Yeah, itís no secret. The boys sucked out loud on Tuesday night. And coming after a monthís worth of gossip saying that this yearís lads were leagues above the lassies, you might expect that watching our 12 ladiesí debuts on the Idol stage would be an exercise in torture. But no. With a few necessary exceptions, these girls brought it to the table, cooked it, ate it up, and left the dishes for the men. This is a night where itís too tough to call who shone brightest. But I can definitely tell you who sucked the most, and thatís more fun anyway, so letís get started.
Ladiesí Night, and the Feelingís Right
The girls file out in that proper single file, flickers of nervous energy and anxiety popping up everywhere. Then Ryan probably eases a bit of that tension by opening up the show with a reminder of just how sucktastic the fellas were last night. Even standouts Blake and Chris Sligh werenít without their flaws. Thereís nowhere to go but up, right?
Ryan asks Randy why the judges are always so full of crap. He says it much more politely than that, but thatís what he meant, and Iím all about the meaning. Randy replies that the judges tell people to take risks they know they can pull off. How is that taking a risk? I donít know, and my brain is fried like an egg on drugs this week so I donít feel like breaking down The Dawgís logic. Letís just go with it. No one should be singing a Chaka Khan song unless they are in fact Chaka Khan. Got it?
After sleeping on last nightís performances, Paula reiterates that the guys had a rough night, in case we didnít get that from the 90 minutes of rehashing footage we just saw. She says their first tries should serve as lessons; theyíre all learning when to pull back and when to push forward. Look for similar affirmations coming soon to a public restroom mirror near you. Simonís just happy to be here, he says with a decidedly mischievous smirk on his face. Even if he is a bastard
sometimesall the time, heís just darned endearing in all his sniping glory. Ryan grills him a bit about the previous eveningís tiff with Chris Sligh, and Simon silences all of the Sligh Soothsayers by saying that he likes it when contestants trade barbs with him. Provided theyíre witty, of course, it ďshows a bit of spirit.Ē But Ryanís not letting it slide that easily; he asks if Chrisís Il Divo/Teletubbies comments made him angry, and Simon, just like management, avoids specifics. He says that the guys in general didnít make him angry, but they let themselves down. Ryan, much like a dog with a bone (insert your own off-color gay joke here), tries again, remarking that Chris seemed to get under Simonís skin, and heís got a screencap to prove it up on the big screen. Simon shrugs his shoulders and calls Ryan obnoxious, and then we move on before anyone calls Simon obnoxious for calling Ryan obnoxious on live TV. Hey, that burned up 10 whole minutes! Boy, I bet these two hours are going to fly by. (<---- obnoxious sarcasm)
Setting the Tone
Oh, joy! Itís time for singing now. Stephanie Edwards, who you may not recall from her 30 seconds of airtime so far, is up first for the lay-dees. She sheds the first official tears for the season (they donít count until itís live) by detailing how much faith her family has in her. Aw. I like this girl, despite her silly haircut and flipped bangs. She sings Alicia Keysís version of Princeís ďHow Come You Donít Call Me,Ē and is glorious. She strikes just the right sassy, brassy tone with her face and movements, and her voice is rich and throaty, and she handles the notes smoothly and confidently. I love her. The judges agree; Randy says he already sees a huge change for the better from last night. He loved her conviction, and her trilly little run at the end. Paula lauds her performance and calls her a star, and Simon says she was a million times better than anything they saw last night. Suck on that, Blake.
We return from break with some cozy couch time. Ryan asks Melinda what she thought of the guys, and Melinda proves herself a graduate of the School of Saying Something Nice by calling the guysí performances amazing. But Amy Krebs, who I donít recognize from the Hollywood round at all, is on next, and she admits to being a little nervous. Sheís not quite ready to deal with the good, bad, and ugly of the judgesí comments. Valid anxieties, but Amy could save herself a lot of stress if sheíd just sing well more often than not. She tries and fails with that old Idol chestnut, ďI Canít Make You Love Me,Ē wandering in and out of tune through the whole thing, and ending on a warble-riffic note. Randy gives her some bad by calling it safe, and saying Amy should stick with more bluesy things. Not even Paula can bring the good, agreeing with Randyís comments. Simon of course is responsible for the ugly by saying he still canít remember her, and itís going to be a problem if she doesnít do anything to make herself stand out. Like singing well. Amy agrees, and hopes she gets another chance to step up next week. Then, Ryan rubs in the ugly by bringing asking Simon to clarify, and Simon takes the opportunity to rag on Amyís ratty hair and boring purple sundress, by way of saying Amyís entire image is messed up. Remember when I called Simon endearing? Yeah, itís a vacillating opinion. Iím with him on this one though, because I canít even remember what Amy sang and I just wrote about it 5 minutes ago.
