Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Who Will Be Stayin' Alive?

Well, it probably won't be LaKisha Jones, who sang this Bee Gees hit badly ... very badly. If DialIdol has any credence this season, Jones should start packing her bags (though, scarily, Melinda Doolittle is very close to bottom this week as well).

We are so fed up with LaKisha, we'll be really pissed if she doesn't leave and here's why: She is too arrogant to follow any mentor's advice. The latest dis goes to musical genius Barry Gibb, who gave Kiki advice for each song. She nodded in agreement, even said she could do that, then totally dismissed the advice and performed each song exactly the way she did before the advice was proffered. Perhaps if her version was better we could tolerate her behavior better, but that is never case.

Loving every disco and non-disco minute of Bee Gees music, we were particularly looking forward to last night's performances. Unfortunately, it was another disappointing evening, filled with some bad moments and a lot of mediocre ones. Jordin Sparks shined more brightly than the other three finalists, but we weren't really wowed by any of them.

Plus, Barry Gibb is either having a terrible time with dentures or, we fear, had his face so overly botoxed that his mouth couldn't move normally and his speech sounded bizarre. After watching his face closely and seeing few wrinkles and very little facial-muscle movement, we believe the latter to be true. Yes, Barry, you do look older, but you're 60! Please stop trying to stay young by having your face paralyzed. It wasn't a pretty picture.

First up was Melinda Doolittle with "Love You Inside Out," which originally was sung in falsetto. Melinda successfully changed that and converted it from a group song to a fine, if uninspiring, solo. Vocally, as always with Melinda, it was near perfect. But there was no pizzazz or spark to it and the ending was bad, stopping in what felt like the middle of the song. Randy Jackson told her it was another solid performance but he was not jumping up and down over it. Paula Abdul said it was hard to critique Melinda because her vocals are always spot on, but that she was looking for something that would make them say "wow" – maybe styling? Maybe song choice? Simon Cowell said the performance was more like a backing vocalist's performance and that with "Four people left ... I expect incredible tonight, that was not incredible," adding that Melinda is better than that. Watch video:

We love what Blake Lewis has been doing with his beat boxing recently, and last night was no exception. Barry Gibb seemed to think it really worked with "You Should Be Dancing," and so did we, but we agree with what Simon said last week: Half of the audience is going to hate it and the other half is going to love it. Love it or hate it, Blake is the only contestant bringing real creativity and originality to the competition, and he scores extra Brownie points from us for that alone. And we loved the new skunk-styled hair: Black with some white-blond streaks in the front. We also think that being the last male contestant will help him with the three divas splitting the remainder of the vote, and indeed, DialIdol has him in first place for the night (though that honor more rightly belonged to Jordin). "You Should Be Dancing" worked well, though not quite as brilliantly as last week's "You Give Love a Bad Name." We especially liked Blake's falsetto and the beat boxing in the part of the song that is usually instrumental. It, well, made us feel like dancing. The judges, however, did not agree. Randy, said, "Sometimes when you do the beat boxing it works, tonight for me dawg, it really didn’t work." He not only called it "corny," but (stealing a line from Simon) said that it felt as if he was in some "weird discotheque in some foreign country." Paula, trying to find a positive slant, said that even though it started shaky and had some pitch problems, the attempt showed true musicianship, adding, "You didn't have the best night with that song, but you did show why you're unique and why you're on that stage." Simon flat out hated it: "I thought it was absolutely terrible that performance." He probably would have said more, but for the first, and, annoyingly, not the final time last night, the music cut off his critique, limiting him to a sentence, while Randy and Paula got to speak on and on. Watch video:

We award the prize for the night's worst performance to LaKisha Jones for her ironically titled song choice, "Stayin' Alive." It didn't and she won't. Kiki chose a slowed-down, and in our opinion, horrible arrangement of the song. Plus, even after being advised to bring the pitch higher (again, Gibb's original is falsetto), LaKisha agreed to, but then didn't. It was just awful. This time we were in sync with the judges. Randy told her "That was weird for me" and that she shouldn't have changed up the melody. Paula started with "The audience was on their feet," to which Simon jumped in with, "They were heading for the exits." LOL. We agreed with Paula's sentiment that "Taking the tempo down ... kind of brought the mood down a little bit." What was really scary was that we found Paula's critiques most closely matching our own the entire evening. We had another LOL moment when Simon said, "Well, Lakisha, no kiss tonight, baby," adding "We're back to the shouting" and that the performance was "verging on scary in parts." Yup. Watch video:

It's becoming apparent that the Idol executive producers are doing everything they can to have Jordin Sparks win the competition -- not that it would be a horrible thing or totally undeserved. But it is getting annoying how hard they are pushing for her to win. Once again, she received the pimp spot (this time deserved), but USA Today also reported that executive producer Nigel Lythgoe fought for her to be able to sing "To Love Somebody," even though Barry Gibb was planning to sing it tonight. (And not for nothing, but how come Fox gets all bent out of shape when show spoilers are revealed in the press or in blogs, but USA Today was not only able to spend the week on the set, but revealed in yesterday's paper what everyone was singing in advance of the telecast?) We guess Lythgoe fought because he had heard what a beautiful job Jordin did with the song. It will most definitely get her to the semis and probably the finals. Her hair tamed down and straight after last week's red-streaked, wild-mane mess, she carefully didn't oversing, but gave the song full and expressive voice. Gibb paid her the huge compliment of saying that even though he has heard a couple hundred people sing this song, he hasn't heard a greater version than Jordin's. Well, perhaps. Still, we thought it was only a really good, not a "wow" great, rendition. And the judges got behind that by not going overboard with their praise. Randy called it "probably the best vocal so far," with Paula correcting him with, "It's not sort of, kind of the best vocal, it is the best vocal so far tonight." Simon simply said, "Best song choice, best performance so far, we're back in the competition." Watch video:

