Tuesday, April 3, 2007

American Idol - Top Nine

American Idol, Top Nine

Things are getting downright nasty around American Idol this past week. Sanjaya survived again, and Chris Sligh went home - it's obviously NOT a singing competition right now, at least as far as Sanjaya is concerned. However, let's not forget that, no matter how much better a singer Chris is than Sanjaya, he still failed to earn more votes than anyone else, so it's not all about Sanjaya and his TeflonTeethofDoom.

Here are the nine contestants left for tonights' tribute to music legend Tony Bennett. I've listed them in order as I see them right now, top to bottom:

Melinda Doolittle
Jordin Sparks
Blake Lewis
Lakisha Jones
Gina Glocksen
Chris Richardson
Phil Stacey
Haley Scarnato
Sanjaya Malakar

So, if I had my way, Malamar would be going home tomorrow night and we could get back to the singing competition that this is supposed to be. But it seems that all of America is tuning in tonight to see what abomination finds its way onto Sadjaya's head.

But let's listen in to the other eight and see if they can grab the spotlight...

Will be quite interesting to see how the more aggressive singers handle the smooth stylings of Tony Bennett's music - will Gina's straight ahead rocker style work? Will Blake try to spin the music again to his personal style? Surprises for tonight could be found in, of all people, Haley Scarnato - she's got a voice that might fit Bennett's music pretty well, if she can manage to find the right groove.

Blake Lewis - Mack the Knife 8/10

Blake begins the evening, schmoozing his way through "Mack the Knife" - he's looking dapper in his blue suit, classic, nicely put together - not to sure about the tie sticking out at the bottom though. His performance starts quite understated, and he's not putting any modern spin on it. He's working that trill in his voice, using it to good effect, and does a pretty good job of building the song as it goes along. Nice jazzy run at the end, and all in all, a decent job. Blake is probably the best of the bunch at adapting each week's theme to his own personal style, and he shows his versatility yet again with this performance.

Phil Stacey - Night and Day 6/10

Phil says that Tony is his hero. I think he needs to spend some more time trying to figure out what that means, at least as far as interpreting this song goes. He starts out with some flat notes, he lets his vibrato get out of control, and he makes a good song bad by taking it too slow - see, Phil didn't take his hero's advice to put some rhythm into this song, and it ends up being a snooze fest. Yeah, he can sing, but he sounds a lot older than he is, and I don't mean more mature - I mean, more tired, and not good at all. Bleah.

Melinda Doolittle - I Got Rhythm 10/10

Sheesh - this woman is fabulous. She takes this thing from next to nothing to all kinds of huge, massive dynamic range, all kinds of jazz inflection, and not a single note out of place or out of tune. I really don't know what else to say about her; she's just incredible.

Chris Richardson - Don't Get Around Much Anymore 7/10

Chris is rockin' the Bing Crosby hat, and the vest is a good look. Taking on a Duke Ellington tune is a good idea, he's got a slyness in his style, and this could really work well. But it doesn't - he doesn't convey the same jazz "cool" that Blake pulls off with ease. He sounds fine, but he doesn't really connect to the song; he sounds like a modern performer doing his own tribute to jazz, which to be fair, is what he is, but I didn't feel the jazz in that performance. Despite Randy and Paula's platitudes, I didn't like all the hip, modern feel as much as they did - it was a good song, he did it well, but it didn't grab me like it seemed to have grabbed the judges.

Jordin Sparks - On A Clear Day 8.5/10

On the other hand, Jordin connects solidly with her inner jazz diva. It's a theatrical performance, it swings, and she puts some power into it. Very nicely done, and I am more and more convinced that this competition should come down to Jordin and Melinda. Unless of course, Sanjaya MonsterKar gets voted through instead of our Miss Sparks...

Gina Glocksen - Smile 7/10

Ooh - this could be good. A chance for Gina to be vulnerable, but also to put some real emotion into a performance. Thing is - those of us in the know know that not only did Tony Bennett sing this, but so did Nat King Cole: definitively. And Gina does a good job with it; however, I think that what is obvious from this performance is that she doesn't have as wide a dynamic range as the front runners. Gina does a good job, but it's not good enough anymore...

Sanjaya Malakar - Cheek to Cheek 6/10

First of all, we must discuss the look. Vintage Pacino a la Scarface. White suit, black shirt, slicked down hair. So, will the music speak louder than the look?

Well, maybe they are on the same level this week. His performance is just as plain, just as black and white as his outfit. The big band style suits him, but he doesn't manage to sell it well. He's cute, he can sing, and sure, he is charming, but he's not anywhere near as good as anyone else left in this show right now. Which makes him the worst. Which means they're going to vote for him again. Which means someone more deserving goes home tomorrow night...

Haley Scarnato - Ain't Misbehavin' 7.5/10

Oh wait - if Sanjaya stays, then maybe Haley will FINALLY go home. I didn't think she deserved to be in the final twelve,

I've picked her to go home a few times already, and she JUST REFUSES TO COOPERATE. Why is she still here? Oh, yeah - she's hot. At least, that's the going theory right now - tonight, she's wearing a sparkly green dress cut down to *there* and up to *there*.

She is definitely working the sex appeal in this performance - but here's the thing: look away from all the jiggle, and she sounds pretty good tonight. Turns out my pre-show prediction was right; this music is greatfor Haley. She sounds really good, to be honest. Sure, she's still not in the same league as some others, but she was definitely not the worst of the week. Jazz works well for Haley - almost as well as the sparkly dress...

Lakisha Jones - Stormy Weather 7.5/10

Divakisha closes out the show tonight, and you just KNOW that she is going to do well this week - a PERFECT song choice for her big, brassy voice. Except that she's missing some notes. The style, the interpretation are fine, but she doesn't sound solid with her tone until the second half. She finds her roundhouse, and starts to really work it, but then she ruins a good ending with a phrase that doesn't fit and leaves her standing there holding a pose while the band ends the song. Odd.

Overall, pretty good, but I have to mark her down for the start and the finish.

SO, where does that leave us going into the vote tomorrow night? Melinda and Jordin safely out in front, and Blake, Lakisha, Chris and Haley (!) in the middle. I think that Sanjaya will stay once again, leaving Gina and Phil as the lowest vote getters. Haley might join them on the floor, but I think Ryan will send her back to her seat, and Gina will go home. It's a girl's turn this week, so I think Miss Glocksen is done.

Maybe Sanjaya will do some bright red highlights in her honor next week...

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