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TV Review: American Idol 6 – Diana Ross Week

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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.

C

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.

B

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?

A

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

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About Toni Schwartz

  • http://www.friendlymisanthropist.blogspot.com alessandro nicolo

    I agree; weak top 12. I hope you’re wrong about Brandon – at least there’s real talent there. He just needs to find and channel it better. I can’t take another week with Sanpjama. The boys seem to be a more daring bunch than we’ve seen. Clearly, the three girls you mentioned have set themselves apart. Head and shoulders above the rest at this time.

  • Ty

    Dialidol predicts a bottom 3 of :

    Blake, Chris Sligh, and Stephanie, with Stephanie going home.

    Frankly, with this last ep, I am pissed they had it be Diana Ross Week. This is just like AI 1 and 2 when it was motown week to start off the finals: the purpose is to get rid of a white non r&B singer.

    Hopefully American stuck it these racists and didn’t vote for Stephanie, sending her home.

    P.S. According to dialidol, Sanjaya had third most votes.

  • Albanesse

    I am not sure its to weed out whitey… but I do think that Motown is such an inconic style that if a singer chose to change something it would get panned and if they did not then its treated just as a copy.

  • http://www.noface4film.com/ Kaonashi

    Alessandro- I do commend the guys for being daring and trying to change things up. But like I said, it’s very tricky since you don’t want to lose the original meaning and melody of the song such that it’s unrecognizable.

    Ty- I highly doubt that a TV show created by a group of old, white, British men would try to weed out white contestants. That’s rather far-fetched, don’t you think?

  • http://www.friendlymisanthropist.blogspot.com alessandro nicolo

    There is no conspiracy.

  • Ty

    Oh come now. This is AI 6, and now 3 of the 6 seasons have started with Motown (or practically Motown with Diana Ross) week to start the finals.

    They never dare start off the finals with, I dunno:

    Country week?

    Modern Rock Week?

    In fact, I doubt we’ll have modern rock week just so that Melinda and LaKisha can sing that old school R&B style every week!

  • Ty

    “I highly doubt that a TV show created by a group of old, white, British men would try to weed out white contestants. That’s rather far-fetched, don’t you think?”

    You are SO naive. The old, white, british men, care about one thing: MONEY.

    They know where the money lies in america, which is the youth, and youth of america loves R&B singers, so they are all about pimping out two singers who can’t sing ANYTHING ELSE BUT old school R&B.

  • http://www.noface4film.com/ Kaonashi

    Ty- I don’t think it makes any difference what the theme is the first week. I don’t recall Country being the theme during the first week in season 4, yet Carrie Underwood still won.

    and youth of america loves R&B singers

    Ah, not quite. Young people tend to be into pop music, hip-hop, rock, and emo/alternative- not necessarily R&B. R&B is actually geared towards an older audience.

    The last two winners were white. Where’s the conspiracy?

    If you don’t like Melinda or LaKisha and the type of music they sing, that’s your opinion. You’re more than welcome to make yourself heard by not voting for them. Who do you prefer? Gina? Chris S.? Show them your support.

  • Ty

    Yeah, I like Gina and Chris Sligh. I do show them my support.

    In my opinion as far as this week, ANYONE WHO FORGETS WORDS DOESN’T DESERVE VOTES.

    That is probably why Dialidol predicts Stephanie will go home: She forgot words, her fanbase tends to spend more voting for Lakisha/Melinda than her, and she is not quite memorable.

    “The last two winners were white. Where’s the conspiracy?”

    That’s just it. The first three winners of AI were R&B or soul singers, so AI made sure the last two winners would be white and sing something else. Sure Taylor is soul, but much different than Ruben, the worst singer alive.

    So now the conspiracy is back to make sure a Melinda/LaKisha wins, and part of that is not having them sing anything outside of their comfort zone.

  • Ty

    In Carrie’s season, the first week was NOT Motown week, because they didn’t want her or Bo Bice to get eliminated quick.

    Just like AI 1 and 2, this season of AI wants to get rid of a good non-R&B singer quick so that Melinda and Lakisha have an easy path to the finals.

    For me personally, I will kill myself if the final is Melinda vs. LaKisha. Can you say BOREFEST????

  • http://www.noface4film.com/ Kaonashi

    Ty,

    Yeah, I like Gina and Chris Sligh. I do show them my support.

    In my opinion as far as this week, ANYONE WHO FORGETS WORDS DOESN’T DESERVE VOTES.

    At least we agree on two things :)

    I personally don’t care if Stephanie or Brandon goes home. I’ve been bored by both since the beginning. For them to forget the words is just unforgivable. As for Haley, I’m disappointed because I was finally warming up to her during last night’s performance, but then she too botched it.

