Aw, geez.  Country night.  Shoot me.  Why is it necessary?  Well, now that I think about that, I guess I can answer this question myself:  it’s a challenge for the ones who don’t sing country, and a chance to shine for those who do.  Interestingly, none of these eleven contestants sing country as their forte, so this should be a challenge for all of them.  Here’s to hoping they’ll at least stick to older country and none of that new crap.  Last year they did Dolly Parton night, and I actually enjoyed that, so something in that vein would be okay by me.  Also, I think that my favorite female contestant, Megan, could find a great song to sing tonight.

I’ve always liked the way Randy Travis talks (even if I’m not a fan of his music).  It kind of reminds me of my Papaw.

Michael Sarver (“Ain’t Goin’ Down ‘Til the Sun Comes Up”)- I hate that stupid clappy thing he does on the microphone, it’s so distracting.  I hate this song and he is doing a terrible job of enunciating.  It’s not really a great song to showcase one’s vocals, as a big portion of it is just talking really fast.  He’ll get a ton of votes from the country crowd, though, because as far as I can tell, it sounded exactly like the original.  That “country music’s ’bout havin’ some fun” comment he just made pretty much sealed his fate as that crowd’s A.I. darling.  Or darlin’, I mean.

Why do they boo Simon like that?  Do they have his credentials?  No.  The dude usually knows what he’s talking about.  I certainly agreed with him.  I guess every story needs its villain.

Alison Iraheta (“Blame it on Your Heart”) – Wow.  Randy Travis seems to really like her and her “great pipes.”  Good compliment.  She reminds me a whole bunch of Kelly Clarkson, she even looks like her a bit.  She’s doing a pretty good job of turning it more into a rock song, but I don’t think her voice sounds as good tonight as it usually does.  Of course, she still sounds awesome, so I’m cool with her performance.

Kris Allen (“To Make You Feel My Love”) – Despite Randy Travis saying that Kris made it his own, I’m skeptical.  I feel like I’ve heard this song done over and over again.  He could’ve gone for something a little more edgy or new.  At least he’s cute.  Overall, though, a fairly bland performance, although sung well.

Tender dawg, Randy?  Strange.

Lil Rounds (“Independence Day”) – God, I hate this song.  Lil, I thought I liked you!  Please, don’t sing this!  I know she can handle the belty parts, but I still hate it.  Bleh bleh bleh.  I do like that she can belt out these high parts without making it obvious that she’s belting (which can sometimes get shouty).  I’ve made up two adjectives in this post:  shouty and belty.  I’ll be waiting for you letter, Webster’s Dictionary.

Wow, Simon trying to say Lil’s name?  Too funny.  I always thought her name was short for something like Lilly, not slang for Little.

Adam Lambert (“Ring of Fire”) – Well, this should be a culture shock.  Adam found a different arrangement, so that shows some effort.  This is pretty hysterical with Randy.  The look on his face, and the nail polish comment.  I’m sure Adam, remaining true to his fairly polarizing self, will massively turn some people off with this song.  I’m kind of digging it, and he’s holding off on the shouting thing for a bit.  Whoa… this is actually pretty awesome.  I hope the judges like it.  He’s pretty good at those smoldering looks, which are definitely fitting for a song about a burning ring of fire.  I honestly didn’t find it as strange as Kara did.  Maybe I myself am strange.  Well, there’s really no maybe about that.  Good call on the “Kashmir” similarities there, Paula.  Maybe you laid off the Quaaludes tonight.

It’s interesting that we have, back-to-back, Lil Rounds and Adam tonight.  Lil tried to conform to the “country” theme and Adam stayed true to himself.  They always want these “package” artists, especially Simon, which is why I’m surprised that he didn’t like the new take on an old classic that Adam presented here.  Simon’s all about new new new and edgy, and yet he’s basically telling Adam it was indulgent to change the song up?  Mixed signals there, Simon.

Scott MacIntyre (“Wild Angels”) – God, Scott.  Play something that isn’t middling adult contemporary, tinkling piano crap.  You’re so, so boring.  Again, I don’t care if you’re freaking blind.  If I wanted to hear this kind of singing and music, I’d go to a contemporary church worship service on Sunday.  Holy Jesus, his vocals were even worse than usual tonight.  Not strong, and pitchy as all get out.  Scott, you have the musical taste of a 64 year-old woman.  Paula almost seems like she doesn’t want to say anything bad about him.  I’ll do it for you, Paula!  I’m not afeared.  I’m sure he doesn’t want special treatment.

