Jon Bon Jovi and other things, after the jump ...
A little bit of a delay tonight, since I'm starting late.
Famous faces in the audience -- if you count Antonella Barba as famous. Ryan thanks everyone for "Idol Gives Back," saying the total is now close to $70 million. Introduction of judges. Introduction of the weekly fawning tape, this one about Bon Jovi as a band. JBJ and the keyboardist are the mentors. JBJ thinks they need to bring sincerity and to make the songs their own.
Phil starts, with "Blaze of Glory." "Holy moly," he says, "I am jammin' with Bon Jovi." Jon thinks he knocked it out of the park. Phil says he's been practicing it for 15 years. Performance starts in the audience. Considering how hard the judges have been trying to make Phil a country singer, he's got a good handle on this rocker. B plus.
Randy says he is happy for Phil -- and calls it his best performance ever "other than country week." Never let go of the pigeonhole. Paula thinks it the best opening number of the season. Simon calls it "OK" -- gets booed, snaps at the audience, and then goes on to say Phil hasn't got enough to last until next week. Maybe he is having trouble with Phil's especially shiny head.
After the break, Ryan intros Gina Glocksen as part of a plug for the Idols Live summer tour.
Jordin. Her mom grew up on Bon Jovi and "from birth put Bon Jovi in my face." I think there's a compliment in there. She's going for "Livin' on a Prayer." Jon says he "couldn't sing half that good" at Jordin's age. She's trying for a rock-chick vibe (with lights and accompaniment to enhance it) and it's not selling. She gets better as she goes, but she still seems, I don't know, too young and girly for this song. B. Randy says she is definitely not the rock girl, choruses OK but the verses "were a little rough." Paula extends considerable sympathy even though "it was a little bit out of your range." Simon says "cue the boos" and criticizes her look and calls the singing "out of control ... verging on shrieking."
LaKisha. "Idol" fan question. Don't care. In the tape says she has "never ever" heard his music. Picks "This Ain't a Love Song." Jon says he would bet money she's not going home this week. She'd better not. She's just doing it as a soul song with a heavy guitar backing. Not her best, because the song isn't that great, but not anything that's going to make people doubt her, either. B plus. Randy says "LaKisha's back." Paula also pleased. Simon says "I actually could kiss you after that." And they do!
Blake. Usual hair in the tape, but it was dyed dark in the live promo. "You Give Love a Bad Name," with what Jon calls an "adventurous" approach. Which does not seem to please him. Live performance. Lots of vocal trickery on the way to the chorus. Serious mistake. Beat box noise in the middle, doing beat and response with the drummer. Another serious mistake. And he could have sung it straight and done fine. D. Randy calls it "the most original" interpretation of a song in "Idol" history and says it worked. Paul a, who gave him a standing O, says "this was your night." Simon notes half the audience will hate it and half will love it and calls him "very brave."
Chris. "Wanted Dead or Alive." Chris notes that Daughtry did it last year but insists someone has to do it. Jon notes that he didn't know all the words. Also wants Chris to find the blues in the song. Fair start although, like Jordin, he seems a little too untried for the song; I don't as a rule think of Bon Jovi songs as mature, but they can have a jaded and weary quality that is lacking in boyish Chris. C plus. Randy approves. Paula considers it a great night (and it's not bad). Simon notes it's not Chris's style of music and wonders if he did well enough to last another week.
Melinda to close. Tells Jon, "I am so bad at rock." Jon says he can teach her. She takes "Have a Nice Day." Jon tries to teach her to take it to church. She says, "OK. I like church."
I had to pause to laugh some. Loved that line. Live, not sure yet which church she's going to. May just be the Church of Bon Jovi. She can sit in the front row. But there's still something not quite there. Great vocal, but I'm not buying the rock thing. Still, B plus. Randy calls it hot. Paula calls her a rock star. And repeats it a few times. Simon echoes Randy that she's like a young Tina Turner.
And we close with a taped message from President and Mrs. Bush, thanking "Idol Gives Back," including all the celebrities, though only Bono gets a shout-out by name. Recap includes extra-effective clips of Blake and Melinda.