So I was going to come in here all ‘Allo, Guvnah,’ because this week is the British Invasion theme, and it’d be like British-ness was invading my recap, but Cockney is so 40 years ago. Although I would rather like to present the image of a more refined sort of Idol, one where Paula demurely sips tea and pops digestives, where Randy actually speaks English, and Simon … oh, he’s already British, isn’t he? I guess there’s no changing him then. Crap. Nevermind. Anyway it’s a big show tonight, we’re choosing the top 10 and we’re supposed to be excited about it because this … is… American Idol, so it’s time for all the contestants to run out and smile, baby!
Ryan pokes at the judges a bit to see if they’re breathing or whatever and oops! Maybe he shouldn’t have done that, because instead of witty banter we have Paula advising contestants to picture Simon nekkid, and Simon getting off on that idea. Creepy. So let’s quickly move on and pretend it never happened!
Ryan segues us neatly into tonight’s action with a doc about rocking in the 60s, and then we get lengthy reminiscing from Peter Noone whose jaw and smile are entirely too big to be believed, and Lulu, who I keep wanting to call Twiggy but nobody tell her or she’ll kick my behind.
Tonight’s Carnival Cruise
Lulu’s in the help booth with Haley first, giving her great advice about phrasing and steering her away from her normal dully legato style. She compliments Haley’s voice and tells her to be proud of her softness. Haley smiles and nods like a good girl, and then proceeds to throw it all away on stage. She sings “Tell Him,” a song that Ryan says is originally by Billie Davis, but that I will always associate with Flo and the Flavorettes. Haley is certainly not staccato here. And she’s not very interesting either, even though she fully gets her Kathie Lee on as usual, waving her arm all over the place. But even though she struggles for breath and strains a bit, her voice sounds nicer than usual. I don’t think she can ever really shake her overwhelming aura of mawkish pageantry, but she’s braless in a bright gold halter and brown underwear on stage, so she should get pretty good reviews. She even gives a little chest shimmy at the end, just like a good girl that ate her naughty flakes this morning.
Randy says she chose the perfect song and gave a performance with the Yo Factor all over it, and that sounds messy. Paula agrees with Randy. Simon agrees with me (and what conflicting emotions that produces!) and says that Haley was shrieky and frantic, but that her outfit will carry her through. Nice to know you’re just a piece of biscuit, eh Haley?
Don’t Let Me Catch You Singing
The producers hate me this week, because the big round face of Chris R follows Haley in a one-two punch of irritation. His avowed goal is to “nail a song,” and show us he can sing and not just perform. I’d applaud that effort if I weren’t so busy trying to keep my fingers out of my ears. They just jump up there when he comes on screen. My doctor is stumped. Anyway Peter Noone agrees that thus far Crich has sounded like crap, and urges him to pay more attention to the beautiful melody in “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying.” He’s onstage with a guitar in the classic “I’m a musician!” pose and melty watery “I‘m a sensitive man!” eyes, and he does seem to be taking things easier, which pleases me. Then he gets up and goes back to being all nasally up in his nasal, and I just have to admit to y’all that I can not like his voice, no matter what. Like that was a secret.
Randy praises him for giving us his softer side, and Paula tells him the acoustic choice was very sexy. Watch out there now. Could Chris wind up as the next MC Skat Kat in one of Paula’s videos? Let’s all pray. Simon likes that it didn’t sound old-fashioned, and calls this his best performance ever. Does that qualify as a compliment in his case? Oh, there’s just no way I can be objective here, so let me leave well enough alone.
It’s Okay, Steph. I Love You
Stephanie Edwards is on now, and she’s wearing a lot of jewelry. She preps for singing “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” with Lulu, and Lulu is very impressed with Stephanie’s vocal maturity. Me too. I’m always forgetting that she is only 19. Lulu also compares Stephanie to Beyonce, and Stephanie receives that as some kind of huge honor, which makes me worry about her some, and would make me like her a bit less except for that I really like her. She takes the stage to sing in her 10 pounds of loopy necklaces and earrings, and a pretty blue dress. The arrangement is all formal and orchestral, which is odd, but Stephanie sounds lovely in spite of a few nervous shakes. Of course I’m probably in the minority with this opinion; lots of people are convinced that the ghost of Nadia Turner is going to rise and eat her soul! or whatever. But eh. I just think Steph has a really beautiful voice.
Randy says it wasn’t her best performance, and says hse’s more comfortable with uptempo things. Paula slams her with the “pretty” thing, and says she wasn’t having fun with the song tonight. Stephanie smiles graciously, and then Simon completes the trifecta of judging horrors by asking Stephanie how she thinks she performed, I guess willing her to say “Please vote me off.” She doesn’t indulge him, so he goes on to say that Steph’s losing her edge. Oh no! First Gina, now Stephanie. Is there some edge-stealing leprechaun roaming around the AI lot? (I swear I wasn’t going for a Seacrest joke there, but ha!) Will next week find Blake singing Donny Osmond? I’m scared.
