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Welcome back everyone! The show is lean and mean tonight, as we’re down to the final six, and the judges have decided to be more constructive and help send the right people to the finale. Last week, we bid adieu to the adorkable Lea Thompson, cool mom but subpar singer. Let’s find out who deserves the cut this week.

Wayne opens the show with his usual spiel: They’re famous, they try to sing, and it’s live! And he gives a playful shout-out to all the 14-year old girls in the audience. They cheer like mad, which hopefully means that Wayne Bop CD’s are going to be hitting store shelves near you, spring 2007. He reminds us that the winner will receive one hundred thousands dollars to give to his/her favorite charity, and puts in a pitch for “The Wayne Brady: Give A Brother 100,000 Dollars Charity.” Hey, CD production costs money. I say it’s a worthy cause.

Wayne reintroduces our judges, the fabulously frank Marie Osmond, the ridiculously rambling Little Richard, and the tiresome tool David Foster. They don’t have much time to fool around with the banter though, because we’re live and in color, and the show has to go on.

I Indifferently Tolerate Lucy

Lucy Lawless is up first, and she says that this week she really wants to sing with a woman. Enough of faking chemistry; Lucy wants to bring us some grrrl power! She’s gotten her wish, but is still afraid she won’t be able to hang, because her partner is so legendary. Tonight Lucy’s singing “Say A Little Prayer For You,” and she tries to begin with a coy little serenade of David, but he seems more interested in looking sheepishly into the camera. Luckily, Dionne Warwick soon appears, and is more than willing to stare dreamily into Lucy’s eyes. Girl power, indeed! Lucy looks gorgeous as always, in another one of those flirty, glittery mini-dresses that are starting to become her trademark. She's very spotty singing with Dionne though; sometimes it’s on, and sometimes it’s not. The ending was passable, anyway.

Marie says she could tell Lucy was way too nervous, and that she has to stop being intimidated by the pros if she wants to go the distance. But Richard loves Lucy, and actually says, “Hold on, ‘cause I’m coming.” The horrible comedy, it writes itself, no? David has a significantly lower degree of regard, he only “kinda likes” Lucy this week. He gives her props for all the different genres she’s handled so far, but says that next week he really wants to hear her sing next, and she should demand a higher part.


Up next is Alfonso Ribeiro, and he is really getting into the competition aspect. He knows that Jai is the man to beat, but all he wants is to make it to the finals. And I want that for you, hon! We’re gonna make it happen. Alfonso is so dedicated to proving his skills that he sang himself into a sore throat during rehearsals this week. It’s all very dramatic, and it looks like doom for my favorite prep. Indeed Alfonso does start off a bit rough with “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” but by the time Deniece Williams (squee!) appears, he’s pretty much back in control of his voice. He and Deniece do sound pretty good; their voices really complement each other, and they put on a pretty show, complete with convincing break-up theatrics. And Alfonso ends it all with a particularly glorious glory note that sets the audience on fire.

Marie compliments his ending, and all of his performance techniques, but says he shouldn’t get so involved in them that he forgets the duet aspect of it all. Loud boos follow this, and she totally pwns all the 14 year old girls by laughing at them sarcastically. I’m loving Marie. Richard says many, many things, none of which I can attempt to summarize, because none of them were part of a complete though. Sorry. David says he thinks Alfonso did a good job, but tells him not to whine about being sick, because he’s seen Christina (when did she get one-name status?) singing while she was throwing up. Yeah, you say that David, but where are the pictures?

Puppies, and Sunshine, and Raindrops On Roses

I have to say, my world gets a little bit brighter when Carly’s on deck. She seems like such a lovely girl, and it really is wonderful to see such a happy, vivacious, normal teenaged girl on television. This week she’s all excited about singing with a hot young guy, and her excitement is so effervescent it ought to be bottled and sold. Cute! It’s only when she sings that I revert to my jaded, snarky self.

Her voice is not so very awful, even by reality tv standards, but poor Carly is so young, and it’s clear that she doesn’t have any control at all over what her voice does. She goes in and out of tune, probably without realizing it until it’s too late to stop our ears from crying. So, I give her a break. Plus, her hot young guy partner this week is Jesse McCartney. I know nothing about him besides his name, but it helps Carly that he’s not much better than she is. Where she seemed way out of her depth, in like Jaws territory when singing with the heavenly-voiced James Ingram, comparison to this kid doesn’t damage her much. They do a charming little two-step all around the stage, and get some prime cuddly-faces in, and the whole thing is fairly innocuous and sugary sweet. I can’t really be mad at that.

