Melinda Doolittle - "Sway"
Coolia: She looked great in that slimming dress with nice hair. Still, she's not able to really be sexy as J. Lo ordered her to be. As always, a good vocal, and nice comeback to Simon's criticisms - funny without being arrogant. Her comment showed more personality than her performance.
Art Haarper: The background singers were pretty good. Actually, she wasn't bad.
Deb: Her hair looked better (not a good sign when comments start off about their looks). I guess I'm getting a little bored. She sounds the same each week, no suprise. She comes off as too old to me....not so American Idol.
Terry: Another excellent vocal but lacked the "Latin" pizazz and just seemed too Cabaret (damn I wish Simon would stop copying me!!). But, excellent Cabaret.
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought this was the best female vocal of the evening. She was smooth and sexy, if perhaps a little bit too controlled. I thought she looked absolutely gorgeous--clothes, make-up, hair, everything, and the glam look suited the song. But then again, the success of the look was a double-edged sword insofar as its glam formality exacerbated the continuing problem she has with looking too old. (I like Nerdia’s theory that she is actually 11th-place finisher Stephanie Edwards’s birth mother.)
Nerdia: I did like her hair....for an old gal.
Lakisha Jones - "Conga"
Coolia: This didn't really work for me. The dress was hideous and too tight. Back fat lapping over the top is just never attractive, especially when it jiggles as one stomps around the catwalk. She just seemed awkward, even though the vocal was good as always. I fear she could get booted for this, so I voted for her 10 times (no busy signals).
Art Haarper: There wasn't any range to it. It was all the same thing.
Deb: Good song choice, fun. She seemed winded at times trying to keep up with the song. Overall good performance.
Terry: Sorry, but the jiggling back fat was a bit distracting. I wish she'd stop trying to get all gussied up and just be herself. Beyond that, I thought that she added a bit of a Donna Summer-esque disco flavor to the vocals. Good but not great.
C. Crumpet Swank: The dress was way too small. She needs to get some advice from Queen Latifah on how to dress her ample and not unpleasant curves. She sang the song well, but as the judges pointed out, this is not a singer’s song, insofar as the vocal being particularly challenging. Bad choice and especially not good when you’re one of the first to sing, which is a voting handicap itself. I am a LaKisha fan, and I am worried for her; she was in the Top Three last week, but this week I think she’s headed for the Bottom Three.
Nerdia: I too am worried about my favorite contestant. She looks so defeated all the time. And her performances had successively lost more and more life.
Chris Richardson - "Smooth"
Coolia: The music drowned him out a bit, but he was indeed smooth and sexy. It was kinda hot even if he's still sorta generic to me.
Art Haarper: He wouldn't make it as a Vegas lounge singer.
Deb: Love this song. I had trouble hearing him a bit over all the music. Second half of the song was much better. He needs to bring on more of the big vocals. Good job. I'm becoming more of a fan each week.
Terry: A nice take with a bit of a hipper flavor added to the vocals, but I'm just not impressed with him any more. He has a nice range but no projection. It's like he can only sing in whispers...and I don't care for that.
C. Crumpet Swank: I thought this was effective. He "owned it," to use the general parlance of Randy and Paula. Indeed, Chris has grown on me as the season has developed. I am partial to nasal voices (Stevie Nicks, Susanna Hoffs, and of course, Paula Abdul!), but even so, I agreed with the judges earlier in the season that Chris was too nasal in his performances. I think he’s getting it under control, however, and hitting the sweet spot now. I also love watching his face when he sings; his eyebrows in particular--there’s real feeling to them, and I’m not being sarcastic. Lastly, I enjoy his demeanor the most of all the contestants when the judges hand down their verdicts. When he’s given kudos he looks pleased as punch in the best way, as opposed to the standard:
1. "Really? Aw shucks" looks of Melinda which have officially crossed over to the disingenuous;
2. "Great! Thanks!" look of Blake which has an underlying "Thanks for confirming my own opinion" vibe;
3. "Tee-hee" smile and giggle fest of Jordin "I am sunshine incarnate" Sparks
Chris on the other hand just seems delighted in the purest way when the judges laud him. His eyes flash with joy and he seems proud to have worked hard and pulled something off. You know the Army’s old ad campaign, "Be all that you can be?" Well, I think Chris has adopted that mantra and it’s paying off.
Nerdia: Latin song night is always a disaster for amateurs. The songs don't have a lot of drama to begin with so unless you have personality, or "passion" as J. Lo puts it, you sound very uninteresting. Chris sounded over his head with his song.
Haley Scarnato - "Turn the Beat Around"
Coolia: So just because Gloria Estefan is a Latina and covered this song, it fits the theme of Latin night? I think that's pushing it. She had good energy and showed off those legs again, but kudos to Simon for calling her on it.
