I owe Barry Gibb and the remainder of the Gibb brothers (who’s left besides Barry, anyway?) an apology. In my formative years, the Bee Gees were something of a pop-music joke. They were a trio of strutting Aussies in flared pants and styled hair singing in falsetto about the nights on Broadway, and baby brother Andy was a similarly-fashioned teen idol. They were the embodiment of disco, the genre that everyone thought was just a bad musical prank – that never quite went away. When I got a little older, I realized that the brothers Gibb actually had some solid pop-music cred and were even responsible for penning one of my all-time favorite songs, “To Love Somebody”. And last night, I realized something else – those giggle-inducing falsetto vocals are pretty damned hard to sing, after all. Because I’d like to think that’s the reason four of the supposedly best unknown singers in America sounded like they couldn’t make the junior high choir.
It sounds better turned inside out
Barry Gibb was kinda handsome in that late ‘70’s style, with his sculpted hair and beard and kicky platform shoes. Yikes – I suddenly had the creepy thought that we’ll probably be saying the same thing about Seacrest in thirty years or so. *shudder* OK, it was a long time ago, so it’s not a total surprise that Barry’s gone gray (the hair is still wavy and shoulder-length, though) and his chinline is a wee bit blurry. His speaking voice, though, is oddly thick and occasionally difficult to understand – he must be using the same denturist as Peter Noone. He plays the piano while the Idols trill “How Deep Is Your Love” together, and as wrong as that sounds – it only gets worse.
It’s two songs apiece tonight, and Melinda’s up first. So much for saving the best for last is my initial thought – but it’s soon to change. Melinda’s first song choice is “Love You Inside and Out”. Barry Gibb can’t figure out why she chose that particular tune and frankly, neither can I, as it’s a dull, dated disco piece. Speaking of dull, that pretty much describes Melinda’s performance in a nutshell. The vocals are competent but hey, with today’s technology even I could spend an hour in a recording studio and emerge as the next Joss Stone. Except for the tall, blonde, stunning 20-year-old part. Randy is similarly underwhelmed, and tells Melinda it was solid but he’s not jumping up and down. Lucky for us. Paula puts on a sad-puppy face and wants Melinda to “wow” them, and Simon sniffs that it was a backing-vocalist’s performance. Ouchers – way to shatter Melinda’s newfound self-esteem, Cowell. Is that any way to treat your favorite?
Blake, the sole remaining male contestant (I can’t tell you how tempted I was to title this recap “Three Women and a Blake-y”) is going to beat-box “You Should Be Dancin’”. Inexplicably, Barry Gibb thinks this is a great idea. Nobody is that polite, so I’m thinking Barry has a bit of a cruel streak as he encourages Blake to bastardize his creative work. The show’s stylist is also showing a bit of a cruel streak – that, or Blake’s been rifling through My Chemical Romance’s tour wardrobe. He’s donned a gray sergeant’s jacket and has a rebellious little white streak in his new dark spiky ‘do, and I really, really wish his ensemble was bad enough to distract me from his singing. Truly, it is one of the most wretched vocal performances this season, and I’m including Sanjaya here. In a way, I guess, beat-boxing suits the disco theme – a fad best forgotten. Randy, for once truly keeping it real, advises Blake that the beat-boxing didn’t work, it was corny, and it sounded like something in a weird discotheque in a foreign country. (If all else fails, Blake, you can have a career in Sweden. Just like those hockey players not good enough for the NHL.) Paula, anxious to not alienate the last remaining bit of young male eye candy, allows that it was “pitchy” but it showed how “unique” Blake is. Simon – who, by the way, is in his style element this week, as he’s showing at least as much chest hair as Barry Gibb did in his prime – declares it “absolutely terrible” and is quite abruptly cut off by the orchestra. Darn it, there’s no time for Simon and Ryan’s witty banter tonight. I’m sure they’re saving it all for Wednesday’s show, though. And – tee-hee - I get to fast-forward through that one.
