Welcome back to the big stage for the next three months. (Did he really say that?) Tonight we celebrate the music of Diana Ross and, therefore, Motown. Diana was named something like "Female Entertainer of Forever" and I always loved her. Immediately noticeable was Sanjaya's curly 'do (we'll get to that later), and Phil's bare head, lampshade optional.
Did you notice that when Ryan introduced the judges, he referred to them as the "people who found our contestants in the first place," an obvious snarky reference to Jennifer Hudson's neglect on thanking
AI in her Oscar speech. Simon mentions that this stage will either make or break the contestants. Unfortunately, it will only break one of them at a time, and after tonight's show, I can count at least five people who are broken and need to go home.
Ryan's suit was just weird, and the vest did not seem to fit. The man can't weigh a buck fiddy, so where did he find a vest that was too small? Is there not a stylist on this show? Simon, ever the fashion maven, traded in his drab gray V-neck sweater for a sparkling white... T-shirt? Come on, folks, for the people at home, at least
borrow a sense of style if you have to.
Diana started us off by telling Brandon to go to his center - his "heart place." I don't think it's going to help him. He chose "You Can't Hurry Love," but you can certainly bore it to death. I know this is Ms. Dee's song, but all I can hear is Phil Collins' voice. It was drab and dull for me and made me think Brandon should be relinquished to backup singer forever. The first one out on the new stage and he forgot the words - tsk, tsk. When asked how he felt about that he said, "Oops." What's up with that? Not a good sign.
Melinda came on next to save us from thinking that the next two hours would be as painful and dull as an Air Supply concert. She was asked, "What's the hardest part of performing for
AI?" Our modest Mindy replied, "The high heels and dresses!" Then this "Who's gayer" contest ensued between Ryan and Simon. Ryan told Simon to, "Stay out of my closet," and Simon retorted, "Come out." I thought Ryan brought it back well when he singed Simon with, "This is about the top 12, not your wishes." Simon cracked up.
Back to Melinda, who sang "Home" from
The Wiz. Diana told her she had goosebumps listening to her, and Melinda questioned whether that was a good thing or not. Oh, Melinda, it's a really good thing. Of course, all I can think of are the bright-yellow polyester, bell-bottomed pantsuits my sisters and I had to wear when we went to performing-arts school and sang selections from
The Wiz. "C'mon and ease on down, ease on down the road.... " Which is just what Melinda is doing in this competition. She took an average song and made it "goose-bumpable." At the end, both of the Paulas, me and Abdul, were tearing up. Simon likened her to a young Gladys Knight (who needs the Pips?), which is about as good as it gets.
Chris Sligh went glasses-less and tried "Endless Love," and as one of the judges remarked later, it did sound an awful lot like a Coldplay song. Regardless of how lame the arrangement was, there's no denying that Chris has a great voice. Simon felt he "butchered" the arrangement and suggested he keep his glasses on. It's fine because at this point he is going home.
Gina gave it some of her all, but not quite all of her all with a pretty good rendition of "Love Child," a song she sang at age 4 and probably one of my favorite of Ms. Ross' songs. I loved Gigi's leather pants and felt she really worked the stage well. She reminded me of Gracie Slick, but Simon thought she gave a middle-of-the-pack performance.
But nothing can compare to what happened next when Sanjaya came on. Unfortunately, there "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" for you to throw yourself off of. His outfit was somehow worse than his vocals, and that hairdo - can you say Shirley Temple? Not only did he mangle the song beyond recognition (Note: he was singing in a different key than the band was playing), but the song was
way too big for him. He may have a great smile and be all about "love," but do you really want to send the hula dancer through to the next round? Simon referenced the songs of whales, which, frankly, are a lot nicer to listen to. Seriously, I will open a vein if he is still here next week.
Haley (Simon actually remembered her name this week) chose "Missing You," and if I never saw her again, I wouldn't miss her. Like that other boring singer of the night, Haley also forgot the words to the song. Folks, you've only got to learn
one song per week! Have you ever watched a soap opera? I mean these people have to do five
brand-new shows a week, and they don't forget their lines. It's not rocket science. If Hilary Duff can do it, for Pete's sake, get a grip! I found myself pouring another glass of wine before I could sit through Haley. It was a decent bordeaux, but it was still wrecked by listening to Haley talk with Ryan. She was literally screaming at him. As he introduced her sitting on the stage, I felt like he was in a shoe commercial. (Rewind it and you'll see what I mean.)
