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Ann Powers on 'American Idol': The pile-up, Part 2

February 26, 2009 |  9:49 am

Jesselangseth02250250 Please, America, be sane. Don't listen to the obviously predetermined (or at least heavily biased) patter of the judges. Try to put aside your preconceptions about what makes an "Idol" worth supporting. Do the right thing, and instead of going for novelty, looks or even personality, go for voice.

Vote for Jesse Langseth.

I know -- you were expecting me to stump for Awesome Adam Lambert. But I'm not worried about him, after his dragon-slaying take on the Stones' "Satisfaction". Yes, he was campy (i.e., true to his "theatrical" self), and overly bling-tastic. But every note he hit, and he hit every one, earned him another one of those gold chains.

Maybe some grandfolks will be shocked by the tongue he flashed during the song's early verses, but I doubt it -- those grandfolks are the same aging boomers who salivated for the original Tongue himself, Mick Jagger, back in Ye Olde 1960s. And Lambert hit so many notes way beyond the ballpark tonight, if he has even the slightest problem getting through, I'm gonna start calling him Al Gore.

Langseth, on the other hand, is a more subtle talent. Her vocal tone is the best thing about her; if her main rival, Megan Corkrey, is shiny brass, Langseth is polished pewter. Her voice is the kind that can get under your skin, and she used it very well during this semifinal, showing passion and restraint -- the rarest of combinations on "Idol." 

Choosing "Bette Davis Eyes" was cool from the get-go. Written in the 1970s but made famous in 1981 by soft rock's own Lauren Bacall, Kim Carnes, the song is so power-suit tough, so hair-mousse sleek, so yuppie corrupt that it's perfect for revival during these days of karmic payback for colossal greed. Langseth said she liked its story, but it doesn't really have one; it's merely an alluring portrait of a killer queen.

Read more Ann Powers on 'Idol': The pile-up, Part 2