Art Haarper: Good costume. She was nice and loud.
Deb: Ummmm no. The whole performance felt fake and forced. Her voice is too soft and sweet for such a "hard" song. I think Jordin could have done great with this one.
Terry: Ah! A very nice crackwhore shade of red lipstick coupled with once again showing off those long sexy legs....too bad she wore a bra and a neck-high shirt (and, good for Simon for calling her out on the obvious attempt to sell herself). A very so-so karaoke performance.
C. Crumpet Swank: Worst performance of the night. In choosing this song, Haley shoots herself in the foot because it offers scant opportunity to demonstrate whatever range she does possess and the success of her vocal rides on how well she can deliver the rat-a-tat-tat quality of the lyric, which even if achieved, doesn’t really count for much when compared to a more nuanced performance such as Melinda’s. Moreover, Haley didn’t even pull off the rat-a-tat-tat aspect all that well, even though she was game. She was trying valiantly and kept up with it for the most part (no obvious flubs), but you could see the monumental effort, which detracted from the success of hitting the lyrics in the way J-Lo advised. The rushed feeling was further amplified by her overzealous rampage of the entire set (stage, aisles, catwalk, etc.). She was determined to walk every inch of it (the better to show off her legs, natch), but that is easier said than done when you’re sporting stilettos. Simon’s remarks about wearing as little as possible as a strategy was blunt, but, let’s face it, entirely true.
Nerdia: Although Simon spoke the truth indeed, a fellow watching the show with me pointed out that this is exactly what helped J. Lo get where she is and helped Paula Abdul have a career. I felt she sang the song competently yet still amateurishly.
Phil Stacey - "Maria, Maria"
Coolia: He was smart to wear a hat and pin his ears back under it, but the rest of his outfit looked thrifted (and not in a hip retro way). Boring performance again, and his voice cracked at the end.
Art Haarper: Terrible. Why is he still on the show?
Deb: Again LOVE this song! I wanted him to stand from the beginning. Why does it bug me when they sit? He sounded a little nasally on the lower ranges but his big voice I do really like. I must vote ...again. LOL It's folks like me keeping this guy in even though he calls the bottom 3 his second home.
Terry: I really thought this song would fit him perfectly....but, the vocally were oddly strained at times. Disappointing.
C. Crumpet Swank: Phil is so freaking frustrating! He has probably the best voice of the six men in the Top Twelve in terms of power and range, but he really doesn’t know how to use it effectively. He has a tendency to seem dour and over serious, as was apparent in last week’s "Night and Day, and again this week with "Maria, Maria." He also needs serious help with phrasing. His phrasing seems totally random, which then goes back to the fact that he doesn’t seem to grasp the songs properly. He, more than anyone, would benefit from Melinda’s tutelage. Hat = good thing.
Nerdia: Yet another Santana or Gloria Estefan song. Snore.
Jordin Sparks - "Rhythm is Gonna Get You"
Coolia: I didn't think this was the best song for her. She seemed a little stiff.
Art Haarper: Not good.
Deb: She's more what I see when I picture an American Idol! I'm not sure if it was the best song choice but overall very well done. She's fun, young and vocally very strong. I MUST vote and vote and vote again for her.
Terry: Not one of my favorite songs to begin with. Despite the really good vocals, this was a boring presentation of a boring song.
C. Crumpet Swank: She sang it well, but again, not a particularly challenging song vocally, which then seems like a cop-out since we know she has such vocal talent. She seemed to want to rectify this by adding in a bunch of lyrical ad-libs (which Simon derisively pointed out) to showcase her facility with big notes. It was like making cupcakes from a box and then adding a ridiculous amount of frosting and dragees to fancy them up. Also, the feel of this performance too closely mirrored her rendition of "Hey Baby" last week. Appearance: From the waist-up she looked really cool and sleek, but the black toreador pants just made her big butt and thighs look lumpy. She’s worked professionally as a plus-size model; she should know better.
Nerdia: I finally get Jordin. She's an 80s artist. She did Gloria better than anyone. Turns out, it takes an 80s state of mind.
Blake Lewis - "I Need to Know"
Coolia: Another hot one from Blake - almost as good as "Time of the Season." Great look, great stage presence, and a solid vocal. I voted for him 10 times (got some busy signals).
Art Haarper: It wasn't bad.
Deb: Best vocal of the night by a long shot. This is the best I've heard from him. He's the first guy I could "hear" throughout the song. This sealed it as the GUYS night for sure! They outshone the girls all night. I can't figure out whey I still like Chris R better??...
