Welcome back to this week’s edition of American Idol. We’re down to 11 contestants, and the theme is British Invasion: songs of the early 1960s. Our guest judges: singer Peter Noone coaching the guys, and singer/actress LuLu stepping in to help out the girls. Can the contestants redeem themselves from the underwhelming show they put on last week?
Haley Scarnato Song choice: Tell Him. LuLu advised her to sing it with more of a staccato style, and gave struggling Haley a pep talk that even though there are some “big voices” in the competition, she needs to “be proud of her own sound.” Great advice! Haley came out all glammed/tramped up, channeling her inner Antonella Barba in a barely-there halter and short shorts with huge metal earrings that looked like a couple of coasters dangling from her ears. Her weird little come hither moves paired with her out-of-breath delivery wasn’t awful, but didn’t wow me.
Randy: It had “yo factor written all over it dawg”
Paula: I liked the “flirtation side” of you
Simon: you naughty little thing, it was a bit shrieky, “I think people will be talking about a lot more than your singing tonight.”
Chris Richardson sang Don’t Let the Sun Get You Cryin’. Peter Noone didn’t seem too happy with Chris, although to hear Chris tell it, they had a grand ole time. Noone said Chris never showed him the melody to the song, while Chris thought they got along all peachy..ruh roh. Chris sang the song well, but it was a little boring and very nasal.
Randy: check it out dawg, that was another great performance, showed a different side of you,
Paula: it was sexy and charming
Simon: it was your best performance yet, control was excellent, a little nasally but a good performance
Stephanie Edwards Ryan subjected her to an inane fan question before her performance: What’s the hardest part about preparing for the show? Steph said it was picking the right song. She chose Dusty Springfield’s mega-hit, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. LuLu compared her to Beyonce and had high hopes for her tonight. She sounded terrific but barely moved throughout the performance, seeming stiff and nervous.
Randy: great song choice, but not the best performance from you, a little pitchy
Paula: love what you’re wearing, you picked the right song, you’re a great singer, go back to having fun
Simon: asked her how she thought she did. “I thought I did well” (Note to Steph: if he’s asking…you didn’t) Simon said he though she was “losing her edge”, it was a bit night-clubby, it was cabaret, and she’s becoming far too old for herself.
Blake Lewis: he sang Time of the Season. Peter Noone once again seemed underwhelmed. Best thing he could think to say was, “I’m sure he’ll have all the young kids voting for him.” I thought he sounded a little bit sharp, and more than a little creepy on the slow parts.
Randy: yo, dawg, awight, it was vibey, massive yo factor, much props to you
Paula: I think you’ve raised the bar, I feel like I was at a concert (um, you mean, high?)
Simon: better than last week, chose the right song, made the song contemporary, strongest performance so far (I disagree…I think they want this guy in the Top 10/on the Idol tour, and they’re giving him a pass this week)
Lakisha Jones: Our resident ballad diva confessed she felt out of her element with this genre, and was torn between two songs: Diamonds are Forever and You’re My World, LuLu tried to talk her into You’re My World, but in the end, she went with her first pick. Draped in a pleated, kelly green confection that would make any leprechaun proud, she gave a soulful, sultry performance, but did look a touch uncomfortable.
Randy: yo, yo, yo, awight, so yo…it was a good choice, but I don’t know if it was my favorite performance. I didn’t feel enough LaKisha in it. It was just awight for me.
Paula: you made the right choice, picked the right song, and you’re a very smart girl (she was wearing a million bucks of diamonds…who cares?)
Simon: we know that you are a fantastic singer, but this was LaKisha in 50 years time. Wasn’t my favorite performance. It was too old, too old-fashioned (Totally agree)
Phil Stacey: he chose an uptempo number,Tobacco Road, because it was fun, Peter Noone thought he chose well because it’s a song that’s got life in it. He came and started hopping around the stage, doing a little “Bo Bice with the mike stand” impression (without the long tresses of hair flailing around, naturally). It wasn’t the strongest singing we’ve heard so far, but he certainly commanded the stage and hit the big note at the end for a strong finish. I think it was his best performance so far.
Randy: yo Phil, it was a pretty good performance, a little pitchy
Paula: I think it was a good choice of song, there were some parts that were pitchy, but I liked hearing the various ranges of your voice
Simon: I wasn’t crazy about it, kind of a third division bar band performance. I don’t hear any grit in your voice, and you need grit to pull off a song like that. You’re being outsung by the other singers.
Poor Phil. He looked very upset after hearing his critiques, because he’d really given it his all, and it just dawned on him (live, in front of millions of people) that his best just isn’t going to be good enough to win this competition. Ouch.
