Good Lord, this must be the worst Top 12 ever in the history of this show. I understand that it's a bigger stage and bigger audience, and the nerves are kicking in but come on — two people forgetting the lyrics? That's just pathetic.
By the way, from now on I shall refer to them only by their first names since you all should know who they are by now. Not to mention that I'm lazy to type their full names.
It appears that the Top 12 have had some makeovers. Jordin's curls are neater. Phil isn't hiding his bald head under a cap. Blake and Chris aren't wearing t-shirts. I'm dismayed however, to see Chris S. without his trademark glasses. Dude, keep the specs. Even Simon says so. Sanjaya has a horrifying makeover, sporting a hairstyle that I haven't seen since Little Orphan Annie.
My favorite part of the evening was the banter between Ryan and Simon. It was so awesome. Before Melinda's performance, she complains to Ryan that her high heels are killing her. Ryan asks Simon for advice on what to do about the heels, to which Simon says something like, "You should know, Ryan." Here's how the rest of the conversation went:
Ryan: Stay out of my closet.
Simon: Come out!
Ryan: (wearing a fake smile, to camera) We're friends.
This week the contestants met with Diana Ross, who gave them individual guidance as they sang one of her tunes for her. Man, that must have been intimidating. For the most part, Ms. Ross gave each person some real advice, and not just spewed meaningless crap like Paula usually does. Incidentally, Ms. Ross is performing during the results show to promote her tour.
I'm going to give each contestant a letter grade, but this time I'll start with the lowest group.
Sanjaya should be happy right now, because Brandon has just saved his neck this week. It's bad enough that he does a boring rendition of "You Can't Hurry Love," with a squeaky high note in the middle, but he forgot the damn words. Brandon literally stopped singing for about three seconds. What the hell, dude? Everyone and their mother knows this fucking song. Even Phil Collins covered this at one point. How can you forget the words? Brandon is so going home tonight.
It pains me to put Chris S. in this category, but he so deserves it this week. He tried to modernize "Endless Love," which is a cool idea, but he changed the song so radically that I barely recognized it. Hell, the opening sequence sounded like Coldplay's "Clocks". Simon said that he took a beautiful song and murdered it. I hope this teaches Chris not to mess with the classics.
Chris R. also lands in the C section with his nasal performance of "The Boss". It was cool that he took Ms. Ross's advice to work the stage, as he went on that little wall behind the judges. Still, he sounded like a dying sheep. Paula commended him on producing the best blend of contemporary style and classic sound, while Simon said that the vocals were dreadful. See, me and Mr. Cowell- we're on the same wavelength.
No C-list is complete without Sanjaya. Singing, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," he sounded as if the mountain was so high that he ran out of breath trying to climb it. Randy said that it was almost unlistenable for him. Simon started to rip into him, but actually seemed to grow a heart and says something positive, which is, "You're brave." But don't worry girls — Sanjaya and his amazing, ever-changing hair will be back next week.
I know I should put Haley in the C category because she forgot the words to her song, but for the most part I liked her performance. I was pleased to see her finally shine on stage. It's just disappointing that she had to ruin it by having a brain fart while singing. Paula and Randy thought she was pitchy and, of course, admonished her for her lyrical error. Shockingly, Simon said to a teary-eyed, miserable-looking Haley that she wasn't that bad. In fact, he even said that she had great stage presence. Poor girl looked on the verge of collapsing.
Gina chose to rock out to "Love Child," which wasn't bad but she screamed it a bit. The judges weren't too impressed. Simon said it was forgettable. She's still one of my faves though.
It seems that Phil has finally learned not to mumble into his mic. I enjoyed his performance of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," but the judges were a little mixed. Randy thought it was a boring performance, but that he has great vocals. Simon noted that Phil tends to shout when hitting the big notes.
Blake takes a leaf from Chris S. and modernizes "You Keep Me Hanging On." Although it was better and more recognizable than Chris's song, it still felt kind of weird listening to an electronic, hip-hop version of what's supposed to be a Motown song. None of the judges liked Blake messing with the classics. I agree that while it's great to hear a different version of an old tune, the process has to be done very, very carefully.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about Stephanie again. It's funny, because she's young, thin, gorgeous and almost as good as LaKisha and Melinda, but she's not very memorable. The notes are all in the right places, but she just doesn't have that extra oomph that those two have. And I'm not quite sure since I didn't hear anything different, but Randy hinted that she forgot the words as well. Can someone verify this?
Jordin proves that being a teenager doesn't mean that she has to suck. Singing, "If We Hold On Together," I thought that her voice sounded recordable. I could totally hear her version of that song on some Disney soundtrack. Randy said that she had made it a three-girl race against Melinda and LaKisha. Simon thought it was a very, very good vocal although it was rather gooey. It was from an animated film, so go figure.
What can I say about Melinda and LaKisha, except that they are perfect? Sure, a lot of the contestants can stay on pitch and have great vocals, but what separates these two from the rest is that they act like professionals on stage, like they've been doing this for decades. Both Melinda and LaKisha have great control of their voices. They know when to sing it soft and when to power it up. They also perform with a lot of feeling and emotion. They don't look like they're just going through the motions. Melinda and LaKisha's main competition is each other. As they say in the Highlander films, "There can be only one," and as season three proved, there can only be one R&B belter.
Who should go home: Sanjaya
Who will be going home: Brandon