Hunt For Red October
That quirky redhead Leslie Hunt is going to sing for us now. I like this girl and her voice, but she is definitely giving off what Iím going to call a ďkid sister in the room alone with all your older, cooler friendsĒ vibe. Like she feels awkward, but sheís going to try and entertain and be liked anyway. I donít know. Still, I like her. She chats about her excitement, and thatís all good. Then she sings ďNatural Woman,Ē and I think itís good, but I like her, so it was probably just okay. Sheís cute as a kitten on stage, all smiles and jazzy, jerky movements, and her voice is good, even though some of her inflections take on a weird brogue about midway through. Randy says he was hoping for greatness, and then pulls out Pat Idol Response #4 and says the song was too big for her. Paula thinks she was great, but cautions her to choose songs better-suited to her style. Simon thinks she was good, not great. But he calls her on her awkwardness and says Leslie looked ungainly and embarrassed, as if she wasnít comfortable on stage. Paula and Randy are shocked! Shocked I say! that Simon would say such things, but Ryan of all people defends his comments. Leslie doesnít get to say anything at all, but the dawg pound barks for her anyway, and I know that makes everything better.
A Hot One, Dawg!
Sabrina Sloan is next, in a blouse Iím thinking she borrowed from a church usher. Also, her curls bother me, the way they start about a half inch after her hairline begins. Just had to get that out there. Sabrina won over everyone but Simon in her initial audition, and then conquered his cynicism in Hollywood. Now sheís all about picking the perfect song, so she comes tonight with ďI Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You.Ē Sabrinaís voice isnít nearly as rich as Arethaís, so sheís screechy in a way Aretha avoids being, but Sabrina turns in a very solid performance nevertheless. The judges just eat her up like pie. Sabrinaís the first to drive Randy to his patented Randy-Drivel, as he calls her a hot one and says we finally have a competition. Paula gives her props for being a Valley Girl with all that soul. Simon says Sabrina shows the difference between ďtaking partĒ in a competition and coming out wanting to win. He said the same thing to Stephanie earlier, but maybe he means it this time.
Itís time for
Gina Gambaro Antonella BarbaGina Gambaro (from Point Pleasant, NJ, get it?) to have her go at trying to win. We go all over her trashy BFF who got cut in Hollywood for not being a good enough person, and Antís unwarranted victory over the emotional wreck that is Marisa Rhodes in the selection for the top 24. Then Antonella goes on and on about being excited for the opportunity, and blah, blah, I hate her, blah. She then goes on to make my night in her Joisey splendor -- red turtleneck with the cut-out shoulders, slicked back pony tail, and yooge gold hoops and caked on face -- by completely sucking on Aerosmithís sappiest hit, ďI Donít Wanna Miss A Thing.Ē Antonella blows, and not in a good way. Her rendition is painfully scattered. After a rough start, she gets in a few true notes here and there, but on the whole? She blew. And Randy knows it. He asks Antonella what she thinks heís going to say, and she says heíll know she was nervous. Randy doesnít take that bait for sympathy, and tells Antonella that her pitch was all over the place, and she was way bland. Of course, some of the blame for that blandness belongs to Diane Warren, but pffft. I donít like Antonella so Iím certainly not going to do any sticking up for her. Paula slaps her with the well-worn ďbeautifulĒ half-compliment, and Simon lays down the real by saying that Antonella was nowhere near good enough, and sheís just seriously damaged her chances in this thing. Of course with that comment, Simon himself repaired her chances, curse him, by mobilizing all of Antís 14-year old glitter gloss and layered mini wearing fans are going to text-message their acrylic nails off because Antonella looks like Eva Mendes, and thatís what counts in this world. Gross.
