The contestant pool is down to twelve, and so American Idol has moved to the garishly big stage, and the doors have been flung wide open to greet the razzing, raving, sign-bearing masses. Last night’s episode even featured a cameo from Diana Ross, who showed up (via pre-taped segments, of course) to give the contestants some endless love:
THE HIGHLIGHTS: Melinda Doolittle belted out Ross’ “Home” while dressed in a grey dress, which made her look like a really classy lady who works in an office, and who always shares the big bowl of mints on her desk with the young temp workers. She was spot-on performance-wise, prompting Simon to call her a “young Gladys Knight.” But later on in the show, Lakisha “KiKi” Jones surpassed even Melinda’s impressive effort with a gritty, nuanced, and incredibly thoughtful performance of “God Bless the Child,” prompting thousands of young viewers to Google this so-called “Billy Hollyday” woman.
THE VALLEYS LOW ENOUGH: Chris Sligh tried to bond with Diana over poofy hair, but then eviscerated “Endless Love” with a Coldplay-style arrangement and his big-old-white-dude voice. Meanwhile, despite Ms. Ross’s insistence, Gina Glocksen just couldn’t enunciate the words to “Love Child” through her tongue ring, and Randy declared Sanjaya Malakar’s off-pitch whisper performance of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to “unlistenable”–though his hair was deemed “rockin’.”
AWKWARD: After a viewer asked Melinda about the hardest part of
the contest–to which she replied “the outfits and the high heels”–the following not-so-cryptic exchange took place between Simon and Ryan:
Ryan: Simon, any advice on the high heels?
Simon: You should know, Ryan.
Ryan: Stay out of my closet!
Simon: Come out!
Ryan: This is about the top 12, okay? Not your wishes.
WHO’S THE ROSS: Diana met with the contestants one-on-one prior to their performance, providing vague advice like, “Go to your heart place.” She looked nice and sober, though.
SCHMUCKWATCH: Not only did Brandon Rogers and Haley Scarnato forget the words to “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Missing You,” respectively, they also managed to make even their memory lapses seem boring. But to Haley’s credit, she wasn’t afraid to throw out a little Yiddish in her performance post-mortem.
LITE-FM ALERT: The dentist’s office waiting room called, and Phil Stacey answered: While his performance “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” was spirited, the gauzy sax pushed the song deep into adult-contemporary territory.
“BLAKE-IZE” IT: No, don’t. Blake Lewis’s version of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was a hot mess of beats and strings and weak vocals. Blake is the K-Mart brand Justin Timberlake.
OF ALL THE SONGS TO PICK FROM: With the entire Diana Ross catalogue before her, Jordin chose a powerhouse number from the Land Before Time soundtrack, and, despite her pleasant voice, it definitely sounded like background music to a third-rate animated kids film about dinosaurs. But the judges were inexplicably impressed.
WHO WE VOTED FOR: Lakisha and Melinda, in that order. Both gave incredible performances, and Lakisha just put so much soul and intelligence into it.
WHO AMERICA WILL PROBABLY CUT: Haley or Brandon, who both came off incredibly amateurish in this episode. Or maybe Chris Sligh, because he lost the glasses vote this week. (DialIdol.com has Chris and Stephanie in the bottom two.)
PAULA ABDUL OUT-OF-IT SCALE: 5/10. Crying through her comments for Melinda was bad: “Melinda, just watching you…I just…I feel what you’re…you’re just feeling so much joy, and it’s exciting…I feel…I’m one big goosebump and I’m just so excited for you because look at you, I mean, this is it for you. This is it for you,” but she did do a nice job calling out Chris on his icky attempt at “ultra-hip.”
Tomorrow: Diana Ross performs and someone gets the boot.