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'American Idol' Recap: Adam Lambert Returns For Queen Night

Adam Lambert Walker Burroughs
ABC/Eric McCandless

Adam Lambert and Walker Burroughs on American Idol.

Adam Lambert is back on American Idol on Sunday (April 28) looking much like Kurt Russell in John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing, and I’m very okay with this transformation. His mission is to mentor the remaining eight contestants through a night of Queen songs.

But first, let’s just pause and remember that it’s been ten years since Adam himself competed on Idol. He ended his season as the runner-up (behind Kris Allen), which a nice testament to all these wide-eyed noobs that fame often fortunes the Jennifer Hudsons more so than the Lee DeWyzes.

By the way, for added confusion, the producers decide that Queen night would be a great time to also shoehorn in a sub-theme of contestant duets featuring songs from famous movies. Sure, Jan.

Walker Burroughs, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen)

Walker tells Adam that he looks like a pirate right off the bat, so this is going well. Adam attempts to coach the kid through loosening up while he’s on stage, but they’ve both got their work cut out for them there. In the end, Walker gives us a lounge-like rendition of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” that should rank high with his base of fans, at least.

Madison VanDenburg, “The Show Must Go On" (Queen)

Adam knows “The Show Must Go On” is a hard Queen classic to tackle. Still, he’s taken aback by the strength of young Madison’s pipes. “Damn -- you can sing,” he exclaims. “Your voice is nuts!” Adam encourages the 17 year old to go for a diva moment on stage, which she does with ease. “That’s your best performance, in my opinion, thus far,” judge Luke Bryan announces. (Side note: Madison literally has nails holding her hair in place.)

Laci Kaye Booth & Laine Hardy, “Jackson” (from Walk the Line)

Gotta love Idol’s loose interpretation of “movie duets.” Though Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson” was indeed featured in 2005 flick Walk the Line, it was originally released in 1967, before the film’s actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were born, and when its director, James Mangold, was only four. So anyway, Laci and Laine do fine with “Jackson” and the judges gush all over them. Katy goes to far as to insinuate that the pair are having a behind-the-scenes romance, which just makes everyone feel weirded out. Cool.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, “Who Wants to Live Forever” (Queen)

Jeremiah’s previously MIA parents finally show up to support their son. You know who hasn’t been seen in the audience for awhile, though? Jeremiah’s boyfriend. Adam’s not too sure the ginger-haired crooner’s folky acoustic guitar take on “Who Wants To Live Forever” is working, so he rightly advises Jeremiah to ditch the six strings. With mom and dad on hand to watch, Jeremiah brings a lot of drama and a really long coat to the stage, where he gives a performance that has judge Lionel Richie telling him, “Your voice is something to be reckoned with.”

Alejandro Aranda, “Under Pressure” (Queen & David Bowie)

What’s not to like about Alejandro? When he sticks the landing on this show, it’s fantastic. And even when he misses, vocally, his guitar work typically makes up for any other shortcomings. That said, his take on “Under Pressure” isn’t his best performance. That’s a shame, because, man, what a tune. Still, fans of these eight contestants are diehards at this point, so one bumpy outing isn’t going to matter much to Alejandro voters. Rock on.

Wade Cota & Alyssa Raghu, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (from Guardians of the Galaxy)

Really, Idol? Crediting a song released in 1967 with being from a film released in 2014 based on a super hero group that didn’t appear in comic books until 1969? This duet between Wade and Alyssa is terrible, by the way. Moving on.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon & Madison VanDenburg, “A Million Dreams” (from The Greatest Showman)

Finally, with the third of four duets, we have a song that originated in an actual movie. Jeremiah and Madison compliment each other’s voices very well and further remind us that the music in The Greatest Showman is far better than the film itself. Good job, kiddos. NEXT!

Laine Hardy, “Fat Bottomed Girls” (Queen)

And we’re back to Queen. Laine admits to Adam that he’s shy. Adam, in turn, says Freddie Mercury was shy. He adds that if Laine doesn’t make the stage a party, it’s not going to work. Adam further encourages the kid to just pretend he’s hanging out with his friends and channel his inner rock star. Laine never has a problem once he’s under the lights for a performance, and tonight is no exception. Lionel tells him that the next time he’s feeling a lack of courage, just “fake it ’til you make it.”

Laci Kaye Booth, “Love of My Life” (Queen)

Adam gives Laci the excellent advice to take a vocal pause in certain  parts of “Love of My Life” to truly process the lyrics that she’s singing. Laci’s subsequent tender showing with the song has judge Katy Perry stating, “You are sparkling like the diamond we always knew you were.” Lionel also praises Laci’s smoky voice. It’s all just a love fest tonight.

Walker Burroughs & Alejandro Aranda, “Mrs. Robinson” (from The Graduate)

As is Alejandro’s M.O., he and Walker do a bit of a rearrangement on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” for their duet. This is a far better spectacle than either of their individual performances of Queen songs tonight, and the judges all agree. Luke declares that they’re the two savants of the Top 8.

Wade Cota, “We Are The Champions” (Queen)

I’ve made peace with the fact that Wade has managed to growl his why into the Top 8. There is no way in hell he’s going to win this season, but well played so far, mister. Adam says he can feel the passion as soon as Wade starts singing, and advises him to use an emotion of celebration in his performance of this particular Queen staple. Wade does his Wade thing and even adds a black fringe jacket to the mix. Lionel tells him he’s already won just by being in the Top 8. Katy adds that Adam Lambert didn’t win American Idol, “but he won his life.” This advice comes off like the judges are preparing Wade to be one of the two eliminated tonight.

Alyssa Raghu, ‘Somebody To Love” (Queen)

Speaking of getting the boot, you just know Alyssa does not have a secured spot in the Top 6. Katy had to save her a couple weeks back, and she wound up in the Bottom 3 last Sunday. Adam compliments Alyssa on her natural theatricality, which he says is perfect for Queen week. He coaxes the contestant’s inner diva out of hiding, and while she doesn’t exactly sell “Somebody To Love” on stage, she does a nice job. Nice, alas, doesn’t cut the mustard on Idol at the end of April. She’s also the final performance of the night, which leaves barely any time for viewers casting votes based on performance.

ELIMINATED: Wade, Walker and Alyssa are in the Bottom 3 this time around, but surprisingly it’s Wade who is safe. Honestly, I didn’t see Harry Potter getting kicked to the curb just yet, but, alas, there can only be one winner in the end.

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