I don’t know whether I like or hate watching the girls on American Idol. On the one hand, they’re way, way, way better than the guys, and therefore more entertaining. But on the other hand, it’s so obvious which women will be advancing that it’s slightly a chore to sit through such predictable performances. I guess the real suspense comes from those second-tier wannabes — Alaina, Antonella, Haley, and Leslie. Will they ever improve enough to earn a reprieve? Probably not. However, at least they were all better than their miserable performances last week (although, to be honest, I thought Leslie wasn’t that awful last week). Enough babbling though. Recap of the girls’ performances AND the elimination show after the jump…I could start off this recap talking about the Randy and his technicolor paisley shirt, or I could mention Paula’s strange brown velvet gettup, but I’d rather just get right into the action because there’s lot to discuss and not a lot of time before the next episode. Anyway, the first singer up was Gina Glocksen, who dedicated her song to her boyfriend, Joe. “He’s my little punk rocker wannabe!” she said, clearly dashing his punk rock hopes in one fell swoop. Anyway, Gina decided to tackle “Alone” by Heart, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that song, I would have stayed away from it, only because Carrie Underwood so expertly pulled it off on her season.
Nevertheless, Gina launched into the song, and while she started off unevenly, Gina eventually got into the groove, and by the time she hit the power chorus, A.J. Tabaldo already had his arms in the air, waving them about with the smiley glee we’ve come to expect from him. Overall, I liked Gina, but she wasn’t great, and I think she was slightly better last week. Randy also had a so-so response to Gina. He liked the song choice but cited her for being pitchy in spots. Paula, meanwhile, gushed “Excellent job,” and Simon noted that while the song choice was good, some of the vocals felt forced. Plus, he thought she was presenting a confusing image. Here she was a tough, edgy girl but all her songs were sappy hits from Lite-FM. On this point, Randy and Paula vehemently disagreed with Simon. Heart is rock, they contended, clearly never having heard “Alone.” Look, I love “Alone.” It’s a staple on my Cheesy ’80s playlist. But it’s not rock, despite Heart’s classic rock roots. I couldn’t even imagine what Randy would say about “These Dreams.” He’d probably label it death metal.
Next up was Alaina, who proudly asserted that she could really, really, really identify with her song this week, which had me assuming she’d be singing the classic tune, “I AM AWFUL.” Unfortunately, she opted to go with the Dixie Chicks’ recent award winning anthem, “Not Ready To Make Nice,” which turns out to be not such a powerful song when it’s sung by a mousy wannabe. The good news for Alaina was that she was way, way, way better than last week, and for a while, she seemed to be on the road towards total redemption. However, she got caught up in the song and totally drowned out by the backup singers, ultimately clocking in with another forgettable performance.
Randy informed her that it started off well… for the first few bars. But then the tuning and pitch disappeared by the chorus, causing him to finally state, “It was a mess for me.”
“Really?” Alaina asked with the sort of smug entitlement that has driven me bonkers (in a bad way) since she first appeared in the auditions. Even more amusing was the sour reaction of her friend, whose little knit cap made her look like some long lost Amish girl who’d accidentally wandered into the audience.
“This has ruined my Rumspringa!”
Anyway, Paula also said Alaina’s pitch was off, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. She told the girl that the performance was way better than last week, and not nearly as bad as Randy had said. You’d think Alaina would be happy to receive Paula’s rote compliments, but instead, she just tensed all up, furious that anyone would DEIGN to critique her! She sang a Dixie Chicks song, dammit! And it was about protest and empowerment! That automatically meant she was amazing, right???
“It was like Randy taking part in a hundred meter sprint,” Simon then offered up. “Three quarters of the way through the race he’d run out of steam.” Well, this was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back (and she does kind of look like a very pretty camel). When Ryan took the stage, Alaina asked the judges how she could improve, but unlike last week when she asked out of desperation and keen interest, this time she merely flapped her arms and irritably asked, “What do you guys suggest?” as if she had exhausted all her options for self-improvement. You got a better idea? BECAUSE ALAINA WOULD CERTAINLY LIKE TO KNOW!
“What? You’re saying bad things to ME???”
“They clearly don’t realize what a star I am!”
Next up was LaKisha Jones, who was looking more like Mandisa 2007 than ever before. Her hair was all did up (pretty awfully, I might add), and she was sporting the sort of baggy poncho/sweater that Mandisa herself most certainly would have leapt at given the chance. Anyway, LaKisha dedicated her song to her grandma Ruth, who at 90 was a firecracker in a walker. Grandma Ruth was the best, and she looked great too. Here’s to hoping she makes an appearance in the audience next week.
