Live notes from tonight, including two Zombies songs and lots of mike-stand manipulation, after the jump ...
Looks as if Melinda will close. Ryan is asking Randy about the forgetting-lyrics issue; he's still feeling tough about it. Banter between Paula and Simon. For some reason, Paula is trying not to say "underwear'' -- instead awkwardly referring to imagining Simon "not dressed."
An explanation of the British invasion for all the kids at home. Clips of Peter Noone, who worked with the guys, and Lulu, who worked with the women. I think the women got the better deal.
Haley Scarnato first up. "Tell Him." Haley's working the lust factor - no bra, major jiggle. Nor is she making much of what was a scorched-earth song in the Exciters' version. (The Exciters, by the way, who had the top-40 hit of the song in the U.S., were from New York.) Dance steps are kind of awful, too, and Randy's movements have a certain irony. But you see the bare back and know Haley's not counting on singing ability to save her at this point. Still, since this is a "singing competition," I'm going C minus. Randy considers it the perfect song for her and declares "Haley's back in the competition." Paula praises her "girlish quality" and the "flirtation side of you." Simon calls her a "naughty little thing" and says "people are going to be talking about a lot more than your singing." Uh-huh.
Back from the break, Chris R. "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," Gerry & The Pacemakers. Noone approves his choice but is uncertain about his voice -- and doesn't like the overuse of vibrato. Obviously has not watched much "Idol." Also didn't like the lack of melody. Noone's a toughie.
Chris with guitarist onstage. Justin vocal with an Ozzie (Nelson) sweater. Seems to be bleating. I can see what Noone meant about the melody. Another contestant who, if he gets by, is going to do it based on his looks. (And speaking of looks, his skin is showing some outbreaks in HD.) Singing: Another C minus. Randy calls it "another great performance." What happened to the Randy of recent weeks WHO WAS TOUGH AND HONEST? Paula, freed of Randy's honesty, is also enthused. Simon calls it Chris's best performance. (Get back to us after you listen to the tape later, Simon.)
Stephanie. Answers a fan question -- the hardest part about getting ready each week is picking the song. Ryan thinks there's a different energy this week; Stephanie says things are "more focused." Song is "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." Lulu considers her "so grounded." I am considering how much I adore Dusty Springfield. And so to the song. She gets the big orchestral opening and the backup vocals. And is already underwhelming me. Too slow, too careful enunciation. Picks up on the chorus, especially the second time through, but it's still not up to the song. C. Randy calls it a great song choice but not her best performance, "a little pitchy," and that a ballad is hard for her. Paula begins with "I love what you're wearing," but admits that the vocal wasn't great. Simon asks Stephanie how she thinks she did. She says well. Simon thinks she's losing her edge and brings out the dreaded "cabaret." He wants "that passion, that rawness."
Rescue Ryan says she had to learn this "genre." She admits to not knowing most of the songs.
After the break, Blake tackles the Zombies. "Time of the Season." Noone likes his modernizing but not the beat-box spitting. Warns not to let the beats get in the way of the song. And is sure all the youngsters will vote for him. Interesting style but a little rocky at first. And the backup singers are covering for him in spots. There's an interesting, borderline-dirty arrangement lurking in there. But he still can't handle the note on "lov-ing." And the band is kind of clunky. Still, overall, a C plus.
Randy calls it "cool, vibey, edgy ... massive 'Yo' factor." Paula thinks he has raised the bar and that this could be on a record. Simon calls it "a million times better than last week" and "strongest performance so far."
Ryan dances and tries to sing. Even Paula is dismayed to the point of laughter.
LaKisha admits to knowing nothing about British music. Wavered between "You're My World" and "Diamonds Are Forever." Lulu pushes "You're My World." Notes that "Diamonds" is one of Simon's favorite songs. LaKisha goes for "Diamonds." And once again makes it all seem too freakin' easy. Not really a great song, but she's moved even more into the can-sing-the-phone-book territory. B plus. Randy wasn't crazy for the beginning but felt it at the end. Paula thinks she made the right choice and considers her "a very, very smart girl." Discussion of the diamonds LaKisha is wearing. Simon acknowledges she is a fantastic singer but calls the performance "LaKisha in 50 years' time." Rescue Ryan gives her a chance to say she'll be happy if she looks this way 45 years from now. Another bit of you're-gay banter twixt Ryan and Simon.
