Okay, this is the perfect show for me. The songs are the British Invasion songs, with Peter Noone tutoring the boys and LuLu for the girls. I love Peter Noone, let me say, so I'm really happy. I'm unashamed to say I was a huge Herman's Hermits fan. LuLu, I couldn't care less about, but in the first segment, we see her helping Hayley Scarnato, giving her really precise, quality instruction.
1. Simon leers horribly at Hayley, who's wearing heels, hot pants, and a silky backless top that's attached to her torso with a wacky amount of double-stick tape. She sings "Tell Him" and stomps all over the stage, up and down the stairs. She does not trip and fall, so okay.
2. Chris Richardson sings "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," and follows the melody -- the great melody -- the way Peter Noone told him to.
3. LuLu looks like my sister. I was trying to figure out who it was she reminded me of. And Stephanie Edwards reminds Lulu of Beyoncé. Stephanie sings "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." It's hard not to think about how beautifully Dusty Springfield sang this song. By contrast, Stephanie's singing is clunky and heavy-handed. But they're praising everyone today, and I'm sure they'll like her too. They've revealed that tonight is especially important, because they're eliminating the eleventh person, and the top ten get to go on tour. Actually, they are hard on her. Simon: "I think you are losing your edge... you're losing your soul."
4. Blake Lewis -- my personal favorite -- sings a song I love: "Time of the Season." He sings it much like the Zombies original, and the beat box thing imitates the original instrumentation. He gets a ton of praise for making the song sound contemporary, which just mystifies me. It was just like the original, but not as good.
5. LaKisha Jones sings a crappy song: "Diamonds Are Forever." She's a good singer, but she didn't belt it out like Shirley Bassey, and she didn't do something else interesting with it. Simon complains that she looks 50 years older than her age. Her problem is already that she seems old.
6. Phil Stacey wails "Tobacco Road" and seems kind of Bo Bice-y. But not as profound. [ADDED: And he reminds us of Bat Boy.]
7. Jordin Sparks emotes "I Who Have Nothing," a melodramatic song I've never liked. Tom Jones did it, and it really is more of a man's song, all about how the other guy buys "you" diamonds and takes "you" to fancy restaurants, while the singer just has some big love to share. Or so he claims.
8. The incredibly cute youngster Sanjaya tells Peter Noone he's torn between two songs. One is "You Really Got Me," and there's just nothing at all better than the early Kinks. But the other is Herman's Hermits' first hit "I'm Into Something Good." It's inexpressibly adorable to see the kid Sanjaya sing Peter's own song to him. Peter says Sanjaya looks more like one of Herman's Hermits than one of the Kinks, but advises him to go with the Kinks and "really get into it." He picks the Kinks. They keep showing a 12-year-old girl in the audience who's crying like a Beatles fan at "The Ed Sullivan Show." He's sort of shout-singing and running all over the place and at one point he just completely shouts "You got me so I can't sleep at night!" and it's really quite perfect. Simon: "I think the little girl's face says it all." Ryan sends Sanjay down to give the girl a hug. Very sweet!
9. Gina Glocksen is asked how she's holding up, and she talks about the stress, including "critiques that we see on blogs and everything." (Hi, Gina! Have I said anything mean about you?) The song is "Paint It Black." LuLu gets her to raise the key a half step and advises her to "devour" it. Gina really is the best rocker chick they've ever had on the show, and I'm not just saying that because I think she might read this. I said it before.
10. Chris Sligh is doing "She's Not There," one of the very best 60s songs. (Only The Zombies get picked twice tonight.) He enters walking through the audience and really obviously fails to interact with the girls reaching out to him. He practically brushes them away. I think the tone is not that pretty and he's not soulful enough. He needs to be better.
11. They save Melinda Doolittle for last, which signals that she's best. I'm tired of the way they keep presenting her as the best. It's too unsubtle. Let us decide! She's doing the musical comedy song from "Oliver!": "As Long As He Needs Me." This is famous for being just about the least feminist song ever. She's sitting on the edge of the stage, which, in the language of the show means, deep and meaningful. She sings the first line so it sounds like "as long as she needs me." There's also that line "I'll Klingon steadfastly." Man, I hate this song. Have you seen "Oliver!"? The character is an abused woman, manifesting the ultimate in Abused Woman Syndrome. And couldn't you have found a real British Invasion song instead of this mawkish, politically incorrect showtune?
So who might go home? Maybe poor Gina. Possibly Chris or Phil or Stephanie. It would viewed as upsetting if LaKisha got the boot, but, really, if it happens, it will be because of that draggy song and the way too old-looking bright green cocktail dress. If I had to bet on one person to stay though, it would be the supremely adorable Sanjaya (even if he's actually the worst singer).