How do you spell credibility? "T-H-E-J-A-Y". Not only did I nail the ouster last week (smell you later, FrankenSligh), but I also pegged the correct bottom three. I am the unofficial American Idol Kreskin. The Mandalay Bay should hire to me to work their sportsbook and take crazy Idol bets like “will Haley start her performance on the steps” (5-2), “will Melinda put her hand to her mouth to express wonder that she’s receiving a compliment (even)” “How many times will Paula Abdul clap like a seal” (+5 and the points). Aside from correctly predicting that King Kong would tank, this is my proudest prophetic moment.
Now to tonight’s show, I thought it was a letdown. I got the feeling nobody was putting that much effort into it. The train kept rolling, shaky singers were shaky, great singers were great, Seacrest was dapper and the judges were as evasive with Sanjaya as ever. Nothing was a surprise. Tony Bennett was a classy choice for a mentor, but didn’t provide nearly as much insight into singing as Lulu or even Gwen Stefani did. This may have something to do with Bennett being roughly 136 years old. The Idols all acted as if he was the Grandfather you don’t want to get close to because he smells like menthol and death. The Idol kids (as well as most of the viewing audience) have no connection with classic American standards. They know the songs because it’s natural to know them, but it means nothing to them (Look at the disparity in how Gina and Tony looked at “Smile”.). Blake looked like was doing a bad karaoke set at Dimples; he sucked for the first time in the competition, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
I understand that the Idols need to be pushed to sing multiple genres and styles. But it does them (and us) no good if they ALL can’t pull it off. Of course Melinda would own this, she’s a throwback. But was there any doubt that Jordin, Haley, Gina and Sanjaya would trip up? That Chris R was going to do anything but Mraz his way through a sixty year-old tune? That LaKisha would find the one tune that let her belt out the final note and flap her arms faux-Diva style? It was all just too predictable. Go outside the box to test these kids. Have them all do electronica or house or speed metal. Have the guys sing girls songs and the girls sing guys songs. Make Gina sing Shakira and Blake sing Milli Vanilli. Force Melinda to sing Ashlee Simpson and LaKisha sing All-American Rejects. If this is really nothing more than a national karaoke contest, then get these kids drunk and pitch them the hell out of their comfort zone. They’re all coasting by on guile, when they should be fighting tooth and nail with guts and grit. Heck, the only one who’s really fighting this season is Sanjaya. This must change.
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 – I was sitting at my Passover Seder, you know, talking about Moses and not eating bread, and American Idol came up. Tony Bennett is the big time for my Mom and she asked me what I expected to see tonight. The first thing out of my mouth? That I’d give her two-to-one odds Tony adopts Melinda right on the spot. Seriously, like she wasn’t gonna be his star pupil? She’s the like the short, black, no-necked daughter he never had! Liked the hair, dug the dress, agreed with the song choice, was impressed with her attempts at being “jazzy”, and secretly recoiled at all her odd facial ticks. Girlfriend needs to get those under control, lest she fall into prey to a surprise one-bloop. For now though, it’s all good, she’s still the one to beat. (One last thought: is it me or is Melinda kind of developing a “look thoughtful while they tell me how much I kick ass” face? More as this develops.)
2. Chris Richardson – So that’s what it looks like to see Justin Timberlake sing a Standard. Huh? Not bad. Not too bad at all. This was the first time I liked Chris R. more than Blake. Warrants mentioning. A thoroughly pleasing no-bloop performance. He will not be in the bottom three this week. Though I’d warn Chris not to look so contradictorily grungy. A pressed vest and shirt with a cool cap looks smooth and GQ, but ripped jeans and Vans make the ensemble look like a reject idea for the fourteenth Mark Wahlberg Details magazine cover. Either dress up all the way, or rock the slacker look whole-heartedly. Halfway class eventually becomes no class at all.
3. Jordin Sparks – I’d bet green money that if you had to grade the idols on consistency week–to-week, Jordin would be right at the top of the list. If she had half even the stage or vocal experience of Melinda, this competition would be a walk. I like the comparisons she’s drawing to Kelly Clarkson (young, fun, not cynical about the business). I’m officially considering her the dark horse to sucker punch Mindy Doo off the Season Six throne. No bloops for you Jordin, way to work the precociousness.
