Ominous lighting and the shadowy, sprite-like figure of Seacrest meet us as we open ladies’ night this week, and I immediately get the feeling that something creepy’s going to happen tonight. Could I have stumbled onto Castlevania Idol by mistake? No, it’s just the show’s way of reminding me that the girls have a bona fide battle on their hands. With the boys sucking less (more like Hoovers instead of Orecks) last night, they’re officially back in the competition, and, as Ryan says, the field is once again wide open. Not that it matters. Ever notice how the guy lifting up his arms in triumph in the opening credits looks a lot like Simon? He’s obviously the only Idol this show’s concerned with. But there must be singing, and sucking too, or else there is no show for advertisers to exploit. So let’s get on with it all shall we?
Rockin’ in the Twee World
There’s the obligatory banter with the judges, and none of it is ever worth repeating, so let’s just skip it. Just like the fellas last night, the female equivalent of fellas will have the chance to dedicate their performances to someone who inspires them. I bet there’ll be quite a few happy mamas out there tonight. Except for mine, because her daughter’s probably going to call her up and whine about how drab the show is this year.
Gina Glocksen’s up first, and she’s decided to dedicate her performance to her (hot) boyfriend, because he’s her motivation and her rock, the only one she’s got; always there in the storms and the rain, holding her hand, the one she can run to when no one understands … sorry. I got caught up thinking about my Idol coronation song entry for a moment. Anyway, Gina loves her man, and sings Heart’s power ballad “Alone” just for him. She’s dressed to match that annoying streak of “Rawker Red” in her hair, in a shimmery knee-length spaghetti-strap dress that does nothing for her calves. She jams on the song in a sappy kind of cutesy way, but doesn’t come close to Carrie Underwood’s version, not with all those screechy screeches in the belty areas. The highlight for me was actually AJ over in the dawg pound, singing along and
queeningrocking out to every word Gina sings. What a sweetheart. He’s my American Idol.
Randy says she picked a good song, but she was a little pitchy. Paula brings up Carrie and then punks out by not making the comparison that was on the tip of her tongue. Maybe the comparison was drowned by the Wild Turkey residue. Anyway, Paula says Gina was great. Simon is a bit disappointed; he thought Gina was going to bring a rock edge that she hasn’t done so far. He must’ve missed the red streaks. Paula then goes into some bizarre dissection of Gina’s entire appearance which brings me to a weird place of thinking of Idol like some sort of butcher shop, where all the contestants are pieces of meat. I’d much rather think of them as scoops of ice cream.
The Posturing and the Pensive
We come back from break to Ryan chatting comfortably with Alaina Alexander and Lakisha Jones on the non-specific, brand unaffiliated red couch. The one in the Coca Cola Room. He compliments Lakisha’s legs in her short denim skirt and calls them “very sexy,” all with a randy little growl in his voice that I’m sure will convince everyone of his raging heterosexuality. He asks Lakisha if she’s been reading all the wonderful things people (*ahem*) have been writing about her. Lakisha doesn’t read anything about the show and doesn’t know how much people absolutely love her, so she’s still a bit nervous about performing. She’s got a troubled spirit, this one does.
Look Ma! No Talent.
Alaina feels fine, though. Last week the judges reamed her for her song choice, among other things, but tonight she thinks she’s picked a winner. It remains to be seen whether or not she’s had a vocal chord transplant. I’m thinking no. And I’m right. In our first official “dedicated to my mama” performance of the evening, Alaina works her whiny magic on The Dixie Chicks’s “Not Ready To Make Nice.” Which relates to her mother how? I’m not sure. But Alaina sings her heart out anyway, floating in and out of tune, and then running out of breath halfway through, but sporting some fabulously glossed lips, which luckily distract me from her rather unfortunate A-line mini with a sequined bodice and a big stupid bow in front. Oh, I guess I wasn’t distracted after all.
Well, Randy calls the performance a mess. Paula says it was a hard song to sing, and Alaina was a bit off, but she doesn’t think it was as terrible as Randy does. Alaina tries to blame her horribleness on not being able to hear, but Simon wins my eternal devotion (to be doled out in well-spaced increments as I see fit, terms and conditions apply) by comparing Alaina’s performance on the stage to what Randy would do in a 100-meter dash. Ha! Take that, dawg. Simon says Alaina ran out of steam. I think she was only working with some tepid water to begin with, but that’s neither here nor there. Paula wraps us up by calling Alaina adorable, her people cheer in the audience, there’s some brouhaha about the judges getting too personal, but I’m not at all interested anymore, because I heard Lakisha’s on next.
Journey to the Center of My Heart
And there she is! Lakisha is dedicating her performance to her awesome grandmother, who will be turning 90 soon and who from what I understand is going through some personal problems, cute as she is, because Lakisha informs us that she is in “luv” with Ryan. Call me, Mother Jones. We have much to discuss.