Anyway, LaKisha rocked her way through a solid, albeit slightly uninspiring, rendition of “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Don’t get me wrong — she was great; however, it’s tough to top last week, and on top of that, she didn’t really let her voice truly soar in the same way. Still, the song was spirited and fun, and Randy announced, “That was hot!” Paula unsurprisingly cooed, “I loved it. And I love you.” And Simon noted, “You are a phenomenally good singer.” However, he too thought it wasn’t as great as last week. He advised that she needed to act like a diva, be like a big star. He also trashed her outfit, which honestly, was very deserving of such criticisms. Of course, Ryan and Paula hounded Simon for being a “fashion expert,” but I didn’t really see what was wrong with him attacking LaKisha’s weird miniskirt. Simon may not be a designer, but he, like us, can always tell when things have gone awry. (Unlike Randy and his paisley wonderland of a shirt).
Well, we were in for a treat: the double bill of LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle. That’s right, our favorite little Backup Singer Who Could took the stage and dedicated her song to her best friends, whom she collectively calls her “Gayles.” You see, they were sort of like the Gayle Kings to her Oprah — mostly in that they were sidekicks who owed everything in life to Melinda, apparently. Anyway, LaKisha’s sidekicks seemed to do everything for her — one was a vocal coach, another was her stylist. The latter “Gayle” apparently was so entrusted in her responsibilities that she actually had created a book that would inform Melinda what to put on every day. Normally, I’d think that was kind of pathetic or high maintenance, but coming from Melinda, it just seemed slightly awesome.
Even more awesome, however, was her singing. Melinda absolutely hit a grand slam with her sophisticated, jazzy take on “My Funny Valentine.” Despite wearing a random business suit (Gayle #2 was slackin’), Melinda totally commanded the stage. So what if she looked like she might break out into a Powerpoint demonstration at any second. She hit every note beautifully and showed the sort of mature control and skill that we’ve come to love from her. When she hit the high notes, I got chills (and so did AJ whose hands were once again flailing in the air). Even Chris Richardson couldn’t help celebrating the pure awesomeness of the performance with his little faux-JT clap he does off on the side.
When the song was over, Randy announced, “Melinda Doolittle came out here tonight to win it. That was unbelievable! You made the mark tonight! You are the one to beat!” Paula was similarly blown away, bestowing the highest praise she could give: “I applaud you.”
As for Simon, he wasn’t about to break rank. “THAT was incredible,” he said. “I think for me, the without question the best vocal we’ve had through the competition.” He then dissed all the less talented folk, calling them “precocious little monsters” and said that Melinda was “a breath of fresh air.” Yay Melinda! May you bring the pantsuit back into style!
For every high, however, there is a low. And so came Antonella Barber onto the stage, preparing to sing “Because You Love Me.” She certainly looked hot and appeared more confident, but I wasn’t sure why she’d tackle Celine when so many other girls had been reamed for taking on the grand divas. Nevertheless, Antonella tearfully dedicated this song to her brother Vincenzo, saying that she absolutely loved him more than anything else in the world. Yeah, whatevs! He probably blackmailed her into saying that so he wouldn’t leak more photos onto the internet.
Oh, I kid! Vincenzo looked like a nice guy. Anyway, Antonella started singing, and while she was waaay better than last week, she still had a long ways to go before she could gain America’s respect. This time around, she seemed to be racing through the song, the lyrics warbling out of her mouth faster than music could keep up with. To be fair, she wasn’t as totally tone deaf as last week, and she even managed to hit some high falsetto notes; so she should get credit for that, but based on the listless arm waving by the audience, we could tell she wasn’t exactly rocking the stage.
Afterwards, I thought she’d get mediocre reviews, but the judges reamed her. Randy said the song was completely wrong, the pitch was all over the place, and the aspirations too big. Like Alaina before her, Antonella copped an immediate attitude, annoyed that she’d have to be subjected to this ridicule a second week in a row. Paula was kinder, saying she’d made astronomical leaps and bounds since last week, but Simon brought the hate back by saying the vocals weren’t good enough and more shockingly that this was worse than last week. I had to disagree with him on that one. This performance, while not great by any means, was certainly better than the Aerosmith trainwreck we all witness last Wednesday. Ultimately, Antonella honed her inner Jersey girl and snapped back, “Simon was wrong about Jennifer Hudson.” MEEEOW! This seemed to truly upset Mr. Cowell, and he bitterly reminded Antonella and the audience that the judges didn’t kick her out, America did. FOOLISH IS THE GIRL WHO TRIES TO SEPARATE SIMON FROM OSCAR GLORY!
