American Idol: Top 10 Performance Show

Ryan promises we’re in for an outstanding night, because Gwen Stefani is our guest mentor, and the contestants will be singing songs written by Gwen, performed by her and her band, or “songs from bands that inspired her.” Nice loophole guys. Sounds like a lame imitation of “theme week” to me.

Gwen (who really could use a little blusher, by the way) didn’t come across as the sharpest tool in the shed in her initial meet and greet film. Hopefully the one on ones will be more enlightening…

Lakisha: Singing “Last Dance” by Donna Summer….great song choice. Stefani says listening to Lakisha made her feel “sweaty” and like she should be asking HER for advice. Huh? Whatever…our girl Lakisha came out there and seized control of the stage from the very first note and worked those black leather boots for all they were worth. Can we just give her a free pass into the final two. Randy: first time I’ve seen you do an uptempo joint, you were like a true fly diva, that was hot. Paula: you did Donna Summer proud. Simon: Love those boots. Great Lakisha, because now you’re 30 years younger this week. Love the big note at the end, had a great vocal.

Chris Sligh: Oh great, another viewer question: how much down time do you have? Fortunately, Chris trotted out his sense of humor (which was in short supply the last couple of weeks) and responded: “Well, you know, I knit, crochet, play the bongos in my boxer shorts, you know.” Then he said he tries to get as much sleep as possible so they don’t get sick…yawwwn. He chose “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police. Gwen said he had trouble keeping the beat in rehearsal. His voice sounds good, but he started out looking a little stiff and nervous…I can’t help thinking about Sting’s manic jumping around in the original music video, and Chris’ laid back approach seems too slow and lethargic. Randy: I think it was a good song choice, the biggest problem was rhythmically you weren’t in tempo with the band. Paula: probably the biggest amount of criticism I’ve had for you all season. The audience wants to groove with you, but they can’t get into with you. Simon: I thought it was a mess, to be honest. I don’t think the song suited you, and it didn’t feel right.

Simon got pissy when the music cut him off before he was done critiquing Chris…sounds like the producers want him to take it easy on Mr. Sligh and keep him around. Wonder if the music will cue up while they’re trashing Sanjaya later? I doubt it!

Gina Glocksen: She cried like a pathetic stalker fan in front of her “inspiration” Gwen Stefani (who had absolutely nothing of value to add, once again). She sang, “I’ll Stand By You”, dressed in a trashy tank top/slip dress and super short mini. I guess it worked for Haley last week, so the girls will be trotting out the sex appeal again this week. She got big applause form the audience, but what did the judges think? Randy: Okay, yo…this must be boot night. I thought this was one of your best performances ever. Perfect song for you. Paula: I love the fact that you’re proving each week and you’re coming into your own. Best performance so far. Simon: Wasn’t one of your best performances, it was your BEST performance. This is all about knowing who you are, choosing the right song. Best performance so far tonight (really? Better than Lakisha?? I beg to differ.)

oh up Sanjaya and Haley…bring on the earplugs

Sanjaya Malakar: Okay, first he has the balls to chose a No Doubt song. Gwen said, “I feel for him…it’s a hard song.” Then, he comes out in sky-high ponytailed mohawk. OMG…I’m tempted to vote for him just for the hilarity factor. Who knows what this guy is capable of? Keep him! Randy: I’m speechless, man. The hairdo is definitely interesting. You actually can sing man if you’d just go on and put it out there. Paula: If you had the gumption to go for it, then it would fit the wackiness of the faux-hawk. You can do it, c’mon. Simon: Well I presume there was no mirror in your dressing room tonight. I don’t think it matters anymore what we say, I think you are in your own universe, and if people like you, then Good Luck. Ryan asked him about the “look” and he revealed the mohawk is comprised of seven individual pony tails…for those at home keeping score.

Haley Scarnato: oh no, she’s choosing Cindy Lauper’s True Colors. Loved the cringing, pained expression on Stefani’s face. She said Haley started out okay, but lapsed into some other melody. Haley came out in a super short black number (no surprise there) and lots of bling. She sang the song okay, but it was boring and pitchy at the end, and had zero emotion in it. Randy: I mean, you know, I wasn’t jumpin’ up and down…it was just aw-ight for me. Paula: It’s one of those songs that requires nothing other than singing the melody, you had more of an adult contemporary performance with that. Pretty girl. Simon: How do you think you did? I think it was sweet but forgettable. (Yes! Exactly.)

