American Idol: Top 9 Performance RECAP

Ryan says we’re expecting 9 superlative performances tonight, because the evening’s mentor is none other than Tony Bennett! I love Tony B., and respect his work and career, but I’m not sure if even HE has the power to whip this crew into shape.

Blake Lewis: Came out singing a mellow version of Mack the Knife. I like Blake, but his performance reminded me a little too much of John Stephens. He seemed really uncomfortable until the very end.

Randy: That was, uhhhhh, a very good way to start the evening. This is kinda your thing, so I liked it, dude.
Paula: Tonight you personified pizzazz. You’re just cool!
Simon: Good choice of song, you performed it well, I’ll give you 7 out of 10, the band 8 out of 10.

Phil Stacey: Tony Bennett said Phil is one of the better singers he’s ever heard….wow. High praise, indeed. Phil was in fine voice, and hit some terrific notes!

Randy: So, check it out, dawg…I don’t know man, it just didn’t hit me. It was kinda disconnected for me.
Paula: Here’s the good news: you’re reminiscent of a young Frank Sinatra. I still need you to have more joy and warm those vocals up. I need to have that personality come through.
Simon: I think it had all the joy of someone singing in a funeral parlor.

Melinda Doolittle: She sang the heck out of her song, as usual, but I can’t help it: I just don’t enjoy watching her. If I close my eyes and listen, she sounds great, but visually, she comes across so old.

Randy: You come out here and give everyone a lesson in singing.
Paula: You’re like a master class for everyone else to watch. You were flawless.
Simon: I didn’t like the first half, it was a bit cabaret. I liked the last half, it was great, fun, it had personality.

Chris Richardson: He didn’t have the strongest vocal of the night, but he was the most entertaining so far. The audience was on their feet from the first moment he appeared, and grooved along with him throughout his rendition of “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”

Randy: What’s really cool about you tonight, you came out there with a vengeance. That was hot! One of your best performances to date.
Paula: You made it so hip and so cool…this was your best performance, bar none.
Simon: I thought that was very good, very believable, and I agree you made it kinda hip. One of the strongest tonight.

Jordin Sparks: She started out a little boring, but kicked it up about 30 seconds in and started to relax and have fun with it. I think she’s every bit as good as Melinda, but far more fun to watch, and with greater commercial appeal.

Randy: We got some heat up here! That was very controlled!! Hot!
Paula: You really are this magnet of joy, you exude when you come onstage, I’m just so frickin’ proud of you!
Simon: Well, “magnet of joy” I think you sang it very well, but you didn’t make the song young and current. It was very traditional.

Gina Glocksen: This could be a tough week for our rocker chick. How will she handle an American standard? She chose, “Smile”, a song that Tony Bennett said holds a lot of emotion for him when he sings it. Unfortunately, Gina’s version lacked drama, even though she sang all the notes well….the performance itself didn’t pack any punch. She also didn’t do anything to put her own stamp on it.

Randy: That was a very nice controlled performance, I actually kinda liked that.
Paula: That was flawless and sentimental.
Simon: I can’t rave about the vocal, sorry Gina, two girls came out before you and completely outsang you.

Sanjaya Malakar:
Tony Bennett said he’s a big fan of Sanjaya’s because he comes out each week and does something different, so he’s interesting to watch. “He dares to be different,” said Tony B. He came out looking like a smarmy lounge singer (slicked back hair plastered to his head) and even took Paula for a little twirl. His voice was whispery and weak in the beginning, but eventually warmed up…he wasn’t ear-splittingly awful, but he’s clearly out of his league.

Randy: I can’t even comment on the vocals anymore, but you’re an entertainer now.
Paula: I get why people love you: you’re charming. I love the suit. Thank you for the dance.
Simon: Uh, let’s try a different tactic this week: “Incredible.”

Haley Scarnato: Ooofah….as they showed her waiting in the wings before the commercial break, we got a glimpse of her “barely there” green sequined outfit this week. Gotta hand it to Haley: she’s going to make sure she pulls out all the stops and works the sex appeal angle for all it’s worth. Loved the smackdown she got from Tony Bennett, telling her she was “ruining the story of the song” (Ain’t Misbehavin’) when she tried to sex it up and sing it to multiple people. She promptly ignored his advice, and sang the song like a stripper looking for dollar bills. I didn’t find her performance sexy, so much as trashy. Apparently, the judges agreed, because Randy and Paula didn’t have the guts to give Haley any sort of critique at all this week.

Randy: Uh, I really thought this song style would fit you, but, uh, what do you think Paula?
Paula: Uh, did I mention, green is a good color for you?
Randy: Uh, um, you know, I want to hear what Simon has to say!
Simon: No, that’s rude. Say what you think of the performance!
Paula: Uh, no, we want to hear what YOU have to say.
Simon: I think you’ve got great legs. It should have been a good style of song for you, but I thought it was pagent-y.

LaKisha: The look on Tony Bennett’s face as she was singing…you could see he was genuinely enjoying her practice performance. She came out and commanded attention (instead of begging for it, the way Haley had so desperately just moments before). Her voice is the highlight, and the big note at the end was killer! Go LaKisha!!

Randy: LaKisha, check it out, I loved this. That was the bomb, baby!
Paula: This is the most gorgeous you’ve ever looked. You did an amazing job.
Simon: Back on form LaKisha, that was a sassy, great performance.

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