Tuesday, April 10, 2007

American Idol: Top 9 (Sanjaya from the block!)

Grr.... the NJ.com blog is giving me problems, so for now, I'm posting my "Idol" thoughts here after the jump...

Melinda Doolittle, "Sway": Of course she's going to pick a song that she describes as "very old." I'm glad Simon finally gave her some reasonably harsh criticism, because while she's the best this season by a mile, she's been too complacent for too long. The vocals are, as usual, superb, appropriately understated and just a bit sultry, but I'm tiring of both her 80-year-old affectations and the humble pie routine, which she turns on and off so easily that I refuse to view it as anything but a tactical choice at this point. Props for her comeback to Simon's critique -- "I'm happy, because I think he really wanted to say something bad and I'm glad he got the chance" -- but she could stand to listen to him this time.

LaKisha Jones, "Conga": LaKisha appears to be going the Haley incredible shrinking wardrobe route, but vocally this may have been her least memorable performance to date. Ordinarily, she just copycats the style of the original performer, and she's a great enough mimic that you accept the karaoke and move on to admiring the range. Here, she's not trying to sound like Gloria Estefan, and it's like the latter half of Christian Slater's career, after he stopped doing his Jack Nicholson impression and we realized that was the most interesting thing about him. Also the first of several contestants tonight to run into significant problems moving and singing at the same time.

Chris Richardson, "Smooth": I'm going to give the judges the rare benefit of the doubt and assume this was a case of the studio's acoustics making it impossible to really hear the vocals, because this was terrible. The guitarist and drummer did their best to carry Chris, but his voice disappeared in the lower register (there were points where he barely seemed to be singing), and all he did was make me appreciate what an equal partnership the original version was between Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana. And his runs were as obnoxious and ill-fitting as usual.

Haley Scarnato, "Turn the Beat Around": This week, we're really going to discover whether Haley's legs are as powerful as Sanjaya's hair, because the hot pants were the only remotely appealing part of that performance. She can strut in heels, but she can't dance, and she sure can't sing and dance at the same time. Yikes. Now, will Simon blatantly calling her out on her skimpy costume strategy (while the cameraman did a slow, drooling pan up her body) shame people out of voting for her, or get her some sympathy votes?

Phil Stacey, "Maria Maria": Here's one of those "taste is really subjective" performances. My wife adored this, wanted to watch it again immediately, and talked about what a controlled performance it was and how well Phil captured the emotions of the song. To me, this felt like Phil once again sucking all the life out of the room -- or, at least, like he really wanted to suck out my brains. I don't know.

Jordin Sparks, "Rhythm is Gonna Get You": Yet another contestant who can't move and sing at once. This show may be the best defense yet for why the Britneys and, yes, J. Lo's of the world can get away with lip-synching in their concerts. Jordin's got more presence than anybody else (including Melinda), but she needs some breath control work.

Blake Lewis, "I Need To Know": This is by far the best Blake has ever sounded, even on the numbers where he's just stood still and sang, but J. Lo totally called him out on the lack of emotional connection to the song. Close your eyes and he sounds anguished enough, but open them and he looks as pleased with himself as he always does -- or maybe he's just happy that he got a free bowl of soup when he bought Judge Smails' hat from "Caddyshack." (It looks good on him, though.) There's something a little too cold and calculated about Blake, and it's become more obvious now that Sligh's gone.

Sanjaya Malakar, "Besame Mucho": Much like Simon, I hate to admit that that wasn't terrible. It was actually kinda decent. The song fits his miniscule range and inability to project, and it let him make sexy but harmless eyes at the camera that no doubt drove his tween fanbase nuts. This may be like Amy Adams giving the performance of her life on Country Week in season three, where a genre she'd never tried before turned out to be a perfect fit. Maybe Sanjaya should sing cheesey Spanish love songs for the rest of his career.

I'm going to keep predicting that one of Phil or Haley goes home until it actually happens. Sanjaya's obviously not going to be bottom three, so get ready for a "shocking" placement by somebody else. My money's on LaKisha, who peaked a long time ago and was really forgettable here.

