The theme tonight was "Idol Gives Back." It was a very nice sentiment for the hugely successful show to parley it's popularity into a money raising event to feed children in the USA and Africa. It was a nice touch seeing Simon, Seacrest, Paula, and Randy out in the "real world," one that most Americans don't even realize exists. In fact, from my travels its how MOST of the rest of the world exists.
Update after Idol results show....What? They didn't vote anyone off? Seacrest says they didn't want to lose any idols during a charity week. So, they are going to roll this week's votes into next week and vote off two people. That's going to complicate the calculations a bit, but its kind of cool to get a change up every so often.
We didn't see him, but Bono was this week's singing mentor. I believe we will see a lot of him during tomorrow's special 2 hour "fallen idol” night. I think he had the most effect on how Blake performed tonight.
The theme this week was “Idol Gives Back” and so all the songs reflected soulful inspiration and hope--a very good Bono theme indeed! No wonder he signed on to do this week. He's such a do-gooder, isn't he?
The fact that Sanjaya was gone took a little of the excitement out of the competition for me. Of course I know the guy is not the greatest singer, but "AI" isn't only about that. It's a popularity contest for people who sing "pop" music. A whole lot of people liked the plucky young fellow and I miss not having him there. He was fun to watch, to see what he was going to do next. From this point on it all gets rather predictable.
1. Chris Richardson: Chris did an Eric Clapton-like unplugged version of "Change the World," one of my pop favorites. Listening to him sing it, I realized tonight that Chris' singing style reminds me a little bit of the 70's Seal & Crofts. I love those guys, so there you are. I particularly liked how he took the last verse and made it really much more up-tempo than Clapton's original score. I really enjoyed his singing this week, and from their comments so did Randy, Paula and Simon.
Randy on Chris: "For the first time in a long time for me...you're in it to win it!... That was great!"
Paula: "Great Song Choice... I'm really proud of you to see your journey to where you are now."
Simon: "...Your performance tonight reminded me of the very first time we saw you and all the potential you showed then....It was a good vocal with more soul, it was a kind of a sexy performance, ...you did really well. I agree with Randy that the competition starts tonight."
2. Melinda Doolittle: I hope she wins it all. Her performances are always absolutely faultless and she's likeable, I certainly do. And since last week I have a bit of a crush on her too. The girl is hot. She sang Faith Hill's "There Will Come a Day." Once again, she sounded great. She always seems to throw a new nuance into her performances; tonight it was vibrato. She worked the heck out of that and it worked. Listening to her, the words that popped into my mind were, "powerful," "gospelly," "nice control," "beautiful!" Melinda was good from the very beginning of the contest, but she is fast approaching greatness. I don't know who is working with her, but they do good work. She's awesome!
Randy on Melinda: "I've said from the beginning you ARE our resident pro, and you keep proving me right. I don't know what to say anymore! ...Melinda is HERE!"
Paula: "There's no one like you... you're magical."
Simon: The "glum one" was uncharastically sweet-natured tonight perhaps in keeping with the show's theme. When Ryan came to him for his take on Melinda, Simon chuckled as Melinda purposely adjusted her expression to make sure she didn't have the dreaded "surprised look" on her face. At this point, Simon has her gun-shy about showing ANY false humility at all. Of course he too liked her singing declaring, "THAT was NOT a copy-cat performance. You actually convinced me that it was an original...a vocal master-class."
3. Blake Lewis: Ryan asked all the singers bland questions from fans and the answers were also just as bland. They need to stop doing it. It's a waste of time and I'm not interested. Blake went "out on a limb" telling us that his "biggest sacrifice" was missing his family and friends. Ho-hum. He sang a bit the same way doing the classic John Lennon tune "Imagine." Immediately, I recognize it as a dumb choice. After all, even I can sing that song. My point is that its too easy to sing and there's nothing you can do with it, heck, there's nothing you are ALLOWED to do with it. To change it up would be sacrilege. For me, his version of "Imagine" was "unimaginative." It was done well, but almost anyone can sing that song well. I'm afraid that Black is not long for this contest and it will be his own fault. Even so, the judges went easy on him, just like they always do. I have to wonder if he's got something on them? I'm beginning to think Blake could yodel Mary Had A Little Lamb and the 3 Musketeers would tell us how originally hip he did it.