The Triumphant Return Of Beatbox Boi
Speaking Of Blake, he’s up next. Crazy contemporary kid that he is, he’s going for an updated take on one of my favorite songs, the Zombies’ “Time Of The Season.” When he debuts his ideas for Peter, the Noone looks intrigued. Then he goes on to say that he won’t be sitting in the front row of Blake’s concerts with all the beatboxing going on; he’ll save those seats for the girls …? What because girls like to be spit on? Um, no. Please don’t make me go for an R. Kelly reference her. I would hate to have to do that to you and your huge neck, Mr. Noone. Seriously, the whole of his head is just massive. It’s getting a bit distracting. Anyway, Blake takes the stage, and for someone who hates change, I liked his version of “Time Of The Season” quite well. It’s smooth and seductive as it should be, and very engaging, apart from the kind of choppy jump from bridge to verse. They’ve even arranged a psychedelic rainbow of a light show for him. Aside from his wardrobe choice of the consistently puzzling plaid pants, it’s a great performance. Blake will never have a really great voice, but the boy knows how to play to his strengths.
The judges love him, call him the future of the world, shower him with roses and pennies and whatnot, and that’s easy enough to picture, I’m sure. Then, in the afterburn Seacrest makes a donkey of himself by trying to beatbox too. Oh my gosh, y’all. Ryan totally has a little crush!
It’s LaKisha time! Apparently our LaKiKi was having some trouble choosing between two songs; she gravitated toward both Shirley Bassey‘s “Diamonds Are Forever” and Cilla Black’s “You’re My World,” and even after some rousing support from Lulu for the latter, she’s chosen to do “Diamonds.” She’s loaded down with diamonds because this thing here ain’t about subtlety, and all of that sparkle helps divert attention from her sort of dowdy green gown, which is good. LaKisha sounds fine occupying the feline-like opening phrases, and I hope this will finally convince people that she can sing well without belting, because she totally can and does here, so there. She gets a bit theatrical with the movements, and the she drops a couple of the bottom notes, but she’s grandiose, in a good way.
Randy says it was good, but he didn’t feel enough LaKisha in it. Paula says she was a smart girl to sing about diamonds and get decked out like so, and who knew Paula was a gold digger? I guess that now makes Emilio a broke, broke, broke … oh, sorry. Let’s leave Emilio out of this. He’s done nothing wrong. Except for Men At Work. And D2. And D3. But who’s counting. Anyway, back to the show? Simon wraps up the judges session by saying LaKisha was too far above her age this evening. I could agree, but I won’t. Also, there’s a second of UST that explodes as Ryan asks Simon what LaKisha should wear to be younger, and Simon defers to Ryan’s expertise. Ryan wags a finger and says, “Not tonight,” with a saucy grin on. Gamboling for attention from Page Six does nothing for your smile, Ryan.
Prefab Rock Has Room For All
Move over, Gina! Phil Stacey wants to try his luck with the rock formula too. Landing in the bottom three must’ve shaken some gimmick into him. He’s going to kick some flavor with “Tobacco Road,” which includes a lot of two step finger-snapping. Peter thinks it’s a good song for his voice, what with the wailing potential and all. He says he believes Phil when he sings this, and he’s looking forward to it. I hope the gratuitous mic stand posing and stage running and pointing was good for you, Peter. It annoyed me though. Phil’s voice wasn’t bad, but he had obvious trouble keeping up with the song’s energy. He did nail that bass part, but it was kinda … odd after the weaker falsetto he had been showing off. But Randy thought it was good, so what the heck. Paula takes a moment to reprimand naughty Simon for doing something off camera, and what the heck is wrong with them all tonight? They’re just throwing out the innuendoes left and right. It’s no fun to make fun of them when they give it away like this.
Girl Who Has Everything!
Lest you forget that Jordin’s an effervescent kinda gal, she tells Ryan that the song that defines her is “I’m So Excited.” And I believe her too. And I further believe that Jordin can naturally get to that state without popping a bunch of caffeine pills, Jessie. So Excited Jordin is of course excited to meet Lulu ad show off her fabulous voice. She’s chosen Shirley Bassey’s angst-ridden classic “I (Who Have Nothing),” and Lulu helps her work out some of the emotional drama she’ll need to sell it, encouraging her to rip into her soul and get histrionic for some of the more intense sections. I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far in without saying how awesome Lulu is in general. But now I‘ve done it, so remember, Lulu = made of awesome, more so even than sunny spring breaks, and cotton candy. So Jordin comes out and does totally sell the songs, evoking maturity and sensibility, and not missing a note to my ear. Aaand, her straightened locks and black beaded cocktail dress kind of make her look mature in the bad way, but that’s okay too, because she’s picked up a bit of Lulu’s awesome.
Randy calls hers the best performance of the night, and Paula says screw the fact that she’s 17, she rocks. Simon says it was gloomy and made him feel like jumping off of a bridge. And twenty million recorders were rewound and tapes inserted to capture that moment. Look, Simon. It’s not like you’re universally loved or anything. Don’t give people excuses, mkay?
