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Um ... forgettable

Singers struggle with ’70s theme on ‘American Idol.’ By Craig Berman
/ Source: contributor

Is there any "Idol" theme dreaded more by fans and contestants alike than ’70s Dance Music night?

Not many of the performers were even alive in the 1970s, and none of the seven (besides Constantine) expressed much enthusiasm for the genre. Judging from looks of the studio audience, few of the show's fans are that familiar with the era either.

There's a reason why there aren't many all-’70s stations on the radio.

The period that brought us the Bee Gees and the disco ball is one most would like to forget. Except, apparently, for the "Idol" producers.

Fortunately, very few of the contestants did anything to make disco stick in the viewers' minds. It was one of those nights where everyone was forgettable — even the most diehard fan of the show would be hard-pressed to remember who sang what.

Bo Bice and Vonzell Solomon were better than the rest, but this will probably be one of those weeks where contestants' fates will be decided based on the size of their hardcore fan base instead of this week's efforts. It was a night where you had to be a true fan of the show to endure covers of the Bee Gees, Donna Summer and a bunch of bands that time forgot and most of us aren't so eager to remember.

Constantine Maroulis, 29, New York: This wasn't Maroulis' best performance, though Paula loved it ("Whatever happens, you're going to be selling lots of records"). The pick of "Nights on Broadway" by the Bee Gees wasn't a great one, and the performance was just – to quote Randy Jackson – "A'ight." That's not even taking into account that he looked like he lost his razor a few days before they filmed his intro for the week, though thankfully he cleaned up slightly for the broadcast.Grade: B-The judges: "It was all right, but not 'Oh my gosh.'" – Randy Jackson. Stay or go: Maroulis went first, which hasn't been a great place to be lately (witness Nadia Turner last week). He was also not very memorable, and will need his fans to judge him on his body of work rather than Tuesday's effort.

Carrie Underwood, 21, Checotah, Okla.: In case anyone was curious, there are no nightclubs in Checotah, Oklahoma. Underwood made that quite clear in her intro to "MacArthur Park" by Donna Summer, also saying that her only performing experience to this style of music was dancing on her bed in her pajamas. If that visual didn't get every teenage boy's vote, she left nothing to chance by doing a nice job with the Donna Summer vocals, even if she picked the song humor columnist Dave Barry once decreed was the worst of all time.Grade: B+The judges: "I gotta give you the official welcome to the Dawg Pound. That was an unbelievable vocal." – Randy Jackson."I have to discuss that look. It's like Barbie meets the Stepford Wives." – Simon Cowell.Stay or go: She's a lock to make it a whole lot further than this.

Scott Savol, 28, Shaker Heights, Ohio: Both Randy and Paula enjoyed his rendition of "Everlasting Love" by Carl Carlton, but it sure wasn't anything special. It was a rather flat and wooden performance, and definitely not a style he seemed comfortable with.Grade: C+The judges: "I've been figuring out why you're still in the competition. You are Ordinary Guy, and are doing quite well. But Ordinary Guy can also get up in a karaoke bar and sort of entertain the audience." – Simon Cowell.Stay or go: Savol was in the bottom three last week, and will likely find himself there again. He's one of the more likely to go, though that's been true every week.

Anthony Fedorov, 19, Trevose, Pa.: Fedorov continues to come through in the clutch, doing a nice job with his rendition of "Don't Take Away The Music" by Tavares. The song itself is forgettable, but Fedorov at least sang it well and brought some needed enthusiasm to the stage.Grade: BThe judges: "It was pleasant, safe, and a little insipid. That's sort of a compliment." – Simon Cowell.Stay or go: Fedorov definitely wasn't the best of the contestants, but he wasn't the worst either. He's in danger of being voted off because his body of work hasn't been great, but he didn't do anything to hurt his cause here.

Vonzell Solomon, 21, Fort Myers, Fla.: Solomon got away with one by singing "I'm Every Woman," which most of the audience likely knew because of the Whitney Houston remake and not the Ashford & Simpson original. The audience went nuts, probably in rapture at getting a song that didn't stink. It was a perfect pick for her – allowing Solomon to strut around the stage and play to the crowd, and she handled the vocals a lot better than she has in the past.Grade: A-The judges: "Your personality can carry a song like that. Nobody else could have gotten away with that." – Simon Cowell.Stay or go: Solomon's no sure thing to go much further, but she probably did well enough to avoid danger this week.

Anwar Robinson, 25, East Orange, N.J.: Robinson has sang "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire in the past, performing in his band back home. This rendition sounded like a wedding singer's – capable and unoffensive, but nothing that makes guests remember the singer the next morning.Grade: C+The judges: "I don't think you were as good as Paula thinks. As usual, it was a great ending … I don't think it was a winning performance." – Simon Cowell.Stay or go: Robinson may be in danger, though he probably wasn't the worst of the seven performers. It was an average effort at best.

Bo Bice, 29, Helena, Ala.: Well, finally! After a disappointing week that saw him one step away from elimination, Bice came back with the best performance of the night. Though "Vehicle" by The Ides of March is rarely requested on Top 40 radio – or indeed, on any kind of radio at all – Bice came through with the energy that's been lacking over the past couple of weeks. He was one of the only performers to look comfortable on stage, and even Simon, who has been Bice's toughest critic lately, was impressed.Grade: A-The judges: "Of the seven performances tonight, for me, this was the only authentically great performance." – Simon Cowell.Stay or go: It's hard to call him safe, since he was one of the bottom two vote-getters last week. But based on this effort, it would be a shock to see him in the lower tier this time around.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.