Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A classic Idol?

Earlier tonight at the Passover seder, I said tonight's American Idol would probably be pretty boring--not because of Tony Bennett or the fact they were singing standards or "American classics," but because it wouldn't really tell us much about the female frontrunners because it really wouldn't make them stretch much. They'd all do fine, and we wouldn't know much more about the ability of Melinda and LaKisha to sing different styles of music than we did last week. And I think I was correct about that. But the show wasn't bad tonight, because just about everybody gave at least a solid performance. I suppose that if you're able to sing a classic song, that's always a benefit because you're actually singing a song good enough to stand the test of time.

And for our weekly news about Sanjaya update: If you didn't hear yet, the young woman who was on that hunger strike has ended it, apparently at the suggestion of her doctor. But I believe she said a friend of hers is still keeping his going. Hey, whatever you think of Sanjaya, he has made what could have been a very boring Idol season a little more interesting.

Blake Lewis ("Mack the Knife")--I like how Tony Bennett told Blake that this song was "pre-rap." Personally, I was scared Blake would transform this into a moody, 80s style dirge like he's done with his last two or three songs. But he didn't do that, and he was pretty good. He actually sang an entire song tonight--instead of the talking and singing he'd been doing recently--and he was pretty good. I did get a little queasy and clautrophobic from that below-the-stage close up camera angle we got for the majority of the song. But that's not Blake's fault--at least I hope.

Loved the sign that little girl was holding that said "Simon is always right." It's good to see that they're learning young.

Phil Stacey ("Night and Day")--Tony Bennett said that Phil was one of the "better singers I've heard," and didn't mean just among the Idol singers. He must have sounded much better in rehearsal, because I wasn't particularly impressed here. He did sound pretty good by the end of the song, but he reverted to past form and once again started the song pretty badly--and the performance was generally kind of boring. Paula, of course, compared him to a young Frank Sinatra. I usually wouldn't dignify this kind of ridiculous comment with a response, but... I kind of know what she means. There were about five seconds in the middle of the song where he did kind of sound like Sinatra. Unfortunately, there were about 85 other seconds of the song during which he sounded nothing like Sinatra.

Melinda Doolittle ("I Got Rhythm")--I figured out what was bothering me about Melinda. I don't know what her actual age is, but she is without a doubt the oldest Idol contestant ever. Her song selections, her style--everything about her comes across as if she's a 40 year old. And isn't Idol about finding fresh, young talent? Anyway, Melinda's voice was great again, but this is the same kind of thing she's been doing for weeks. I want to see something new. Next week is Jennifer Lopez week, so I presume they'll do Latino music (It'll be a long week). I'm sure Melinda will find a way to do a show tune in Spanish, though, so we'll probably have to wait a while to see her try a different genre. As for Simon saying that he doesn't know if he'll ever be able to criticize her, don't disappoint us like that, Mr. Cowell.

Chris Richardson ("Don't Get Around Much Anymore")--This was surprisingly good, and Randy was correct--he sang it well and did bring a modern style to it. But if you're singing standards, can't you wear something a little nicer than torn jeans?

Jordin Sparks ("On A Clear Day")--She looked good, sounded even better, and I was much happier with Jordin this week than with that mess she gave us last week. Even better than Jordin's performance, perhaps, was seeing Simon try to hold in the laughter as Paula raved about her being "a magnet of joy." Fabulous entertainment. And actually, after praising the sign in the audience about Simon always being right, I don't think he was correct in criticizing Jordin for not making her song modern like Chris Richardson's was. Simon, did Melinda make her song modern? I don't think so.

Gina Glocksen ("Smile")--This song always reminds me of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, because it's the theme song for that event. And the version the band plays during that telethon has a quicker tempo and is peppier than the version of this song Gina sung tonight. Does anyone know--is Gina's tempo the correct tempo, or are there parts of this song that are faster. Anyway, she did OK, but nothing special or memorable. And Paula, we go through this every year--LET SIMON TALK! And Paula, you're wrong--the show is not about singers competing against themselves for personal bests, they're competing against each other to win a record contract.

Sanjaya Malakar ("Cheek to Cheek")--It seems the show is now trying to be in on the joke with Sanjaya now, what with the way Ryan was almost winking at the camera while introducing him. And you know what? This wasn't that bad. Sanjaya at times actually tried to sing the song and didn't embarass himself. It was far better than that version of "Steppin Out" he did a few weeks ago, which will go down as one of the worst performances in Idol history. In fact, if Sanjaya hadn't wandered around the audience and started dancing with Paula, it could have been even better, because his vocals faltered significantly at that point. In fact, he turns in a couple more half-decent performances and his chances of getting voted off probably increase, so it's all good.

Haley Scarnato ("Ain't Misbehavin")--So Haley was one of the singers who got the question from the Internet tonight. I can't believe anyone would ask Haley something as boring as when she's more nervous, before the song or before hearing the judges' comments. I would think most people, if they got the chance to question Haley, would want to know: Were you born with those legs looking so good, or do you do a special kind of workout to keep them in such good shape? Once again, she looked fabulous, much more fabulous than her singing. To be fair, though, her singing was OK, just nothing great. But why didn't Randy and Paula do much judging here? She wasn't that bad.

LaKisha Jones ("Stormy Weather")--She did fine--the judges said LaKisha was back but I'm not sure she really went anywhere. I was kind of struck by how loud the band was--LaKisha is a loud singer and yet sometimes she almost got drowned out by the horns. The most interesting thing about this performance, though, is that she put that "Ain't no sunshine" coda at the end of the song, after Tony Bennett told her to leave it off. This follows her disregarding Lulu's suggestion for song choice and, I believe, Diana Ross's suggestion on whether she should use a mike stand. What's the deal? Why doesn't LaKisha take the coaches' advice? Does this tell us something about her personality?

So who's in the bottom three? I think Phil will certainly be there, and Haley will probably be back again too. Sanjaya is probably safe another week, so I'd have to guess that Gina may be the third. And Phil should go home this week. Fingerhut out!



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