Whoooooaaaa we're halfway there...WHOOOOAAAA... livin' on a prayyyyerrr...
It's BON JOVI night baby!! And it actually featured all Bon Jovi songs, none of this crap like "artists that inspire Bon Jovi" (remember how The Cure allegedly inspired Gwen Stefani on Idol a few weeks ago? )
Going into the show, I thought this could really be Phil Stacey's moment to shine. He's the only guy left with the vocal chops to handle those power tenor runs that are a trademark of Bon Jovi melodies. The three diva girls would certainly be at a disadvantage this week, none of them exactly being Miss Rock 'n Roll, and Beat-Box Blake and Timber-Lite don't exactly scream "hair band" to me.
I immediately noticed that something was up with Paula's face tonight. Did all the Botox swell up her cheeks or something? She looked like someone with a nut allergy after eating half a pecan pie.
Phil Stacey: "Blaze of Glory"
"I was the kid who stood in the mirror and sang this with the comb in my hand... I've been singing this song for 15 years" said Phil. I guess that had to be back when he had hair. The words comb and Phil Stacey don't exactly free associate for me.
Phil blew. Me. Away. I was riveted. It might be the most fun I've had during an AI performance all season. It was a great vocal and the vocalist fit the song perfectly. Phil just might have saved himself. I don't know how could Simon go negative on that one. "I don't think you've done enough to last the week... you were like a bad actor playing a rock star." I thought it was his best yet. I would also like to thank Phil for hitting the self tanner this week in a major way. I no longer need to shield my eyes from the gamma rays reflecting off his dome.
Jordin Sparks: "Livin' On a Prayer"
When Jordin told America that her MOM grew up listening to Bon Jovi, I really felt my age. And I'm not that old. Put it this way: Livin' on a Prayer was recorded three years before Jordin Sparks was born.
You feel old now too, don't you?
So far, Jordin has been one of those contestants who can handle whatever is thrown at her. Well, perhaps until tonight. Though I didn't have as much of a problem with Jordin's vocal as some of the judges did (Simon said it was "verging on shrieking sometimes"), the performance was trying WAY too hard. Jordin is not a "rocker girl" so why go out of her way fake it? And badly? She knew she was in trouble from the first verse. Why not do the song the Jordin way instead? The girls are at a serious disadvantage this week given the genre-- so that's exactly why they have to choose a song and take it in a completely different direction. Jordin could have easily handled a spare, piano version of the song with a slower tempo, or even an "MTV Unplugged" style turn with just herself and an acoustic guitarist onstage. Re-imagining the original version of the song is so much of what made the performances later in the show work.
Now let's talk about the Diana Ross meets Chaka Khan fro. Bad idea. Just horrible. I didn't think that the 80's-inspired black babydoll-over-black-leggings outfit was that bad, though. Jordin dresses well for her body type, especially since the producers bound and gagged whomever put her in that cropped hoodie on Gwen Stefani night.
Since the scores are combined from last week and this week, I think Jordin might survive... but stranger things have happened.
LaKisha Jones: "This Ain't a Love Song"
"I've heard of Bon Jovi and seen him on Oprah, but I've never listened to his music."
With LaKisha, let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. That top with the red cummerbund was horrid. Talk about not dressing for your body type. She clearly wasn't comfortable in it either. Luckily, her performance more than made up for poor fashion. LaKisha owned this song. She did everything with Bon Jovi that Jordin didn't do with her performance and blew the doors off the place. "LaKisha, I could actually kiss you after that." said Simon. And then, she did.
LaKisha is still quite vulnerable in tomorrow's double-elimination, but tonight's tour de force certainly puts momentum on her side.
Blake Lewis: "You Give Love a Bad Name"
"There's great... charm in it, but I don't know... this one is rolling the dice" said Bon Jovi, by way of introduction to Beat-Box Blake's performance. While Blake has never been my personal cup of tea, I really appreciated the ingenuity of this performance and actually welcomed back the beat boxing after it's long absence (was that his strategy all along?) Taking a risk like he did in this stage of the competition is a huge gamble, I mean like a 7-8 suited against pocket queens kind of gamble, but I think it paid off for him big time tonight. Talk about putting a personal stamp on the song. Not everyone is going to love Blake's style, but it was absolutely the right move for him at the right time.
Chris Richardson: "Wanted Dead or Alive"
Oh man... he forgot the lyrics in front of Bon Jovi! That's like, totally embarrassing! OK..I will never ever buy Timber-lite singing the lyrics "I'm a cowboy." Are you with me on that one? I think this is Timber-lite's swan song, so why not go out with a bang. This performance completely exposed just how thin and weak his voice is. It is now laid bare to the world. There is no power behind Timber-lite's nasal falsetto! Those backup singers were getting a serious workout on the choruses. I think Timber-lite is the only lock to go tomorrow night.
Melinda Doolittle: "Have a Nice Day"
Here's why every single performance by Melinda is in a class by itself. She connects with the song, with every word of the lyric. She really thinks about what she's singing, the whole meaning and emotion behind it. Simon said she was "like a young Tina Turner." Melinda's version of this song is a great example of how you can maintain part of the rock vibe-- a rock orchestration, a slight rock touch to her shirt-- but not go overboard to the point of being phony. Another thing that worked for Melinda (and this goes for LaKisha as well) is that the song she chose is not a classic. It hasn't been done at every karaoke bar in America. So putting her own stamp on it wasn't such a drastic change. Viva la Melinda, we'll see you next week!
Here's how I stand with our remaining contestants:
This week's Performance Rankings (week of 5/1):
1. Phil Stacey
2. LaKisha Jones
3. Melinda Doolittle
4. Beat-Box Blake
5. Jordin Sparks
1. Jordin Sparks
2. Melinda Doolittle
3. LaKisha Jones
4. Phil Stacey
5. Beat-Box Blake
In trouble: Timber-lite, Phil Stacey, LaKisha Jones
Safe: Melinda Doolittle
Will be voted off: Timber-lite, and I think, unfortunately, Phil Stacey
Current Bodog odds on the remaining contestants:
Jordin Sparks: 10-11
Melinda Doolittle: 6-5
Blake Lewis: 5-1
LaKisha Jones: 12-1
Chris Richardson: 30-1
Phil Stacey: 40-1