The song Lakisha’s singing is one of my favorites by one of my favorites, Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Lakisha comes out in her freshly curled wig, fiery, flowy orange top and denim mini, and there’s no semblance of objectivity from me. She barely sings two notes and I’m all “Yeah! Do it Lakisha!” Of course she sounds magnificent, but there’s something else there that compels me to root for her. She has a melancholy about her that I just want to go away, and I hope her success on this show will help that to happen. Oh yeah, also she can freaking sing. She’s good. She’s got her family in the audience testifying and having chuuuch is how good she can sing. For reals.
The judges wisely temper their praise with some crit. Randy likes the way she changed things up from last week. He could tell she was nervous, but says she has no reason to be with that wonderful voice. Paula loved it, and Simon calls her phenomenally good, but didn’t like it as much as what she did last week. I think Simon just wants Lakisha to come out in a J-Hud t-shirt every week. He tells her she has to start believing she’s going to be a big star, and acting like it. And next week he’ll tell her her huge sunglasses and toy poodle in a purse look stupid and arrogant. Oh, Simon. He also slams her outfit, but of course no one should be seriously considering fashion advice from a guy who still hasn’t found a Playtex to keep his moobs from sagging in those skimpy tees he loves.
Doolittle Does Lots of Good
One piece of awesomeness follows another, and it’s Melinda Doolittle’s time to shine. Neck or not, this girl wins at life, and hopefully shady televised talent contests too. She’s going to dedicate her performance to her Gayles, two of her bestest friends ever. Sweet. She sings “My Funny Valentine,” and it’s so fricking splendid it’s hard to describe. Her voice is pure soaring magic. I know people say they get chills all the time and it’s trite and whatever, but I so do get chills when she first switches from the softer dynamic to the full on glory notes. Melinda’s voice is a treasure; she belts without booming, and there’s still always that gorgeous tone behind every note. She knows what she’s doing; her phrasing is creative and her precision can’t be beat. Love. Her. And then she’s so sweet and genuinely unassuming as the judges straight up lavish her with praise. If she can get a bit of confidence to go with her gentleness, she shall soon own me. And I don’t come cheap.
Antonella Sings Celine … Because She Hates Me
Speaking of cheap (yeah, had to go there; sorry), Antonella Barba’s up next to bring me right out of that cheerful mood that the double whammy of Lalinda had put me in. Yay. Ryan skips any direct hint of BJ-Gate and coyly asks if Antonella is nervous this week. She babbles on about picking a good song or something, but I tune her out because I hate her. Also, I think she’s trying to seem J.Lo-like, with her tight green dress on and silly, stiff, hips-and-chest-sticking-out poses, which, gross. Be a little less obvious why don’t you, Ant?
Anyway, she dedicates her performance to her guitar-playing brother, and talks about being a musician, and tears up about missing him because of college, and sorry, I’m not buying your bid for humanness. Shut up and sing your song, skank. Antonella complies and goes on to murder Celine’s “Because You Loved Me.” I almost said she sucked, but I'm thinking I shouldn’t beat that particular horse anymore. She is fully horrible though, even her mother in the audience is singing along with a very worried “Oh, honey” look on her face. Yes, she hit the money note (shut-up. I’m trying.) and no, Antonella isn’t as terrible as she was last week, but she could hardly be. And considering all she has to prove against some of the hugely beautiful voices in this competition, one note isn’t enough to earn a spot on that stage. No. She should not be here. No!
Randy calls her drop dead gorgeous, says her pitch was all over the place, and then earns a gold star from me for saying, “I wish I could sing like Celine too, but I can’t.” Burn! Paula says she grew leaps and bounds from last week. This puts her right at the line between “absolute horror” and “eh, at least it was short.” Simon cuts to the chase and plain says Antonella isn’t good enough. In her afterburn with Ryan Antonella sticks her foot in her mouth (if you got anything from that, it’s your own fault) by saying she’s not going to listen to someone who axed the brilliant J-Hud. Oh no she di’int just compare herself to Academy Award Winning Actress Jennifer Hudson! Oh, I’m too through with her. She’s dead to me. Next!
Hopefully sweet Jordin Sparks will cleanse some of the skank from the air. She’s dedicating her song tonight to her younger brother, and she too gets teary just talking about him. All that emotion must’ve messed with her singing muscle, ‘cause Jordin’s rendition of La Aguilera’s “Reflection” is … uneven to say the least. She’s sharp for a great deal at the beginning, and on the glory note near the end, but the finish is absolutely lovely. She mists up as soon as she finishes. Randy knows she was emotional, so he’s willing to excuse the pitch problems, because she’s awesome for a 17 year old. Paula calls her a good human being. Simon also excuses her because of her emotions. Man, how can I get a pass like that? I have a few performances of my own to give in a little while.
Ryan’s now dishing with Stephanie, asking about the mood among the ladies, digging for dirt. Put hood dryers over their heads and their feet into soaking tubs and I would so believe this scene. Stephanie’s unwilling to acknowledge any tension in the ladies’ cohort, but she says so in such an awkward, hesitant manner that no one will believe her, even if she is telling the truth. Note to self: never have Stephanie on a witness stand for me.