What did everybody else think?


Undercover Black Man said...

Guess I'm alone in thinking this was the most eye-appealing performance to date by Melinda Doolittle.

Leggy McGams... I think it's finally her time to go.

I'm with you on Blake... his lack of sincerity is really starting to grate on me.

Whereas I felt myself warming a bit towards Phil Stacey.

None of the performances were good enough to make me want to point out the best.

Bad enough there's so much mediocre singing... But the personalities don't even compare with the Season 5 crew. Remember looking forward to what Elliot Yamin and Kat McPhee and Daughtry and Taylor and even Paris Bennett might do any given week?

The only personality I look forward to getting a dose of each week is Jordin. (And my fantasies of her thigh-scissoring my head have nothing to do with it!)

Undercover Black Man said...

Oh, and as for Sanjaya... DAMN HIM for setting off a week's worth of new-angle media blather by not sucking.

Anonymous said...

Considering how mediocre the field is, across the board, I actually enjoyed Stiffy McLegsalot more than anyone else (I missed Doolittle). Because I thought she enjoyed performing more than anyone else tonight. She had a good little club hoochie song. She got to get showy (vocally, I mean) without making that too embarrassing. It would be nice if she could walk, too, but...

The best performance of the night, actually, was Beatbox Boy, backing Haley in the videotape.

Anonymous said...

This should have been a kick-ass show at this point in the competition but most of it left me cold.

Melinda - nice control, but boring
LaKisha - uncomfortable dancing
Haley - Ugh
Phil - This was lousy awful
Jordin - weak, personality saved it
Blake - voice sounded the best
Sanjaya - being non-excruciating for one week and we're all thrilled

The audience is craving a powerhouse standout performance and short of that is settling for the next Sanjaya hairstyle. My theory is that Sanjaya's hair is now controlling the competition.

Anonymous said...

Blake is okay. My objection is that when he is performing there are moments where he seems to be NOT looking at the camera or the audience or the judges and appears to be zoning out and thinking about his performance. It's odd and not very charismatic.

We need to keep Haley because at this rate next week she'll wear a bikini.

K J Gillenwater said...

Both Phil & Blake seem to have problems showing any kind of emotion when singing. I really wanted to like Blake, because he sounded wonderful, but his eyes were just two cold, empty holes. At the very end, there was a glimpse of feeling, but only for a few seconds. I want him to be more connected to what he is singing, but he just can't seem to do it.

Phil will be one of those people that could be a successful recording artist...just never do live performances. I like his voice, but he just seems so disconnected from what he is singing. There should have been some really heartbreaking moments in his song, but it was just flat.

I liked Chris. Yes, he had some lower range problems, but he is winning the game as far as showing some emotion and personality when he sings. I thought it was a good song choice...however, I think J.Lo should have had him go up another half-step to get rid of the lower range issues. I'm trying to imagine how bad it sounded before she had him move it up a step...

All three girls who chose Gloria Estefan pieces made a big mistake. Both LaKisha and Haley were noticeably slower than the originals, which takes all the life out of the songs. Jordin's singing also was pretty slow and dull. But she's likeable and fresh.

I will guess Haley & Phil will be in the bottom 2, with Phil perhaps going home this week.

Anonymous said...

My 10 year old daughter and 6 year old son are nuts for Sanjaya as are all their classmates...I wouldn't underestimate the power of the kiddie vote. They have the time and energy to vote, many times over. I think he'll hang in there much longer than he should.

Anonymous said...

As far as I could tell, the theme was "Butcher Songs I Really Like" night and it made me very sad. I didn't know that only Gloria Estefan can really do Gloria Estefan. Melinda was good, but predictably so. Jordin was the best of the butchers.

Anonymous said...

I was really surprised that Sanjaya did so well last night. Overall, a pretty boring night.

Nitpick: I think it's the top 8 this week, not the top 9.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting aggravated with the judges criticizing Melinda for being "old". She didn't have that image issue when her friend was acting as her stylist. Now that the AI people have their hands on her, she's coming off "old".

Overall, last night was a snoozefest.