Details as the show is in progress, after the jump ...
Opening includes a shot of the cast of "Drive," which happens to be premiering on Fox on Sunday. THEN intro of the band and the judges. THEN the tribute video about Miss Jennifer Lopez, this week's guest mentor. Only specific about movie career is "Selena." I thought she was pretty good in "Out of Sight."
The too-coolly ethnic Ryan says she is helping the top "ocho." Lopez says the key to Latin music is "the passion." Also that she watches "Idol" every week "on the edge of my seat."
Melinda opens. Song is "Sway." Which Lopez notes she recorded -- in Spanish. (It's also in "Shall We Dance," a nice little movie with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon -- and Miss Lopez who was OK in it, too. But the soundtrack version of "Sway" is by Pussycat Dolls.) Lopez wants Melinda to be sultry and sexy. Melinda calls herself "so not sexy." Dowdy dress, awkward swaying, but her voice is, as usual, top shelf. Still, for overall presentation, B.
Randy wants her to check it out, "another solid performance" but not her best. Drops the name of Celia Cruz. Paula calls it very sultry and smooth but "kind of subtle." Simon "didn't like it." Says the song is "all about personality" and she was "very lounge/cabaret."
After the break, LaKisha gets the viewer question. And is wearing a fiercely cleavaged dress. Jennifer instructs her in how to say "conga." Yes, we're into Gloria Estefan territory. But LaKisha seems uninterested and somber during the song. C plus. Randy liked. Paula starts with how lovely LaKisha looks, looks uneasy, then calls it a safe choice. Simon asks LaKisha if she agrees with Paula; LaKisha doesn't. But Simon does. Says "it's not a singer's song" and he's not sure how much fun the audience had. Also didn't like her dancing.
After the break, Ryan promises that Chris R. will get smooth -- so I'm thinking of Santana/Rob Thomas.
Ryan touts "Idol Gives Back." Then to Chris R. Lopez notes quickly that it's Santana but "actually Rob Thomas vocal." Notices the song is too low for Chris, but tries to move him into a different key.
Band ups the mariachi element in the horns, to make this more Latin night. Chris standing at mike, flanked by congas and guitar. Not his worst performance by far, but lacking in that passion Miss Lopez talks about. C plus.
Randy thought he did a really good job. Paula calls it "a hot, hot performance" and that he's "sexy ... magical." Simon preferred it to the first two performances of the night, that this was more contemporary.
Another break, Haley and Phil to follow. And we're back. Ryan says Lopez has been "coaching" the contestants, apparently forgetting the mentor memo. Haley is doing .... wait for it ...
"Turn the Beat Around."
Done by Gloria Estefan, yes, but immortal thanks to Vicki Sue Robinson, R.I.P.
Jennifer even brings Blake in to help Haley in practice. Not a good sign. And when she sings, in a shorts so short that Malcolm Abram's prediction could come true, she is at first buried in backing vocals then incredibly weak when the backing goes away. She shimmies a lot, tries to shout, and is still gets a grade of D.
Randy, "keeping it honest and real, dude," calls it karaoke. Paula thinks she had fun. Simon laughs, then adds that she should "wear as least amount of clothes as possible," because there are better singers in the competition. Rescue Ryan gives Haley a chance to respond. She says she appreciates what the judges say.
Phil. "Maria Maria," another Santana song. Phil was overwhelmed by singing for Lopez. She gets goosebumps. Phil's doing the hat thing again. Weak start. Seems low-volume, like Haley; undermiked? I'm really bored. C minus.
Randy thinks he didn't connect with the passion in the song. Paula thought it was a real good vocal. Simon calls him a nice guy but found no originality - "a bit lifeless." Ryan asks if it was tough on the voice. Phil mentions that his daughter has a stuffed cow she callls Simon Cow.
Jordin and Blake are shown before the break, suggesting that Sanjaya is closing.
Jordin gets a viewer question. "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You." More Estefan. Jennifer says it reminds her of Michael Jackson. But the live performance is bland, and she seems to be having trouble breathing. And uncertain about where she is supposed to move. Still like her voice, but something's very wrong. C.
Randy gives it a big yo factor blast. Paula thinks she's "so authentic" and "adorable." Simon calls it "OK" but says the night has had "nothing stunning."
Blake. "I Need To Know" by Marc Anthony, who Blake knows is Miss Lopez's husband. Lopez wants him to get into the passion of the song. Hatted Blake starts off OK but is missing the passion. I think a lot of the singers tonight are struggling because they don't really know the songs, so they're more word-conscious and less able to get into the song than they are with ones that are familiar (or at least easy to learn). Good vocal, though. C plus.
Randy thought it was a good song choice. So did Paula. Simon calls it best performance so far.
I used the break to double-check Estefan's ties to the show, given the way they're milking her catalog. I thought she had been a guest judge, and indeed she was -- season three.
Sanjaya. "Besame Mucho," one of the biggest pieces of corn ever made. He "really, really impressed" Lopez. Oh, mercy.
THE GUY HAS NO RANGE. NONE. NONE. NONE. He bleats, he whispers, he depresses me. The bride says I could sing it about the same, and she has actually heard me. (You're better off not.) D minus.
Randy calls him one of the smartest contestants ever and that it was really good. Paula calls it "very very nice." I think she's trying not to laugh. Simon says he couldn't understand a word, that Sanjaya sounded like a 14-year-old and that "it wasn't horrible." And he hates himself for saying it.
I prefer to think the kill-with-kindness strategy is in full operation.
Really blah night overall. Chris is getting killed on the recap clips (taken from dress rehearsals), where he sounds worse than he did on the show. Ditto for Jordin, although she had an off performance in the live show, too.
And on to "Dancing With the Stars."