Phil. "Tobacco Road." Noone approves. Says he's never heard the song sung as well. Onstage, Phil's getting the rock-star lights and carrying the mike stand. Kind of geeky running around the stage, and the vocal's a little too withdrawn, technical. He's good, but I don't sense that he's really feeling it. B. Randy calls it "pretty good." Paula, who's been excited during the song, considers it "a real good choice of song" but "some parts were pitchy." Simon "wasn't crazy about it. ... It was kind of a third-division bar band performance" and wanted more grit. Ryan reminds everyone he was bottom three a week ago, and Phil says he knew he had to bring it and urges cheers from the audience.
Fan question for Jordin: name the song that describes you best. She says "I'm So Excited." Then to Lulu. The song is "I Who Have Nothing." (They're counting it because Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones cut it.) Lulu thinks she could make it to the finale. The string section is really getting a workout tonight. And by this point, I have to believe there were problems licensing the Beatles and Stones catalog. Anyway, good vocal but a little slow. Still, the woman knows drama and builds the song brick by brick. Another B plus, and I might put her ahead of LaKisha for the night. Randy calls it
"a very tall order for you" but "great, great performance." Paula is also impressed. Simon says "you sang it beautifully" but "it was sooooo gloomy."
And, after the break ... "the wild side of Sanjaya." Be afraid.
Peter Noone chats with Ryan and says it's not a singing competition -- it's "a voting competition."
Sanjaya does "You Really Got Me." Noone considers him cute but lacking in experience. He also considers "I'm Into Something Good." Peter says he looks more like a Herman's Hermit than a Kink. And that Sanjaya should go for "You Really Got Me." Which he does. And, proving my ongoing point about him, the camera catches a little girl in tearful hysteria at his presence. The vocal is not his worst, but still underscores his absolute determination not to sing. Multiple shots of hysterical girl. And Sanjaya has devolved into shouting, and not very strong shouting. D minus. Randy says "you shocked me tonight" and this was Sanjaya's best performance to date. Paula calls it "a lot of fun." Simon says "the little girl's face says it all." Ryan has Sanjaya go to the girl; he hugs her. Crap. That probably sticks us with him for another week.
Gina. Working the rock-punk look. Gets a fan question; she sounds eerily Miss America-like in the formality of her answer. And ... has a Stones song. "Paint It Black." Lulu considers it an interesting choice. When she's done, Lulu asks, "Are you sure this is the right key for you?" and gets Gina to move it up. Then the song. Considering the framework, kind of low-energy, as if she doesn't really have the power for it. I'm not sold. C. Randy calls her "our resident rocker" but considers it "just all right for me." Paula thinks it was "miles better than last week" and strains for a joke about it being Simon's favorite song. Simon notes "moments of complete torture" and moments "so off-melody." Paula argues. Simon insists it's "style over content." I thought that was Haley! Gina declines to take Ryan's suggestion to argue to with Simon. The judges bicker among themselves instead.
Sligh. Joking discussion about doing "Henry VIII," before Sligh gets serious about "She's Not There." (Two Zombie songs for the night.) He walks through the crowd while singing. Comfortable and in control, sounding like himself while sticking to the original framework of the song. More mike stand antics, including a near-nudge of Simon as Sligh walks behind the judges. B, close to B plus. Randy thought it started rough but ended well. Paula admires his clothes and his working the audience, and "the vocals were really good." Simon jabs verbally at Paula, and says Sligh "did your thing. I thought it was fun" but "wasn't the best vocal of the night."
Lots of talk about fun during this show. Which is a way of not really talking about the vocals.
Sligh gives a shout to the "roll patrol" (I think), something that feels like a mocking of Taylor Hicks's Soul Patrol. The kind of move that can win you votes -- while costing you others.
Melinda. Admits she wasn't sure what she should do. Then goes with "As Long As He Needs Me." Brit meets Broadway; one gigantic stretch of the week's theme. Lulu impressed. Probably a smart pop move, too, if she pulls it off. Which she is doing quite well. Definitely an answer to Jordin's performance a week ago. But as good as she is, it's not my favorite performance of the night. More like a solid B. Randy says "we've probably saved the best vocal for last." Paula enthused. Simon wonders "are you really as nice as you seem?" Thought it was boring at the start but the second part "absolutely sensational with an impeccable vocal."
Ryan nudges Melinda into praise of Lulu. She obliges. Recap. You may disagree, but I think it's Jordin's night.