April 3, 2007

"American Idol" -- the final 9.

Tony Bennett is the guest celeb and the songs are the old standards. We're watching from a hotel room overlooking Town Lake here in Austin, Texas. At some point it will be sundown from the point of view of the bats that roost on the underside of the bridge over there -- Congress Avenue Bridge -- and I plan to dash out onto the balcony and see what that's like. Meanwhile, I'll be checking out "Bat Boy" (Phil Stacey) and the rest of the kids.

1. Blake Lewis sings "Mack the Knife." The 80-year-old Tony Bennett tells him, "This song is pretty rap." He gets through the lyrics and makes it acceptably snazzy if slightly tentative.

2. Phil Stacey is doing "Night and Day." Tony assures us he's a "good singer." He slows it way down. He's trying to convey meaning. There's a hungry burning, yearning inside of him, and he wants to spend the entire 24-hour period of every day for the rest of his life having sexual intercourse. It's an interesting proposition. Randy doesn't feel any passion. Paula needs him to have more joy. Simon: "It had all the joy of somebody singing in a funeral parlor... completely and utterly gloomy and really dark." Oooh, Bat Boy's bald head is gleaming with sweat as he assures us he was focusing on his wife.

3. Melinda Doolittle sings "I Got Rhythm." She's got daisies in green pastures. She does the song in three distinct phases, each more exciting than the one before. She ends really big. As usual, they love her.

4. Chris Richardson picks "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Tony's advice is: Remember the lyrics. "You came out there with a vengeance... that was very cool and young and hip," says Randy. Paula -- as she's been doing all night -- repeats Randy's points. It was young and hip.

5. Jordin Sparks sings on key, which Tony Bennett really loves. She's doing "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Terrific, I think. "Some fire going on here... You're like a pro and you're 17," says Randy. "You really are this magnet of joy," says Paula, who's "proud of" her. Simon notes that unlike Chris, she failed to make it young. He didn't "like it as much as Squidly and Diddly over here."

6. Gina Glockson is singing "Smile." She's the one contestant who seems deeply moved at meeting Tony Bennett. And Tony Bennett talks about the song, which he says makes him think about 9/11 and the soldiers fighting in Iraq. "Smile through your fear and sorrow...." Paula praises her for being "sentimental," which she thinks is a compliment.

7. Sanjaya Malakar has the goal of making us see that he really can sing. The song is "Dancing Cheek to Cheek." The hair is slicked down and sleek (rhymes with "cheek"). He dances with Paula. Randy: "You've turned into a great entertainer." Paula: "I get why people love you." Simon tries a different tack and says it was great. [ADDED: The point is, Simon doesn't like Sanjaya, and in past weeks he's told us so, yet Sanjaya has stayed on. To try to oust him, Simon is praising him. But since he's tipping his hand, it's not a serious strategy. Just some humor.]

8. Hayley Scarnato does "Ain't Misbehavin'" kinda atrociously. Surely, this is the performance that deserves the phrase -- used every week -- "all over the place." But she's got a pulchritudinous dress. That's got to have some effect. Simon's opinion of the performance is: "I think you've got great legs."

9. Saved for last and thus presumably the best, LaKisha Jones. "If she hits that big note at the end, it will be good," says Tony. The song is "Stormy Weather." She violates his advice and does a fancy thing at the end. "A sassy, great performance," says Simon.

Well, we didn't really get to see any bats. They seem to be off on migration. I take it as an omen that Bat Boy will be gone too. They made the poor boy's head sweat.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Cowell called Sanjaya "incredible." I agree.

JF said...

I thought Tony B. said "Mack the Knife" was pre- (not pretty) rap

Cedarford said...

mrbuddwing is right. And Sanjaya being "incredible" was in the snotty, sarcastic British sense of the word.

Blake and Chris did great for the guys. Original, fresh stuff.
Melinda was again near-perfect. Jordin and LaKisha almost at her level.

Gina I think was the one who took a good risk, went out of character and style and delivered a fine, non-gal rocker soloist standard.

Phil and Haley, we'll see you clutching and hugging one another tomorrow wondering who is finished.

My worry is that the 3 big black gals with great voices may dilute the vote that would go to one such talent. I will be ticked if LaKisha is voted off as "non-idol looking" material before teenybopper idol Sanjaya is. But none of the big black 3 have to worry this week.