For her second song, Melinda selected "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." She told Barry Gibb that this being "American Idol," she's been careful about words and never sings about being a loser. Therefore, she didn't want to sing "how can a loser ever win." Instead, she would probably repeat "how can you keep the rain from falling down," because she'd rather be wet than a loser. Gibb agreed, saying that he would probably leave that line out, too. So would we. It is a strange coincidence how many contestants are eliminated after choosing a song with a negative title or lyrics. It started out slow and a bit wobbly. Uh-oh. We thought the night was beginning to go really badly for Melinda. Then, suddenly, a bit after halfway through the song, she suddenly switched gears and brought the song to life with a dynamic climactic finish. Ah, thank you, Melinda. We wondered where you were. Seriously, if she hadn't pulled that one out she might be leaving tonight. Even so, DialIdol has her in third place and not much above LaKisha, so she still might be in peril. Randy Jackson said "Yo, you are our resident pro still." Paula said, "No doubt, a beautiful vocal," then interestingly added that she would love for Melinda to just throw away the technique and surprise them. Simon spoke for us when he said, "I think the second half of that song has put you into the semi-finals." Watch video:

Barry Gibb, and we, were a bit surprised by Blake's second choice, "This is Where I Came In," a song he said he loved and wanted to contemporize. Gibb seemed pleased and said it was a song the Bee Gees thought could be a hit -- but wasn't. Gibb thinks the song still has the ability to be a hit record, if not by the Bee Gees, adding it's been waiting for its time and maybe Blake will bring it up to date. It's a very likable song the way Lewis performed it -- again with beat boxing -- and we could certainly hear it being played on the radio today, especially with the mild reggae twist he added to it. But his first song was still our favorite. Not so for Jackson, who said, "I do think this was definitely better than the last one, I’m still not jumping up and down." Then The King of Contradictions, who early on in the season chastised Blake for not beat boxing (when Lewis was trying to prove he could sing as well as beat box), told him that doesn't have to beat box every time and that it gets old. Huh? Paula shot back with, "But if he can, he can." And Randy kept saying, "But he doesn't have to all the time" [Note to Randy: He didn't beat box for weeks prior to last week's performance."] Paula then told Blake he is "The contemporary rebel in this competition" and that although she didn't know the song, she enjoyed it and he sang spot on key. Well score one for Blake and go Team Plaid, because next came Simon's scathing "I don't know what that song was. I found it completely tuneless." He also told Blake he had a rough night and that it was a weird choice of song. Strange that neither Paula nor Simon knew the song. Though it is one of the Bee Gees lesser-known entries, we were familiar with it. Watch video:

Before LaKisha's final tune (maybe in the competition), there was an Idol moment that tickled us, when Ryan Seacrest introduced our Idol, who sitting in the audience: Judge Judy. He called her "Simon's evil twin." Judge Judy is our guilty pleasure, another person who tells it like it is and says everything you always wanted to say. Yea for Judge Judy, who woulda thunk she'd be an Idol fan? But then Ryan almost lost control of the show. Thinking Judge Judy was going to sit back down, he tried to introduce Simon's mother, but had to keep one eye on the Judge, who wandered over to the judges' table to say hello. He quickly shuffled her back to her seat. (Also spotted: Haley Scarnato, and was that Chris Daughtry at the very beginning of the show while Ryan was in the audience?)

Kiki's second tune was "Run to Me." We liked this choice and performance much better than her first time up, though it had its problems -- pitchiness at times and her voice cracked on the last note (The judges killed Phil for that about a month ago, but pretty much let it go with LaKisha). Certainly it wasn't LaKisha's best performance and we doubt it will be enough to keep her in the competition, but it was respectable and, for the most part, enjoyable. Randy said, "I know you got a little hoarse at the end, but it was much better than the first song that you did tonight," while Paula told her not to beat herself up over the final note, saying, "You're still a champ." Simon said "It was better than the first song. It still wasn't great," and predicted that she and Blake are vulnerable. Watch video of Judge Judy and LaKisha:

Closing the show was Jordin singing "Woman in Love," originally sung by Barbra Streisand. Gibb thinks that Jordin will be one of our greatest female recording artists. Wow, he really likes her. It was another solid performance but it had some pitch problems and on the high notes Jordin committed the Kiki shouting crime. But the judges never seem to call Jordin out on it. It wasn't nearly as good as Streisand (but then, who is?) and we preferred Jordin's opening number. Still, at 17 she shows tremendous potential and is incredibly charismatic. She works the camera and it loves her back. Randy told her "I don't think it was your best performance, it was pitchy all the way through." Paula tended to agree, saying, "It was not (stalling for words) ... you know, my dear." Simon pronounced it "Old-fashioned and actually very pageanty." Watch video:

Our Top 2: Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle

Our Bottom 2: Blake Lewis, LaKisha Jones

America's Top 2: Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis

America's Bottom 2: LaKisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle

Voted off: LaKisha Jones

Conspiracy theory on how the producers could make Jordin victorious: Eliminate Melinda tonight (that's what happened to Chris Daughtry last season). There's no way LaKisha would survive against Blake and Jordin in the semi-finals, and we believe Jordin would beat Blake in the finals.

The Ford Commercial: "You Really Got Me" -- A take off on the Beatles' movie "A Hard Day's Night," with fans chasing after the Idols.
Group Number: "How Deep Is Your Love" with beat boxing.
A pre-recorded performance from P!nk.
Barry Gibb performs.
The three semi-finalists are revealed.

Next Week:
Hometown visits by the semi-finalists.
Each contestant sings three songs, usually one chose by them, one chosen by the judges and the third chosen by Clive Davis.

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© 2007

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