As Jesse leaves the stage, Wayne screams and jumps up and down, saying he’s reverted to a 14 year old girl, in a 34 year old black man’s body. I love Wayne. Marie says Carly has come remarkably far, and her voice is loosening up, but her body is still really stiff. Richard rambles about pushing and pulling, and I’m starting to think he’s just using his comment time as an occasion to try out new lyrics. David says he wants more from her diaphragm and less from the throat. I can’t believe how dirty that last sentence sounds.

Sparks Sail . . . Away

Hal is struggling with his “distinctive” approach to singing. Last week David told him not to go from zero to ten, but Hal says that’s what he does. He doesn’t want people to think all of his pushing and straining means he can’t sing; he just wants us to appreciate what singing is to him. Hey, if millions of people can back this guy as a singer, then I’ve no problem with Hal. Not even when the first bars of “Come Sail Away” find him perching upstage like a queenish cat.

He’s full of energy, and he puts it all into his singing, so yes, his notes are overdone. But like I said last week, it’s not too offensive precisely because it smacks of so much effort. Dennis DeYoung joins Hal after a few measures, and gets completely into the act. It’s all rawk, and I can tell he’s totally enjoying himself with this song; it’s got to be a treat for Hal to sing one of the most well-known arena rock songs of all time with Dennis DeYoung himself in front of a huge crowd of cheering fans. Marie thinks he did a great job; Richard appreciates all the feeling he put into everything. David says he knows Hal can sing, but he says, “you think that you are a rock star, and I don’t believe you are.” Burn! Or it would’ve been a burn, if Hal hadn’t coolly quipped to David, “Yeah, a rock star would beat you up right now.” Pure pwnage. Wayne cuts the tension by calling for an end to white-on-white crime. I agree. Stop the violence, increase the peace.

The Cheech Shall Not Inherit The Earth

Mr. Marin is feeling pretty ding-danged confident. He’s still not scared of David Foster, and even though he was in the bottom three last week, Cheech feels all right, because someone else was sent home. I’m not sure he understands how all this works. This week finds Cheech singing Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and all that confidence must be doing something for him, because this is the best job he’s done so far. Not that it was really good or anything, but still much better than before. Plus he lucked out with respect to partners; the inimitable Aaron Neville joined him, and I don’t think any performance can be out and out bad with his truly distinctive voice holding it together.

The judges are equally dismal in their assessments though. Marie says if this were a charm competition, Cheech would win hands down, but he doesn’t have the voice. In a sea of rambling comments, Richard manages to say, “Ain’t no sunshine, ‘cause you’re gone,” and I kinda want to give him a stiff-armed Pauler seal clap for saying something remotely sane and clever. I feel like Anne Sullivan watching little Helen Keller learn to speak. David is brusque, and says Cheech doesn’t belong there. Cheech is not fazed by their opinions, and continues to think he is awesome.

Skip To My Lou

There’s only one more act to go, and you can probably tell we’re closing the show on a high note tonight; they’ve saved the Jai for last. But before that, we are happily treated to a little impromptu Wayne-on-Marie action. As we return from the commercial break, Wayne’s crooning the Temptations’ “My Girl,” and Marie is coyly protesting that the arrangement’s in a bad key for her. They share a little slow dance, and I wonder yet again why Wayne is hosting instead of competing in this show. He sounds dreamy.

But, I guess one dreamboat is enough, and so we’ve got Jai. He’s the unquestioned fromt-runner, but that status as taken a toll on him. There’s a lot of pressure to keep living up to his own high bar, and the song arrangements aren’t helping him. “They’re written for a woman,” he says, “I’m not a woman.” Yes, but you are so pretty, so that’s something. Jai says he knows the show isn’t going to put him with people he’ll be amazing with; they’re going to put him with people that will challenge him. But he looks very sanguine and up for anything, so it ought to be all right.

Jai sings “Tell It To My Heart,” with Taylor Dayne, who is looking as gracious and beautiful as always. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time, and neither her voice nor her presence disappoints. She and Jai sing nicely together, and Taylor’s even a good sport, holding hands with Jai as he skips across the stage in a very West Side Story way. It’s all very “giddy school boy finally meets girl he can give the world to,” which is to say it’s very endearing. The judges have mixed feedback. Marie like his relatability, but thinks the choreography was awkward. She says the backwards skipping was a very bad choice. Wayne sticks up for Jai and says he didn’t choreograph the thing, but Jai accepts the critique. Richard says “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” and I think that about sums it up for him. David says he thinks it was a miss, and Jai says he appreciates the input, but he’s more interested in what his fans and family and friends think, which provokes much hooting and hollering from the love struck fourteen year olds in the audience.

And that’s your show this week! Between Cheech, Carly, and Lucy’s less than spectacular showings, the elimination is definitely a toss up. Be sure to check out Critical’s fantastic results recap to find out all the scoop.