Hola! Ready to shake your body? Or your head in disgust? It’s Latin week, and who better to promote Latin music than someone who has decided to re-embrace her own roots after discarding them for a career in lightweight pop and even lighter-weight Hollywood movies? The woman who made big asses socially acceptable, Jennifer Lopez, aka JLo (which she shall henceforth be known in this recap, since it’s way shorter to type) is the guest mentor this week, because she does have a new Spanish-language album to hype. So she can correct the Idols’ pronunciation of words like “munequita”, and tell them how best to shake their bootay to that conga beat. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? The sad reality is…not so much.
Doo a little sway
JLo is taking on the Herculean task of trying to bring out the “sexy” in Melinda Doolittle. Melinda, to her credit, frankly admits that “sexy” is not really in her repertoire. But she’s going to give it the old college try, with her version of “Sway”. She does look quite nice in a lovely black dress with an asymmetrical hem, and her hair is coiffed to perfection. The song, sadly, sounds very old-fashioned, but she sings it competently – though she can’t resist hitting the glory note at the end, something JLo expressly told the Idols wasn’t necessary in Latin music. Randy evasively says the performance was solid, though not her best. Paula (simply in the interests of fairness, I must say that her stylist did a smashing job of her hair tonight) thinks it was sultry and smooth, but Simon for once, dares to criticize the judges’ pet. He didn’t like it, found it very lounge/cabaret, and thought it was a bit lazy and wooden. If he’s this cranky for Latin week, the Idols must be shuddering in nervous anticipation of country week. JLo apparently helped Melinda find her inner diva, because Mel ventures to smart-mouth Simon, commenting that Simon has been wanting to say something bad about her and he finally got his chance. It’s a mere mosquito bite to the likes of Simon Cowell, of course, and he simply chortles as the audience roars delightedly.
One person doesn’t make a conga line
Let’s pick the most obvious softball viewer question we can imagine for LaKisha Jones, shall we, Ryan? Why did you want to try out for AI? Why, to provide a better life for my daughter, you dumbass. Stop staring at my chest – I didn’t pick out this dress! KiKi’s dress, incidentally, was stolen right from the racks of the Dancing With The Stars dressing room, as I’m sure Emmitt Smith was wearing it when he performed the tango last season. Or maybe that was the show I was drunk for. Anyway, KiKi is set to perform “Conga”, the Miami Sound Machine hit from the ‘80’s. JLo can’t possibly teach LaKiKi to sing, so she’s reduced to showing her how to dance, or, as la mentor says, “ride the rhythm”. Fun song, fun dancing, so why does LaKisha have such a miserable expression on her puss while she’s performing it? I don’t see her crack a smile the entire time, and the performance is completely joyless. But maybe this is KiKi having fun, because the judges think she was having a fine old time. Randy proclaims it “hot”, but Paula, surprisingly, didn’t feel it. Simon – gasp! – agrees with Paula, though he thinks that while KiKi was having fun, the people at home weren’t. If you’ve never agreed with Simon before, I bet you will now.
Keep it real – or else forget about it
Chris Richardson is going to bring the song chronology up to the ‘90’s – appropriate, since the mid-‘90’s were the heyday of ‘N Sync, The Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, etc. He’s chosen Santana’s “Smooth”, a song I happen to particularly like for Rob Thomas’ low, sultry vocals and Carlos’ usual superb guitar solos. So when JLo decides that she’s going to bring the song up a key for Chris, I’m already not happy. I’m even less happy when Chris starts singing – his vocals are flat, and he parodies the song rather than performs it. At least the band sounded good, but I’m still cringing by the end. The judges, to my dismay, praise Chris’ effort – Randy thinks it’s a good job, and Paula calls it “hot and sexy”, causing Chris to do some cringing of his own. Simon, thankfully, calls out Chris on the vocals, but ruins it by saying that he preferred it to the first two songs, as it’s “more contemporary”. Simon also refers to either Melinda or LaKisha as “whatshername”, so if you didn’t get that he’s either disgusted with the whole theme or he’s pissed because someone stole his entire collection of V-necked t-shirts and is now hawking them on ebay – you know for sure he’s in a lousy mood tonight.
Who wears short-shorts?
You know you’re in trouble when JLo calls in your competitor to help you out with your song. Haley Scarnato has chosen “Turn The Beat Around”, and J to tha Lo doesn’t think she has the beat down, so she gets beat box boi Blake to do his thing while Haley sings. But if you’re a horny hetero male, you won’t care a bit what Haley sounds like, because she’s wearing the very briefest of black shorts, high heels, and a zebra-print top. If you’re anyone except a horny hetero male, you’ll be trying to resist the temptation to ask Haley, “How much?”. Ah well…at least young Haley is seeming to be having a whale of a good time tonight. She smiles brightly throughout her performance, blissfully unaware that she can’t dance. Her vocals really aren’t bad, but she seems to be singing the lyrics strangely fast. You know when you’re really in trouble? When the nicer judge tells you that the performance was “really karaoke”, as Randy does. Paula forces a smile and says at least Haley had fun up there. However, the pièce de résistance comes from Simon, who comments that Haley is clever enough to wear the least amount of clothes possible, as she can’t possibly win the competition based on her vocal talent. Oh, and the vocals were far too rushed – he couldn’t understand a word she said. Perhaps you would have if you’d listened more and leered less, Simon.
