Live blog during the pretaped show, after the jump ...
"Idol" was prerecorded but I have tried to remain pure by not reading the spoilers. And I'm on a bit more delay, since we were a little late getting home. So I'm seeing it around the time you're seeing it (in the East anyway).
The opening is all about "Idol Gives Back." Ryan with his unshaved look. Judges introduced. Simon is wearing a shirt with collar and buttons (not all buttoned), so you know this is serious.
Clips from the Ryan/Simon trip again. Two numbers for each contestant tonight. Inspirational songs are the theme.
Chris starts, with Clapton's "Change the World." No mentor segment, although Ryan said Bono will be joining the show as a mentor. [Meaning, apparently, a charity mentor. A Fox release earlier today said: "The Irish singer will meet with the six AMERICAN IDOL finalists to talk about the work of ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History (www.one.org) and how the IDOL audience can help. The IDOL contestants also will perform “American Prayer,” a song written by Bono and Dave Stewart about the AIDS emergency in Africa."]
Chris is not impressing me, regardless of how intentional his singing style should be. C minus. Randy says Chris is in it to win it. Paula says great song choice and she's really proud of him. Simon calls it a good vocal, a "more sexy performance."
Break. More "Idol Gives Back" footage. Then Melinda. Faith Hill's "There Will Come a Day." Kind of a blah song but she's doing all she can to sell it. She is so professional, though, that I wish she had just ripped more. Still, B plus. Randy brings up the "resident pro" thing, adding "You have arrived." Paula says "there's no one like you" and offers a "magical." Simon loved it, especially because "it wasn't a copycat performance" and was "a vocal master class."
Ryan wonders if anyone has seen Simon's button.
Back from the break, more "Idol Gives Back" -- matching funds on phone calls, corporate support.
Blake gets the viewer question. Who cares? Song: "Imagine." One of those songs that should have been preserved with John Lennon, no covers required. Blake is doing it very straight and respectfully, which doesn't make for a showy vocal. Not bold at all. C. Randy calls it an amazing song but "just OK" -- wanted Blake to do something more with it. Paula calls it "the first real sensitive, emotional performance" from Blake. Simon says "it felt sincere" but "it didn't go anywhere."
More "IGB" footage goes into LaKisha. Fantasia's "I Believe." OK, this is a no-one-get-between-me-and-the-trophy moment, a "God as my witness, I will never be bottom three again." A minus. Randy says it wasn't her best. Paula calls her "a powerhouse vocalist" but she can't get past hearing Fantasia's version. Simon calls it "very emotional" but he's worried again about the shouting. Booing gets stronger, Simon tells audience to shut up. More booing.
Sure seems as if someone on the show has decided LaKisha shouldn't win. This is two weeks of smack in a row.
Phil. Viewer question. Then "The Change" (Garth Brooks). Not a bad start, but he goes to a spoken line or two that don't work. I think I just figured out why he so often leaves me cold. There's something Michael Bolton-like in his approach to songs, and I am not at all a Bolton fan. But Bolton would probably have amped up this song far more than Phil, who keeps it steady. C plus. Randy thinks it's Phil's second good week in a row. Paula says "this is your best." Simon says he likes Phil but he thought the country tone of a week ago suits him better. Overall, in other words, the judges are glad he did another country-ish song, since that's where they want to pigeonhole him.
Going into the break, Ryan says "Jordin has a showstopper." Break, more "IGB." Jordin is doing "You'll Never Walk Alone." Might be corny for some kids, but its' aiming right for the older viewers. Really good at building drama with the vocal. Not all there at the end, but a definite A minus.
Randy calls it one of the best vocals by any contestant ever. Paula calls her "glorious." Simon says "fantastic" and lays the groundwork for a single. (Proceeds to go to "Idol Gives Back," perhaps?)
Recap, during which my recording runs out.