As contestants from American Idol took the stage once more in Florida last night, The Palm Beach Post had a review of a few of the performers...
Melinda Doolittle: I was worried in the beginning that Mindy Doo was holding back too much, allowing herself to be overshadowed by other singers, especially LaKisha. But the second half of the show was a large improvement, and featured a "Natural Woman" that politely walks Kelly Clarkson's version to the woods and leaves it there without breadcrumbs. (I love Kelly. But you had to see it.) And she looked HOT.
Jordin Sparks: One of my fellow reporters noted that, late into the second half, winner Jordin seemed to be a footnote in her own victory. Everybody else seemed to have a lot more stage time. But that was before the last 20 minutes, which became the Jordin Show. She has such a stage presence when seen live. and delivered a solid, incredibly effortless "I Who Have Nothing," a pretty good "Broken Wing" and a version of snore-happy winning single "This Is My Now" that at least kept you awake.
The kid is pretty good at the guitar, too. I will say that the choice of that icky treacle as the single let me know how much the producers wanted her to win, because it wasn't anywhere near the style of fellow finalist Blake Lewis' strength. Yes, it's a conspiracy theory. Talk amongst yourselves.
Chris Richardson: also got a heck of a lot of spotlight shone on his little buzz-cut noggin. He was the lyrical oomph to Blake's beat-box on "Geek In The Pink," which was competent on TV but flowed nearly perfectly on stage. He avoided a lot of the nasalness that Simon Cowell was always after him for. Nasal is a style of singing, like Chris told Simon. Just not one that works as well as what he did on stage.
Sanjaya Malakar: As his mom told me later "He can sing!" I didn't care for some of his Michael Jackson-esque choreography on "The Way You Make Me Feel," but he sounded great, moving around in front of a screen showing some of his greatest hair hits. One thing - why no faux-hawk? And he plays a mean tambourine.
Chris Sligh: OK, I gotta tell you something. This guy is the one that most shocked the biscuits out of me, because while the show proved that he has a solid voice, nothing hinted at its richness on stage, its range, or how confident and even sexy he becomes when behind a guitar. His version of Mute Math's "Typical" was fascinating, because with him playing, his voice sounded more edgy and rock-like. Drat. We didn't see half of what he could do on the show. We wuz robbed.
LaKisha Jones: I don't know what she's been doing in her time off, but something tells me it involves stage craft lessons. This girl came off as a consummate professional, and the cockiness that seemed to inform her decision to blow off all the guest mentors and always do her own thing, even when it backfired, seems to have become confidence.
Her best moment came when she once again acknowledged that she was ignoring the popular edict to never attempt "I Will Always Love You" and just blew that thing all over the ceiling. I got chills. When she ran up to the big glory note, she just attacked it like "Yeah I nailed it. You had doubts?" I did. But I won't get fooled again. I still think it wouldn't have killed her to at least listen to Tony Bennett a little bit, though.
Haley Scarnato: Like Melinda, she got better as the show went on. I think sometimes she was unable to hear herself in the monitor, so she appeared to be shouting. But her re-do of "When God-Fearing Women Get The Blues" was much stronger than it was earlier in the evening. And she owned her part on "Life Is A Highway." Good for her.Gina Glocksen: I'll keep it simple: this girl can sing. I'm sorry that her vocal resemblance to Pink, paired with her pop-punk-goth style, make her seem derivative, because she's got a Pat Benatar-like gift of power. I would love to see her veer a little away from the rock stuff that makes her seem ordinary, because she's truly gifted.
Phil Stacey: The other vocal stand-out of the night, the bald one nailed everything he tackled, including the lead on "Hey Jude," which the guys played themselves, and a soulful, sweet take on Ray Charles version of "America The Beautiful." Again, the TV show just scratched the surface of his charisma - he was so relaxed here, probably because he didn't have to deal with Simon glaring at him.
I gotta tell you that I don't often agree with Simon, but I did whenever he was hard on Phil. Just because he didn't "look like the American Idol" doesn't mean he didn't have one of the best natural voices on that show. Take that, Judgey Boy.