Monday, February 26, 2007

Welcome Back American Idol - This Time They Can Sing!

It’s an all estrogen night of American Idol - including Ryan. I don't think tonight can possibly be worse than last night. Could the girls produce the same mix of nervous untalented performances as their testosterone carrying brethren? Last year the girls struggled the first night while the guys looked unbeatable; we had great singing from Taylor, Elliot, and Chris. Sure there were the Will Makars and David Radfords of the night, but they were the exception. Perhaps we'll have a total reversal this time around. I sure hope so, otherwise thus begins the worst season in Idol history. Granted Idol history doesn’t go back all that far, but in the land of reality television where shows like Temptation Island come and go faster than a Britney Spears rehab, you gotta admire the staying power of Idol. Fantasia is supposedly making a guest appearance on Idol this Thursday night, leading me to wonder if any of the current Idol women were lucky enough to have unprotected sex with an irresponsible child fearing man while they were ovulating like Fantasia did, ensuring a wonderful Olympic like overcoming all obstacles background story. At the start of every Idol season I wonder if the show hasn’t already jumped the shark in some ways. In season one the contestants were all 24 or under, now the age is raised to 73. Ok it’s not really that high, but some contestants sure look older than 29, yes Taylor Hicks, I’m talking to you. Way back in season one, young idealistic performers just starting out in their musical careers dominated the top 10. Last year we had polished veterans like Taylor and Chris. Is it any wonder they were more comfortable on stage than the younger contestants? Sure the quality of the show is better with the older contestants, but do we run the risk of not finding the greatest undiscovered talent? Part of Idol’s charm is watching the contestants grow up before our eyes and discover their inner voice while they blossom on stage. Kelly Clarkson looked like a wholesome Texas girl when she first auditioned, but by the end of the season she looked like a star; her metamorphosis was stunning. In season two Clay Aiken changed from a dorky looking crooner into…well ok he was still pretty dorky looking, but at least he got rid of the creepy facial expressions and learned how to command the stage. But last year, can anyone really say Chris or Taylor changed throughout the season? They were relatively the same as day one; they had already performed so many times at bars and nightclubs their craft was honed the first time they opened their mouth in front of the judges. Their fans will of course protest, arguing they both evolved into much better performers, and this is true, but their improvement pales in comparison to several of the contestants from seasons 1-4. The way the show is run now a younger singer has little opportunity for early mistakes; they must sing good from the start or run the risk of a 30 year old taking their spot. Thing about it, if you took an 18 year old basketball phenom and put him on the court with a bunch of 33 year old 12 year NBA veterans who even in their prime weren’t that good, the 18 year old would have a few shining moments, but many more mistakes and several ‘why did make such a stupid play I thought this guy was going to be good’ moments. Give the phenom a couple years and he’ll blow the old guys off the court. Look at Carrie Underwood, when she first tried out she had as many moves as Al Gore, and I don’t mean cool ex VP Al Gore that makes hit movies and host Saturday Night Live, I’m talking Senator Al Gore that used to put the entire Senate to sleep every time he opened his mouth to talk about those useless topics like the space shuttle and the environment. I mean really, to think we could have an impact on the environment, what a joke! In fact just to show we haven’t polluted the ecosystem or destroyed the ozone layer I drink daily from the Hudson River. Other than glowing urine I haven’t had any side effects yet. Finally, did anyone see the Grammys? That girl singing onstage with Justin Timberlake originally tried out for American Idol, but she wasn’t good enough in the Hollywood rounds. Think the Idol producers would like to have that girl back? Not since Sam Bowie’s name was called has anyone regretted not selecting someone so much. She is a young girl, probably overwhelmed with the pressures of Hollywood week, and incapable of dealing with the pressure as well as someone approaching 30 years old. If she competed against a bunch of people 24 and over I wonder what her chances of making the top 24 would have been, but alas we’ll never know. Ok, back to tonight’s show! I wonder if any of the girls will whore it up tonight. If you cannot sing, your best option is lots of cleavage and a bare midriff. Ryan, wearing a jacket but no tie, is a little more dressed up tonight. Will the male contestants sitting stage right dance any better than the girls? Maybe better singing leads to better dancing? The girls are on the staircase just like the guys; they put Lakisha down at the bottom of the stairs, I wonder if there are fire code concerns having her at the top of the stairs, I mean sure the stairs are made to hold a lot of weight, but maybe not for such a long time. Ryan says we had a pretty strong start to the competition last night. Huh? Really? Did Ryan not listen last night? With the exception of Helen Keller, who ironically is a big Idol fan, most people thought last night lacked talent and originality.

