Live blogging from tonight's "Idol," after the jump ...
Ryan says "the guys threw it down last night" so the competition is "wide open once more." Uh-huh. Gina Glocksen leads the line, Sabrina Sloan ends it. Then to the judges. Paula eerily demure. Ryan pushes the boys-were-better line, and Randy concurs. Paula says the women "look gorgeous." Ryan claps for the guys. Hey, it was a good show Tuesday but the praise is overkill.
Gina dedicates her song to her boyfriend. Heart's "Alone." Unfortunate dress. Remember all that crap about the contest being wide open? Uh-uh. She's a little screechy but gets the show off to a good start. B minus. Randy impressed. Paula brings up that Carrie sang it and still calls it excellent. Simon says "good choice of song" but the vocals felt forced at the end. He says she'll never outsing some of the big singers in the competition -- and says he thought she should be more edgy. Ryan says it's "time for the ring" from her boyfriend. Commercials.
And we're back. Ryan's in the red room with Alaina and LaKisha. He admires LaKisha's "showing off some leg." Ryan brings up the good buzz she has been getting. She does not pay attention to the buzz. Need we mention again that most of the "Idol" buzz has been about Antonella?
Alaina dedicates to her mom. She should also apologize to Chrissie Hynde, considering what she did to "Brass in Pocket" last week. But no. Song in jeopardy this week: Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready To Make Nice." And why is that for her mom? Not to mention that she has no idea what the song is about; apology now owed to Natalie Maines. The squinty finger-pointing is weak, too. C minus. Randy thought it started all right and then became a mess. Paula says it's a hard song to sing and the pitch was a little bit off -- but not nearly as bad as Randy said. Simon goes for "plain English": that it's like Randy in a 100-meter race, running out of steam. Paula insists on saying she's adorable and Randy says she looks amazing. Alaina asks for advice. Ryan offers his usual protective defense.
LaKisha dedicates to her grandmother. "Midnight Train to Georgia." She's getting more help than she needs from the backup vocals, but she's also not as formidable as last week. Good but not knock-the-socks-off great. B. Randy likes her showing spirit and says "that was hot." Paula loved it and "I love you." Simon calls her a phenomenally good singer but not as good as last week. Still thinks she'll do "really really well." Some pointless discussion of her outfit and the judges'.
Commercials. Fox 8 tries to scare me into watching their news -- and not drinking milk.
Ryan says the girls "are owning the stage tonight." Melinda, dedicating to two of her closest friends -- the "Gails" to her Oprah. Apparently they also pick out her clothes. Song: "My Funny Valentine." A little over-polished. (Will Simon bring up cabaret?) But very assured. No goosebumps but a B plus. Paula gives her one of those irrelevant standing O's. Randy, though, says she came out to win. Paula calls it astounding. Simon declares it "incredible ... without question the best vocal we've had through the competition." Again brings up her modesty -- "you don't know how good you are."
More commercials. Ryan promos Antonella singing Celine. Break. Ryan asks if she's nervous. She says less than last week. Ryan mentions the judges being tough on her. No mention of the Scandal. Antonella dedicates to her brother. "Because You Loved Me." She still stinks. Hits one decent note and gets relieved applause. D. Randy calls it "complete the wrong song ... pitch was all over the place." Paula says she made "leaps and bounds" from last week. Simon thinks she was worse than a week ago. Ryan sets up Antonella to bash Simon for mistreatment of Jennifer Hudson. (Feels like Scott Savol mouthing off when he was on shaky ground.) Simon notes that America voted her off.
Stunning denial all around, by the way. At the least, I expected Paula to bring up that Antonella had had a rough week. Instead, no acknowledgment of the troubles at all. Maybe they think she's already so popular, they don't need to help her out. And that too much help would keep her around longer than she deserves. But her swipe at Simon was unnecessary, especially when the show played nice about the photos -- while noting her obvious vocal limitations. Although Randy and Paula's clowning undercut even that.
Jordin, dedicating to her brother. Big tears on tape. "Reflection" from "Mulan." Wobbly start. Improves as it goes, except for some screech in the finish. B. She's crying at the end. Randy impressed aside from some pitchy moments. Paula of course adores her, "one brilliant, talented girl." Simon agrees that it wasn't her best but still better than some. Ryan introduces her father in the audience.
Stephanie in the red room. Ryan hypes tomorrow's appearance by Kellie "Sal-mon" Pickler. Asks Stephanie about the vibe. Stephanie says it's friendly. Simon doesn't buy it, and even Paula seems a little skeptical. Stephanie dedicates to parents. "Dangerously in Love." She seems dangerously out of synch with the band. Eventually recovers, but overall it's a C plus. Randy says so much better than last week -- but it was a little "Beyonce Lite." Paula thinks she was "fantastic, brilliant." Simon agrees with Paula, says she was "putting your mark down." Ryan goes at Randy for his criticism. Who's a bigger kiss-up, Ryan or Paula?
Ryan chats with Leslie and Haley, Haley first. Leslie says she has learned from watching her video last week that "less is more." Leslie dedicates to her dead grandfather. "Feeling Good." I am way, way, way tired of this song. Understated beginning followed by a "Hey Big Spender"-ish approach. "Less is more" is translating into "less is less." And a lame vocal riff. C minus. Randy likes her returning to her "jazzy, scatty" thing but is displeased by the pitchiness. Paula loved her. (Duh.) Simon says Paula loved her because the scat sounded like Paula talking. Mean but apt. Simon then says Leslie was whacked by several big voices preceding her. Paula begins offering food metaphors. Ryan jokes with Leslie about the scatty lyrics. Oh hum.
Haley dedicates to her fiance. Whitney's "Queen of the Night." But rocking enough to duck comparisons. Still lacks authority though. C plus. Randy complains the song has more backing parts than lead parts. (Simon says that's why she chose it.) Randy not sold. Paula, of course, focuses on the positive, especially improvement over last week. Simon gives A for effort but calls it "manic, verging on insane" at one point -- and makes the comparison to Whitney. Considers her one of the vulnerable ones tonight. Ryan says he knows her fiance is proud of her.
Sabrina closes the show. Dedication to her grandmother, who has been "in and out of the hospital." Song: More Whitney, "He Fills Me Up."* Good, and I'd like her to stay in the competition. But still feels like a B, especially considering it's supposed to be the big finish. Randy says very nice overall but with pitchy spots. Paula just loves her and calls her "a big contender in the competition." Simon again leery of Whitney songs and worries that Sabrina is on the line between singing and shouting.
And let's say goodnight before the recap.
*Should have written "All the Man That I Need."