On Tuesday night, the Idol Men raised the bar to somewhere below where the Women already were last week. On Wednesday (Feb. 28) night’s American Idol, the best of the women raised the bar to a place the men probably couldn’t reach if they tried.
Singer: Gina Glocksen
My Take: Gina starts off in a coma, letting her va-va-voom red dress serve as the lone expression of her personality. The Heart song builds to a climax and for a brief period, Gina comes to life before botching the end of the song, coming in sharp on each and every note. I won’t add any commentary about the enthusiasm with which A.J. was singing along on the side.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: She started pitchy for Randy, but worked it out. Paula references Carrie Underwood’s version two seasons ago, but concludes that Gina was excellent. Simon correctly notes the forced closing vocals and warns her to figure out who she wants to be. He wants her to be edgier. Ryan ends with an awkward plea for Gina’s boyfriend to propose. Ryan Seacrest: Preventing Contestants From Becoming Old Maids Since 2007.
Singer: Alaina Alexander
Song: "Not Ready To Make Nice"
My Take: Did anybody really get "Mad as Hell!" out of Alaina’s occasional hand-flapping, limp-wristed manual stop-signs and her anemic attempts to shout over the superior background singers? At times Alaina circled the melody of the song, but I’m not sure she’s ever actually there. She lacks the brassy assuredness of the Dixie Chicks original. She lacks any confidence at all. Going back to the first auditions, we’ve never gotten any indication of what the judges have seen in her.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: Randy says it started off good for the first couple bars, but Alaina lost the tune and pitch early. Paula agrees that it was pitchy, but not so awful. "It was like Randy taking part in a 100-meter sprint, i.e. three-quarters of the way through the race, he would run out of steam," Simon deconstructs. They agree she looks fine.
Singer: Lakisha Jones
Song: "Midnight Train to Georgia"
My Take: Last week, Lakisha came out of nowhere and blew everybody away. She lacks the same shock factor this week, but Lakisha delivers a strong reproduction of the Gladys Knight original, easily standing out from her fill-in Pips. However, in the future, Lakisha should make sure that the production team isn’t going to light her so that she blends in with the wall.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: Randy stutters about her spirit and vibe, telling her not to be nervous. Paula expresses love. Simon is less a fan of Lakisha’s dancing, but he calls her a phenomenally good singer. He tells her the outfit was distracting and that she should think she’s a star. Ryan and Simon engage in an awkward debate on whether Lakisha’s shirt is salmon or orange.
Singer: Melinda Doolittle
Song: "My Funny Valentine"
My Take: Remember that awful version of "My Funny Valentine" that Constantine did a couple seasons ago? If you don’t feel like throwing on an old Blue Note Chet Baker record, this is an excellent (and different) alternative. Some of her mannerisms are a smidge too torchy, too put-on, but her vocals are out of this world. It’s a beautiful cover, modulated and textured to a degree that no other contestant this season (or last season [or since Fantasia, really]) could approach, including Lakisha, who seemed to have a temporary lead last week. This is the season’s first truly defining performance, Melinda’s "Summertime."
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: Randy asserts that Melinda is in it to win it and the one to beat. Paula praises her phrasing and applauds her. "That was incredible," Simon gushes.
Singer: Antonella Barba
Song: "Because You Loved Me"
My Take: After last week, there are some people convinced that Antonella is best viewed in silent, still, candid, private photos (thankfully unmentioned in Ryan and Antonella’s pre-song conversation). I’m not saying the gal shouldn’t sing, but Celine? Are you just asking for abuse? She’s brutal. She skips all of the big notes that have earned Celine the big bucks, but Antonella doesn’t get the simple notes right. And you know the funny thing? She was better this week. A special salute to the pattern of her dress, the kind of trippy, green-ish thing you can imagine a ’70s housewife putting on her kitchen walls, but only under the influence of ‘ludes.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: As the cameraman attempts to sneak a peek up the back of Antonella’s short skirt, Randy says she’s beautiful, but the song was much too big. "I wish I could sing like Celine, too, but I can’t," Randy says. Antonella still made leaps and bounds for Paula. Simon, though, thought she was worst than last week. Antonella sticks out her chin and announces, "Simon was wrong about Jennifer Hudson, so hopefully…" Antonella shoots back, showing that humility is one thing she hasn’t learned this past week. Sorry, darling. That’s moronic. But I guess we’ll see the power of nudie pics tomorrow.