Hot for teacher
Oops. Phil Stacey forgot that his wife is in the audience tonight. His session with JLo is not as fruitful as it should have been, as he’s distracted by her famous – face. The admiration is mutual (okay, not THAT mutual) but Phil does manage to give Jen goosepimples. She even pulls up her – shirtsleeve. To show him the goosepimples.
Since Phil is better listened to than watched, I closed my eyes for most of his performance of Santana’s “Maria Maria”. He can’t roll an “R” to save his life, but his vocals overall were quite good. Yeah, yeah, his voice cracked, but that just made it more authentic, right? The real problem is that Santana’s lyrics aren’t the focal point of his songs – they’re merely window dressing for his guitar prowess. So it’s not a great song choice, and the band’s guitarist comes perilously close to overshadowing Phil (and would have, given the chance). Randy is unimpressed, saying Phil didn’t really connect with the passion in the song, but Paula feels it was still a “real good” vocal. Simon is unforgiving, telling Phil he showed no originality, and that it was “lifeless”. In spite of his reign as king of the bottom 3, Phil is unconcerned by the critique and seems more interested in telling Ryan Seacrest about his daughter’s stuffed cow, named “Simon Cowell”. Even the audience is hard-pressed to chuckle politely at that one.
A down lo comparison
It’s time for another inane viewer question – no, it’s not “What is Jordin Sparks’ favorite flavor of bubble gum?” Instead, Jordin tells us if she could pick a theme, it would be ‘80’s music, since she loves it, even though she wasn’t born until 1989. Suddenly, I feel very, very old. It doesn’t help that Jordin has chosen Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”, a song I remember dancing to in clubs. Legally. JLo exclaims that Jordin reminds her of a young Michael Jackson. Which I guess is supposed to be taken as a compliment. Although Jordin smiles and trots obediently around the stage (in far too-tight pants that do her no favors), the performance is lackluster and she just doesn’t seem that into the song. In spite of this, Randy still thinks she’s got the “yo factor”. Whatever. Paula helpfully adds that she’s oh-so adorable. Simon’s patience is at an end, and he grunts that it was just an OK performance, nothing stunning. In other words – there’s eight left, so a little more effort would be appreciated.
I need to know…the price of a gram
Even though Blake Lewis has chosen “I Need To Know”, originally performed by JLo’s own husband Marc Anthony, she’s oddly impersonal when discussing the song. She refers to “Marc Anthony” as if he were just some guy Jenny knows from the block, and thinks that if Blake follows her coaching, he’ll do real good. Hopefully JLo wasn’t responsible for wardrobe advice, because Blake has channeled Johnny Depp’s Blow character and is decked out in his best Columbian drug lord outfit – white-brimmed hat, red shirt, and pleated white pants. Fortunately, Blake again pulls off a good vocal performance, not attempting to imitate Marc Anthony but staying within his capabilities and, uh, keeping it real. God, I hate myself for saying that. Next I’ll be commenting on “pitch”. Randy is ecstatic, telling Blake he had the best song choice of the night. Paula is similarly impressed, saying that it was a “smart” performance – or, she’s just looking for a discount on her next, er, purchase. Simon is cheered up, saying not only was it the best song choice of the night, it was Blake’s best performance so far. Looks like Paula’s not the only one looking for a discount.
When puberty strikes
If Sanjaya didn’t annoy the crap out of me before last night, now I’m really pissed, because it took some googling to find out how to spell ''Bésame Mucho”. JLo, like cougars everywhere in America (and yes I am looking at you, Paula) simply loooooves Sanjaya. It’s just so darn hard to resist his effeminate cuteness. Look, it must be, because all the female coaches so far have said good things. JLo even thinks that Simon might be impressed by Sanjaya this week. But perhaps that’s some kind of reverse-psychology comment – oh wait, Simon tried that last week with Sanjaya and it didn’t work on the voting public. JLo’s influence is immediately apparent, as Sanjaya is growing – or attempting to grow – a wispy little Marc Anthony-ish goatee. That, or someone left him alone with a Sharpie fine point. And oh dear God – he’s setting the little girls’ hearts fluttering by copying the patented Constantine camera eye-f***. After I pick myself off the floor, where I’ve fallen laughing helplessly while clutching my sides, I try to listen without looking at the TV, but it’s impossible to look away. Finally, some real fun. The punch line, of course, is that his singing is actually not bad at all tonight. The judges are having the time of their lives – Randy can’t stop chuckling even as he tells Sanjaya it was really good, and Paula has a huge grin plastered on her face when she says that it was smooth, and very nice. You know Simon wants to laugh too, but he holds it in, complaining that he couldn’t understand a word, Sanjaya sounded like a 14-year-old, but…it was not terrible. Sanjaya’s mouth drops open in gratitude, and his geeky friends high-five each other in the audience. Ryan can’t resist slipping in a crack about Sanjaya’s camera-gazing, and the kid has the good grace to look slightly embarrassed. Hey, it’s not easy being a cultural phenom. Ask William Hung.
Tomorrow, JLo performs something in Spanish, and there’s sure to be a Ford commercial or ten. I’m hoping for Ryan and Simon to don ruffled shirts and mime a bullfight, but that’s just wishful thinking, I guess. La fabuloso escritor MotherSister will be here to translate and bring you all the lo-lights. Adiós, amigos!