A solid singing show overall last night. Country week always goes over well because the songs don’t require much extra energy. You just go out there and belt. For the most part the songs are easy to sing (no big notes for small voices or vice versa), you know the Idols are only choosing well-known songs, so the crowd and the audience at home are always into it. And the fact of the matter is that the primary audience for this show is country music fans. That’s why Carrie Underwood is a franchise, Bo Bice will have a career till he weeds himself to death, and why Kellie Pickler is paid handsomely to look stupid, sound okay, and keep her deliriously fake boobs as high on her chest as she can. Country music sells in this country and Idols are an easy sell to the country music crowd.
The irony of the week is that Phil sounded great. Probably the most pitch-perfect male vocal of the night (not that he had much competition other than Blake). Had he done anything to dampen the alien head, I would have put green money down that he’d be safe tonight. But since Chris reached out to the Virginia Tech kids and America loves a penitent man, he’ll be safe. Sanjaya was obviously the worst of the night (everything the judges said about him was true, despite him being so clever), but his crappiness will be overshadowed by the bitchfest between Simon and Ryan. People will keep Sanjaya around just to see more in-fighting between the talent. And as for Blake, well, forget it, it’s Blake! He’s not going anywhere.
As for the Mentor of the Week, Martina McBride, watching her I couldn’t get that one Rocky IV quote out of my head. “He doesn’t know it’s an exhibition. He thinks it’s a damn fight.” Could she have been more serious about her role? I thought she gave some fairly sage advice, but was way too humorless about it. She’s dealing with Sanjaya Malakar, the girl has got to lighten up! Maybe her dog died and her boyfriend cheated on her and her pickup truck just broke down and she’s halfway through writing her next hit record and she’s just feeling that pain. Or I’ve watching too many bad country music videos. Either way, she did nothing to endear me to her talent or to her music.
But anyway… on to the bloop review.
As stated before, I’ve decided to recap the show week-to-week and grade the singers on a sliding scale of how much I wanted to, or did, TiVo-bloop through the song. At the end of each recap I’ll make my pick for who should (and hopefully will) get the axe on the Wednesday night results show.
Let’s break it down, bloop bloop style!
1. Melinda Doolittle – That’s how an American Idol takes care of business. Vibrant, wildly entertaining, fun, gorgeous, and technically perfect; pick one or all of them, it doesn’t matter because Melinda was all those things and more. She might even have been sexy. I’m not sure, but those hair extensions and the halter top were doing some confusing things to my bathing suit area. I feel like Randy Jackson a bit, because that was hot! I didn’t even look at my remote during that performance.
2. Jordin Sparks – I love it when an Idol chooses to sing a song originally done by the mentor of the week, and you can see on the mentor's face how much they hate it. Martina McBride may be a great singer, but she’s a horrible actress. Girl cannot hide the hate. Unfortunately for Martina, Jordin rocks the eff out of the song. Whoever took her backstage and told her to pick it up deserves a large cash reward. Jordin finally looked interested and passionate again. Great song choice, wonderful vocal, she looked beautiful, and the performance itself was poised, controlled, and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. No bloops for Jordin Sparks tonight. If she sings like this for the rest of the competition, Melinda and Blake are gonna have some serious problems.
3. Blake Lewis – First things first — I love the song “When the Stars Go Blue”. I love the Corrs version (with Bono) and I love the original Ryan Adams version I recently found online. Added to that, I’m a huge Blake Lewis fan. So I had high expectations for this performance. They were not entirely met. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it. I think he struggled with the editing in the beginning and was only really comfortable when he took the mic off the stand and moved around a little. I liked the chorus (but then again the chorus is so good, even Sanjaya couldn’t fuck it up), but wasn’t loving the intervening verses. However, he looked great, he sounded better than nearly everyone else, the stage itself looked great with all the stars on the floor, and really, he sang one of my favorite songs. He’s not getting anything more than one-bloop for singing “When the Stars Go Blue”, I just wished he had done something more with it.
4. Phil Stacey – Alright, who let the alien back onto the stage? If ever there was a way to make me hate country music more, the return of Alien Phil Head would do the trick. Not a good way to begin the Idol week. The genre itself actually does good things for Phil’s voice. All the notes are in a medium register, which means Phil isn’t dipping into his creepy range. He sounds even, on pitch, and exactly like every other male country singer I have ever heard. Which is to say, it was technically okay, but I still felt nothing. The problem for Phil is that the herd has been thinned and he’s the only one that can’t keep up any more. For the vocal, it was merely a one-bloop, but even that upswing in quality won’t be enough to save him. On his best week, he gets the boot. Idol is a cruel, cruel beast. (Oh, and just a note to whomever it was in the audience that had the sign “Hats Off, Phil!” Unless you come from the planet Quarthos, or some other distant race of non-Earthlings, do not ever, EVER (!), encourage Phil to go out in public without a hat. This country has survived enough horrors lately.)
5. Chris Richardson – The problem that Chris is facing is that he patently refuses to change his look to suit the genre, and that refusal is probably going to cost him a week or two on the show. Whether he's doing country, Latin, '60s, whatever, he looks the same. And he fidgets like he’s gonna bust out a wicked run, even when the song doesn’t call for it. I need to see him adapt to the song. Right now he’s just too one-note for me. I’ve never wanted to see Justin Timberlake do country, and I doubt anyone else has either; Chris did nothing to change my mind. Boring, fidgety, off-key, dispassionate, and full on double-bloop worthy. He’s definitely bottom three this week.
6. LaKisha Jones – The gumption of this woman, again stealing the thunder of past Idols! I know Carrie Underwood. I’m friends with Carrie Underwood. And LaKisha, you are no Carrie Underwood. LaKisha was pitchy, underwhelming, and the big note wasn’t even that great. I’ve been over this girl for weeks now, and I think the judges are finally agreeing with me. If she stopped trying to ape better singers that we have more affinity for, she might actually develop a voice and personality I could grow to like. An easy double-bloop decision for me.
7. Sanjaya Malakar – Another very clever performance by the pet rock. He goes for another water cooler hairdo, and chooses a song everyone knows and likes to sing along to, which means we’ll overlook the now expected limp vocal, and sing along with him instead of hearing how bad he is. He had the sex eyes on full-board predator mode, he did the dancing behind the judges bit, and he strutted across the stage knowing full well he wasn’t going anywhere. Confidence goes a long way on this show, and Sanjaya has it in spades. I’m disappointed that he degraded since last week. I was hoping he might actually become a real contestant and not some showboating publicity hound, but it looks like he’s going to test the waters of his own dubious popularity. Well to that I say: “Welcome to the universe of Triple-Bloop”.
Bottom Three: Sanjaya Malakar, Chris Richardson, Phil Stacey
My prediction for who gets the axe: Phil Stacey (Phil Stacey phone home!)