Singer: Jordin Sparks
My Take: It’s illustrative to note that while Jordin has a huge voice, she doesn’t have enough voice to sing Christina Aguilera. She doesn’t quite have either the deepest or highest notes, but in the middle range, it’s a pretty vocal and the idea of how either Antonella or Alaina would butcher this song makes Jordin seem better.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: Randy thought there were pitchy moments, but she’s unbelievable for 17. Paula thinks Jordin is a good human being. Simon compares her to the lesser girls and says she has massive potential.
Singer: Stephanie Edwards
Song: "Dangerously In Love"
My Take: Trying to sing Beyonce is dangerous, because America’s third favorite Dreamgirl (sorry, I like me some Anika Noni Rose) gets away with a level of oversinging I wouldn’t recommend to anybody who doesn’t look like Beyonce. But Stephanie pulls off the difficult phrasing and after som
e iffy runs in the beginning, she starts belting. She hits the last note nearly flawlessly. She’s also being very nicely polished by the show’s styling team.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: Randy says she sang her face off, but that she tried doing the vocals a bit too Beyonce-esque. Paula describes her as "fantastic" and "brilliant." Simon agrees with Paula and calls it "terrific."
Singer: Leslie Hunt
Song: "Feelin’ Good"
My Take: Am I the only one who wishes that it were *Linda* Hunt in the competition? She could sing on Tuesdays as a diminutive Asian man and on Wednesdays as a petite woman. That would be great. Leslie begins acceptably if you’ve never heard the Nina Simone version, but she goes into a scatting portion that I didn’t buy for a second. Unfortunately, I’m only going to remember the scatting.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: It was on the pitchy side for Randy. Simon compares the nonsensical scatting to Paula’s judging. He says he’s kidding. He’s not.
Singer: Haley Scarnato
Song: "The Queen of the Night"
My Take: Um. Goodness. There will be screencaps from Haley’s performance circulating in no time, I bet. I’d compare this to whichever song Kat McPhee sang in the ultra-tight banana dress last year. Haley just yells throughout, though she seems vastly more engaged and energized than last week. Whitney, if I recall, was energized and engaged (or she used to be), but she also sang.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: Randy has a problem with how much the backing vocals dominated. Paula thinks it was leaps and bounds over last week. Simon gives her an "A" for effort, albeit manic verging on insane. He warns that she’s vulnerable.
Singer: Sabrina Sloan
Song: "All the Man That I Need"
My Take: The second straight Whitney cover and the one that comes closest to doing the anti-crack-activist justice. Mostly, avoiding shouting for the second consecutive week, Sabrina delivers one of the better takes on a Whitney song we’ve heard on this show in several seasons. She wobbles on several notes vocally, but I think her stage presence is appealingly softer this week.
Wynken, Blynken and Simon Say: Randy calls it very nice. Paula loves her as well. Simon warns her not to confuse power with shouting, but says she’ll be back next week.
TONIGHT’S BEST: A hierarchy was established last week and it remains unchanged: Melinda, Lakisa and Stephanie are well out in front. Sabrina and Jordin are in a second tier that’s still above any of the men. IN DANGER: Antonella and Alaina are, for the second straight week, the worst of the pack. I know the factors that will keep Antonella around for at least another week, but Alaina has to be gone, right? Right? The question is which of the several blander singers will join her. I want Haley to stick around, so I’m thinking that either Gina or Leslie will be forgotten.
Agree? Disagree? Who do you think is going home tomorrow?