During the recap of the guys some of them do indeed sound better with only a 20 second clip of their singing, and somewhat surprisingly they reshow the Chris insult towards Simon. Without the extended silence and withering stare from Simon it doesn’t seem nearly as bad. Ryan makes his worst pun of the early season saying, “Phil couldn’t ask for more when it came to judgment time” (he sang “I Could Not Ask For More”). Sometimes I think Ryan’s writers used to work for America’s Funniest Home Videos back in the Bob Saget days. I wonder if one of the girls will shock us tonight, maybe someone we haven’t seen too much of yet. This might be the best looking group of Idol girls from top to bottom, even if Lakisha is holding them down like one of those big anchors they have on cruise ships. While introducing the judges Ryan points out the hypocrisy of their suggestions. They often tell the contestants to take a risk, but upon taking the risk the judges say you can’t sing that song and belittle the song choice. Randy assures Ryan it’s not like that dawg. After sleeping on it, Paula doesn’t believe the guys let anyone down; the first night is always a learning experience. Simon seems too happy tonight, he probably exciting he doesn’t have to look at any men sing. He says he is fine with Chris having a go at him, he rather likes his spirit, and like Paula he doesn’t think the contestants let us down, but unlike Paula he thinks they let themselves down. Ouch. He really should create a line of greeting cards from Hallmark for when you need to fire someone, break up with them, tell them they have terminal cancer, you know all the times you just can’t find the right words to devastate someone. The recap reminds us how the ladies made it to the Top 24, they sure look happy when they advance through each round, but can they sing…we are about to find out.

Stephanie Edwards – How Come You Don’t Call me Anymore
Her parents told her she is good enough. She says without their encouragement she wouldn’t be here tonight and breaks into tears. Compare her story to that kid whose mother never said she loved him and then seemingly hung up on him when he called her with the news he forgot his words and was sent packing. She comes out looking a lot like Latoya London from a few years back, but can she sing as well? Maybe she can…her voice has a really nice tone and her facial expressions are neither forced nor corny. She is wearing handcuffs for earrings but she is sounding really good. She really gets into the song once it gets going and drops down to her knees, unlike Katherine McPhee who starts out on her knees. She hits a pretty well controlled run near the end of the song, it is more subtle than over the top, which is exactly what the song needs. The performance felt elegant, like something out of a 1950s jazz club, all we needed was a segregated crowd to finish the effect. Paula goes nuts when Stephanie finishes; she is clapping her hands and jumping up and down in her chair. I wonder if this is what Anna Nicole Smith looked like when Howard K. Stern was holding her daily dose of meth in front of face. For some reason I think this will be the highlight of Stephanie’s stay on Idol, hopefully she will prove me wrong. Randy already sees a huge difference tonight. Even though he calls her pitchy in spots he says she set if off right and her conviction was great. Paula calls her a star and Simon says she is a million times better than anything we saw last night. He says this is the best she has done and compliments her for coming out with an “I wanna win American Idol” attitude. Ryan congratulates her for setting the right tone and being so comfortable. She thanks the audience for being so awesome.

After the break we return to the “Coke” room and have a little conversation with Melinda Doolittle. Ryan asks her what the girls learning from the guy’s night, and Melinda says, “That sucking is bad and not to drink so much whiskey before the show.” Ok I made that up, but it might explain why the guys were so bad. She actually says the guys were amazing, but the judges are going to challenge everyone to bring their A game.