Randy on Blake: "That was a great choice of an "amazing" song, but I kind of wanted you to do more with it..."
Paula: "At first I felt the same way as RAndy, but then I realized that that was the first time I've heard you do such an sensitive emotional performance ... and I really enjoyed it."
Simon: "Gloomy Gus Simon" also went on about how little one can actually do anything with such a classic tune as Imagine, but he cut him slack once AGAIN..."...You can't really BELT out that song... and it never really went anywhere, BUT you sang it with sincerity, so good."
4. Lakisha Jones: Lakisha keeps making bad decisions and tonight was more of the same. She attempted past Idol winner Fantasia's "I Believe," a very difficult song indeed. It soars, and Lakisha, in trying to fly with it, showed that she is NO Fantasia. Part of what makes an Idol is picking songs that you KNOW will make you sound your best. In this case, Lakisha merely showed us exactly why Fantasia won two years ago. Even so, she did much better than last week, although she once again pushed way too hard and very nearly shrieked the highest notes. Lakisha came off as slightly better than average tonight, well behind the quality of performance given by Melinda, Chris, Phil and Jordin.
Randy on Lakisha: "You had a couple little pitch problems... but I liked it. Its a very hard song to sing after FAntasia, I have to admit (not sounding like he really did)"
Paula: "You're a powerhouse of a vocalist...(she then minced around in typical Paula fashion before telling us what she really felt, kind of...) ...only Fantasia can sing that."
Simon: "I think what Paula was trying to say is that she preferred the Fantasia version." He also said in support of my contention that she pushes too hard at times: "Again I'm having an issue with the shouting." (At this point the audience booed him). "Will you SHUT UP!" (It worked, he was not allowed to explain himself further).
5. Phil Stacey: "My main man" did Garth Brooks' "The Change." Phil took the advice everyone gave him about appealing to the untapped country music lovers' votes and "tried" to sing another country song. The problem is he didn't sing it with the same country flare that he managed last week. Huge mistake. If he's going to embrace country and make his "new" fans believe it then he's going to have to make them embrace him, and I don't believe his performance tonight is going to do that. The song requires some real vocal stretching and Phil didn't quite get there this week. He MIGHT have IF he'd gone with the same countryish style he used last week, but alas! I think he WANTS to sing like Michael Bolton, but he doesn't have the voice. At best, he's only a second rate Michael Bolton. As Randy says, "Just keeping it real."
Randy on Phil: “Strong performance... Two in a ROW!"
Paula: "This was your best..."
Simon: “Good choice... Country suits you. (Simon also voiced my frustration that he didn't SING it in a country STYLE, but in acknowledgment of the voting dynamics he hedged his verdict and offered some heartfelt advice) "If you can connect with that country tone that you had last week I think you can be very successful...because I think people like you."
6. Jordin Sparks: Talk about ambitious! Jordin sang one of THE most difficult songs EVER to sing well, "You'll Never Walk Alone." The problem is I think she bit off a bit more than she could chew. But, I guess I'm the only one to think so, because the judges sure loved it. In fact they raved over it, and that puzzles me somewhat. I think what's happened is they have got on the Jordin Bandwagon and have lost some of their capacity to listen critically. In MY opinion there were several times when she was one octave too high for her range. She is good, but she is NOT unlimited and I definitely heard her NOT reach the top of several of the notes she was attempting. She was like a high-performance fighter jet trying to reach new heights and not quite finding them, instead having to nose over as gracefully as possible in an attempt to make it look (and sound) like she "meant" to do that. Maybe once the judges get a chance to really listen to her performance they will change their minds about their claims of perfection, because Jordin was far from it.
Randy on Jordin: "One of the best vocals EVER by anyone on any of the American Idol shows we've ever had in six years! That was the hottest performance tonight right there!" (Wow! He really laid it on thick! Slow down RAndy!)
Paula: "...only someone who has great vocals can do that song...You were glorious."
Simon: He made a joke out of the gushing rave reviews just offered by Randy and Paula: "Well... Unlike Randy, I thought you were fantastic. ...(laughter) ...I think you can get a hit record with that."
PhilippinePhil’s order of merit for tonight:
My bottom 3 picks for tomorrow:
My bottom 2 for tomorrow:
Tomorrow's Fallen Idol will be:
After tonight’s performance, I predict that the final 2 will be:
The American Idol will be: