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Thursday, March 08, 2007

 

American Idolatry: You're A Heartbreaker

I hate the gender-baiting that has dominated Ryan Seacrest's idiotic banter this season on American Idol, but when he's right, he's right: the women were light-years better than the men this week, offering up at least four powerhouse performances. It's clear who should go (Antonella, please pick up the white courtesy phone), but it's also becoming clear who should be the American Idol this season. Yes, a prediction is made below. You'll have to read to see who. :-)

Jordin Sparks: I love me some Jordin (she reminds me of Sara Ramirez), but her song choice -- Pat Benatar's throbbing rock anthem "Heartbreaker" -- sat on her about as comfortably as an overgrown sweater. It's meant for a woman who's known some emotional pain in her life, and the bubbly teen simply doesn't have any context for the lyrics. She can sing, though, and she's got great energy. Her potential in this competition is pretty boundless.

Sabrina Sloan: Sabrina has been a slow-burning talent this season, creeping up on viewers with strong performances and a refreshing lack of attitude. After struggling a bit with the opening verse, she found her footing and slammed home the power notes at the end of her ballad. In his analysis, Simon name-checked Sabrina in an aside, calling her one of the major competitors "alongside Melida, LaKisha and Stephanie." That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sneaky way to let viewers know exactly who should make the finals.

Antonella Barba: Oh no she fucking didn't. Oh NO, YES. SHE DID. Antonella foisted her twisted vocal pipes and lack of breath control on Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On." Rae's shimmery, simple tune was one of my favorite songs last year, which makes Antonella's whole-step-sharp notes pierce my wounded heart. And fuck me...Randy and Paula were actually nice to her! And then Simon (who did admit that she can't sing) applauded the way Antonella's "handled the media"...which got an ovation! And then Seacrest called Simon "tacky" for critiquing her voice!!!!! ARGH!!!! Why are the forces of evil lining up behind this talentless bimbo? Are these naked pictures on MySpace really that good? Is she promising blowjobs to every teenager on the Eastern Seaboard? Why? Dear God, for the love of all that's holy....WHY?

Haley Scarnato: Haley would like us to think of her as the chipper one...her bedazzled blouse and girl-next-door hairdo were friendly and cheerful, and her alt-country tune was perky. But underneath the cute look, what is inescapably evident is that she is a moderately talented singer squeezed between a few incredible talents. Like Leslie Hunt last week and Nicole Tranquillo the week before, Haley's simply a good singer who finds herself competely and utterly outclassed. Time to go home.

Stephanie Edwards: Ripping through her notes and strutting around the stage with a confidence reminiscent of Christina Aguilera, this girl was simply astonishing. Stephanie had almost no presence in the audition rounds; in three short weeks, she's ascended rapidly to a place as one of the contenders to win the whole shebang. Randy and Simon pulled the old "copycat on the original" rountine, but trust me: I am an enormous Chaka Khan fan, and Stephanie does not sound like Chaka. She's Mary J. Blige with a coquettish Jane Krakowski-like verve. I am TOTALLY into her.

LaKisha Jones: I've been critical of LaKisha in the past, and as she began singing the very difficult Whitney Houston track "I Have Nothing," I expected to be in the seventh circle of hell. But then she sang it better than Whitney Houston herself, interpreting the lyrics with real understanding of what is at stake in that song. The big notes were spot on, in tune, and belted with confidence. So maybe I'm changing my tune a little on her. (Another thing: LaKisha has clearly come to play; she was dressed to the nines in a gorgeous black cocktail dress and bling-heavy shoes, and her hair has undergone a major transformation. Wait...it looks just like Sanjaya's new 'do! What's going on here?)

Gina Glocksen: Gina is as close to a rocker as we've got this season, and she worked the grunge for all it was worth last night. Singing Evanescence in black fishnet gloves and heavy eyeliner, she was a big snarling ball of energy...an adolescent Chrissie Hynde, perhaps, or Patty Smyth: The Next Generation. Randy really bought it, loving the image and the song, though Paula was a bit ambivalent. Simon seriously went to bat for her, encouraging voters to push Gina through to the final 12. If for no other reason than for musical diversity, I hope she makes it, too.

Melinda Doolittle: Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. Even with great singers like LaKisha in the mix, Melinda is just in another league. Beyond league...she's almost on another planet. She dazzles onstage, ripples with soul. I'd buy her album tomorrow if I could. Singing "I'm a Woman" while ripping the roof off the joint, she proved incontestably that she is the best singer in the competition. If she doesn't win, it will be about looks or age or makeup or ridiculous stuff. She is the American Idol in a perfect world. We just have to see if America has the sense to recognize true talent when it sees it.

Best of Night: Melinda Doolittle (Honorable Mention: LaKisha Jones)
Getting Cut On Thursday: Antonella Barba and Haley Scarnato (alternate: Sabrina Sloan)
Previously on ModFab: Simon Says, Women Who Wowed, When Goth Chicks Ruled The Universe, The Sanjaya Conundrum

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