4. Blake Lewis – I got a bad feeling about this night the second Blake started singing. This particular group of Idols has exactly zero love for music history, and as such, is in no way capable of relating to this style of music. Blake tried his damnedest to keep me interested, but there’s not much he can do. The kid is super-talented, can entertain like gangbusters, but tonight he was a pizzazz-filled one and a half-bloop. Also, and this is not his fault, anytime I hear a Bobby Darin song now, I immediately think of the atrocious Kevin Spacey movie Beyond the Sea, and how far Keyser Soze has fallen. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he was an A-list actor. And like that, his box office was gone…
5. Gina Glocksen – The Glock made Tony Bennett tear up! That’s an automatic exemption from the Bottom Three if I’ve ever seen one. I really enjoyed being able to hear a clean vocal from Gina; I was quietly thrilled to see that when she’s not aping Amy Lee she actually has quite a pretty voice. The stillness and the sentimentality worked for her. The hair on the other hand, is a whole other story. What was with the tied-back braid bangs? Yelch! As per the bloopage… a few weeks ago I wrote and directed a ten-minute play that was produced in a one-act show in North Hollywoood. One of the other one-acts used “Smile” as its soundtrack, and I was forced to sit through the snorefest eight freaking times. So despite my enjoyment of The Glock, I had to double-bloop her on principle. I will never get those cumulative eighty minutes of my life back.
6. Haley Scarnato – She has got to stop opening her performances on the steps. The whole “starting my set sitting so I can stand up and reveal my legendary gams” gimmick has gotten stale too quick. She was always going to need to back up the awesome body with a matching acceptable voice, and in that regard, she failed tonight. In fact, I’d say she failed on all accounts this week. She inadvertently dogged the importance of Randy and Paula, she threw crazy mad dog looks at Simon after he only spoke about her body (do not throw attitude at Simon, he will unleash a vendetta against you. See Sligh, Chris, for further information), she got a harsh buzz from Tony Bennett, and I was tempted to TRIPLE-bloop her (though Paula was right, Haley looks GOOD in green). I’ve got a bad feeling that the aesthetic quality of American Idol Season Six is about to take a severe downturn. I'd like to give my girl one more week to roll by on looks, but I don't know, I think she may be toast.
7. Phil Stacey – Can someone please put some blush on Mr. Klaatu Barakta Niktu? I’ve never been so creeped out by a human being singing an American standard. Even though the song was right in his wheelhouse, I had trouble taking him seriously. How can you not focus on how otherworldly he looks? Call it a double-bloop for the look, but a surprise one-bloop for the vocal. Also, someone needs to up Paula’s Klonopin dosage. Ain’t no way Phil Stacey resembles a young Frank Sinatra. Maybe a young alien Hugh Jackman in The Fountain, but definitely not a Junior Chairman of the Board.
8. LaKisha Jones – And thus begins the downfall of LaKisha. She looked pretty good, yes, but she was off-key, pitchy, boring and far too dependent on the big notes to coast her through the rough small ones. I hate that the judges are conspiring to keep her around by not slamming her full board. They have to know she’s not as good as they’re making her out to be. The beeyotch vibe was in full effect tonight; I hated this performance. Triple-bloops all the way.
9. Sanjaya Malakar – “Welcome to the universe of Sanjaya”. I think I might have turned a corner on this kid. He still sucks, don’t get me wrong. His white suit and slicked back hair made him look like the worst kind of dinner waiter. Simon hates the kid so much he’s trying some reverse juju on him. Even Randy (!) admits he sucks huge donkey balls. But the kid’s got confidence to burn, and I have to show some respect. He’s gone from a timid young boy who can’t sing, to a “fuck you if you can’t take a joke” boy who still can’t sing, but at least he might drop an F–bomb or two. It’s a welcome transition. If I absolutely have to watch him every week (when I’m not triple-blooping him, natch), at least I get to see him spar with Simon. I say bring the trainwreck back!
Bottom Three: Gina Glocksen, LaKisha Jones, Haley Scarnato
My prediction for who gets the axe this week: “Legs” Scarnato (boo!)
The Jay’s Prediction Record So Far: 2 for 3 (66%)