    The first three winners of AI were R&B or soul singers

    Er, Kelly Clarkson isn’t an R&B or soul singer. Her first album was pure American Idol cheesy, catchy pop music. Have you heard her second, Grammy-award winning album? It’s more of pop rock/adult contemporary. One of the songs was written by Avril Lavigne, who is the farthest you can get from R&B.

    There’s no need to kill yourself. I doubt that the final showdown will be between Melinda and LaKisha. One will cancel out the other, as it happened during Season 3. Note that every year the Top 2 has been composed of people from vastly different genres: R&B (Ruben) and adult contemporary (Clay); country (Carrie) and rock (Bo); blues/jazz (Taylor) and adult contemporary (Katharine).

    But I’m willing to bet that one of them will be in the Top 2.

  • Ty

    Nice post.

    but you are forgetting Kelly vs. Justin, basically the same style at time of the finals,

    and

    Fantasia vs. Diana Degarmo, both R&B style.

    “But I’m willing to bet that one of them will be in the Top 2.”

    Not having themes that will seriously challenge Melinda and LaKisha will insure this, and insure the win for which ever of the 2 makes the finals.

    So basically, if you are Chris Sligh, or Gina Glocksen, you want Melinda and LaKisha gone way before you even get to the final 4.

    I also agree, Melinda and LaKisha’s fanbases overlap, meaning one will go, the other one that stays though will take the fans of the other and be invincible. That is my fear.

  • Ty

    “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 is your FAVORITE part????? You know that gay rights groups have been pissed off for years calling AI homo-phobic, and this kind of stuff plays that up. I find this banter disgusting and rude to gay people, just like that Super Bowl Snickers ad which has since been pulled.

  • http://noface4film.com Kaonashi

    Ty- To be fair, I never watched Season 1, but it seemed to me from the little bits of footage that I’ve seen later that Kelly and Justin were both in the pop genre. As for Fantasia and Diana, I don’t think that Diana is R&B. Actually, she didn’t seem to fit any category, which is possibly why she lost.

    I’m astonished that you seem to abhor R&B so much. I’m not a country fan myself, but I don’t think I hate it as much as you seem to hate R&B. I wasn’t happy when Carrie won, and I wish that Chris had won but those things happen. Besides, Chris isn’t doing too shabby at the moment. I wouldn’t worry so much if I were you. There will no doubt be some sort of country night, and a rock night.

    As for the banter between Ryan and Simon, the reason I loved that scene was because I couldn’t believe that Simon pretty much outed Ryan. I don’t know what Ryan’s problem is- he should just come out and be done with it. It’s no big deal these days.

    Craig- Thanks for your comment but seriously, please stop advertising.
    [That spam was deleted, Kaonashi. Comments Editor]

  • http://myspace.com/matell diana ross congradssssss

    Congrads on Diana Ross Tues and Wed. – we loved the she entered the stage.

    That hair – outstanding
    the body – great
    diana ross just great

  • http://patfish.blogspot.com/ Pat Fish

    Sanjaya should have been gone long ago. In fact, he definitely cost Sundance a chance at the top 12.

    Sanjaya is supported by a)10 year old girls and b)interior designers across the fruited plains.

    On a positive note, give the guy credit, his hair was styled EXACTLY LIKE DIANA Ross’! He’s just being polite.

  • http://www.friendlymisanthropist.blogspot.com alessandro nicolo

    Ty, I’m willing to bet that country music sales are probably as big as R&B. I see what you’re saying and maybe there some special considerations made but nothing that would suggest a conspiracy. Sanjaya, now that’s a conspiracy :<). Too bad Brandon had a bad week.

  • Jacqui

    I can’t believe that anyone would think that Diana Ross’ performance on American Idol was even close to being a good one! She came out and practically stumbled on her heals; then she shouted “HI” to the contestants which sounded like she was drunk (which I think she was) and then couldn’t carry her song AT ALL!! It was so recognizable that a) her pipes are gone, or b) she was drunk, or c) both! I felt embarrassed for her and for all the contestants who had to stand up and aplaud for someone they were trying to emulate.

  • markus

    In answer about Stephanie “forgetting her lyrics”, Randy was incorrect. “Love Hangover”s opening line is “If there’s a cure for this, I don’t want it; I don’t want it”. In the full length version of the song, Diana repeats this line again. In the single edit, the line is followed with “If there’s a remedy, I’ll run from it, from it”. From the length of it, it’s obvious Stephanie was using the full length version as her vocal guide. Apparently, O Great Randy was not familiar with this…

  • http://www.noface4film.com/ Kaonashi

    Jacqui- I couldn’t agree with you more. It was an odd performance by Ms. Ross. I’m sure that she’s given many great performances during her lifetime, but last week was not one of them.

    markus- Thanks for clearing that up for us. I knew that I didn’t hear anything weird from Stephanie that night. She wasn’t like Brandon or Haley, who literally stopped singing for a few seconds because they forgot the words.