Stayin’ alive by a thread
It’s LaKisha’s first kick at the cat – and by the sounds of things so far, that poor kitty is getting quite the whuppin’ this evening. KiKi is taking on “Stayin’ Alive”, another puzzling choice. Barry helps her out by singing a verse, and bad dentures or no, dude’s still got his vocal chops…though he’s out of breath when he finishes.
Remember that stylist with the cruel streak? He/she has outdone themselves this round, as KiKi is dressed in black stretch capri pants, stilettos, and a black and white halter-neck top. The effect is something like Peg Bundy dressed as a cow for a Halloween party, and I’m saying that as a fan of LaKisha’s. This time, the outfit really does distract from the vocals, but I snap back about halfway through and am immediately sorry for it. No one, I repeat, no one, should ever attempt to cover this song. Not even as a joke. It’s the first time KiKi’s ever made me want to hit the mute button, and Randy calls the whole thing “weird”. Paula starts mumbling platitudes and saying something about the audience, but Simon is rumbling in her ear and causes Paula to snipe, “they (the audience) are NOT heading for the exits, Simon!” Paula, Simon scores enough points on you – don’t be shooting the puck in your own net. Simon tells KiKi that there’ll be no kiss tonight, so I’m not sure if he liked it or not. Either way, KiKi looks pretty relieved.
Best In Show
I have to admit that I had my fingers crossed for LaKisha to take on “To Love Somebody”. I knew one of the divas was going to jump on it and though I know perfectly well no one is going to give us anything remotely resembling the raw passion of Joplin’s version, I thought KiKi was best suited for it. Instead, young Jordin is giving it a whirl, and Barry Gibb vows that he hasn’t heard a greater version than Jordin’s. High praise, indeed, and I’m anxious to see if Jordin lives up to it. Unfortunately, she’s dressed for the mall in a poufy strapless sundress and jeans – strike one. The vocals are very good – ball one. Not as good as she’s capable of – strike two – but better by far than anyone else’s tonight (ball two). I expect this song to move me, and it didn’t – but what the hell, she’s a good girl and deserves to at least walk to first base on this one. The judges are visibly relieved that someone hasn’t completely sucked, and they’re accordingly lavish with their praise – Randy declares it the best vocal of the night and Paula parrots his remark, while Simon calls it the best song choice and performance of the night. Watch your back, Mindy – or you just might end up being this little girl’s backup singer.
Mending a bad first impression
Before we go any further – yes, I know I’m skipping the viewer questions. Not because they’re inane or anything, it’s just that Ryan said that we’re crunched for time tonight. Plus, it’s much more fun to write about what the Idols are wearing.
Melinda’s kicking off the second half with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”. What, is no one doing “Massachusetts”? Cowards. Anyway, there’s an odd exchange between Melinda and Barry Gibb concerning the lyrics of this song and a part Melinda doesn’t want to sing. I didn’t catch it all, but Google tells me that there’s a line that goes, ”How can a loser ever win?”. Yeah, that could definitely be awkward if you had to sing that one as your final song. Good call there, Mindy.
The mean stylist has obviously been fired, as Melinda is decked out in a flattering gray dress (albeit with ugly matching strands of pearls). It doesn’t do a thing for her performance, though, which is once again deadly dull. She brings it up a notch vocally about halfway through, but there’s no question she’s having her first real off-week. Randy tells her it’s much better, but Paula is disappointed, telling her the vocal is beautiful but she’s waiting for Melinda to “jump out”. Simon can roll his eyes, but I’m actually understanding what Paula means – and no, I haven’t switched to her brand of “Coke” – basically, in her awkward little way, she’s telling Melinda that she lacks star power. Simon’s not about to concede his pet’s standing, though, and assures Melinda that she’s nailed a semi-final spot. He doesn’t offer her a kiss, though.