She’s dedicating her performance to her parents, because they literally pushed her into auditioning when Stephanie wanted to quit. So she goes on to sing “Dangerously In Love,” a song that, besides throwing me for a loop re: dedication to parents, has some of the dumbest, most insipid lyrics ever. Sorry Beyonce, but “you are my raindrops high in the sea”? No. Not at all. However, Stephanie sounds and looks brilliant, and I love her madly even if she does love a dumb, dumb song. Her voice is amazingly rich, and she has excellent control over it. She's another one who's putting gallons of real emotion and heart into everything she sings. I can’t believe Stephanie’s only 19.
Randy loves her and think she was great, but also thinks she had too much Beyonce and not enough Stephanie Edwards going on. Paula disagrees and says that people are going to be as in love with Stephanie Edwards as they are with Beyonce. Simon agrees with Paula. Stephanie wants people to like her, so she pretends to understand what Randy’s talking about. I grow bored and fast-forward through the nonsense that follows, while humming freaking “Dangerously In Love.” Curse that insidious Beyonce and her catchy melodies! But bless Stephanie Edwards for at least making them palatable.
Leslie Hunt’s taking a “less is more” approach to her performance this week to dispel the whole awkward gawky thing she's been labeled with. I don’t think she can get rid of it because she is that awkward, gawky thing; it’s what makes her adorable. Leslie dedicates her performance to her grandfather, because she feels he would be proud of her for what she’s doing now, and she wants to keep his spirit alive. She tears up too, and I completely buy it, even coming from her big, staring, deer-in-headlights eyes. Aw. She sings Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” the song that AJ got his Gypsy Rose Lee on with last night, but Leslie spins it differently. It’s wispy and ethereal at first, and by the time the horns horn in the mellow, soulful tone is already set so it’s not too over the top. She looks like she got trapped in Madonna’s washing machine, the 1984 model, in her flared skirt and leggings, but I’ll forgive her for that because why not.
Randy likes that she tried to be her jazzy self, and then reverts to his familiar bag of tricks by calling her pitchy. Paula likes her, and Simon gets in a dig on both ladies by saying the scat at the end of Leslie's song sounded like Paula when she judges. Hilarious. Simon goes on to say that Leslie is lost among some of the other more outstanding voices and personalities, and Paula comes to her defense by saying that everyone likes different flavors of ice cream, and Leslie is somebody’s flavor. Thanks, Paula! Simon won’t let up and says if this is about ice cream, then Leslie is vanilla. He obviously knows nothing about the U.S. because vanilla has been the most popular ice cream flavor around these parts for like a million years.
Haley Scarnato Is Just Not Self-Aware
Last week Haley had a bit of a rough time. She turned in a cheesetastic rendition of “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” and Simon told her she belongs in a hotel floor show. Haley took that advice and decided this week to give us … Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night”? It’s dedicated to her dedicated fiancé, which sort of fits, but nothing else about this is right. The arrangement is corny sounding coming from a live band when it’s supposed to be all synth, Haley is displaying not an ounce of the ironic sass needed to sell this song and keep from looking like a fool, and to top it all off, she’s out there trying to dance with, yes, her ridiculous right hand jutting up into the air as always. Oh, Haley. The voice isn’t up to the task either; it’s sooo thin, and it strains trying to get through the emphatic cadence that the song demands, and this is altogether just a mess, and I’m making myself sad writing about it, so I’ll stop.
The audience cheers wildly for Haley when she’s finished, and I am having trouble accounting for that. Randy doesn’t know what to say except that it wasn’t great, and that the backup singers carried her. Simon thinks that’s why she chose this song. Ha. Paula says that Haley too was much better than last week, and again, that’s not a compliment. Simon gives her an A for effort, and there’s no way that’s meant to be nice.
Sabrina Sloan is closing the show, dedicating her performance to her glamorous grandmother, who is sick in the hospital. That’s sweet. But I don’t know if this is going to make grammy feel any better. Sabrina has a lovely voice, to be sure, but she is suffering from the same delusion that made Katharine McPhee such an annoyance last season. Sabrina thinks she has a powerful voice, and Sabrina does not have a powerful voice. Her “All the Man I Need” is whiny in the best parts, and screechy in the worst, and even though there are signs of her pretty voice throughout, the pretty never really shows up. ‘Tis a pity.
Neither Randy nor Paula agrees with me; Randy tells Sabrina she has a big voice, which is a lie, and Paula says something about loving her. Simon as always the voice of reason warns Sabrina against confusing power with shouting, and hopefully Sabrina is paying attention.
So there go our top 10 ladies, and I wouldn’t call this an outstanding night. I’m actually feeling underwhelmed. The best stuff was all in the middle. It was like Idol, Oreo-style. Hmm. Maybe I just need an Oreo. Yeah. I’ll go find something to cheer me up, and you be sure and stay tuned to find out who stays and who goes, because SueEllenMishke is bringing you your results. Pray for justice, y’all.
If you’re voting for Antonella or Chris R. you owe me $50. Send your paypal transfers to firstname.lastname@example.org om