She Gotta Fast SongÖ
Öthatís supposed to be slow. Jordin Sparks, whose curls sit just right on her head by the way, is on now, babbling about being young and young. Ryan reminds her that Simon thinks sheís sugary sweet, and Jordin accepts that with a smile. She then goes on to be her sugary self singing Tracy Chapmanís mournful hit ďGive Me One ReasonĒ in a strange and out-of-whack bouncy, bubbly arrangement. I mean, I may not know exactly what Tracyís talking about in this song, but Iím pretty sure youíre not supposed to be able to do the Cabbage Patch to it. Luckily, Jordin has an absolutely beautiful voice that keeps me from concentrating too much on the arrangement. I donít think I heard one bum note in the whole, and aside from some silly gestures this performance is perfect. By contract Iím assuming Randy has to say something bad so people will start to talk about him more, so he says that Jordin is not challenging herself. She should go for bigger songs, because she can. So, an addendum to the earlier rule: No one should sing Chaka Khan songs except Chaka Khan, and Jordin. Got it?
Seriously. Chaka Khan. And Jordin. Thatís All.
Nicole Tranquillo is up, and sheís thrilled that her hard work has taken her so far. But she obviously hasnít been paying attention to anything thatís gone on while she was working so hard, because she comes out singing Rufus and Chaka Khanís ďStay.Ē And it is teh suck. Right off the bat Nicole struggles to find the pitch, and never quite makes it, although things get much better towards the end. Plus her voice is doing some weird deep, whiny thing as she forces some of her notes out. Not a fan. Sheís definitely moving her all the boys, and her parents in the audience, but not me. Iím thinking about how Jordin is gonna tear this song up next week. Randy slams Nicole by telling her the vibe was off. All the way off. Paula says it was good, and she doesnít know how many people can hit the notes Nicole just hit. I donít know how many people would want to. Simonís once again coming hard with the truthiness by saying the performance was unnatural and overperformed, and that Nicole looked fake on stage. Paula still insists that Nicole has great range and control, but Randy says it was ďtoo urbanĒ for her. That was a nice way of saying she donít know nothing about no soul. His thoughts, not mine. Mine are a little less charitable.
Raw Emotion, Take Two
This seasonís dependable fashion disaster, Haley Scarnato, is ready to get things back on track. Sheís still a bit shocked by her surreal experience so far, and she says sheís not ready to go home. Yet her singing makes a big, fat liar out of her. Okay, she wasnít that bad. More warbly and corny than bad, I guess, reprising ďItís All Coming Back To Me NowĒ as if she were trying to win Miss America in her bunchy black bustier. The right hand of raw emotion is back up in the air, as if sheís really throwing down, but all I can bring myself to say is meh. The judges agree with me of course, because Iím always right. Randy says she sounds more suited for Broadway; I guess Haley didnít get the memo about the Grease casting extravaganza. That couldíve gotten her on TV too, and with much nicer judges. Ah, well. We live, we learn. Simon says she sang like she was 40, and sounded like she was in a hotel supper show. I may be a fan of a good Sunday night supper show at the Howard Johnsonís, but I know thatís not a compliment. I think itís pretty obvious that Haleyís just always had this dream of singing ďItís All Coming Back To MeĒ on a stage in front of a screaming crowd, and so she got that. Again, meh.
Itís Doolittle Time. Who can help loving her for her shy, humble attitude, her big smile and bigger face, and her powerhouse of a voice? I canít help it, for sure. And why would I want to, when she turns in brilliant performances like this one? Melinda wins my heart forever and ever by singing Arethaís ďSince Youíve Been Gone (Sweet, Sweet Baby), and completely rocking the house. Itís a jamming tune to begin with, but Melinda totally fills the air with her lovely, restrained voice and huge presence. Sheís absolutely electric on stage Ė delighted to be there, and hugely talented. You have to root for her. Unless you have no soul, in which case, you can do what you please, Nosferatu. I donít even have to say that the judges loved her. All praise from Randy and Paula, and a veritable tongue bath from Simon, who says that after two nights of people coming out with marginal talent and a lot of arrogance (I think he means you, Sligh, but itís okay, I still love you), that Melinda has shown what this competition is all about. I concur.