This is where you go home
Blake has dug up an unknown Bee Gees track, “This Is Where I Came In”, for his second song. Barry Gibb is puzzled at the obscure choice, but I think Blake found it in the stack of old disco records his mom gave him to scratch up when he was practicing his beat-boxing. Barry politely tells the camera that this particular song gives Blake “the chance to explore those extra little gifts he has”. And what, pray tell, are those gifts Barry speaks of? Well, Blake has again raided his grampa’s closet, swiping a gray plaid sweater vest – half of one, anyway. Ah, that extra little gift of his is sewing talent! Because he’s also borrowed gramma’s Singer – I bet it’s even the kind with the foot pedal – to cut off half the vest and sew it onto a white shirt. Now, imagine him in that outfit, auditioning for a Duran Duran cover band. Except it’s really a “Punk’d” prank. And there you have Blake’s performance. Randy tells him it’s better, but then decides to keep it real once again and advises Blake not to beat-box every time, because it gets old. Randy, you are my new hero. Paula – oh, Paula. You’ve been behaving relatively well, but I guess it’s not your fault the methadone wore off before the hour was up. Because Paula thinks Blake was singing on-key. Fortunately, Simon is given enough time to contradict her, and tells Blake it was completely tuneless, besides being a bizarre choice of song. Blake, just a reminder that there’s a good reason some songs end up as B-sides.
KiKi’s run to the bottom 2
I’m the first to admit I know absolutely nothing about the language of music (8th grade band class was a long time ago). So I have no idea what LaKisha and Barry were talking about while discussing “Run To Me”, KiKi’s final song of the evening. Something about keys and chords and such. So pardon me while I skip to the wardrobe part of the performance – a cleverly designed green and black dress with a plunging neckline that’s again a vast improvement over the first outfit. The song is a far better effort than KiKi’s first choice, but it’s still not until about halfway through that I’m really feeling the vocals. Unfortunately, KiKi’s voice gives out on the final note – in my mind, that’s not a terrible thing, but she looks upset as the music fades out. Randy and Paula reassure her, saying that it’s still much better than her first song – Simon concurs, but still isn’t too impressed, telling LaKisha that she & Blake are vulnerable. That’s not exactly news – with Melinda’s track record and the way Jordin has been steadily gaining ground over the past weeks, KiKi and Blake could have channeled Aretha and Elvis tonight and still ended up in the bottom two.
Girl, you’ll be a woman – soon
It could be that Jordin heard everyone caterwauling out old Bee Gees hits and thought that it might be prudent to go in a different direction. That’s fine, but Barbra Streisand? One of the biggest vocal talents of the last forty years? Barry sounds worried, saying that Jordin’s version of “Woman In Love” is a “little different” from Streisand’s – but then goes all fangirly, claiming that Jordin will become one of the greatest female recording artists. Ever. OK, so maybe Jordin really is equal to the task of taking on La Streisand. She appears onstage all ready for prom in a turquoise gown and waist-length extensions, and I would really like to say that she did a stunning job. And it wasn’t THAT bad, really – but she’s nowhere near ready to take over Barbra’s Vegas gig. First of all, she got a bit screechy at times. Second, she failed to project any real emotion, bringing us to point number three – the song was totally inappropriate for a teenager who knows approximately zero about how a woman in love feels. The judges are unhappy but reluctant to be too harsh – Randy says it wasn’t Jordin’s best and was pitchy (dammit, I lost the bet – I thought Randy would make it the whole season without using that word), and Paula grins bravely and tells Jordin she loves her “anyway”. Simon is having none of it and brusquely tells Jordin she looks pageant-y and the song is far too old for her. The good part, though, is that she can go straight to her graduation dance without having to change first. But home by midnight, Jordin – you have at least one more Bee Gees song to learn. And some accompanying choreography.
And now, all that’s left is for us to pray that the group number isn’t “Jive Talkin’”. Hey, at least the producers can recycle those white suits from two weeks ago. Barry Gibb is going to perform too, and show the Idols how a falsetto is supposed to be
screechedsang. And here to sacrifice her eardrums for the cause will be boogie child MotherSister, to bring you another fabulous results recap. It would be a tragedy to miss it!
Bee Gees LPs are worth a buck on ebay. Don’t tell Blake’s mom, but PM me if you want to buy my Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.