Barry Gibb is this week’s guest mentor. He and his brothers, The Bee Gees, came out of the British Invasion of the mid-sixties and have been through a few metamorphoses over the years. During the 70’s , they became a dance band, helping to mainstream disco. And, as a staunch member of the “Disco Sux” contingency back in the day, I’m not a big fan of the music from that period. My favs all come from their early work, in the 60s, of which I was hoping to get a good dose of tonight. Alas, it was only Jordin who brought the Beatlesque Bee Gees, singing the beautiful “To Love Somebody.”
But, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not huge fan overall of the Brothers Gibb sound–I find their nasal, high-pitched warbly falsettos unpleasant listening. Having said that, I gotta give those guys props for their longevity. They stayed current for a good 30 years.
Barry is a very encouraging and circumspect mentor. Even when Blake picks a lemon, “Well, we didn’t have a hit with it, but maybe Blake could make it current…..” he keeps looking on the bright side. Also, as a side note. Barry is one more aged celebrity who desperately needs to just say no to the Botox. At this point, he can barely move his jaw.
After watching the show tonight, twice in fact, I have to say–Worst. Episode. Ever. Melinda was the best overall, but she was bland. Jordin had the best performance, “To Love Somebody”, but her second tune, “A Woman In Love” was an earsplitting mess. Blake wasn’t terrible, but he misstepped in a big way. And LaKisha, who I think should go home, was pitchy, winded and boring on both numbers.
Barry says he loves to hear other people sing his songs, and he’s just come here to enjoy them. I’m guessing no people-are-expecting-my-songs-to-sound-a-certain-way hissyfits from Barry.
Ryan’s main job tonight is keeping the proceedings on schedule. He spends a lot of time checking his watch. There are 8, 2 minute performances to fit into an hour. It’s chop-chop everyone.
Melinda Doolittle – …Love You Inside – Barry was a little confused that Melinda chose this song because, “it was a falsetto song in the first place.” Well, so? Melinda delivers a great performance, but unfortunately for her, not great enough. Her performances have been so expert, that her personal bar is set extremely high at this stage. As always, Melinda’s phrasing, pitch and delivery are stellar. But, the judges are not bowled over by her performance. Now, anything less than knock-yer-socks-off incredible is not going to impress. It’s called peaking early, and at this critical point in the competition, it may hurt Melinda. Shocking boot anyone? Simon says, “that was more of a backing vocalist performance.” Burn.
Back from the break, and the judges participate in a little AT&T product placement fun.
Blake Lewis – …You Should Be Dancing – Blake is very excited because he gets to meet one of the “pioneers” of dance music. While his vocals are OK, I find the beatboxing effects a little grating–particularly the staccato beats he drops in at the end of each verse. The beatboxing in the middle is pretty good, but unfortunately, the entire effect comes off as a party trick. This week, it doesn’t really add much to the song. That, and the over-processed echo effects on the vocals add up to a strange and unsatisfying performance. The judges pretty much hate it. About the beatboxing Randy says, “That song didn’t need none of that.” He also thinks the effect is “corny.” Simon says it was “absolutely terrible.” Ryan mocks the beatboxing when he gives out Blake’s numbers. That doesn’t help.
Lakisha Jones – …Stayin Alive – Barry says this is another song meant for a male falsetto. Lakisha appears to have some problems with the melody. When she performs it, she starts off well enough, but it slowly comes apart until it’s a big ole mess at the end. Barry tells her to get out of her lower register, but as usual, Kiki does it her way. She drops out of the trouble low notes and lets the backup singers take over. She’s shrieky and out of breath through much of the song. Simon says, “Lakisha, no kiss tonight, baby…the performance was verging on scary in parts.” This slowed up, halting performance just didn’t work.
Jordin gets a viewer question. What have you learned about yourself through this whole Idol process? Jordin has learned that she can handle more than she thought she could. Hey, as a sidenote, did you guys know that Jordin is only 17??? I cannot believe it. Har.
Jordin Sparks -…To Love Somebody – According to USA Today, Nigel went to Barry to get permission for Jordin to sing this song–Barry is planning on performing it tomorrow night. The song is one of the Bee Gees best. Even though Barry can’t imagine a girl singing it, it is the perfect song for Jordin, allowing her to hit the big notes with emotion–basically her trademark at this point. In the end, Barry comes around–he says he’s heard a couple of hundred people sing this song, but he hasn’t heard a greater version than Jordin’s. She delivers the most engaging performance of the night so far, and the judges are loving it. The judges agree that it’s the best vocal so far tonight. Simon says, “We’re back in the competition.” I have to say, Jordin always looks hilarious towering over Ryan on stage. I have no doubt she could squash him like a bug.