Luckily for Antonella, it appears as though the worst of the Internet scandal has passed (which would have been the case even sooner had anyone bothered to observe that Antonella’s boobs were about ten times bigger than the tiny pyramids on display in the blowjob pictures. But I digress — I promised my friend I’d mention that in the recap).
Next up was Jordin Sparks, who also dedicated the song to her little brother PJ. She began bawling in her video, saying how much she loved him and that she just wanted him to have a chance to shine one day much in the way she was shining right now. Ugh. So cheesy (as I blot the tears away with a tissue).
Anyway, I’m a big fan of Jordin Sparks, but her performance was not so great. The worst way to dispel that squeaky-clean, Mickey Mouse club image is to sing a song from Mulan, which is exactly what she did. On top of that, her voice was all shaky, and if it weren’t for her occasional moments of belting it out, she probably would have been raked over the coals by the judges. However, she did have enough power notes to earn positive notices, and as she cried on stage (still thinkin’ about PJ’s chance to shine!), Randy complimented her for being so amazing at such a young age, despite some pitchy moments. Paula commented, “YOu are one brilliant, talented girl,” and just when I thought Simon would bash her for her uneven singing, he instead called her excellent compared to other singers, despite this not being her best performance. Note to self: always cry in front of the judges.
Next up was Stephanie Edwards — the girl you always forget about, but when she sings, you say, “Damn! She’s good! I gotta remember her!” Anyway, Ryan asked her if the vibe with the girls was friendly or competitive, and of course, she had to say friendly. Simon didn’t believe it for one second, and when asked to comment on Simon’s thoughts, Paula did her patented awkward stare, stutter, and blurt: “WHATEVER!” she said. I wasn’t sure if she was doubting Stephanie or Simon, but it was classic Abdul nonetheless.
Anyway, Stephanie dedicated her song to her parents, who apparently dragged her to the auditions despite her reluctance. We could practically hear them muttering, “MUST… LIVE… VICARIOUSLY!!!”
Well, as expected, Stephanie was really good once again. She wasn’t a power singer like Melinda or LaKisha, but she had tons of personality. Basically, she was like Beyoncé to Melinda’s J-Hud, which would kind of make sense because Stephanie was actually singing a Beyoncé song.
The judges loved her once again, with Randy warning her not to be too copycat of Beyoncé. Paula thought she was brilliant and lovable, and Simon, shockingly, admitted that he agreed with Paula. “I thought it was a terrific performance,” he noted. Too bad we had to sully the moment with back-to-back songs by Leslie Hunt and Haley Scarnato next. Ugh.
First up was Leslie Hunt, the goofy dog walker who I don’t think is the worst of the bottom-feeders, but I doubted she’d be making it to the top twelve. Anyway, she dedicated her performance to her late grandpa Bob and then began singing something that sounded very, very familiar. Why, it was almost as if A.J. Tabaldo had sung the same song just the night before… That’s right, Leslie decided to tackle the exact same Nina Simone song, and while she wasn’t quite as good as AJ, she still was way better than the week before. For some reason, I enjoy watching Leslie Hunt in all her goofy glory; however, her scatting left something to be desired. It sounded sort of what I imagine the Chenbot would be like if someone spilled water on her.
Anyway, Randy said the performance was on the pitchy side, labeling it with the dubious distinction of merely being “just aiiight.” Paula gave the ambiguous comment of “You being you,” and Simon said that the scat sounded like Paula judging the show: gibberish. Ooh, that was funnier than my Chenbot joke. Well played, Cowell!
The best part of all this was that guy in Leslie’s friend & family section who like the week prior had a look of total shock and frustration on his face. CALM DOWN, DUDE. Anyway, Simon told Leslie that she was getting lost in the competition, and while she as doing the best that she could, the big voices were upstaging her. Not so fast! Paula had a stern rebuttal: “We all like different flavors of ice cream, and she’s a different flavor that’s unique!” She then added, “My favorite flavor of ice cream is sparkles!”
Shockingly, Simon took Paula’s metaphor and ran with it: “There were four raspberry ripples, and that was a vanilla.” Truth be told, I wouldn’t have any of those flavors. Chocolate fudge brownie, baby.
