Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I was trying to think of a good "No Doubt" pun for this headline, but I gave up and went to bed

Before we get to each week's American Idol show, I usually like to take a little time to discuss the Idol "Issue of the Week." But since this week's issue, as it has been for the past few weeks, is Sanjaya continuing to stay in the competition, I'm not sure I really want to expend more energy discussing this whole situation. I will reiterate, as others have, though, that this is not unusual for Idol. Remember Kevin Covais last year, the cute teenager who couldn't sing? He made it to the top 11 in a season with much more talent than this one. Remember John Stevens, the cute teen in season three who couldn't sing all that well? He made it to the top five or six that year. If Sanjaya makes it another three or four weeks, then maybe it could be time to get a little concerned, but there's nothing that's out of the ordinary here. Teen girls, like the one crying last week, are voting for him. Are Vote for the Worst and Howard Stern having an effect? Probably, but not nearly as much as Howard thinks he is. And that's all I want to say about the issue, except to note that the girl on the hunger strike until Sanjaya is eliminated was on day 10 last night and says she is feeling weak but has lost 10 pounds. And people think I care too much about American Idol.... On to the show.

So Gwen Stefani is our "coach" tonight and brings with her an odd theme. Since there weren't enough No Doubt and Gwen Stefani songs to do that as a theme, she apparently gave Idol a list of the artists that most influenced her. I did start to get nervous, though, that this theme would still give Melinda a chance to sing a show tune. After all, I suppose two of Gwen Stefani's influences would have to be whoever wrote "Fiddler On the Roof" and Julie Andrews, considering some of her most recent songs. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, and it led to one of the more interesting collections of songs in an Idol show that I can remember--the Police, the Cure and the Pretenders in one episode? Not bad. To balance that out, there were also a bunch of songs from No Doubt, a band I never really liked all that much. I have liked the Gwen Stefani solo stuff, but either that wasn't available or chosen. Too bad, because the 80s-sounding songs, like her current single and the song "Cool" from a couple years ago, are pretty good.

LaKisha Jones ("Last Dance")--I, like the judges, was really glad to see LaKisha sing an up-tempo song after the slow tunes of recent weeks. And she sang it very well. But I wasn't crazy about the choice of songs--doesn't someone do this song on Idol at least once a year? Sure, LaKisha's might have been the best of all those renditions, but it just didn't feel all that fresh to me.

Chris Sligh ("Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic")--Like Simon, I don't really know what Randy and Paula and Chris were talking about with "the kick is on the backbeat" and something not in the box or whatever. Just like Simon, I thought this just didn't work. Chris sounded out of breath on parts of the song--I guess because he was trying so hard to catch up with the beat--and just couldn't sing it. As I've said before, it's very hard to do a song by a vocalist like Sting, who has a very distinctive, stylized voice. And he didn't come anywhere close to pulling it off. For someone who prided himself earlier in the season on his song choice capabilities, I'm not impressed.

Gina Glocksen ("I'll Stand by You")--I thought Gina was pretty good with this tonight, but after the judges slobbered all over her, I went back and listened to it again. And it was very good, but I'm still not quite sure it deserved quite the praise it got. Then again, the sound mixing seemed to be off on this song tonight, and applause seemed to drown out a portion of the song. Paula said that tonight was a sign that Gina is "coming into your own as an artist," and I'm not sure what she's talking about--wasn't she terrible just last week? I will say this with confidence--it was without a doubt the best performance of a Pretenders song this season on American Idol and hopefully made Chrissie Hynde forget about that Alaina Alexander disaster from a few weeks ago. And one other question: Couldn't Gina sing better without that tongue ring?

Sanjaya Malakar ("Bathwater")--I had never heard this No Doubt song before, and I kind of liked it. And that's the best thing I can say about Sanjaya tonight, because his singing was once again pretty lackluster. Randy and Paula are actually correct in telling him to let it loose--while the choruses were decent tonight, in the verses it seemed Sanjaya wasn't even putting much effort in to even project his voice above a whisper. But Simon's correct--what more is there to say? And I don't want to talk about the hair. But if, as Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post believes, that his power is in his hair, I would think that making a mohawk like that might lessen its hold over America--because it was kind of disturbing.

Haley Scarnato ("True Colors")--The first of Gwen Stefani's two hilarious backhanded compliments/kind putdowns came here, when she said that Haley started off "really great," but then started to sing "this other kind of melody which is so unnecessary for the song." It was very good advice, since Haley had enough difficulty singing the actual melody of the song. She did OK, but nothing special. A big thumbs up once again, though, for her outfit.

