Ryan, dressed from head to toe in black tonight, introduces the Top 8 girls, who are surely on their way to kicking some Top 8 boy butt. He goes into a slight panic when he realizes that Paula is MIA. Where could she be? Ryan reminds us that tomorrow he will be announcing the most important, most groundbreaking Idol project EVAH! I’m looking forward to that letdown. Paula finally appears in time for Jordin Sparks, tonight’s first performance.
Jordin Sparks – …Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar – We learn that Jordin loves football. No kidding. Jordin refreshingly separates herself from the diva pack tonight with an energetic performance of 80’s gal rocker, Pat Benatar’s, “Heartbreaker.” This week, a more composed Jordin performs well and manages to pick up some of the momentum she lost after last week’s sketchy performance. Randy says Jordin was better than all the boys last night. I wouldn’t go that far, but she’s exuberant and likable. Even though she’s first, she won’t be forgotten. Plus, she really is just cute as a button. I expect Jordin to move on to the Top 12 with no problem this week.
After the break, Ryan tells us that Carrie Underwood will be the special guest on this week’s results show.
Sabrina Sloan – …Dont Let Go by En Vogue – Sabrina was once an aspiring journalist. Sort of. Sabrina delivers another competent, but shouty performance this week. She knows how to deliver those big notes that translate so well onto the Idol stage, but there is a sameness to all of her performances that make her somewhat forgettable, particularly in this crowded field of talented women with similar singing styles. She could be a victim of vote-splitting this week–she’s competing with Stephanie, Melinda and Lakisha for the same pool of votes. It doesn’t help her that the judges aren’t 100% enthusiastic about her performance. Although Simon says she does deserve to advance to the Top 12, she could be in danger.
Antonella Barba – “Put Your Records On by Corrine Bailey Rae – Antonella plays the violin, pretty well too. Maybe she should have stuck with the school orchestra, because once again she delivers a pitchy, shaky underwhelming performance. She’s completely out of her league, and Simon is right when he says that she’s gone as far as she can go. Simon delivers one of his standard goodbye speeches to Antonella, throwing in a few kind words about the “stick” she’s taken in the media the past couple of weeks. But he says he refuses to patronize–her time to leave has come. In her post critique chat with Randy, she’s a little belligerent. She feels that while she is surrounded by talented women, she brings something different to the competition. Total suckage perhaps? But, it won’t matter. Antonella isn’t splitting votes with anyone. She’s got Vote For The Worst behind her, plus the ‘tween and horny-boy vote. And while the press coverage hasn’t been pretty, I suspect the media attention has helped propel her through these rounds despite her lack of vocal skills. That she will knock out a more worthy competitor to the Top 12, like Stephanie, Sabrina or Gina, is a very real possibility.
Haley Scarnato – …If My Heart Had Wings by Faith Hill – Haley was a gymnast until her body screamed “no”. She chooses a Faith Hill song. It doesn’t sound country–it’s very Disneyesque. As I listen to Haley’s bland delivery of an even blander song, I imagine her lip-synching in front of the Magic Castle with an array of Disney characters dancing around her. Her performance is totally banal and forgettable. I can’t believe she’s made it this far. America don’t care for jazz, indeed. The judges dispatch with her pretty quickly. Randy says the performance had “no like yo.” Oh no, Randy has just added something new to his collection of lame critiques–he keeps using the phrase all night. Simon does not mince words. He says it was horrible, ghastly and forgettable. She doesn’t cry this week. Bye, Haley.
Stephanie Edwards – …Sweet Thing by Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige – Stepanie may have overreached tonight, attempting one of Chaka Khan’s signature tunes. She falters almost immediately out of the gate. Her voice breaks, she’s pitchy and completely fails to navigate the big glory note at the end. Unfortunately, this is a crucial week for Stephanie. She has had a hard time distinguishing herself from her tough competition. Simon clearly wants her to stay in the game. While he does critique her failures, he emphasizes that Stephanie has done what she needs to do to earn her spot in the Top 12. While she certainly deserves to advance, she may be overshadowed by her talented competitors–Melinda and Lakisha–who have delivered more memorable performances.
Lakisha Jones – …I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston – Lakisha no likey animals. But she seems to enjoy hugging Ryan before her performance. She’ll have no problem whatsoever advancing to the Top 12. Lakisha’s version of “I Have Nothing” is warm, beautiful and unforced. She’s wisely not oversinging this very-well known Whitney Houston tune. Her power and command of the stage appears effortless. The only danger for Lakisha is that she may become a little boring–she has not shown any versatility yet in this competition. So far, she’s trotted out the usual suspects–Whitney, Aretha, Jennifer. She needs to prove that she can do more than cover the classic belters. After gushing over her performance, Simon makes amends for criticizing her look last week–he tells Lakisha that this week she looks beautiful. It was rather sweet. Holy crap, her mom and her aunt are in the audience. Decked out in matching Lakisha t-shirts, they behave like they just won a refrigerator on “Let’s Make a Deal.” Lakisha looks embarrassed. Let the chops begin…the kids at Sucks are going to have a field day.
Pillow fight! That Ryan, he really is just one of the girls.
Gina Glocksen – …Call Me When Youre Sober by Evanescense – Gina shows us her Lucky Charms. They are magically delicious. Last week, Simon told Gina that she should stop trying to compete with the belters–that she needed to bring some “edge” to her performances. This week she dispenses with adult contemporary covers, and performs the very current Evanescense tune, “Call Me When You’re Sober.” While not particularly edgy, it does give Gina the chance to stake out her claim as “rock chick” of Season 6. It’s a smart move, because in order to advance, she has to prove she can offer something different from the competition. She’s a little screamy in parts, but she delivers a memorable performance. The judges, seemingly eager to advance a contestant who will offer some variety in this mix of monochromatic contestants, overlook her flaws to give her high marks. Simon says he really hopes she makes it next week, and that she’s a breath of fresh air. The judges endorsement, coupled with the force of her fan base (some that were fans last year when she failed to make it to the Top 44), could very well advance her to the Top 12. I hope she makes it.
Melinda Doolittle – …Im A Woman – Melinda has OCD. Now finally, something that’s actually a true “revelation.” Ok, I’ve changed my mind about Melinda. Initially, I said that she was a “diamond in the rough” and that it would be a pleasure watching her grow throughout the competition. I take that back. Melinda is a full fledged, beautifully cut, shiny, gleaming gem. There’s nothing rough or unformed about her. She is a natural, and unlike Lakisha, she has proven that she can take on different styles and genres. Her performance tonight of this blues classic is both gritty and fun. Plus, by all accounts, she really is as sweet and humble as she appears on the show. Watching the rest of the pack keep up with her is going to be fascinating. “You little tiger…” purrs Simon. I swear, I think he’s in love with her. He takes an opportunity to take a dig at Jennifer Hudson, while complimenting Melinda on her humility, “We hear previous contestants say it was my stepping stone…” Finally, he says, “A million percent we are going to see you next week.” Oh yes, we will.
Here is my prediction. Both Sanjaya and Antonella will advance to the Top 12, knocking out more worthy opponents–Brandon, Phil, Stephanie, Gina and Sabrina are all possibilities. This eventuality will be played as some sort of “shocker.” There will be tons of hand-wringing and sobbing. There will be many shots of judges, family and contestants all looking shocked and horrified. Sanjaya will probably burst into tears. We’ll get the standard OMG AMERICA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE and DON’T YOU REALIZE THIS IS A SINGING COMPETITION? rant/lecture from the judges. None of it will be surprising or something we haven’t seen before.
I hope I’m wrong.