Speaking of flavors, if I had to assign the next singer a place in the ice cream parlor, it would be in the rocky road bin. Yes, it was time for Haley Scarnato, the cabaret warbler who regaled us with a campy (and off-tune) Celine performance last week. She dedicated this week’s song to her fiance Bobby, who apparently was having difficulty with Haley being so far away from home (ie. Gold’s Gym). “He’s not good with me being away,” Haley said, adding, “HE BEATS ME SAVAGELY!” Okay, I kid. She didn’t say that. However, what Haley did say was that she wanted to prove that she wasn’t just some old lady singing Celine Dion dirges. No, she was a fun, sassy gal who could mix it up with the best of them, and as such, she was going to tackle an upbeat Whitney Houston song. Sounded promising enough. Too bad Haley chose the worst upbeat Whitney Houston song: “Queen of the Night.” Seriously, she had “So Emotional”, “How Will I Know”, and “I Wanna Dance With Someone” to choose from, and she picked “Queen of the Night?” Yech. At least pick “I’m Your Baby, Tonight,” or, if you’re really desperate, “My Love Is Your Love!” But not “Queen of the Night!” It’s not right, and it’s not okay!
Okay, I actually don’t care that much about the song. I just felt like referencing several Whitney Houston songs for no real reason. Anyway, Haley was much better than her Celine performance, but she still wasn’t anything amazing. As Randy noted, there were more background parts than lead vocals in the song. Paula thought it was an improvement, and Simon said, “A for effort.” However, he told her it was manic, verging on insane, and because it was a Whitney song, it just made her look all the worse. Cut to Haley’s face which was filled with both rage and tears. Oh how she wanted to strangle Simon. Sorry, it’s not his fault you picked a dumb song that stiffed on the radio charts ten years ago.
Last but not least was Sabrina Sloan who proved to be a big surprise last week. She too decided to go for a Whitney Houston song, but unlike Haley, she opted for a ballad. Seemed kind of strange considering Sabrina had so wisely avoided the slow songs last week. Anyway, Sabs dedicated the song to “grammy” and then endeavored to take on “All The Man That I Need.” Unfortunately, she wasn’t nearly as good as last week, thanks to her voice which seemed fairly pitchy for long stretches. The performance wound up on the shrill side, and while it wasn’t awful, it certainly was a disappointing step backwards. The reviews were warm, if not overly enthusiastic. “Very nice one overall,” Randy said. “You are fantastic,” Paula added. “Very good,” Simon noted. Everyone agreed that last week was better, and Simon said, “Don’t confuse power with shouting.” Hopefully, she’d be back on track next week…
Don’t keep reading if you don’t want the results spoiled!
Since I fell behind in my recapping, I opted to simply lump the results into this post rather than post a whole other recap instead. Anyway, the results show started off with a group performance of “Joy To The World.” It was sweet and pleasant — like a joyous performance at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Sundance was clearly feeling confident again, what with his shirt unbuttoned entirely too low, exposing the world to the hirsute neverland of his chest. Aaaand my hatred of him returns.
Anyway, the song was lively and whatnot, and I felt pretty bad for all those mid-level and below singers like Haley and Brandon and Antonella — not because they were overshadowed yet again, but more because they actually all sounded really good. These poor kids are about ten times better with the pressure off. Can you imagine how awesome these rounds would be if there were no nerves? Sadly (or awesomely, for me), the only person who didn’t seem to improve was Alaina, who still sounded beautifully off-key. Her dumb clap didn’t help matters either. She was so a goner. (I hoped.)
Finally, it was time for our first cuts. Ryan told us, “We’re gonna dim the lights and get right into it,” which had me wondering if he was planning on having sex with the contestants. Anyway, he had the back row of guys stand up: Phil, Chris, Sundance, Blake, and Jared. Hmmm… who could it be? Jared, sitting at the end of the row, looked to be totally screwed, and when Ryan said all the other guys were safe and then dragged the hand-humper down to the podium, it looked all but over. But it was a fakeout! Jared was saved! This could only mean bad things for Nick Pedro, the poor sap sitting at the head of the first row. Sure enough, Ryan told him to stand up aaaand go home.
I felt kind of badly. I don’t know why. Nick wasn’t great by any means, but he seemed like a really nice guy, especially with his big, goofy grin. Luckily, he’ll have his girlfriend to go back to, and now they’ll be free to go to pumpkin patches and smile all day long.
Next, it was time for a female cut, and again, Ryan had the back row rise. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this layout: Stephanie, Gina, Sabrina, Melinda, aaaand Alaina. Yeah, Alaina was so done. You knew that Ryan wasn’t going to let the last girl off the hook like Jared. He already did the end-of-the-line fakeout. Besides, the first person in the front row was LaKisha. Yup, this was looking real bad for Alaina.
As predicted, the teary-eyed thrush got the boot, which was sweet satisfaction for me. Alaina stood by Ryan, who then reminded her of all the things the judges had to say about her the night before (none of which were particularly kind). When Ryan read that Simon said she had run out of steam, a snotty Alaina sarcastically remarked, “Clever.” WTF, bitch? You DID run out of steam. Idiot.