Amy Debbs – I can’t make you love me
This is another contestant we know almost nothing about from the early rounds, but we do learn she is an optometrist assistant. Unless she really hits it big tonight I fear she might be going home. She is singing a slow semi-boring song, which is a big risk when you are a total unknown; people are more likely to call over and over again for a fast song than for a slow one. Her voice has a nice tone, but she is a little pitchy on her vocal runs. Her biggest problem probably comes from standing still the ENTIRE time; she literally doesn’t move. As a general rule, if you are following a girl that was so into her song she dropped to her knees, don’t go out there and make Al Gore look mobile. Her voice is not cookie cutter, but she isn’t doing anything worth my phone call. Also, does this girl have a left eye? I know the contestants probably don’t do their own hair, but come on Amy demand they let us see your eyes! Hey maybe that’s why she isn’t moving around! Randy says it was kinda middle of the road, didn’t quite work on the runs, a boring song, and way too safe. Paula, who seems to almost always echo Randy agrees and wants Amy singing blues next week. Randy says she is better than the song she picked. I bet Bonnie Rait is sitting at home throwing stuff at the TV right now. Simon can’t remember Amy; he says she has the personality of a candle. He predicts we’ll forget her after another two girls perform; he is probably right. When Ryan joins her on stage she towers over him like the Empire State Building, she must be at least 5’6’’. Given one last chance to insult her, Ryan says everything about Amy is forgettable, from her hair to her clothing. My advice to Amy is sex it up next week, show Simon something he can’t soon forget. Maybe you could get Chris Richardson, who kinda looks like Justin Timberlake, to run out on stage and pull your top off, that way everyone in America will be talking about her.

Leslie Hunt – Natural Woman
She is a relative unknown, but we learn from her recap she walks dogs for a living. Is this a good way to make a living? How many dogs must you walk a day to pay the bills?
Right after they tell us she is a dog walker we see a clip of Paula acting like a dog. During the recap we see how much the judges liked her, yet she didn’t get much pre top 24 screen time. She is wearing knee high boots, which is a plus, but she decided to sing a really hard song. Kelly Clarkson took this song on and conquered it, will Leslie? The fact she is not a large black girl works against her. She has a pleasant voice, but it’s not overpowering like this song requires. She also has some crazy dance moves. She certainly has a nice sound, but this song is way too big for her voice; she did hit some nice notes at the end, perhaps foreshadowing good things to come if she survives. It’s kinda like if a little kid walks around wearing a really huge jacket; they just look a little silly. Tonight Leslie is that little kid. I will never understand why anyone ever picks a song by: Aretha; Celine; Mariah; Stevie; or the Wiggles. I think you get the idea; if the song comes from someone widely considered to possess the greatest voice in the history of ‘the known world,’ don’t sing their song! Randy says he was hoping for greatness, but felt the song was too big for her; he wanted an “oh my god she really sang that” moment. Paula thinks she did a great job, however, she cautions her to be careful with her song selection. Simon says it wasn’t that great, inquires if she really is a dog walker, then tells her not to look so embarrassed while she is singing. It sounds harsh, but he is right, she needs to loosen up a little. When Simon says the word dog Randy goes a little nuts and
asks the dawg pound (the male contestants) if they feel her; they all cheer and go nuts, which I guess means yes they feel her. Chris Sligh is the first one to stand up and cheer. Perhaps he knows he killed a lot of his good will with his wisecracking last night and is desperate to get some back by supporting his fellow contestants.

Sabrina Sloan – I never loved a man
In her recap she says she was overwhelmed seeing how many people tried out for American Idol. Even though you know thousands of people try out, I imagine seeing 10,000 people in one place all believing they are the next Idol would be pretty impressive. Of course 9,900 of them probably can’t sing a note in tune to save their life. Wouldn’t that be a great show idea? Each contestant has only one chance to sing a note in tune, and if they fail they are executed on stage. Or maybe the home viewers can vote on who gets killed each week. That’s a hit show right there. If your favorite gets ‘voted off’ I bet you’d feel pretty bad for not trying to call more times. Sabrina really nailed her song in Hollywood earning a dancing ovation from Paula. She looks a little big like the girl that just won the British version of Idol, and Simon was obsessed with her, so maybe Sabrina will get some love from the caustic Brit. Her first note is really odd, I’m not sure if it was even a human, but soon after she hits her stride. Sabrina has the right idea, although she is singing a song sang by Aretha, it’s not one you instantly recognize as Aretha, like Respect or Natural Woman. She sounds a lot like Christina, except without all the stds. Ok that’s not fair anyone I suppose. For a while there Christina epitomized being a slutty whore (watch the Dirty video), but now she is all classy, sophisticated, and sane, unlike her former rival Mrs. Federline. There are a few pitch problems throughout, but the guys love her, and she sells it really good. This is probably my favorite performance of the night. The girls are making the guys look bad. It’s like the guys came out last night and spelled the word ‘cat’ and the girls are spelling words like ‘disestablishmentarian.’ Randy exclaims, “We finally have a competition.” He calls her hot and the one to beat. Paula stands for her again and calls her awesome. Simon says she just proved his point; there is a difference between just taking part in the show and genuinely having a desire to win. Simon calls it the best of everything we’ve seen so far. The producers immediately switch to a camera focused on Stephanie’s face for about 2 seconds; she has an ‘oh no he didn’t’ look on her face. I think if the camera lingered on her longer she might have snapped her fingers. Sabrina tells Ryan she has been faithfully watching the show the past 5 years and now watches the new show Idol Rewind: she didn’t sing a fast song because fast songs work better. Sabrina is smooth with the banter on stage. She just managed to get a free plug in for the Rewind show. Let’s see if she gets the pimp spot next week, if she does we know her plug got somebody’s attention.

Antonella Barba – Don’t wanna miss a thing
During her recap she says her voice was really run down and she had little confidence. She thought she blew her chance, but made it into the top 24 after being one of the last 2 remaining girls. Compare the way the girls react to the guys. When the judges select Antonella the girl next to her immediately reaches over and gets her a big congratulatory hug (the guy next to Sundance had a death stare at the judges when he didn’t advance). She starts her song sitting down, which is always dangerous. Sitting and singing requires excessive emotion to connect with the audience – I’m not sure if Antonella has that much emotional depth. This is a horrible song choice, and she is all over the place in the first half of the song. Holy cow, look in the audience its Ben Affleck! Ok they probably couldn’t get him to show up for the show even though she is doing a song from Armageddon, but if they worked really hard I bet they could talk Steve Buscemi into an appearance. She gets credit for hitting a lot of notes; unfortunately, many of them are off pitch and at the wrong time. The other girls looking on over the railing look as bored as I me. What are the protocols if one of them accidentally falls over, or if someone like Lakisha leans a little too much and the railing gives way? Should the person stop singing until the medics get there, or keep belting it out epitomizing the ‘show must go on’ motto? This is BY FAR the weakest performance of the night. It’s like she doesn’t know how to sing the song. The song lacks any cohesion; it’s like three different people are singing the song without any rhyme or reason. At various times she sounds like a gospel singer, a pop singer, and just a regular ol’ kid from New Jersey incapable of hitting a note in tune. The judges are going to be harsh. Randy says “Oh man,” and keeps it real telling Antonella she was pitchy and really bland. Paula has that ‘I hate being look on her face’ and says it wasn’t that bad, but there were some pitch problems. Simon gives her good news – she is attractive. The bad news is he thinks she seriously damaged her chances of remaining on Idol another week. Poor Antonella she looks ready to break into tears. Simon wants her to sing something more pop oriented next week, because this song ate her up. Simon says her singing this song is like Ryan trying to do the news. At least Simon didn’t say it would be like Ryan dating a female.

