March 27, 2007

MUSIC: American Idol (Gwen Stefani's favorites)

Gwen Stefani came to Idol and brought with her a night of bland competence. Almost everything was OK, and almost nothing was memorable.

The rundown:

LaKisha, "Last Dance" -- I'm less enchanted with LaKisha's technical proficiency every week, because each week, there's less and less personality behind it. She didn't smile once, and her performances are so emotionally vacant that I can't get involved in them.

Chris S., "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" -- the song suits his voice very well, but his performance is off. He's running out of air at the ends of phrases, which is making his pitch sink; he's dropping final consonants like mad (in the opening, for instance, when there's no "t" at the end of "staaaaaaaaaaaaart"). And as the judges note, he's never in the same tempo as the band.

Gina, "I'll Stand By You" -- excellent song choice, and by far her best performance of the competition. There are no major flaws, and if only she had the charisma of Jordin or Melinda, performances like this might keep her in the running.

Sanjaya, "Bathwater" -- the hair! Oh my lord, the hair! As for the performance, well, there really isn't much to say about Sanjaya's singing at this point. Sure, I could dredge though the thesaurus for a few more synonyms for awful, but his presence in the competition is no longer amusing or entertaining. Henceforth, all I will have to say about Sanjaya is this: He tried his hardest. It wasn't very good.

Haley, "True Colors" -- not awful, though it didn't feel so much like a pop song as it did like the big number of the secondary female character in a bad off-Broadway musical. Like so many of tonight's performances, it was entirely competent and entirely forgettable.

Phil, "Every Breath You Take" -- quite nicely done, actually, and pleasantly understated. I could not help, though, but fill in the phrase "I'll be watching you... with my freakishly oversized eyes."

Melinda, "Heaven Knows" -- not spectacular, merely very, very good, which is better than anyone else has managed tonight. Melinda continues to run rings around the rest of the pack. Smart move, by the way, to get her hair off her shoulders; she has a short neck, and hiding it makes her look like a turtle.

Blake, "Lovesong" -- no beatboxing, thank god, but it's not a very interesting song and it's an even less interesting performance. The judges are right that he's the best of the men, but that's not saying a lot, and he can't coast forever on simply not sucking.

Jordin, "Hey Baby" -- who is this bland bore that's taken Jordin's spot on stage? This is flabby where it should be crisp, and there's no spark, no pizzazz to it at all. It's pitched too low for her, and the low notes in the verse are disappearing entirely.

Chris R., "Don't Speak" -- his pitch is all over the place on the verse, and while the chorus is better, his voice is still so unpleasantly thin and whiny that it's no fun at all to listen to him.

For the night: Melinda, Gina, Phil, LaKisha, Blake, Jordin, Chris S., Haley, Chris R., Sanjaya. With the exception of Melinda and Sanjaya at the ends, though, I could be persuaded to move just about anyone up or down a couple of spots; it was a night of uniformly bland pleasantness.

For the season: Melinda, Jordin, LaKisha, Blake, Gina, Phil, Chris R., Chris S., Haley, Sanjaya.

Should go home: Sanjaya. Probably will go home: Haley, though I would not be surprised if it were Chris S.

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