I really got the whole hotel-lounge-singer thing. Haley, I think the Hilton is hiring. Hello, wrong note. She does have good legs, I'll give her that. Surprisingly, the judges didn't think it was all that bad. Simon thought she had real presence and I figured it was just because she looked exactly like Katherine McPhee. Paula managed to insult everyone in the world when she said, "The audience doesn't know anything." Actually, I agree, but it probably wasn't in good form.
Phil brought us, "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," and he is more than welcome to try. In pure Phil style he didn't bother to try until the chorus. Then he was really good. But songs are not just choruses (wouldn't the better plural be 'chori'?), my friend. Randy thought the vocals were hot, but overall our esteemed judges weren't crazy about him. Another middle-of-the-pack performance.
"Kiki," previously known as LaKisha, brought down my house, at least, with a spot-on performance of
the classic Billie Holiday tune, "God Bless the Child." God bless Kiki - she was fantastic! Jennifer Hudson, move over sister, Kiki's in the house! Simon confirmed what we already know - the competition is between Melinda and Kiki, and then there are
Blake let us know that his favorite artists are Michael Jackson and Prince before singing "You Keep Me Hangin' On." I really wanted him to let go tonight, but he never did and the "whoa, whoa" part left me wanting more. But, I dug the dancing. Randy, ever ready to coin a new term, told him not to "Blakeize" every song. In other words, let Motown be Motown.
It was reiterated a number of times tonight that it's very difficult to sing Motown songs any different than they are, because that sound is why you love them in the first place. However, I have to say on the contestants' behalf that the judges have been telling them for weeks to be original and unique and make each song their own. So, go figure. There's just no pleasing some people.
Do I even have to talk about Paula sitting in Ryan's lap and Simon playing with the pez dispenser on Ryan's shoulder? Thank you, then let's just move on.
"Love Hangover" was Stephanie's choice, and Diana said she had star power. This was one of my favorite songs growing up, because it was such a sexy song for the time. She had great power to her voice, but she never really went anywhere with the song. In other words, there was a lot of hot and bother, but no real payoff. Simon felt that it was the wrong song for her, while Randy thought it was the perfect choice.
Chris R., aka JT-Alike, who I will love no matter what happens during this competition, chose "The Boss." and when he told Diana that I really thought he meant Bruce Springsteen. JT-Alike is such a crowd-pleaser. He smartly took Diana's words to heart about working the crowd, though this is always his strong point. It's a shame his physical performance outstripped his vocal one. Paula said it reminded her of "Instant Replay" by Dan Hartman. And although Simon said he was getting through on his likable personality, he called his vocals "dreadful." However, I say to you, Mr. Sourpuss, that likability goes a long way in this world.
Finally we got to see the charming Jordin sing "If We Hold on Together." I didn't recognize the song, but it was really beautiful and a good choice for her. Diana said she had an "inner light" and it was definitely shining tonight. She started softly, then built to a great ending. I didn't get chills like I do whenever Melinda sings, but I felt that after Melinda and Kiki, Jordin really stepped up to the top few rungs tonight.
Unfortunately, folks, we can send home only one person each week. And if it is not Sanjaya (look, evil website who is trying to make him win just to tick me off -
it's just not funny anymore), I fear I will burst into flames. However, there's a darn good possibility that Sanjaya will escape the wrath of me, and Brandon will instead go down in flames. I hope for the sake of the
AI pool I am in, Hula Boy is finito.
Tomorrow is the results show with Ms. Ross singing for us! Yippee! See ya back here then. And in the meantime - vote, vote, vote - get some practice for the 2008 election. Yeah, like that matters anymore....
Welcome back to the big stage for the next three months. (Did he really say that?) Tonight we celebrate the music of Diana Ross and, therefore, Motown. Diana was named something like Female Entertainer of Forever and I always loved her. Immediately noticeable was Sanjayas curly 'do (well get to that later), and Phils bare head, lampshade optional. Did you notice that when Ryan introduced the judges, he referred to them as the people who found our contestants in the first place, an obvious snarky reference to Jennifer Hudsons neglect on thanking AI in her Oscar speech. Simon mentions that this stage will either make or break the contestants. Unfortunately, it will only break one of them at a time, and after tonights show, I can count at least five people who are broken and need to go home. Ryans suit was just weird, and the vest did not seem to fit. The man cant weigh a buck fiddy, so where did he find a vest that was...