Jordin Sparks – Give me one reason to say here
She says it’s a benefit being so young, but at the same time people keep telling her she is so young, a little too sugary sweet. She is only a junior in high school, but unlike Sanjaya I guess she didn’t get her GED. She is singing a Tracy Chapman song (didn’t see that coming from the sugar girl), but unlike Tracy it looks like Jordin actually bathed today. She has a very strong voice; unlike most contestants she isn’t totally dying on the really low register. Jordin wins tonight’s Blake award for most unlikely song selection. The last half of the song is fantastic. She goes all Christina and changes the song into a Jordin original. This might be my new favorite of the night. Randy likes it but isn’t effusive with his praise. He wants her to challenge herself with even bigger songs. Paula loved the song selection and thinks Jordin came into her own. Simon says we’ve seen a big change in Jordin since her sugary audition. He suggests she select some songs that are a bit younger and wants her to push herself. Simon believes she could surprise some people in this competition. Jordin might be this year’s Paris. Even though Jordin is like 12 years old she is almost two feet taller than Ryan. Ryan realizes this and makes a short joke then compensates for his small stature by entering the Superman stance. If Superman is the man of steel, Ryan is the man of highlights.

Nicole Tranquillo – Stay
She is a voice major in school, doesn’t like sleeping, loves being busy, and had her best Idol moment during the group performance in Hollywood. That is everything we know about Nicole to this point, meaning she better be good or she’ll be going home. The start is not very good; her voice is doing some weird things. She is over styling this song to death. She sounds a little like Anastacia or Taylor Dane once the song reaches the midway point. She actually is sounding pretty good now I think. I’m not sure if I liked her singing. Does she always sound like this? Is this her normal singing voice? Since we haven’t seen her prior to now it’s super hard to tell. The camera showed Stephanie again who still looks really upset. I think Simon saying someone was better than her has left her a little upset. Randy takes a long pause and says it wasn’t really working for him. He thinks it was over his head. Paula isn’t sure how many of the contestants can hit all of Nicole’s notes, but isn’t sure she picked the right song. Simon says it was the wrong song and a little too indulgent. He thinks she was over rehearsed and unnatural. Ryan joins the semi crushed Nicole on stage and tells us Paula has always championed Nicole, and asks Paula why. She says it’s because Nicole can sing. Randy chimes in saying the song was too urban for Nicole, in other words only black people can sing that song. Nicole says she loves that song and thinks it’s really fun, but provides a “no comment” in response to Simon’s indulgent remark.

Haley Scarnato – It’s all coming back to me
Haley loves being in a competition with so many talented people. She sings in a band back home and apparently really likes Celine Dion. Uh oh she is singing a Celine song – this has train wreck written all over it. She presents the night’s first cleavage, wearing a strapless black top and a huge hubcap-looking piece of jewelry around her neck. She is not following Sabina’s logic; she is singing a ballad. I’m bored halfway through the song. She can definitely sing and is hitting the high notes with strength, but it still feels like a ‘so what’ performance. I think I could get this in any of the dozens of daily performances at Disney World. Ultimately, she isn’t as good as Celine Dion, which should ensure the judges will not like her song choice. Randy lets out a huge sigh; he looks kinda like those Walruses opening their mouths when they come out of the water at Sea World. He says he was bored, but she made a good choice for her broadwayish voice. Paula thinks she did a nice job, but was hoping for a different song, since they already heard her sing this in Hollywood. Simon asks for her age (24), and says she sounded like she was 40. He says everything about her was old tonight, but thinks she does have a good voice. Simon says she was kinda boring and all the judges agree. Haley appreciates the comments but wants to stay true to herself and her style. Maybe she is just a boring person. On the Idol website one of her listed hobbies is watching paint dry. Ok I made that up.