Terry: I really like his vocal "singing" in these types of "talking" songs (Chris R would have sounded terrible with this song....if we could have even heard what he was saying). This fit him to a tee and he gave a terrific performance. Best of the night.
C. Crumpet Swank: I was humming this song all Tuesday afternoon, secretly hoping Blake would sing it, and lo and behold I got my wish. And it was hot, baby! Smokin’! Tremendous yo factor. The vocal was dynamite—strong, clear, pleading, suave—it hit all the hallmarks/intentions of the lyric and did Marc Anthony proud. Oddly enough, the weakest part of the performance was the stage movement; for the first time, Blake seemed a little off his game in this respect. He seemed a little self-conscious, which we’ve not experienced with him before (did the noticeable pit stains through two layers of shirts belie this?). I also loved how he let his voice soar more and more as the song progressed. We heard him do things with his voice that he hasn’t done before on the show. And I admired the really fine control he exhibited—managing the verses with the appropriate restraint and then really seizing the passion in the remonstration of the chorus. I can’t help but think that his eventual album is going to be smashing—a real varied, effective and innovative smorgasbord of delights. He and Melinda alone have shown that they can pretty much tackle any genre to great effect.
Nerdia: He's a contender!
Sanjaya Malakar - "Besame Mucho"
Coolia: Kudos to Sanjaya for being the only contestant to sing in Spanish on Latin night! What a novel idea...who knew there were songs to choose from by artists other than Santana and Gloria Estefan? Of course it's not a great vocal but it wasn't bad either, and he's clearly got a degree from The Constantine School of Making Love to the Camera.
Art Haarper: Now that was a Vegas lounge act!
Deb: What happened to Sampsons hair? Is this how the stylists are trying to sabotage him? Oh I get it...his plan is to grow what they cut off on his face?. OK vocal, nice smile but I'll be needing a whole jug of wine to go with CHEESE! Yuk!
Terry: Good lord!....he pulled off yet ANOTHER hairstyle and overall look!! At this rate his head will be shaved by the finals. God help me, he actually didn't suck! Certainly not good, but by far his best yet (of course, he had no where to go but up). And, didn't anyone else find it odd and just so blatantly obvious that he was the ONLY one to sing a "Latin night" song that has Spanish lyrics? This kid is apparently far smarter than I have been giving him credit for.
C. Crumpet Swank: Sanjaya deserves to stay if only for being the only contestant to have the balls to sing in Spanish on Latin night. That aside, his vocal was good, and effective. I’ve consistently maintained that his voice is perfectly fine; what mars him as a contestant is that he approaches virtually every song in the same, low-key way (excepting of course, "You Really Got Me"). He rarely ventures outside his comfort zone, which is not a point of recommendation for sure, particularly in the context of this competition which theoretically values genre versatility. I also have to applaud the way he seduced the camera at the close of the song. Constantine would approve. Mustache: mangy, lame and disgusting. I know he’s trying for follicular uniqueness each week, but he’s running out of options. Let’s pray he doesn’t conceive of some pubic masterpiece for next week.
Nerdia: And yet unlike Constantine, he didn't smirk or look smug when he seduced the camera. Awesome move and song choice, Sanjaya.
Guest Judge - J. Lo
Coolia: She was nicer and more engaged than I expected, but it's still obvious that she was only there to promote her album. I bet she's pissed that nobody cried upon meeting her or proclaimed she was his/her idol.
Art Haarper: That's Jennifer Lopez? I didn't know she had fallen on hard times.
Deb: She was cute and fun but I doubt she offered much truly vocally since I doubt she would have even made it this far is she were on A.I.!
Terry: J-low was just another schill in a long line of just another schills
C. Crumpet Swank: She looked gorgeous. I liked that she seemed to be really enjoying herself and the contestants, even though she didn’t have much to offer in terms of vocal coaching. Her comments were more about sexy-coaching and dance-coaching, but then again since that’s 2/3 of her own appeal as a musical artist, it seemed appropriate, and I don’t mean that as a diss, lest we forget it can’t hurt for any future Popstar to be made aware of how those components will or will not factor into one’s approach to the musical marketplace. I liked how Jennifer seemed very down-to-Earth. Jenny from the block indeed.
Nerdia: she's so 90s.
Coolia: Lakisha goes home, with Haley and Phil in the bottom 3.
Art Haarper. It could be hot pants or the guy with the hat (Phil). Probably the guy with the hat.
Deb: What Coolia said.
Terry: Haley to go, with Phil and Chris in the bottom 3. Not enough boobage to save her this week...legs only will take you only so far.
C. Crumpet Swank: Haley goes home, with Phil and Lakisha in the bottom 3.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007