"She has no range," says Barry Manilow about Mandisa. He means that she can sing well throughout her large range. Apparently, he uses words to mean the opposite of what they mean. Tonight should be amusing, with Barry guiding the kids through the songs of the 1950s. And Mandisa was thrilling! "A very sexy performance... like a great stripper's song," says Simon. "I absolutely loved it."
Bucky Covington sings the great Buddy Holly hit "Oh Boy," and Simon calls it "a pointless karaoke performance," which makes John come out and say "That's true of every 'American Idol' performance," and I'm all, "Did you hear Mandisa? Do you want to hear Mandisa?" Answer: "No."
"You give me fever... fever all through the night." Paris Bennett, she's 17, people. Barry's uneasy with that. But she does it well.
Chris Daughtry -- my favorite -- sings "I Walk the Line." Wow! The judges don't wheel out their stock phrase "You made it your own," but in this case, he really did. He got all alternative, really Ed Kowalczyk, I think. Simon: "You are the first artist we've had on the show who's actually refused to compromise." Ha! Who is most insulted by that line? I'm going to say Bo Bice. [UPDATE: Reading Television Without Pity, I see that Live actually did a version of "I Walk the Line." At least last week, when Chris did the Chili Peppers version of "Higher Ground," the band was mentioned. I tend to think that Live was mentioned in the practice session, but edited out for the show, so I wouldn't accuse Chris of wrongly taking credit.][IN THE COMMENTS: The question is raised whether Chris did the Live version, which I have never listened to myself. Nevertheless, I think it's damned strange that Chris's version made me think of the lead singer of Live if he wasn't doing the Live version! Admittedly, both guys have bald heads and sing in the grunge mode.]
Katharine McPhee, they love her. I thought it was a little screetchy and unsubtle, but she's good, and she's very pretty.
Barry gives some insight into what's so exciting about Taylor Hicks: he sings way high, but it doesn't sound like it's high. Hicks is doing a Buddy Holly song too: "Not Fade Away." "My love is bigger than a Cadillac."
Lisa Tucker is in serious danger, I think. She's too young to make enough of an impression in this group. When she tries really hard -- and she does -- she ends up seeming like a little hypercharged robot. I like the song, "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?," but I hear the original playing in my head, and by comparison, she seems weak.
Oh, but wait, there's still Kevin Covais. He needs to go soon. And yet, he does amuse us so much. Aw, but he sang "When I Fall in Love" so sweetly (after Barry told him to be vulnerable, and he got it). Even Simon accepts this. Poor Lisa!
Elliott Yamin. He sings "Teach Me Tonight." It's very complex and difficult, and he sings it quite well. How far can he go if he is the best singer, but the worst looking?
Barry Manilow doesn't know the song "Walking After Midnight"! Bizarre! It's Kellie Pickler's song tonight. Barry tries to get her to find the deep emotional meaning in the song, and she doesn't really find it. But they all love her.
Ace Young strains desperately through "In the Still of the Night." They're trying to help him. They've put him last, and they've found a 7-year-old girl to introduce him. He does a sweet long falsetto "niiiiiiightttt" at the end that might just save him.
Summary: Lisa's leaving.
ADDED: I just want to say how much I like Barry Manilow. Not his music, which isn't to my taste, but him as a person. Unlike Stevie Wonder and various other guests, he did not do the show to get the kids to sing his songs, and he took his role as a music teacher seriously. He really analyzed each performance and came up with concrete help and never seemed to be at all about self-promotion. I know you could say that this nice-guy thing is just his gimmick, but if it is, it works well, and maybe more people ought to try it.