Phil Stacey: Wearing another unfortunate hate…dear lord. His audience question: how does it feel to become a household name in a matter of weeks? Phil says, “Oh we’re too busy to notice.” Such crap. He chose, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, and Gwen was pleasantly surprised by how good he was, and once again advised sticking to the melody. Ah, now that he’s singing, I can see why he chose this particular hat: it pins his huge ears back and keeps them hidden…smart ploy. Now you can notice his blue eyes. Randy: I actually kinda liked that dog! (Stop sounding so shocked, dude.) Paula: she liked the chorus, didn’t like the verses. A real good performance. Simon: This may surprise, but I actually thought that was very good. You know what, great choice of song.

Melinda Dolittle: She decided to sing “Heaven Knows”, another of my faves. Gwen had no advice, and didn’t bother saying “good luck” because she didn’t think MindyDoo needed any. Best hairstyle on Melinda yet…a Gladys Knight flip that was actually flattering. She can certainly sing the heck out of any song, and hit some wonderful big notes, but I thought she oversold the song. It was too showboaty and over the top for me. Randy: you know what’s really so dope, man? A pro singer does exactly what you do, you sing with feeling, interpret the song, that was the bomb, yeah! Paula: It’s fun, you’re so joyful. Simon: I don’t think this is the performance we look back on and say it was the best, vocally it was very good, hate the outfit.

Oh yeah, Ryan Seacrest earns MAJOR points with me for finally calling Melinda out on her “surprised look” every time she stands in front of the judges. About time!

Blake Lewis: Sang a love song by The Cure. Gwen says he needs to be careful when he chooses to trot out the beat boxing. Hmmm…tough song, and he sounds a little uneven in the beginning. Also, what the heck is up with those black suspenders hanging down past his butt? Weird outfit. Randy: not a good song choice, but you made the most of it. I liked it. Paula: I loved what you did with the song, I thought it was so cool. You’re taking risks and being original. I think you’re the dark horse, and I’d love to see you in the finale. Simon: definitely the strongest guy in the competition, but you’ve got to be careful not to become too indulgent and it’s a bit boring. It’s a matter of taste, for sure though, you are the front running guide.

Jordin Sparks: She chose “Hey Baby”….wow, talk about guts! Gwen said she was surprised, too, but that Jordin won her over and made the song sound a lot more musical than she thought. Ugh…I love Jordin, but this was a bad song choice. It does absolutely nothing to showcase her voice, and the schoolgirl outfit she chose tonight is dowdy and unflattering. Bleh. Randy: That was a very risky thing to do, but you could literally sing anything, that was brilliant. Paula: And you’re adorable. I loved seeing you in this kind of mode. Simon: I think you are probably the most improved contestant in the last few weeks, it was much younger, only problem I had was it was a bit copycat-ish. Clearly the judges want her to stay and went easy on her….the song was a mess.

Chris Richardson: He’s also choosing a No Doubt song, their huge hit, “Don’t Speak”. Stefani finally gives some relevant advice, which is to “stick with the emotion of the song” and to not oversing it with his usual “vocal Olympics.” Again, the verses were a little weak, and the chorus didn’t have the emotional punch of the original because he sang it like a boy bander, not a spurned lover filled with angst. The crowd cheered wildly, but I didn’t like it. Randy: that was an interesting kind of thing, I liked the R&B thing, but I liked your twist on it. Paula: you’re good, Chris, you’re good. It was good (oh boy, she looks a little loopy again). Simon: I wasn’t crazy about the vocal, I think you struggled in the middle, and I think you need to pay a lot more attention on your vocals right now. (Once again, he’s spot on.)

I thought the show was only so-so tonight, and that Gwen Stefani was a total waste as a judge. She didn’t offer much in the way of constructive advice, and the performances were as lackluster as her tips to the contestants. Let’s face it…all she wants is to promote her upcoming tour…she couldn’t care less about who wins this competition.

Tomorrow night…the results!

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