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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

 

American Idolatry: Mack The Knife, Haley The Slut

The special guest geezer this week is Tony Bennett, which means, of course, that the American Idol finalists will be serenading us with 1940's standards. It is, of course, pandering to the older demographics who support the show (it's not all teen girls voting, folks), but singing the music of Ella, Frank, and Sammy does have a useful purpose -- these songs require more breath support, fuller tones, and sophisticated phrasing than modern pop does. In effect, tonight we can learn who really has the goods, technically. (Of course, in the Era of Sanjaya, perhaps that's not really important anymore.) Here's the liveblog rundown:

Blake Lewis: Well, Blake had to show his weakness sooner or later...beatboxing and rasta arrangements can only cover so much. Trying to copy Bobby Darin's retro styling on a carbon copy version of "Mack The Knife", the only people impressed were those who never heard Bobby Darin. (And apparently, that includes Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, both of whom I'm convinced want to fuck the little blond twink senseless.) I'm sure Blake is safe, but savvy watchers will now realize he's vulnerable.

Phil Stacey: Old bug eyes is back! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Vamping through Cole Porter's "Night and Day" (which is a sacred hymn in the ModFab household), Phil completely oversang this fragile paean to yearning, belting it to the back row of the theater instead of paying attention to the lyrics. Randy called him out over his lack of personal passion, which is required in a song like this. (Paula called him a "young Frank Sinatra," which is the most ridiculous thing ever said on an Idol broadcast.) Phil made a brilliant save in the post-song banter with Ryan, mentioning his love for his smiling wife (cut to her in the audience...wow, that wasn't pre-planned at all!) Such crap playing to the camera, which we will heretofore call "doing the Sanjaya," might actually save Phil this weekend.

Melinda Doolittle: After a few lackluster weeks, Melinda brought back the "A" game this week, kicking Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" all around the stage with power, pizzazz, and a flawless stage presence. She reminded us why she is light-years above the rest of the competition...a world-class professional already, just waiting for the big break. Let us hope the Idol voters give her that break in the finals. (And the new hairstyle is fabulous!)

Chris Richardson: Whatever virtues Chris has, they lie in modern music-making...a product of the boy-band generation, his thin, reedy, fluttering voice is suited for lite R&B. Which is a big problem when you're trying to make it through a big, broad period number like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Yes, the teen girls and gay men will continue to scream for him no matter whether he's good or bad, but he's simply Not. All. That. Randy and Paula, as usual, overpraised the performance (perhaps they can have sex with Chris and Blake together, in a fourgy?), which will convince enough people to keep him in the competition. If I were Haley Scarnato at this point in the show, I'd be pretty terrified...no one's fucked up badly yet, and only Phil is vulnerable.

Jordin Sparks: I know that Jordin got some haters in the comments last week, but honestly, I can't see why anyone doesn't like this girl. She turned up a charming song, "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," with perfect tone and phrasing, complete with the strongest money notes of the evening at the end. Simon got a little pissy about the song not being current...but fuck Simon, it's Tony Bennett Week, he's Nearly Dead For Chrissakes, if you want current have them sing Amy Winehouse. (Yeah!) To quote one of my favorite movies: Jordin is the poo, so take a big whiff.

Gina Glocksen: Somehow, Tony Bennett suggested that "Smile" is a 9/11 metaphor...I don't get it. Like Chris and Blake, a night dedicated to standards doesn't play to Gina's rocker-girl strengths. (She also had a boufant-and-braids hair tragedy of near-Sanjaya proportions.) But I think she did better than either of the boys, keeping it controlled and subtle. I don't think she's in much danger, but it isn't her style, and that can get dangerous fast if everyone else does well.

Sanjaya Malakar: No faux-hawks this week...his hair was slicked back, topping a white suit that made him look like a third-rate drug runner from Miami. He did the distraction thing again by dancing with Paula in the middle of "Cheek to Cheek" (get it?), and the judges praised him for being such a freak. Again, the show has completed eliminated any discussion of his actual singing; he remains the only contestant who is consistently off-pitch, and his breath support, especially in the lower register, is inexcusable. But like Simon, I guess it doesn't matter, does it? He gets a free pass because he's the biggest freak at the circus. I wonder if America will ever get its dignity back...because if Sanjaya really ends up our American Idol, the Idol of America...well, perhaps the terrorists were right about us all along.

Haley Scarnato: Another week, another slutty dress from Haley...and a slutty song to go with it, "Ain't Misbehavin'." I realize I may sound like Simon here, but watching her perform, my thought was "she'd be perfect in the cocktail lounge at the airport hotel." She did her best to crank it up towards the end, but in a competition that includes Melinda, Jordin and LaKisha, she's never going to win the Belter of the Week Award. The judges went easy on her, although they clearly didn't like the performance. I think she and Phil are now officially in a race to go home tomorrow...perhaps a photo finish.

LaKisha Jones: I thought that LaKisha singing the Lena Horne standard "Stormy Weather" would be an automatic home run...and while it was good, I'm not sure it was great. She struggled to find the key at the beginning, and she roughed up the sweetness of the melody with some bluesy inflections. She's clearly going on past this week, however. Don't doubt it.

Best of Night: Melinda Doolittle
Bottom Three Prediction: Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato, and Phil Stacey
Getting Cut On Wednesday: Phil Stacey (alternate: Haley Scarnato)
Previously on ModFab: Simon Says, Women Who Wowed, When Goth Chicks Ruled The Universe, The Sanjaya Conundrum, You're A Heartbreaker, Bye Bye Barba!, Gender Blending, To Simon With Love, Not Feeling Hella Good

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