What’s that, Scott?  No one’s going to expect you to sing a Martina McBride song?  Well, I did.  Because she’s cheesy and boring.  And do you know what you are?  Cheesy and boring.  I do agree with Kara, however, that he has class and poise.  I do respect him for what he does, don’t get me wrong.  He’s overcoming a great obstacle.  I just don’t think he needs to be coddled.  If I was blind, I wouldn’t want special treatment.  And he  honestly just isn’t the best performer on the show.

Alexis Grace (“Jolene”) – Alexis is quickly becoming one of my favorite performers, so I’m pretty excited about this.  Although I disagree with her claim that everyone from the South likes country music (I don’t!).  I do kind of like old country, though, like Dolly, which she is singing!  It’s starting out a little theatrical.  I think that, for all its theatricality, she seemed a bit emotionally disconnected.  It was a bit pitchy.  I think she kind of dropped the ball a bit, but it was more interesting than Scott and Lil’s performances.

Aw, there was something strangely adorable about her asking Simon what “sound-alike” meant.  Maybe it’s just because she’s tiny and Southern.  I’m not sure how I feel about the judges pushing her to be “dirty.”  She needs to be careful not to end up in that box.  We all know where that got Christina Aguilera.

Danny Gokey (“Jesus Take the Wheel”) – His messing up is cracking me up.  He’s so nervous!  I would be nervous too if I picked this piece o’ crap song.  I do think that he should be able to connect to this song emotionally, though, which might make it a bit better.  Honestly, though, I think a lot of contestants are missing an opportunity to really have fun and make a statement about their own style tonight.  If they dug well enough, they could find a song that, with a little tweaking, they could make all their own.  Danny certainly did not do that, but at least his vocals were solid.  Typically Simon is wrong with his fashion tips, but tonight, he’s right.  The outfit is pretty terrible.

Anoop “Dogg” Desai (“You Were Always on My Mind”) – Interesting song choice.  Anoop better bring it tonight, because he’s definitely toeing the precipice of getting kicked off.  The vocals are good, bordering on great, but I find myself pretty bored.  This isn’t Anoop’s fault, really, as it wasn’t a safe boring song choice.  I just really don’t have much of an interest in slower songs.  I think that Anoop deserves the praise he’s getting from the judges.

Megan Joy Corkrey (“I Go Walking After Midnight”) – Megan is another one who really needs to bring it, as she’s on the cusp of elimination as well.  Also, she’s one of my favorites, so I definitely want to see her do well.  I think this might be a good choice for her.  It’s kind of got jazzy undertones to begin with.  I think she’s more musically intelligent than she’s been given credit for, changing up these songs to fit her jazzy style.  I would like to see her give up the mic stand one night, but at least she’s lively with her arms and facial expressions and her little Megan dance.  Plus, the mic stand makes me feel like I’m watching her in an actual jazz club, as that’s most likely what the setup would be.  She got to showcase a couple powerful notes there at the end, too, which we haven’t really seen from her.  And to have delivered one of her best performances while being sick (and in the hospital!) is pretty freaking awesome.  Plus, she’s just so goofy and likable!

Matt Giraud (“So Small”) – Hmm.  I forgot all about him.  Probably not a good sign.  I like that he’s pretty much taking all of the country out of this song, breaking it down into chords and lyrics, basically.  It’s really the flourishes that make country equal country.  I just recognized this song as the one Carrie Underwood sings to that miniature horse in the Vitamin Water commercials (at least I think it’s Vitamin Water).  This was a pretty memorable and great performance, for him.  I think it’ll propel him more towards the forefront of the competition.  I agree with Simon’s observation that he’s similar to Danny.  It’s true, and I think Matt has more of a cohesive image and he’s better at picking songs.

Overall, a surprising night.  A lot of the underdogs turned in terrific performances, and no one failed too hard.  There’s no one performer who’s clearly in the bottom.  Also, I was thinking, if I was in the competition tonight, I’d sing “Crazy” by Patsi Cline.  I actually like that song.