Unknown said...

Is anyone else getting tired of Seacrest's petty comments?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I've taken to calling Sanjaya Malakar "Sanjaya Mallomar" because of his milk chocolate covering on nothing but marshmallowy fluff. Plus it sounds similar. And he's a cute cookie.

Ann Althouse said...

JF: Sorry I don't have access to my TiVo to check that out. It made sense to me to say that "Mack the Knife" could be thought of as sort of a rap song. But "pre-rap" or "pretty rap" could both mean that.

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

"Pulchritudinous." It's like William F. Buckley's word of the day!

You are our conservative blogress diva, you are. You are!

Joan said...

I love Melinda and think she is a fabulous, fantastic singer and performer. But I'm getting very tired of her continuing surprise whenever she is complimented on how well she sings. How many weeks has she been in this competition now? And how many weeks have they been telling her how spectacular she is? I'm sorry, but I'm ready to vote against her because she still doesn't appear to believe it! It's getting old, so old, in fact, that I'm starting to think it's an act, and an act that is going on a bit too long. She is such an accomplished actress during her songs that I can well believe that the little shy girl thing she's doing when she's not singing is an act as well. (I know, saying all that makes me a horrible person, but why shouldn't I be honest about how a reality tv show contestant is coming across to me? It's not like Melinda will be reading this.)

I thought Sanjaya actually gave his best singing performance tonight -- not that he's as good as Blake or Chris, but he can actually sing, and he did a nice finish. Plus, his hairstyle did not annoy me too much at all.

Unfortunately, the judges all pegged Hayley's performance perfectly: looked fabulous! Sounded? Who cares!

I hated LaKisha's arrangement of "Stormy Weather" -- that was really a mess in the beginning, but she pulled it out in the middle only to tank it at the end with the irrelevant "Ain't no sunshine" tag. Listen to Tony Bennett, you silly girl!

Last, I love Tony and will actually make an effort to hear his performance tomorrow. Usually on the elimination shows I just fast-forward through (or wait until Ann blogs about it) to see who got kicked off.

XWL said...

The four guys left in the competition (Phil, Sanjaya, Chris, and Blake) would make the oddest (but probably successful) boy band ever.

And random thought, if Disney has any brains, they'll snap up Melinda for the singing voice for the lead in this film, immediately (before her price jumps up).

And Hayley was a chartreuse encased chanteuse displaying her vertiginous decolletage in pulchritidinous glory (too bad her singing isn't up to her appearance).

Patm said...

I agree this is probably Phil Stacey's last stand. He wasn't horrible, but he's more difficult to look at and take seriously every week. He just never looks comfortable on stage.

Haley was a disaster. Seems shes figured out that if she does a chest thrust and a bump in each song, she'll survive.

Is LaKisha incapable of ever taking the advice of the "mentors"? Girlfriend has an issue with that.

Dad said...

Joan, good analysis. I've been thinking the same thing about Melinda for weeks. She is fabulous on stage but I'm tired of that "Who, me?" expression. She is, I believe 29 y/o.

I wonder where Hicks and Mcphee would fall in this year's competition. There are several women this year who, IMHO, are a notch or two above them.

Doug said...

I only saw full performances of the last couple since, but from the clips they showed at the end, I though Melinda's was the best. I am not crazy about the faces she makes while she sings, but she sounded great.

On the other side of the coin, Haley looked great. I actually thought Sanjaya didn't sound too bad. The slicked hair looks better than his normal girly do. I wonder what is next with his hair, if they do a country music theme, is he going to get a mullett and sing Achey Breaky Heart?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Joan and Dad: I agree with you about the faux surprise on Melinda. [Althouse mentioned it a couple weeks ago with the "Ugly Betty" vibe she was picking up.] I also agree Lekeisha should've taken Tony Bennett's advice about the end of the song.

Joan said...

Oh, so that's what Ann meant when she said Melinda Doolittle is giving off an "Ugly Betty" vibe.

Since I've never watched "Ugly Betty" I had no idea what she was getting at -- thanks for clearing that up.

John Burgess said...

I'd like to thank Ann for the 'bat boy' reference as it made me realize with just whom I was trying liken Phil. It's Nosferatu!