise in just a few weeks. I also enjoyed David’s explanation as to why this isn’t a depressing song: “It’s about people who have nothing.”
Oh, look Denise Richards is in the audience.

Danny Noriega (TV Guide power ranking #7/last week #5)
Most embarrassing moment: Friend tripped him and he fell down some stairs in front of his crush. Apparently, FWIW, that’s more embarrassing than speaking in text language. OMG.
Song: Tainted Love (Soft Cell)
Erin: I have been waiting seven seasons for “Tainted Love” only to be treated to this wild-eyed scary version aided by a light show that could cause Pokemon-esque seizures in Japanese school kids. When he was done, Simon unleashed a laundry list of suck on the poor sap. Not that he didn’t deserve it. I don’t see Danny making it much further. At the most, he can apply to become Chris “Leave Britney Alone” Crocker’s sidekick once his reality show kicks in.
Kathy: Speaking of embarrassing, did you get a load of Danny’s dancing? Simon calls him “absolutely useless” and gets a “whatever” in return, which Simon seemed to find amusing. I would say Danny is NLFTC (not long for this competition).

David Hernandez (TV Guide power ranking #4/last week #8)
Most embarrassing moment: Had booger in nose during photo shoot. Oh, really? Surprisingly, his most embarrassing moment did not end with “…and then he took off into the night with my G-string and my money.”
Song: “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (Meat Loaf)
Erin: His decision to pick the song “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” solves the mystery as to why a majority of his clientele were men. Well, that actually wasn’t much of a mystery. Encyclopedia Brown could have solved that one without leaving the garage.
Kathy: Paula said “You missed some notes, but it was really good.” HUH? Also she thinks he’s “becoming a really good performer.” I think we all know that now.

Michael Johns (TV Guide power ranking #2/last week #1)
Most embarrassing moment: Beaten up while dressed as a mascot called “Boomer the Roo.” His most embarrassing moment will give furry “Idol” fans fodder for slash stories for the rest of the season. Gotta say, I wish he had film of that. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life was when two mascots got into a brawl during a college football game.
Song: “Don’t You Forget About Me” (Simple Minds)
Erin: As for his perf… YAY! Finally. He takes to the stage with Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me,” which perfectly exemplifies my point as to why there needs to be a “Breakfast Club” musical on the Great White Way. It’s already going in that direction with “Legally Blonde” and “Cry Baby.” It will be perfect. After his perf, Paula gurgles something about leaving the planet. Oh, honey. Admitting you have a problem is the first step.
Kathy: Randy commended Michael for “returning to his Australian roots” and repeated that Erin’s boy reminds him of Michael Hutchence. I’m sitting there on the couch thinking “What does a Scottish new wave duo have to do with INXS, Australia or Michael Hutchence?” Oh, Randy.

David Cook (TV Guide power ranking #5/last week #6)
Most embarrassing moment: Forgot the words to a song at a talent show.
Song: “Hello” (Lionel Richie), with a guitar
Erin: So, that was unexpected. Mr. Cook took stalker song/MySpace anthem “Hello,” and made it very, very cool. Color me shocked. His ability to rock out on the song not only brought him ahead of the pack, but it just might spike enough sales in the iTunes single to pay for this week’s batch of baby clothes for Nicole. Way to go, David. You rule. I am so sorry about the hair comments from before. We’re buddies now, right?
Kathy: I loved this. Maybe my favorite performance of the season thus far. Way to take a treacly, unlistenable ballad and give
it a rock twist. Simon ruins the moment with a “brush with fame” story about himself, Lionel Richie and the Whole Foods produce department.

Jason Castro (TV Guide power ranking #3/last week #2)
Most embarrassing moment: One of his dreds came off during a dinner date. Eww.
Song: “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen)
Erin: Another shocking performance. This night is ripe with all sorts of goodness. After telling his tragic tale of hair loss, Jason gave a fab perf on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” I am in awe. I loved his version and can gladly say that his hair in no longer the focal point of his personality. I see Jason making it far. Well, far enough to be used in “Idol Remix” moments where he reflects on his learning experiences, but not far enough to win.
Kathy: Paula and Randy both mention the “degree of difficulty.” What is this now, Olympic platform diving? See, I wasn’t on board the Jason train last night. It was good, but I didn’t think it was all that. Perhaps the fact that I had just finished listening to kd lang’s version of the song just before watching “Idol” didn’t help.

Chikezie (TV Guide power ranking #8/last week #7)
Most embarrassing moment: Used the girls bathroom in high school without realizing it.
Song: “All The Woman I Need” (Sister Sledge, then Luther, then Whitney)
Erin: When did he drop his last name? Has it been a while and I’m just noticing this, or is this a new development? Kathy? I can’t remember a single note of this performance. It was bland. What he needs is a gimmick, like a bright orange suit.
Kathy: He dropped his last name a couple of weeks ago but I refused to acknowledge it. You know it’s not a good sign when Ryan announces there’s only one singer left and for the life of my I couldn’t think of who it might be. Sorry Chikezie Eze, been nice knowing you.

Best:
Erin:
David “The Man” Cook; Jason Castro
Kathy: David Cook and that’s it

Worst:
Erin:
Danny Noriega; Luke Menard
Kathy: Danny, Luke

Probably going home: Luke and Chikezie, which means one-third of the top 12 will be named David.

American Idol: Let’s give the boys a hand

Production

Taped in Los Angeles by 19 Prods. Executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller; director, Bruce Gowers.

Crew

RUNNING TIME: 1 HOUR

Cast

Related links: Season Pass
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