Now that it's down to the Top 12, my recap will be complete. Alphabetically (how diplomatic). Photos included indicates a Top 5 Kelly Choice (not diplomatic). Diana Ross night.
Except for a few rough edges that may be attributed to his amateur status, Blake knows himself and his style, and he's true to them both. His singing voice is good, although sometimes it is under-emphasized in comparison to everything else going on (beatboxing, fancy footwork, etc.). I think he did a fine job of arranging "You Keep Me Hanging On" to fit his style, even if it rubbed the judges the wrong way. Blake gets a vote tonight.
It's disappointing that I don't like Brandon as much now as in the audition process. Clearly, he has talent. I mean, he's a professional backup singer. But week after week, he's been, well, weak. Tonight's version of the always fabulous song, "You Can't Hurry Love," was just... you know, weak. Such a waste.
I have liked Chris despite (or perhaps because of) his obvious desire to be the doppelganger of a certain boy band veteran named after woods and water. Tonight, his Justinian falsetto aerobics and trills were just confusing, and his choice of song ("The Boss") was downright puzzling. C'mon, it's Diana Ross. Surely you could have picked a better song!
Again, a contestant creates a unique arrangement, and it completely tweaks the judges. I don't know why. I think Chris has come the closest to taking a contrived situation ("Everyone sing Gregorian chant, regardless of your strengths") and making it work for his particular style. [Chris Daughtry was particularly good at this last year.] If the judges would have gotten over their personal dislike of the arrangement, I think they would have found his vocals to be as strong as all his previous performances.
I like Gina. Really, I do. She's a much better singer than I am. That said, I'm an absolutely terrible singer. She did OK tonight, but I can't see her making it more than a few more weeks (and only that long to allow for the worst to be voted off first). It cracked me up when Paula told her that "Love Child" should be a fun, upbeat song. Um, Paula, have you ever listened to that song?
Poor Haley. She's beautiful (although tonight's pumpkin-shaped, eggplant-colored, hip-banded, baby doll dress was a nightmare). Unfortunately for her, no matter how important it is for pop singers to be pretty, they also have to possess a certain degree of talent. I felt bad for her because she knew that she had botched it up but good (although that post-singing performance was a bit hammy). Her departure from the show this week would be the only acceptable reason for Sanjaya making it through again. Bye, bye Haley.
Jordin has her ups and downs, all of which (I believe) can be attributed to her youth. Through it all, she has a very strong voice and, in the right circumstances, has let it roar. Tonight, she roared. The song (some obscure piece from the movie "Land Before Time") sounded remarkably like a Vanessa-Williams-sings-Disney bit, but she completely pulled it off. If she can sing like this more often, she could make it a long way toward the prize. Just no more sappy songs!
I haven't been shy in my praise for Ms. Jones. Tonight is different only to assert that she is clearly separate-from-but-equal-to Melinda Doolittle, to whom I'd given a slight edge to first place last week. LaKisha (or Kiki, as Diana Ross presumptuously called her) was stunning, running slightly afoul of the A.I. rules by singing the Billie Holliday song, "God Bless the Child" (she got away with it because Diana Ross covered the song for the movie "Lady Sings the Blues."). If she doesn't win the crown, she'll have no trouble finding a recording contract of her own -- probably from 19 Records.
Well, we all know how I feel about Melinda, don't we? Tonight did nothing to change my opinion of her. She took a song I would otherwise have thought nothing about ("Home" from the movie, "The Wiz"), and made me interested in it. She is just that good. She's a pro, and unlike Brandon, she has been completely up to the challenge of stepping into the spotlight. Going out on a (very strong) limb, and saying that the Top 2 will be Melinda and LaKisha.
You know, I haven't really been that excited about Phil all along. In my opinion, bald doesn't work for him. But let's focus on the singing. What I've seen is a guy who gets utterly lost at the beginning of a song (particularly in the lower range), and then strengthens only when the chorus swells. Tonight, he was able to bring most of that strength to almost the entire song, although he does tend to get LOUD when he gets strong.
Heavy sigh. Yes, he's adorable. As Diana Ross said, "he is love." OK, we get it. The sweet 17-year old has a heart of gold. Remember how he cried when he made it onto the finals and his sister didn't? Awww. Sweet. However, 'sweet' didn't help him reach the peaks of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." He tried too hard and still didn't get anywhere close to the power and emotional impact that song almost innately carries. And someone needs to tell him to be more assertive when the stylists walk toward him -- grinning maniacally -- with hair irons in their hands. Run away!
Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie. Early on in the Top 24, she was among my favorites. And I still think that she's got talent. But she doesn't do herself any favors with song choice. A disco Diana Ross song ("Love Hangover") just didn't do it for me. I'll pull the Paula routine and comment on her look, though. She has the most sensational outfits. Tonight's dress was another stunner. I've yet to see her dressed in anything that wasn't absolutely gorgeous. I still have hope that she'll rapidly develop some mysterious personality trait and rebound. We'll see.
Ugh, it takes me too long to do these entries! I've called in my votes, but now I really need to go get some sleep. 'Night!
"Never Get Enough" by Raul Midon. I discovered this album when NPR did a piece on him. Once I listened to it, I was transformed. It is a magical album. He is magical.
Actual posting time: 12:42am zzzzzzzzzzzz..............