Jordin Sparks: She had her beautiful curls flat ironed, and her boobs on display in a low-cut number. Way to pander to those Antonella votes, Jordin. She towered over LuLu, while practing her song, I Who Have Nothing. LuLu said she loves the song, and thought it was perfect for Jordin. She predicted that Jordin had a great chance to make to the finale. She came out and belted out the song in a way that made it hard to believe she’s only 17. Best performance of the night! She had an incredible finish, and got a rousing standing ovation from the crowd.
Randy: it was a very tall order for you to sing that song, yet it was very controlled, a great performance
Paula: each week we learn just how great your range is becoming, you’re a wonderful performer
Simon: you sang it beautifully, but I feel like jumping off a bridge, it was sooooo gloomy. It was a bit depressing, but you did sing it beautifully. (what a stupid, not-constructive comment).
Sanjaya Malakar: before the commercial break, Ryan promised we’d see “the wild side of Sanjaya”…lord help us. Then, Ryan spoke with Peter Noone out in the studio audience, who asserted that Simon was wrong and this ISN’T a singing competition, it’s a voting competition. He got in another dig at Cowell (something about certain Brits who chose to move to the States….oh snap!) Sanjaya was torn between “You Really Got Me” and “I’m Into Something Good” but went for his first pick. He confessed he’s not the best singer in the competition, but would try his best anyhow. He squinted and shouted his way through the whole song, while the cameras panned to an obviously mentally-unstable little girl who was sobbing her pre-prepubescent eyes out for no apparent reason.
Randy: you shocked me and came out of your shell…your best performance to date
Paula: that’s what we’ve been waiting for, I hope you had fun up there
Simon: ooh ho, my god, I think that little girl’s face says it all (cringe)
At Ryan Seacrest’s sadistic urging, Sanjaya then went down into the audience and hugged inconsolable little Ashley, while Ryan spoke to her in a tone of voice typically reserved for your Uncle Schlomo who hasn’t been the same since he took that bullet to the frontal lobe in “Nam. Who is this kid, and why are they giving this teenybopper train wreck so much air time?
Time for a commercial break with this juicy news teaser: Elliott Yamin is dating a model, details at 11. Yowsa! Snaggletooth from last season is getting some! Boo-yah!
Gina Glocksen: in full-on Pat Benatar mode (black leather pants and torn up black tank), she replied to a fan question about how the competition has made her stronger. She chose the song Paint it Black, and althought LuLu thought it was a good song choice, she suggested Gina kick it up a bit into a higher key. She came out and rocked it, working the stage but too often shrieking her lyrics, instead of singing them.
Randy: loved the energy vibe, didn’t love the vocal, a little pitchy in spots
Paula: miles better than last week, this is what you have fun doing, let loose a little more
Simon: there were moments of complete torture in that vocal, it was so off melody and just was not very good, it was style over content. You’re gonna have to sing a heck of a lot better than that. Vocally: not good enough, sweetheart. (C’mon Simon, tell us how you REALLY feel)
Chris Sligh: He chose She’s Not There by The Zombies. Said Peter Noone gave him great advice: figure out what the song is about, sing the lyric with feeling, and you’ll be fine. Before he even stepped out, the crowd started out on their feet, when Chris suddenly emerged from the middle of the audience and worked his way to the stage. He seemed to be shouting a lot to me, and I’m still not sure what the heck he was singing about.
Randy: dude, it’s like a concert in here, It started out a little bit rough, but you wound up good.
Paula: yeah, he was a little ahead of the beat, you’re dressing much nicer, I like that you’re working the audience, feel free to be more personable with the audience
Simon: (giving Paula that “are you stoned?” look: What could he have done to be more personable with the audience? You did your thing, I don’t think you had a problem with the audience, it was a good song for your, you showed a lot of personality, and you did a lot better than last week.
Chris ended by giving a few lame, desperate shout outs to his “Fro Patrol” voters, this season’s answer to Taylor Hicks’ “Soul Patrol” phenom.
Melinda Dolittle: She throttled back a bit on the doe-eyed false modesty this week, but tried to convince us that shew as “out of her comfort zone” with an torch song. Yeah, right. She sang As Long As He Needs Me, and after their practice session, LuLu didn’t have much advice at all, other than, Yup, I felt what you were trying to say. Thankfully, the Darth Vader helmet-hair is gone this week, but the performance started out slow and boring. Oh jeez, and they’re so desperate for something to focus on OTHER than Melinda’s face, the camera cut away in to that inconsolable stalker kid again. What is UP with that?
Randy: we saved the best vocal for last, you have great relative pitch, you’re a pro up there
Paula: you’re in your own league my dear
Simon: Are you really as nice as you seem? I thought it was a very boring song, but you made the second part absolutely sensational. So, you really are that nice? (don’t bet on it, Cowell.)
Eh…overall, I thought it was definitely better than the suck-fest of last week, but I still wasn’t blown away. The only performance that I thought was memorable was Jordin’s. And why, for the love of all that’s holy, would Ryan end the show by bringing that deranged, sobbing little moppet Ashley up on stage? Style over substance, indeed.