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American Idol Season Six: Round Eight

May 3, 2007

AMERICA GETS IT RIGHT AND SENDS CHRIS AND (PHINALLY!) PHIL PACKING

top6carpet.jpgVacation and indifference have kept my Idol commentaries off of these pages for almost a month.  To date, this season has been a bit of a bore for me, offering very few of what I would consider to be stand-out performances.  I would be lying if I claimed that I did not miss Sanjaya.  That kid brought the kind of excitement one only finds watching videos on a TV show about car wrecks.  Unfortunately, by the time he butchered Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Something To Talk About’, you could tell his heart just wasn’t in it anymore and America happily put him out of his misery.  For those in need of a Sanjaya fix, don’t forget that there’s always the live tour to look forward to…

Then there was ‘Idol Gives Back’ week, which I would prefer to call ‘Idol Makes Me Nauseous’ week.  Not only did they waste my time with pointless performances (Annie Lennox butchering Simon and Garfunkel? An Elvis and Celine Dion duet?) they failed to kick someone off the show.  I cheered like a drunk boob at a baseball game when I mistakenly thought Jordin was going home. Man was I pissed when that didn’t come true.  My only hope (at that time) was that her demise was simply going to be delayed a week.  Oh well…

six-copy.jpgBon Jovi week? Noooooo! If this is what is considered ‘rock and roll’, I can’t begin to imagine what we will have to settle for next year (I hear Michael Bolton has some gaps in his schedule.)  I didn’t like Jon Bon Jovi in the eighties, when he first set girls’ panties ablaze, and I certainly don’t like the garbage he has managed to release in recent years.  Obviously that makes him the perfect choice for an entire episode of American Idol.  At least Richie Sambora was smart enough to avoid the coaching segments.  Reluctantly, I moussed my hair, slid into a pair of acid-washed jeans, and prepared myself to be overwhelmed with boredom.  

Surprisingly there were at least two excellent performances for the night.  Melinda delivered like she often does by actually turning one of Bon Jovi’s recent hits (Have A Nice Day) into something listenable.  Blake decided to wake up from the fog of boring ballads and (as Randy would say) ‘did his thing’ with ‘Living On A Prayer’.  Even beat-box haters found themselves at a loss for critical words.  I don’t believe Blake can win the big prize, but a couple more home runs like this will guarantee his place in the finals.

That brings me to Lakisha and Jordin–or as I like to call them, ‘Hit’ and ‘Miss.’  Ms. Kiki made a smart choice by going with a syrupy Bon Jovi ballad.  It was a little shaky at the start but she saved herself nicely by the end.  Ms. Sparks , on the other hand, was a train wreck from start to finish.  It is a damn shame so many people are smitten with her because any other performer would have been completely dragged over the coals and kicked off the show.  Instead we got the, ‘Everyone has a bad week…I guess this one was mine’ excuse from Jordin and three judges who barely tried to criticize her.   Let’s all quit fooling ourselves and get rid of her before we regret it.  If things continue down this path, Jordin will be playing ‘Diane Degarmo’ to Melinda’s ‘Fantasia’–if you know what I mean.

byebyephil-copy.jpgFinally we come to our losers for the week: Justine Timberfake and Bat Boy.  I will give Phil credit for being halfway decent, at least until he started to act all ‘rock star-ish’ while striking his cheesy poses and making some embarrassing facial expressions. ‘Blaze of Glory’ is a stupid song, tied to a stupid movie franchise, but it was an excellent final song for him to sing.  I never tire of contestants singing songs appropriate for their final performance.  My greatest fear of Phil somehow making it to the finals was happily laid to rest.   

chris-copy.jpgPoor Chris Richardson, on the other hand, really had no chance to redeem himself.  It made perfect sense to me that the most overrated male performer sang one of Bon Jovi’s most overrated songs. The only redeeming part of the original tune is Richie Sambora’s backing vocals. For some reason they always evoke drunken college party sing-a-longs (sorry Richie.)  Chris’ version was his typical nasally, pseudo-boy band tripe.  Even the ladies that find him adorable couldn’t muster the strength to dial his number this week.  I will say the camaraderie displayed between Chris and Blake as they awaited their fates (as if anyone really expected Blake to go) was genuinely sweet.  Of course, I didn’t really think either one of them was truly willing to switch places with the other, but it was good TV.

With four contestants left, we have just a couple weeks before America’s newest idol is crowned.  My opinion that a woman is destined to win this year hasn’t changed.  I knew they would push the show in that direction simply because the women who have won have been more successful than the men.  Taylor Hicks’ poor record sales guaranteed the top spot would go to a lady this time around.  Now the question remains, which one? 

blake-copy.jpgI doubt Lakisha will make it to the end.  The fact that she still remains in the competition is actually better than I would have expected from her.  Blake deserves to be there, but as a guy, he has no chance.  He may still pull out an upset and make it to the final two.  It won’t matter, I foresee success for him regardless of where he finishes.  You don’t have to look any further than Chris Daughtry to understand how that could happen.

So it comes down to Jordin and Melinda.  One is an obvious choice for the best overall performer this season, the other appeals to a more commercially favored audience.  I have a hard time believing that Melinda won’t win this year, no matter how much propping up Jordin receives from the judges.  The ‘neck-less wonder’ has consistently delivered the goods week after week and shows no signs of letting up.  The fact that she seems a little too humble at times shouldn’t prevent her from reaching the top spot.  It is her competition to lose.

Jordin is great with ballads and slower songs, but she absolutely falls apart once the tempo in picked up. Simon probably loves the idea of a Jordin Sparks victory because he knows her records would sell better to a younger audience.  Just because record executives see dollar signs doesn’t mean she deserves to win.  Simon certainly doesn’t need the money so it shouldn’t matter what he thinks.  Even if Jordin is capable of delivering impressive performances for the rest of the season, too many people will remember the bad ones.  Whether she wants to believe it or not, they started long before Bon Jovi week.  

Next up is ‘Bee Gees Week II.’ As long as they bring in the real Barry Gibb, and not that unfunny hack Jimmy Fallon doing one of his week-assed impersonations, I won’t be completely turned off.  At least Phil is gone!

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