Melinda Doolittle – Since You’ve been gone
Melinda is 29, which is way too old for this show. She was a little freaked out in the Hollywood rounds because they had backup singers, and of course she is America’s new favorite back up singer. I hope she makes the top 12 where sometimes the contestants act as backup singers for each other during the group numbers, but not Melinda, she’ll freak out and start crying as soon as someone ask her to sing backup. She comes out tonight full of confidence: a total transformation from her audition where she looked like she didn’t belong. She has a lot of spunk and sounds pretty good. I should be enjoying this song more than I am, she sounds good, and isn’t hitting any bad notes. Yet, I have no emotional connection. I think instead of listening to her sing I have Kelly Clarkson’s version of ‘Since you’ve been gone’ playing in my head. She shows off a lot of her voice and personality, but for me I’m a little disappointed (not quite sure why though). Randy says that’s the way to do it, show it, prove it, blow it out the box, and have confidence. He calls her the bomb. Little does Randy know the department of Homeland Security has outlaw the utterance of the word bomb and rushes on stage tasering Randy before he knows what happened. That didn’t happen, but who wouldn’t want to see some Idol judges tasered. That’s a pay per view event right there. Paula thinks Melinda is a firecracker and a frontrunner. Simon says over the last two nights we’ve seen people with little talent but tons of arrogance. With Melinda, it’s the exact opposite, because she has tons of talent and little arrogance. Speaking of judges, they should use the Idol judges to figure out where to bury Anna Nicole Smith. Thank about it, Simon can insult all the awful people involved, Randy can repeatedly call a dead white woman ‘dawg,’ and who better to interpret the wishes of a drugged up slut than Paula?

Alaina Alexander – Brass in my Pocket
In her recap Alaina tells us she cries all the time: the truth or a shameless ploy for sympathy? She is the Dick Vermeil of American Idol. Is it wrong to hope she does horrible so we get to see if she can resist crying? She thought Hollywood week was like survival of the fittest. Uh oh that sounds like Darwin or something, I think she just lost the religious right vote. This is a really bad song choice. Sure the song is fun and upbeat and gives her a chance to smile at the camera and prance around stage, but it possesses limited vocal range. Her voice gets a little lost on the lower notes. Midway through the song she has a hard time finding a few pitches. About 50 percent of this song consists of the same three notes, but near the end she opens things up a little and almost gets to something good, but never quite gets anywhere. Randy says it really wasn’t great, wasn’t original, and was too pitchy. Paula didn’t feel it and wants Alaina to go for it next time. Simon says it’s ironic she kept singing the line ‘I’m special’ and it wasn’t, he thinks she lost it halfway through. The camera flashes to Antonella leaning on the couch looking exasperated by Simon. Simon says three or four girls blew her off the stage tonight. He thinks she will have to rely on her looks to stay on the show this week. Sensing Alaina is on the verge of a breakdown, Ryan joins her on stage and says she has a lot of passion; she almost quit singing but toughed it out. Ryan, since this is such a big dream of Alaina, asks Randy what she can do for next week. Randy asks her what she sings best and she seems to have no clue. Boy that’s comforting if you are an Alaina fan. Simon thinks Ryan is a little over biased and asks if Ryan if he is trying to date this girl. In unison, Ryan and Alaina both say, “what!” Hey if the guy who hosts Survivor can hook up with some girl out in the jungle, why can’t Ryan score with an Idol contestant. But raise your hand if you’d be surprised it was a female.

Gina Glocksen – All By Myself
She is finally in the top 24 after forgetting her words in Hollywood last year. She’s had an entire year to improve. I wonder if she took any of those memory courses I see advertised on television in the middle of the night. You know the one where they show us the little kid failing out of school, but then he takes the memory course and is now on the honor roll. They should include criminals in those commercials. Like an identify thief saying, “I used to have a horrible time remember people’s credit card numbers, but now I see it once and I never forget it. Thanks to the memory program I’ve charged over $30,000 dollars to other people’s credit cards.” Gina’s voice is thick and strong and she has no trouble hitting songs low notes. Tonight’s random fun fact: this is the same song Latoya London sang in Season 3. She does a pretty good job hitting the song’s big power note; her mother is crying tears of joy. I am surprised by her song choice. I expected her to sing something more rock or pop. She certainly has a great voice. Randy says he was worried when she started singing, but then remembered she has a big voice. Paula thinks she sang the right song because she has that big powerful voice. Simon says it was a different side to her, but doesn’t think she quite hit the right note. Ryan asks her how confident she was before the song (based on a scale from 1-10), she says 6. What about after the song he asks, and Gina says 12. She is really proud of herself for hitting the note, even if it wasn’t perfect. Gina misses a golden opportunity to promote herself. She is contestant number 11, which is how people will be voting for her, so why not say she is an 11 on the confidence scale!

