Doing The Diva: American Idol

by Venomous Kate

Now that dinner is out of the way (and for the curious, it was a lovely shrimp linguine tonight), it’s American Idol time again. Since I TiVo’d tonight’s episode, I figure even though I’m starting 50 minutes late, with all the commercials I get to skip I should be caught up in the next half-hour.

First observation: nice little self-congratulatory retrospective on past Idol winners. Anyone notice a certain gray-haired singer conspicuously absent from the list of strong-selling recording artists? Yeah, after suffering through his first album, I’ve done my best to forget him, too.

Ok, time to exercise the index finger to breeze past the happy talk and get straight to the performances.

Brandon “You Can’t Hurry Love”: Bad notes right off the bat. Evidently, nobody told him to look for the red light on top of the camera. Whoever the guy is in the first row that Brandon sang to most of the time must be feeling either flattered or frightened. I’d feel sorry for him for forgetting a couple of lines to the song, except he sounded better during those two brief silences than the rest of the song.

Pause for Ryan Seacrest to ask Simon if he has advice for Melinda Doolittle, who complains about wearing high heels. “You should know,” Simon retorts. To which Seacrest says, “Stay out of my closet.” Not to be topped, Simon (who may very well be back on the list after tonight) replies, “Well, then, come out!”

Pause again so I can wipe up the tea that just landed on my monitor.

Melinda “Home”: Man, I’m torn. I love Melinda’s voice, and yet I hate this song. So the fact that I enjoyed hearing her sing it says, at least to me, much about what a wonderful singer and entertainer this little powerhouse woman is. (Unfortunately, she made Paula cry. That’s not pretty.) Meanwhile, Simon compared Melinda to Gladys Knight… which probably has Dianna Ross ready to claw his eyes out and maybe even Melinda’s, too.

Chris Sligh “Endless Love”: Only curiosity made me sit through this horrible, awful, saccharine song. Hearing Chris say he’d toyed with the melody and tempo a bit piqued my curiosity. Wish I’d just spent the time making more tea. The arrangement was worse than the vocal… not that it’s going to help on the vote. (Note to Chris: Bring back the glasses!)

Gina “Love Child”: One of my long-time favorite songs sung by one of the underdogs in the competition. Although this song is even bigger than Gina’s huge voice, I’ve got to give her props for looking so very comfortable on stage… as long as you didn’t watch her face while she sang. Maybe it’s just me, but it looked like her pitchy notes were hurting her ears, too. Simon called it a ‘middle pack performance.’ The way the performances are going tonight, that might be a good thing.

Sanjaya “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”: Ok, I confess this is one of the only contestant/Diana Ross discussions I didn’t fast-forward through. I figured it would be like watching Diana and Michael Jackson hang out. I was right. Pity I didn’t have time for a shower to rid myself of the creep factor before listening to Sanjaya sing. Oh, wait. No, I’d just need a second shower anyway. The whole thing was creepy. And bad. (Did Sanjaya not understand they’re just singing Diana Ross songs this week, not actually trying to LOOK like her?)

Haley “Missing You”: Now this girl has “sultry” written all over her. But, boy, did she have an attack of nerves tonight. I liked the phrasing and, with the exception of one forgotten line, I thought it was a good performance. First time I’ve been impressed with her, as a matter of fact. I had no idea she had that kind of vocal potential, and I’ll definitely look forward to hearing what she does next week. (Yes, I’m even going to cast votes for her tonight to make that happen.)

Phil “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”: Although the vocals are nice, I suppose, I still can’t help feel as if I’m sitting in a rather decent hotel lounge listening to their house band. Then again, that might be due to how many hotel lounges I’ve sat in listening to a house band sing this same song. Pity there’s not a cute bartender here to distract me from having to listen to this song.

LaKisha “God Bless the Child”: I adore this song. Always have. Always will. It certainly says something about LaKisha’s vocal abilities when all Diana Ross wants to discuss with her is what she’ll be wearing for the performance. On the other hand, the performance was so very flawless, the only she needed help with was the dress. (It was not a flattering one.) The singing, however, was stunning!

Blake “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”: BeatBox boy dances! BeatBox Boy dresses well! BeatBox Boy did not BeatBox. BeatBox Boy messed with a song so well-loved it’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. BeatBox Boy came across as a Boy Band… without the other boys. I’ll say this: it was fun to watch. Can’t say the same about how the sound.

Stephanie “Love Hangover”: (It just dawned on me that I was roller-skating with my fourth-grade crush to this song before Stephanie was even born.) Unfortunately, I’m left once again feeling overpowered by Stephanie’s vocals without having enjoyed the song itself. It never picked up, never built. I just didn’t have any satisfaction at the end of the song… except being glad it was over.

Chris R. “The Boss”: Is it just me, or does this guy look permanently stoned? I can’t decide which I’m more tired of: watching him bounce around and do the fake double-take over his shoulder while he sings, or listening to the nasal Justin Timberlake-wannabe vocal runs. Having decided to spare myself of having to actually watch him (and therefore get dizzy), I didn’t hear anything to like.

Jordan “If We Hold On Together”: Jordan just gets prettier each week, it seems, and more talented as each week passes, too. Schmaltzy song wonderfully sung. Simon’s right: I think Jordan just turned it into a three-girl race. (Note to Stephanie: No, he didn’t include you. Pick better songs.) Wonderful performance, but please stop singing all the tunes from your childhood collection of Disney movies!

Now, if I can just get the horrid vision of Diana Ross erased from my memory before bedtime….

UPDATE: David has some thoughts. Some of them are even about American Idol!

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