Oh, God. What Can One Say, Really?
It’s Sanjaya. Tortured and torturous little Sanjaya who has yet to turn in a good performance, and who has yet to leave, and yet seems determined to stay. He’s excited to jam this week, and consarnit, why? Why?! I’m sorry I lost it for a moment. Sanjaya. Is here. I’ll deal with it.
So, yeah, Sanjaya absolutely makes a mockery of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” He sucks just as much as ever (no really, he does), and I’m not going to call it singing it all. But I think everyone’s distracted by his hair. Which is admittedly hypnotic; the sheer power of his hair is what I’m going to assume is making some little girl in the audience completely lose her face. Some classy cameraman zooms right in on her just as she’s completing the switch from demure public-cry mode to private-cry mode, where you try to contain yourself but you can’t so you end up all wrenched up, and still bawling. Yikes. Randy and Paula try to say something about how much fun Sanjaya seems to be having up on stage, but Simon instead of giving his opinion, Simon pulls a “weirdo!” face and defers to the little girl, whose name, we find out, is Ashley. Ryan pimps out Sanjaya for a moment and makes him give the child a hug, and she curls up into a tense little ball of excitement at his touch, unable to do anything but grin and nod in response to Ryan‘s questions. This, people, is the power of Teh Sanjaya. I bet if he asked her she’d empty her family’s bank account and then bury the money in the sand until he comes to claim it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
How To Rock, fig. 2
So you know Gina’s now internalized that whole “you should rock and be edgy” thing to the point where her effort fully negates the product. Everything about her tonight, from the new (Edgy? Maybe 10 years ago when my 4th grade art teacher was rocking it.) asymmetrical bob she’s sporting, to the shredded top and chains she’s wearing, to her ridiculously methodical performance, is all calculated just so, in order to make you think she rocks. It’s even more egregious here than in Phil‘s performance; she sings the Stones’ “Paint It Black,” and Lulu gives her some pointers about style and urges her to go for a higher key, which is a good idea but it all ends up just unconvincing anyway. You can see the wheels of her mind turning throughout -- stand still and do the stare here, kick the mic stand … now!
She sounds okay though. Randy calls her their “Resident Rocker” just in case you didn’t get it yet, and he and Paula both say they liked her rocking and having a good time. Paula drops a corny joke about the song being Simon’s favorite, and he respnds with a patronizing laugh that makes her look silly. Then, he criticizes Gina for being “style over substance” tonight, which … what? Wasn’t he the one horning her in to the rocker box for the past 5 weeks? What is he doing? How many roads must a Gina walk down? I’m so confused.
Bringing Awkward Back
We come back from break to some weirdness with Ryan in Simon’s chair and Simon perching on the dais in front of him, Paula saying we’re in the swinging sixties like something’s just gone on but we’re not supposed to know … but oh, can we imagine. Sigh. Sligh’s turn now. He’s doing the Zombies too, because Blake is really cool. He hits Peter Noone up for some advice about being sexy, and it’s a little uncomfortable to be honest. Sligh is doing “She’s Not There,” and it’s a good effort, but he ends up losing the sexy groove with a lot of over-singing and awkward posturing with the mic. Whoops.
Randy liked the way he came out of the crowd, and thinks he was great. Paula’s liking his look, and thinks he was good but tells him to feel free to do more with the audience. This bothers Simon, but who cares. He likes Chris tonight and thinks he’s improved majorly from last week. And that’s all that matters. Except, as his number is flashing Chris pulls a Taylor by shouting ‘Fro Patrol’ and so is now by pure association someone I intensely dislike. So listen, Chris. NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.
Consider Yourself Well In
Melinda Doolittle’s got a new cropped doo, and it’s lots younger looking which is good, but it kinda makes her face look even wider if you can believe it. Back to the drawing board on that one, Dean. She’s singing “As Long As He Needs Me,” and after a night full of gruel, this could be some food, glorious food at last. Okay, okay I’ll try to stop with the Oliver! references now. Lulu is excited for Melinda to step farther out of the background singer shell, and she does it brilliantly as always. The song is a bit of a drag, and I’m waiting for Melinda to bring some power with a more modern song, but hey. I takes what I can gets from this show.
Melinda does a cute little inhale at the end, so I guess she still can’t believe this is happening to her. I still believe it. Randy calls her a pro on stage, and Paula compliments her dynamics and says she always tells a story with her performances. Simon asks if Melinda is as nice as she seems, and you think there’s no way someone can answer that without sounding like a prick, but Melinda just shrugs and says “I hope so.” Gracious, she is a pro. Simon then proceeds to heap laurels at her feet, calling her sensational and impeccable up on stage. Lordy. Go ahead and tell her to have yo’ money already, Simon.
So that’s this week’s show. We’ve ended on a pretty good note, but I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Your results will be brought to you by the brilliant AJane, so do stay tuned to see who misses the tour by this much.
So, um, suggestions of anything … else Chris Sligh might call his fans? Please PM me here.