Lakisha – And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going
Hey here we go! We finally have our Fantasia single mother story line again. Wouldn’t it be nice to go against stereotype and have it be a white girl instead? She says if she doesn’t do well on Idol she’ll have no trouble going back to work at the bank. She is doing her best Jennifer Hudson impersonation tonight. She sure cleans up well, and unlike last year’s Mandisa she knows how to dress in a way that doesn’t over emphasize she is a big girl. She has a strong voice to be sure and I feel like I’ve entered the Church of Lakisha. I wonder if it’s one of those churches with an anti-homosexual preacher that likes to get high on meth and hook up with male prostitutes when he’s not busy spreading hate and intolerance. Man those churches are awesome. Geez, Lakisha is going all out stomping her way across the stage. I think she just mimicked the speed skater movement with her feet, or maybe it was a James Brown tribute. I wonder if we’ll have a winner of American Idol season 6 before that guy gets buried. Since he is still not six feet under maybe he is still the hardest workingman in show business. She ends the song on a powerhouse note. She nails it, easily winning best of the night. However, she displays NO originality on the song. She is basically singing the exact same version J-Hud sings in Dreamgirls. But she sang it well, so the judges probably won’t even mention that fact.
Randy says he loves her, and warns J-Hud to watch out. Paula is so proud of her, and says she belongs here honey. Simon, not missing a chance to get at a contestant, says he must correct someone earlier on – that’s the right note! He then tells the 23 other contestants to book your plane tickets home. He calls her in a different league: the camera pans to the girls in the Coke room and they all look on the verge of suicide after hearing Lakisha. Lakisha is basically this year’s Mandisa. However, unlike Mandisa, I think Lakisha is truly likeable. I wonder if Lakisha can sing a more delicate song without the ‘belt them out at the top of your lungs’ notes. Right now it seems like Lakisha is unbeatable, however Latoya blew everyone away in the top 24 round, and then lost a little momentum each week, so I’m really curious what Lakisha will do next week. Ryan joins her on stage and Lakisha says she is nervous. And guess what, it’s Lakisha’s daughters birthday today. Everyone together now – AWWWWW! Even if she didn’t sing great how could anyone vote her off on her little girl’s birthday?

Ryan goes to the judges one final time and asks Randy how many guys deserve to be in the top 12. Randy says about 4 guys and 8 girls. Paula says she is proud of everyone and tells them to pick the right song. I always love when the judges says that, like picking the right song is an easy task. Really, the judges should just say, “don’t suck,” which would help the contestants just as much. Simon thinks 3 or 4 of the girls put themselves in a different league tonight and asserts Lakisha just threw down the gauntlet.

Final Thoughts
The girls were amazing tonight, so much better than the guys I feel ashamed to be a man. Sure they can sing, but can they hunt and gather? I think not! Based on tonight’s singing alone Amy and Antonella were by far the worst. However, Antonella got so much attention in the early rounds I bet there are already fansites devoted to her galore, meaning there is no way she is leaving yet. Amy on the other hand, is a dead man (woman) walking. Joining Amy in the ‘it was fun while it lasted’ crowd will not be Lakisha, Melinda, Gina, and Jordin. All of them sang well and were pre top 24 favorites. Stephanie and Sabrina both received limited pre top 24 hype but sang well enough to survive. That means Leslie, Nicole, Haley, or Alaina will drop into the bottom two. Haley and Alaina both had more on airtime, but Leslie and Nicole were at least different tonight, meaning I think both will stay another week. Although her song choice was Celine Dion, I believe Haley will stay and Alaina will cry herself home. The main question: does Alaina have a strong enough following to force Leslie or Nicole into the bottom two?


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