After last week’s bottom two finish, veteran stage performer Adam Lambert may have thought that he had to do something memorable during “Rock Week” on American Idol. Reaching back and pulling out the hard-charging rocker “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin was his solution and, if memorable was his goal, it was acheived. Those that viewed Tuesday evening’s American Idol performance are not likely to forget it. As he promised just before hitting the stage, Adam Lambert killed it.
Slash, guitar virtuoso of Guns ‘n Roses and Velvet Revolver fame, mentored this week’s “Rock Week” theme. He wrote on his MySpace page previous to the experience that he was a bit “reluctant” to do the show at first, but American Idol gave him the “freedom to do it however I wanted.” He then promised to make the “Rock Week” American Idol “as Rock & Roll an American Idol as possible.”
Starting off with Adam Lambert and a Led Zeppelin tune was definitely the route to take. Slash told Classic Rock Magazine in 2008 that the first song he ever mastered on guitar was Led Zeppelin’s “Tangerine” from Led Zeppelin III.
Slash complimented Adam as having “some pipes.” Slash had the idea of putting the American Idol finalists — Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta, and Kris Allen — in a rock atmosphere by mentoring them and practicing at the Roxy, a Los Angeles club famous for its hard rock venues.
After hearing Adam Lambert belt out “Whole Lotta Love,” Slash told him he might want to do more with his lower register, strange advice considering that Robert Plant, front man for Led Zeppelin, was famous for his reedy, high-pitched vocals. But Slash had covered “Whole Lotta Love” himself and perhaps saw promise in a lower key.
Either way, Adam Lambert stepped onto the American Idol stage and unloaded all his love of singing onto the audience. Looking like a goth Elvis in all his leather glory, Adam brought the old Willie Dixon-inspired blues-rock tune to an entirely new generation and, from beginning to end, he killed it. And just when you thought it was over, he let go his patented Adam Lambert scream and nailed one of the best performances in American Idol history.
The audience was on its feet.
American Idol judge Randy Jackson was overflowing: ” This is the Adam that I love, dude. … Nobody’s gonna ever think about Broadway or any of that stuff. You are a rock star tonight.” He then went on to say that Adam should make a record with Slash. And who knows? Slash is always looking for bandmates, as his storied career attests, having been involved in several incarnations of Guns ‘n Roses and Slash’s Snakepit.
Kara DioGuardi actually called him a “rock god.” She said, “You are more than a rock star, you are a rock god.”
Paula was just beside herself (which makes one wonder where she’ll be after Danny Gokey performs. Everyone knows how she acts after Adam and Danny perform…). She kept saying “yes” and told him that he was a “whole lotta perfect.”
Simon Cowell joked that the performance was a “bit understated.” Getting serious, he said that tackling one of the greatest rock songs of all time could have been disastrous for Adam, but instead turned out to be one of his favorite performances thus far by Adam Lambert. He added that he doubted that it would be topped.
Simon, like many other nights of brutally honest judgmentalism on American Idol, was right. Try as they might, and with well chosen songs — Allison Iraheta performed “Cry Baby” by Janice Joplin, Kris Allen did “Come Together” by the Beatles (later covered by Aerosmith), and Danny Gokey sang “Dream On” by Aerosmith — to help them, the other three finalists were simply crushed by the power of “Whole Lotta Love.”
That does not mean that Adam Lambert will actually win the competition, though. That will be up to the American Idol viewing public and voters, and everyone knows how that sometimes ends…
“American Idol,” Fox Television
Classic Rock magazine