After last week's episode featured music written within the last twenty years, this week American Idol returned to its tried-and-true method of offering songs which most of the contestants had never heard. This week's mentor was esteemed, veteran artist Tony Bennett, which made me wonder how the hell people like Gina, Chris, and Blake would fare.
Surprisingly, most of the contestants did fairly well with this genre, and admittedly it was a little difficult to grade the contestants. Either they're improving, or most of the weaker contestants have left. I've decided to expand on the grading scale a bit since they this week they didn't belong in neat A-B-C piles.
Vocally and performance-wise, Melinda can do no wrong. Once again, she sounded like the professional she is as she performed "Who Could Ask for Anything More?" In the video, Tony mentioned that she had a big chance in the business and was the best singer all day. Ouch for whoever went before her. Unfortunately, Melinda still has no neck, and I'm starting to wonder if she's got a mild hunchback. Also, I've grown tired of her bewildered look every time the judges praise her. Honey, we know that you know how good you are. Just smile pleasantly and say thank you. Simon said that he's frustrated they he can't criticize her, because then he can't be mean. Get your Scrooge on, my friend.
I can't put my finger on it, but I don't quite like LaKisha as much as Melinda. Perhaps it's because of that "diva" vibe that she seems to cast. But also, although technically she's almost as good as Melinda, LaKisha just doesn't exude the same energy and personality as Melinda. LaKisha sang "Stormy Weather," and Randy said that it was pitchy at first, but improved later on. Simon enjoyed it and said it was a sassy, great performance.
Tony gave Jordin what sounded like a backhanded compliment, saying that she was pretty much in tune. Yowch. Singing "On a Clear Day," Jordin was better than last week, but I think that she should have moved around the stage rather than standing in one spot. Paula called her a "magnet of joy," while the camera caught a red-faced Simon turned to one side trying to hold in his laughter. When it came for his turn, the Brit said that Jordin sang well, but it was old-fashioned. Sorry Jordin, not everyone can be like Blake or Chris and make an old song sound contemporary.
Speaking of Blake, he gave us his version of "Mack the Knife," which I enjoyed better than Clay's *ducks and runs from angry Claymates*. Blake didn't beat box, but he scatted a little at the end, and he did his cool, subtle dance moves as well. Simon said it was a good song choice and gave Blake a 7/10 and the band 8/10. Hey, Ricky Minor and his peeps aren't the ones being judged!
This week showcased the softer, gentler side of Gina – and it was nice. Gina sang "Smile," which was written by Charlie Chaplin. Gina showed that she has a sweet, beautiful voice when she isn't screaming or belting any power notes. It was a little too slow, but nice. I wasn't crazy about her makeup though. It made me think of The Simpsons episode when Homer invents a makeup gun and shoots it at Marge, not realizing that he set it on "Whore." Anyway, Simon didn't care for her vocals and compared her to Melinda and Jordin, which isn't fair since their style is different from Gina. In fact, that's pretty much what Gina said in response to him.
Chris went into full-blown Justin Timberfake mode with his performance of "Mr. Saturday Dance." He even had a hat. It wasn't bad actually, but I just don't care for his copycat persona and whiny voice. However, the judges ate it up. Randy and Simon liked that he made an old tune hip and fresh. Simon even mentioned that Chris was one of the strongest performers that night.
Good old Sanjaya must have been shaking in his little boots when he met Tony. After all, didn't he sing a Tony Bennett song when he was in the Top 24? At least he didn't forget the words in front of the mentor this time around. Once again Sanjaya had different hair; this time it was slicked back. He wore a dapper white suit, but the jacket looked too big for him. He sang "Cheek to Cheek" and pulled Paula aside to dance with him for a bit, which was a nice touch. Randy said that he couldn't comment on the vocals but concluded that he was entertaining. Simon said, "Uh, let's try a different tactic this week…incredible?" What gives, judges? Why can't you criticize Sanjaya? Are you afraid of being assaulted by a bunch of 10-year-old girls and their grandmas?
Man oh man, Haley is sure getting desperate. She was definitely working the McPheever to the limits tonight wearing a very low cut halter dress that didn't leave much to the imagination. Is it any wonder that the photo of her fans they showed was a bunch of big, hunky Marines? They're fans all right, but not of her singing. Haley shook her moneymaker to "Ain't Misbehavin'," and I marveled once again at the wonder of double-sided tape. Simon said that she had great legs… oh yeah, and that it was a good choice of music but was a little pageanty. Is that even a word? I guess Simon was a little distracted.
Phil. Oh, Phil. Tony said to sing "Night and Day" a little faster and put some beat to it. But no, you took your Nos-Phil-atu nickname (thanks TWOP forums!) to heart and sang, for the most part, in a lifeless manner. Oh yeah, he still has trouble with his lower register and tries to compensate with the power notes. Randy said that Phil lacked any connection and passion with the audience, but Phil responded that he was singing to his wife. Oh, please. That's a lame excuse if I ever heard one.
My Spider-sense is tingling… and it's telling me that our bald friend's streak of luck has run out. He's landed in the bottom a few times but has rescued at the last minute. I have a feeling that this week may be different.
Who will go: Phil
Who should go: Phil and Sanjaya (Whaaat? I still think the kid should leave!)