It’s Latin Night kids, ready for some hot-blooded red-blooded passion? Oops sorry, you aren’t’ going to get it. Not to say there aren’t some very good performances tonight, but the kids aren’t quite up to tackling these songs with the required spirit.
Jennifer is very sweet and enthusiastic coaching the kids. She isn’t the least bit diva-tastic. I’m actually a little disappointed. She dispenses quite a few performance and dance tips. The bit of vocal advice she does give is sound.
Tonight, the show starts backstage with the kids huddled around Ryan. Ryan asks them if they are ready for some Latin music. They sure are! The cast of “Drive” is in the audience. Must be some new show that Fox is pimping.
OMG Micky Dolenz of the Monkees is in the audience! Whee! Squee! Seriously. I’m a huge Monkees fan. Shut up! Jennifer Lopez is here this week to pimp her new Spanish-language album. Apparently, it’s not doing so well on the charts. It should get a nice little boost after her performance tomorrow.
Melinda Doolittle – “Sway” – Melinda and JLo work on bringing out Melinda’s “sultry” side. I think this performance is one of the best of the night. Randy and Paula rave, but Simon doesn’t like it. He thinks it’s too “old-fashioned” He’s prolly thinking, “what the hell? I can’t market this crap.” And, in fact, if Melinda does win, TPTB will have a problem fashioning her style into something that will play on Top 40 and sell lots of records to young people. See: Hicks, Taylor. Anyway, purely on its own merits, I think Melinda’s performance is awesome. It is subtle and sultry and in her retro hairdo and black cocktail dress, she evokes another era. Unlike Simon, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
LaKisha Jones – “Conga” by Gloria Estefan – Lakisha answers a viewer question. Why did she try out for American Idol? She wants a better life for herself and her daughter. So, you better vote for her so her life doesn’t go down the tubes. Jennifer helps LaKisha with her dance moves, which seem to wear LaKisha out a bit when she takes the stage. Her vocals are stiff and she doesn’t bring the flair and sass this song needs. Randy raves, but then Paula disagrees and says it’s too “safe.” Simon is a bit brutal–he criticizes her dancing–he says he isn’t sure the audience at home had much fun even if she did. Yikes. Could going second plus meh marks from the judges = a shocking, shocking boot for LaKisha this week? The oddsmakers think so.
More on the big Top 6 Idol Gives Back special: Rascal Flatts, Annie Lennox, Il Divo (ew), Earth, Wind and Fire, Josh Groban and Kelly Clarkson will appear at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles as part of the Wednesday night charity extravaganza. Tickets for the event go on sale 4/11.
Chris Richardson – “Smooth” by Carlos Santana – Jennifer coaches Chris on how to pronounce “muÃƒÆ’ ±equita” so he doesn’t sound like a dork when he busts out his Spanish moves. She also suggests that he take the song’s key up a half step. I don’t like this much on first listen, but I have to say, I like it better when I listen again. Although Chris’s voice still sounds nasally and thin, and the vocal runs at the end are particularly goatie, he keeps it simple. Chris makes the most out of what he’s got. His performance skills have improved markedly since the beginning of the competition, too. Randy likes the runs (I don’t) Paula calls it “hot.” While Simon doesn’t think it’s the best vocal, he prefers the performance to the first two, because it feels more contemporary. So, contemporary is the new good?