Time for round two….
Melinda sits down with Ryan to take a viewer question. What is the first tape or CD that you ever bought? Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” She goes on to tell this nonsensical story about her mom crossing out the word “bad” on the tape and writing “good” over it. Stick to singing Melinda, storytelling ain’t your thang.
Melinda Doolittle – …How Can You Mend a Broken Heart – Melinda changes the lyrics a bit, she doesn’t want to sing the line, “How can a loser never win?” Bad mojo, I guess. And again, as always, the song is delivered beautifully by Melinda. It’s perfectly phrased, and the arrangement gives her a chance to hit some big notes at the end. A really good performance. Paula says she’s waiting for Melinda to throw away her technique and really “throw down.” Actually, Paula makes a good point here. Melinda has proven that she’s got the mechanics down of delivering a song. But again, she has raised the bar so high for herself, she’s really got very little room to grow. Simon says, “I think the second half of that song has put you into the semi-finals.” Well, maybe Simon, but I think this is the week where anything could happen.
Blake Lewis – …This is Where I Came In – What an odd choice of song. According to the USA Today spoiler article, Blake heard the song and really liked it. Not only is it obscure, but out of the huge catalog of songs Blake has to choose from, he picks an inferior tune from 2001. Even Barry admits it’s kind of a lemon, “We thought it could be a hit, and we were wrong.” Blake goes for the beatboxing again. I wish he’d reach back into the Gibb’s catalog to pick a really melodic song–maybe from the British Invasion era–something that would have highlighted his pretty falsetto. As it is, a very meh performance from Blake. Randy tells him that “You don’t have to beatbox on every joint, dude.” I’d bet my house that Randy, at some point, told Blake he should beatbox more. Simon says, “I don’t know what that song was, I found it completely tuneless.” And then, “I don’t think you’ve had a good night tonight.”
Ryan introduces “Simon’s evil twin, Judge Judy.” Yes, Judge Judy is in the audience, and as short on time as they are tonight, they take time to introduce her. Ryan tries to introduce Simon’s mother, who is also in the audience, but Judy isn’t done chewing the scenery. She approaches the judges table to get a kiss from Simon. Ryan says, “Let’s tell the truth, they’ve been dating for three months!” Then he tells her to sit the hell down, ’cause they are short on time now.
Next, some blah blah cakes about the American Idol songwriter contest. You can vote for your favorite song at americanidol.com. I haven’t been able to check out the songs for myself, but I will, I swear…
Lakisha Jones – …Run to Me – Barry tells LaKisha to hit the chorus hard on the first verse–advice that she pretty much ignores, as usual. Barry says the two key changes in the song present a challenge. When Lakisha hits the change, she’s off-key and screachy. It’s not a pleasant sound. The arrangement is really choppy. The song gets really loud and then suddenly LaKisha pulls back and it’s really soft. The flow is really odd. When she comes to the last note she can barely squeak it out. Randy and Paula tell her not to worry about the last note–the song was still good. Simon says while it was better than the first song, it still wasn’t great and that she and Blake are in trouble tonight. Eep.
Jordin Sparks – …Woman in Love – Barry wrote this song for Barbara Streisand. The album he did with her back in the 80’s was a huge hit. My mother used to play it over and over again on our console stereo. I had fantasies of breaking the album into a million tiny little pieces…but I digress… This song presents all kinds of opportunities to bomb. In my opinion, it’s a really badly constructed melody. Even Babs sounded strident singing it. Barry says Jordin is going to be “one of our greatest recording artists.” Whoa, Barry got the memo… Anyway, Jordin really falters here. She’s strident, off key and screamy through the second half of the song. Everytime she hits that high note, I instinctively want to put my fingers in my ears. Randy and Paula gloss over critiquing her much. Randy slides into giving Barry Gibb props for writing such great songs. Paula babbles out a non-critique. Simon says, “I thought it was old fashioned, and actually very pageanty.” I thought it was just bad. Then Simon says the magic words, “But you’re 17 Jordin!” And somehow, that makes it all alright.
Ohh Ryan brings back an oldie but a goodie, “Seacrest OUT” and that’s it.
I think the only safe contestant tonight is Jordin–she had the best performance, the pimp spot and the judges good wishes. LaKisha has been on borrowed time for awhile now, and after two poor performances, her time may have run out. But, the judges were tough, and she may get some pity votes. Blake also had a poor night, and the judges seem to want him out. But he’s got an extremely strong fan base who’ve got his back. Melinda could be a surprise boot tonight–she was competent, but only received faint praise from the judges. Folks could be voting to save others, taking for granted that Melinda is safe.
It could all add up to a very surprising results show tonight–or not.