Phil Stacey ("Every Breath You Take")--First of all, was it really cold in the studio tonight. Phil had on a t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt and a jacket, along with a hat. Also, Phil was asked what it's like being a household name. Is Phil Stacey really a household name yet? Melinda, LaKisha, Sanjaya, yes. But don't most people refer to Phil as "the bald, freaky looking guy"? Anyway, Gwen's second great putdown/compliment was when she told Phil "I didn't know it was going to be that good" after he sang this song for her. And it was really good--certainly the best performance Phil's ever given on this show. And it came just a half hour after Chris Sligh's performance, after which I wrote about how tough it was to sing a Sting song. Well, Phil pulled it off, although to be fair, this is a much easier song to sing that "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." A few more performances like that, and maybe Phil will be a household name.

Melinda Doolittle ("Heaven Knows")--I may have my problems with Melinda's song selection and personality, but I can't deny she's got a great voice. And it was in fine form tonight. She was pretty great And it was great to at least see her sing a song from a decade as recent as the 1970s. But there's still something other than the "you think I'm good" personality that bothers me about her, something related to the "she hasn't given me a reason to buy her record" complaint I made last week, and I can't yet quite put my finger on it. Maybe I will be able to by next week.

Blake Lewis ("Love Song")--My excitement at seeing someone sing a Cure song on American Idol was tempered somewhat by the fact that it's one of the Cure's most boring songs. And Blake didn't do much to liven it up--singing it probably more slowly than the original, at the same languid pace that he'd sung his song the previous two weeks. Paula, how is that "taking risks"? Once again, he really didn't show off much vocally. I thought Simon's comment that he was in the "Chris Daughtry Zone" was quite appropriate--he's doing the same thing every week, and while it's not bad, it's getting tiring. (Oh, and while I'm not a huge fan of Chris Daughtry's style of music, he is a far better singer than Blake.) A couple other stray comments: Gwen Stefani wondered how Blake would beat-box on this song, and it made me wonder, was he actually thinking about beat-boxing on this song? Because that would not have worked. I did realize after that, though, how many Cure songs he could have beat-boxed too? Can you imagine him doing "Why Can't I Be You?" or "Let's Go To Bed?" As for Paula saying she'd be happy to see Blake in the finale, unless they're requiring the finale to have a guy in it, that's such a dumb statement for so many reasons (from timing to the fact that there are at least three women better than him) than I'm not going to dignify it with a response.

Jordin Sparks ("Hey Baby") For someon who seemed to have a lot of momentum and was improving every week, I thought tonight was a disaster. First of all, that was a horrible song choice. Why would you want to do a song that has no melody and seems to be more talking than singing? (And for someone who so rightfully told the Idols repeatedly tonight to concentrate on the melody, it does seem kind of strange that Gwen Stefani does have a number of songs without much of one.) And second, although she got better as the song went along, I thought she started off kind of tentative and looked like she wasn't sure what she was doing. And her outfit wasn't all that hot either--a friend said she was dressed like Ugly Betty. So I have no idea what the judges were watching tonight.

Chris Richardson ("Don't Speak")--Gwen wanted Chris to eschew the "vocal Olympics" and stick to the melody--another on point analysis--and I guess he mostly tried to and did have some good moments during the song. But I thought Chris's performance tonight mostly showed off how reed-thin his voice is most of the time. I wasn't impressed.

So who's in our bottom three? I think--maybe hope is the better word--that Sanjaya is one of them, and I think Haley makes it there again too. I think the third will be Chris Sligh, but I think he'll survive. Haley won't. Fingerhut out.



Anonymous John said...

Good blog.

Um, I kind of felt bored for most of the show. It was a painless sort of boredom, but still...

I voted for Haley (and yes, it's just as easy to vote while I'm drooling), Lakisha...and that might have been it. I meant to vote for Blake, but forgot.

Sanjaya: to paraphrase lyrics from the premiere band of the Eighties, the joke isn't funny anymore. Saw that his mom was there, what did she call herself last week, Momjaya? Is that really a suffix? Then where was his sister, Boobsjaya?

Other folks I'm tiring of: both guys named Chris and Melinda.

Phil was better than usual, but still creeps me out. And I hate when guys have a girl's first name for their last name. I mean, who does that sort of crap?

3/28/07, 10:03 AM  
Anonymous kson220 said...

On the issue with Phil's last name, he can't help what his parents name is. Don't hold it against him. He's got enough not going in his favor.

Sanjaya, Sanjaya, Sanjay. Enough said.

I thought that both Chris' were rather weak this week (haha), and I am not sure what the judges heard, but Gina was only mediocre for me. But then again, I don't particulary care for her, her style, or her attitude.

Melinda, Lakisha, Jordin and Blake all performed as expected.

Once again, with any luck, Sanjaya will be outta there!!!

3/28/07, 4:33 PM  
Anonymous John said...

That joke of mine was way too inside...my last name is also a girl's first name.

4/3/07, 4:18 PM  

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