Well, Alaina told Ryan that the whole experience had been truly amazing, and furthermore, “I want to thank everyone for voting.” Or, uh, not voting as it were. She then took to the stage one last time and attempted to sing, er, croak her way through “Not Ready To Make Nice” one last time. She was so awful that even she had to apologize multiple times for not being able to sing. I know, I know — she was choked up, but man did it sound awful. And yet, it was amazing. Thankfully, the girls all rushed out around her and gave her hugs, temporarily relieving her of croaking duties. Yes, there was crying and sobbing all around — mostly from the girls, but also from Sundance, whose tears threatened to wilt the mighty power of his trowel-esque goatee. Aaaand he’s earned at least three week’s immunity with that show of emotion.
“I think I have to take a dump.”
“If only I could grow hair on my fingertips…”
After the break, Ryan broke up the action by presenting us with this week’s retarded American Idol Challenge question: who was the big winner at the Grammys this year: Taylor, Carrie, or Reuben. Hmmm… considering the Taylor and Reuben have yet to make any sort of impact on pop culture since they’re departures from AI, I’d have to go with… Chicken Little!
Just to show that they weren’t lying, Ryan then introduced us to last week’s winner of the American Idol Challenge, and GOOD GOD! What is that beast in the front row??? Oh, it’s just the guy who won. And yes, he lived up to scary Internet stereotypes: fat, hairy, bespectacled, unseemly, and suffering from mangled teeth. The women next to him looked utterly pleased to be within his stench.
Ryan then introduced us to this week’s very special musical guest / Idol alumna: Kelly Pickler. Yes, The Pickle returned, AND HOW! Sporting a new set of fake boobs and a dumb, new hairstyle, Kelly looked like she was going on thirty-five (which was not a good thing). I know that haircut is so Nashville, but good God, it was awful. And those breasts. So distractingly huge now…
Anyway, The Pickle and Ryan had some dumb, obviously pre-planned banter about sushi, specifically Spider Sushi, which she didn’t realize wasn’t made out of spiders. Yuk yuk yuk. For all those who ever doubted Kellie’s idiocy last season, this little bit proved that she couldn’t fake her dumbness (otherwise we’d have been left with the stagey dreck that we had just witnessed. Oh, and for the record, it received no laughs).
Well, Kellie sang some song, which I fast forwarded over, and soon enough, we were back to the guys for more cuts. Chris Richardson and Brandon were safe, the latter of which surprised me (I thought he was going home). This just left AJ and Sanjaya. A pit of dread formed in my stomach. Poor AJ was so on the up-and-up, but we knew that he was no match for Sanjaya, who had an unjust legion of idiot teenybopper girls behind him. Sure enough, Sanjaya was saved by the (lack of) hair on his chinny chin chin, which meant a choked-up AJ had to say adios. This really wasn’t fair at all, but hey, it’s what makes Idol great, I guess. Paula, on her feet, announced, “Truthfully, this is a singing competition, and I don’t think tonight reflects that.” Yeah, she was talkin’ about you, Sanjaya. Or as I like to call him, Suckjaya.
Hey Suckjaya, how about you get a shirt that FITS?
Meanwhile, Randy told AJ to keep on truckin’ because this might not have been the right train for him. Do people usually truck on trains? STOP WITH THE MIXED TRANSPORTATION METAPHORS, RANDY!
Nevertheless, we saw Sundance crying yet again, and soon, it was time for the girls. With time running down, Ryan zipped through most of the bullshit, quickly saying that LaKisha and Haley (!) were safe. This left just Antonella, Leslie, and Jordin to stand up by Ryan. For a second, it looked like Antonella had reached the end of the line, but horny guys and sympathetic fans kept her around. Ryan did the whole “I’m sorry… you’re gonna have to deal with Simon again” bit, and she happily retreated to her seat, leaving just Leslie and Jordin. HMMMM. Who could it be??
Sure enough, Leslie got the axe, causing Gina Glocksen to full-on bawl in her seat. So it’s official: Nina Simone is the kiss of death. AJ and Leslie sang the exact same song, and they both went home. Beware, Idol hopefuls!
Leslie was totally Simoned!
One last thing: does anyone else not really like the use of Chris Daughtry’s “Home” for the goodbye montage. The song itself isn’t bad, but it doesn’t crescendo to anything. It’s just a lazy, acoustic piece. I, for one, AM NOT MOVED!
What did you think about the girls performances? And what about the eliminations?