Didn't I WARN you that it would be late?
Tony Bennett night. He calls the contestants competent. Ouch.
Blake, "Mack the Knife." Tony would like him to get to the meaning of the song and warns that it's "pre-rap," and to slow down the tempo. Unfortunately, Blake is not good. I've mentioned during previous "Idol" seasons that the toughest thing for young singers is old-school vocal phrasing, since a lot of them aren't trained in it. Blake's further problem is that he has started somewhere too high in his range and keeps hitting his ceiling. Decent finish, but I'm still feeling a C.
Skipping through the judges on the replay. Let's move past Paula's wacky outfit (and saying "pizazz"), commercials, "Idol Gives Back" promo .... and so to Phil. "Night and Day," a little slow, and Tony suggests more of a beat -- while calling Phil a good singer. Phil ignores the beat suggestion. Also having range problems. And the creamy crooner thing doesn't really go with the shaven head. Some improvement, but again, not great on phrasing -- feels as if he's rushing the words instead of thinking about what they mean. C.
Melinda. Tony calls her "the best singer all day," although we don't know exactly whom he's heard before her. But she's great -- and, as Alec Baldwin has told us, Tony likes things that are great. (I might have thought of that on my own, but I couldn't miss it after my buddy Alan Sepinwall was singing Alec-as-Tony on the ohone today.) Melinda's trying to look a little hotter while doing "I've Got Rhythm." Not sure she nailed the opening, but when she picked up the beat, she was -- well, heck, she was Melinda. She pays attention to the words and she knows the tune. I'm actually having goosebumps, and they've been rare this season. A minus.
Chris R. (Ryan by the way calls this show a tribute to the King of Swing. I think Tony would point out the title belongs to Benny Goodman.) Tony gets a little stern with Chris about not knowing the lyrics to "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." His Justin quaver's a little irritating, but he actually seems to understand the song. B/B plus.
Jordin. Tony says "she sang very much in tune, which is rare these days." Do you think Tony occasionally regretted taking this on. "On a Clear Day." Some bleats, and a bit of rushing the lyric. But she demonstrates her versatility again, and I continue to believe she should scare Melinda/LaKisha more than anyone else. B plus.
Gina. "Smile." Tony considers her version "very beautiful." The song makes him think of 9/11 and soldiers in Iraq. Gina puts aside most of the rock chick and even wrinkles her nose in a way that suggests she has a future singing ballads in Vegas. OK, competent, not dazzling. B.
Sanjaya. Tony thinks he "makes it interesting." SUCH a nice man. Sanjaya believes this is the week he proves to America he sing. Not the way he starts "Cheek to Cheek." Travolta suit's a curious choice. Nope, STILL can't sing. Dances with Paula. Nope, STILL can't sing. D.
Having heard about Simon's reaction already, I am breaking my no-judge vow for tonight just to see it. Sanjaya says, "Thank you. Welcome to the universe of Sanjaya." Where irony is unknown.
Haley. Legs AND cleavage this week. She must be worried. "Ain't Misbehavin' " with Tony, who has to explain the lyric to her. She ignores his explanation. Jerky movements, as if she's hoping for a wardrobe mishap. She gets louder but not better. C.
LaKisha. "Stormy Weather." Tony thinks she's very good but doesn't want her to do an "ain't no sunshine" tag. Stick to the song as written, he suggests. Can you imagine what he might have done with Sligh? LaKisha, apparently aware she has been coasting, kicks hard and takes names. And, continuing the night's trend of paying no attention to poor old Tony, she stays with the "ain't no sunshine" tag. Might have been an A, but docked a notch for Tony disrespect. B plus.
In about 75 minutes, I'll be back for the results show.