Sorry, but I donít know why Alaina Alexander is here. Her voice is bland and average, and sheís shown little to no control over it on stage. So, sheís young and pretty and vulnerable, but Ö oh, I get it. Well, Alainais here, so Iím required to tell you that sheís so excited and feels really good about living her dreams and things. Which is too bad, because her dreams may be coming to an end after this imminently unremarkable turn in of The Pretendersí ďBrass In Pocket,Ē a song that deserves a much better fate than this. There are flats galore, and many, many cracks, but itís no use to dwell on them, because Alainaís not here for her singing. Randy and Paula pull out Pat Response #1 and say she didnít make it her own. Simon calls it like it is and says Alaina was blown off the stage by many, many people tonight, and if she makes it through the week, itíll be because of her looks. If she makes it through the week, Iíll eat my winter hat. The one thatís made out of chocolate. Thereís an awkward moment, as Ryan tries to defend Alaina and all of her passion, and Simon asks if Ryanís trying to date Alaina. Thatís off-base on a couple of levels, I think. Anyway, moment passes, Alaina still sucked, and weíre moving on.
That sassy Gina Glocksen is ready to get some return for her many years of auditioning for American Idol, and more power to her. She says itís her time to shine, and picks Ö ďAll By MyselfĒ to help her do so. So weíve got Plain Alaina singing The Pretenders and Punk Gina doing Celine? Whatís happening? Is the sky going to start raining meatballs and hot dogs like in that book I read in kindergarten? Because that would rule. What are we talking about here? Oh, Gina. She does a serviceable job with her song, glory-noting and emotion-kneeling her way through with what looks like effortless ease. But I hate the song, so I probably wasnít moved as much I shouldíve been. The judges all praise her powerful voice, and Simon says he didnít expect to see this side of Gina. He doesnít think it was quite the right thing for her to do, and says she didnít hit the true Celine notes. Ryan asks Gina how confident she was before she sang, and Gina says she was at a 6, but now sheís at a 12, because before she wasnít sure if she could hit those notes at all, but she did, so sheís proud. So is her mother, whoís totally crying in a genuine, endearing way, unlike a certain pappy from last year. Iím still on the fence about Gina on the whole, but if they keep showing her mom, I might just wind up on her side.
Just Plain Old Glory
Of course, Iím already on Lakishaís side, 4 lyfe. Her awesomeness was well established in her stirring audition and vibrant Hollywood performances. Sheís another whoís thankful for the opportunity and so on, and I believe her when she says it. Sheís hoping for the best tonight, and sheís going to need it, because tonight sheís singing ďAnd I Am Telling You Iím Not Going,Ē the showstopper from the musical Dreamgirls immortalized by Jennifer Holliday, and brilliantly rejuvenated by Idolís own Jennifer Hudson just this past December. No worries, Lakisha does an amazing job of the song, and there is no phony emoting anywhere around her. Itís all heart and soul, and while her performance isnít as dynamic as Hudsonís or Hollidayís, it is wonderful. Her voice flits between the softer phrases and the out-and-out belting with grace, and though the song lost a bit of verve with the choppy arrangement, Iím a believer anyway. The judges of course give her all the props she deserves, because it was a seriously ballsy move to sing that song, on this show, at this time, and she pulled it off really well. Randy raves, Paula gushes, and Simon says heís tempted to tell the other 23 to book their plane rides home. Whoa. Thatís some praise for the first week of competition. Ryan chats up Lakisha about it beingher daughterís birthday, and I still donít mind all the daughter mentionitis because this girl just plain rules.
This was a fabulous way to close the show tonight. Ryan asks Randy how heíd fill the top 12 if it were up to him, and Randy says heíd probably have an 8-4 split of ladies and gentlemen. Mine would be more like 10-2. But itís not up to me, so weíll all find out together who stays and who goes in tonightís results show.
So you've read this whole thing. Now honestly, do you remember what Amy Krebs sang? firstname.lastname@example.org om