Haley Scarnato – “Turn the Beat Around” by Vicki Sue Robinson – Even Blake’s beatboxing during Haley’s rehearsal with JLo can’t help Haley. She takes the stage in hot pants, high heels and make-up that looks like it was applied with the make-up gun on “Ho.” Tonight, Haley’s performance is Disco goes Disney. She kicks and shimmies her way through the song–which is how she’s performed every week, for every theme, since she’s sexed up the act. Lucky Haley, however, is one of a kind in this competition. She’s a pretty princess–the type of contestant little girls idolize. Plus, there really is an audience for her theme-park performances. Some folks truly like that sort of thing. Although her vocals are not up to task, I suspect Haley and her hot pants will live to see another week. Simon, rather cruelly, but truthfully calls her out, “I think you have a very good tactic at the moment–wear the least amount of clothes as possible…because you can’t do well in this competition based on your voice…”
Phil Stacey – “Maria Maria” by Carlos Santana – Phil is a little overwhelmed by Jennifer’s presence. JLo says Phil gave her some goosepimples at the end of his rehearsal. While the guest coaches week in and week out speak highly of Phil’s vocal skills, there’s something that’s just not coming across in his performance. While Phil has a beautiful voice, his phrasing is rather dull. His performances lack rhythm–they just plod along–which is rather deadly when singing Latin music. He also relies on the glory note to bring it home and impress–unfortunately tonight his voice cracks twice on the high notes–ouch. The judges are unenthusiastic, Simon says, “I found no originality in the performance, I thought it was all a bit lifeless, a bit flat, your voice cracked at the end…there’s nothing I can get particularly positive or excited about.” While Phil says to Simon “Hey, I appreciate your honesty.” the inflection in his voice and look on his face spells frustration. During his post performance chat with Ryan, Phil says his daughter has a stuffed animal cow and she calls it “Simon Cow.” Invoking the cute daughter may get him some extra votes, but Phil could be in danger this week.
Jordin Sparks – “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” by Gloria Estefan – Viewer question for Jordin: If you were in charge of choosing next week’s theme, what would it be? Jodin says she LOVES the 80’s, even though she was barely born in the decade. *weeping* Jennifer sez Jordin’s vocals remind her of Michael Jackson, which is quite weird. That, in itself should have indicated a problem with the song choice. Indeed, this song does not show off Jordin’s voice. For the first time in the competition, her vibrato sounds shaky. She’s also really, REALLY pitchy on the high notes, and does not bring the heat the song needs. Randy says Jordin has the “Yo Factor.” Paula likes. Simon says her performance is “Just OK.” Simon is disappointed with all the performances so far.
Blake Lewis – “I Need to Know” by Marc Anthony – Jennifer tells Blake not to worry about singing the song like Marc–just bring the passion and “pick that girl up.” The one in the song, that is. Ha. Blake takes the stage with a performance that’s warm, sexy and smooth. With a mixture of good vocals, performance skills and presensce, Blake is the master of pulling off the three-note song without boring the audience. In this competition, with only a short time to impress, that is not an easy feat. Blake gets to the essence of the song, with his smooth moves and subtle vocal inflections. Ya, I think he wants that girl! Randy says it’s the best song choice of the night. Paula says it’s a very smart performance. Simon says, not only is it the best song choice, but the best performance of the night.
Sanjaya Malakar – “Besame Mucho” – Sanjaya, gets the pimp spot tonight, although Blake, who has never had it, deserves it for tonight’s compelling performance–one of his best. I think at this point, because of the publicity and attention his continued presence brings to the show, TPTB have fully hopped onto the Sanjaya train. Hey, why not give the people what they seem to want? Cut to Ryan in the audience, where Top 40 contestant Tom Lowe is sitting with his arm around Sanjaya’s sister. JLo says she loves Sanjaya. Doesn’t everybody? Sanjaya is flat in spots, but he caresses each word as he eyes the camera from every angle. The song is suited to his soft voice. He’s grown a little facial hair to give himself that Latin lover look. I figure the tweenies are going wild right about now, and soon they will be burning up the phone lines. Sanjaya has turned out to be the smart contestant this year. I no longer feel sorry for him, ’cause he’s playing the game to the hilt. The beauty of Sanjaya is that now, he’s gotten to the point where he just goes out on stage and does his thing–impervious to the press and judges comments. That’s why he survives and will survive to the Top 5, and maybe beyond. Randy and Paula love it. Simon admits, “It wasn’t horrible.”
Who goes on Wednesday? I predict either LaKisha or Phil.