So, this is the first week on American Idol where they didn't sexually segregate the men and women, with the result being that we got a better-than-ever sense of how much worse the dudes are. Diana Ross showed up from whatever coke fog she's been drifting through to force people to sing her songs, and one person's going to go home on this debacle of an episode. Let's see which one.
BRANDON: Brandon actually forgot some lyrics here, and worse still, he forgot some lyrics in one of Diana Ross' most famous songs. I mean, shit, even I know the words to this number. It's not going to doom him, though, because the rest of the male field is so rotten. In a just world, he'd be gone, but people like Sanjaya are still around, so he'll survive. (Randy delivered one of those backhanded compliments that he has instead of insight by saying "the last two notes sounded good".)
MELINDA: Melinda tore it up, as usual. I fucking hate this song, but Melinda killed on it, and she continues to kill on everything she does. She didn't take many chances, but she doesn't have to, because she's so head and shoulders above everybody else. (I'm not even going to talk about Paula crying. Making that drunk bonebag cry is like shooting fish in a barrel of Vat 69.)
FAT CHRIS: I appreciate what Chris is trying to do here: he's trying to make the swill Idol contestants are forced to sing interesting. And I can't blame him; this show is agonizing enough if you have any musical taste, which is why I focus on technique so much. But you know what? This blew. You can't make "Endless Love" better by mixing it up with Coldplay, because Coldplay sucks almost as much as Lionel Richie. He'll be safe because he's charming and talented, but this was a major league pratfall.
GINA:: After finally winning me over last week, Gina lost me again here. The low register didn't work for me, and she glossed over enough of this that I think she might have forgotten some lyrics too. The song always makes me think of the bar scene with Ziggy in season 2 of The Wire, and I think those guys did it better. ("Pitchy", you say! Tell me more, Randy.)
SANJAYA: Oh dear god almighty. Sanjaya has never been any good, and he's even more not-good now after trying to sing a song that is as far out of his microscopic vocal range as "Ebben?...Ne andrò lontana" is out of mine. For the love of all that is holy, get this hapless mope out of here; it's only going to get worse by keeping him around. Pull the trigger, already.
HALEY: I guess if you're gonna undersell a song, this is the one to undersell, and she wasn't as much of a nonentity as she has been in the past, but she also appeared to forget some words, and I think the only thing keeping her alive was getting the white-girl vote, which will now default to Gina. I think this may be the end of the line for Haley if Sanyaja's maddening pity streak continues.
PHIL: The only reason Phil keeps on going is because he's so boring, and boring is better than roten, and there's a lot of rotten performances this time around. He survives only because, again, the field of males is so weak overall.
LAKISHA: Man, she picked the perfect song for her to show off what she's got, and prove that she's more than just a belter. I think I was more impressed with this than the judges, even, and she'd be a walk-away winner if it wasn't for the existence of Melinda Doolittle. "God Belss the Child" is one of those songs that's all over the map, but goddamn, LaKisha just pounded it, hitting the right tone in every single spot, even at the very end where it looked like she might fuck up. Fantastic.
BLAKE: Wait, who? Blake has been one of the only guys to do anything worth listening to, but this was a horrid botch. His ProTools mix was dull as freeze-dried dust, and his performance really could have benefitted from some beatboxing. If this was the first time I'd seen Blake, I wouldn't bet on him to make it out of the first round. He'll be saved, like Phil, only by the fact that there were people a lot worse. Rotten. (I don't expect Simon to be nice to anyone, and saying he "didn't get it" was a lot kinder than Blake deserved.)
STEPHANIE: Boy, Stephanie, who's been a powerhouse all through this, really lost it tonight. She's always been #2 to Melinda and slightly ahead of LaKisha for me, but this time, it's the other way around: she was little more than competent, seemed to sorta sleepwalk through it, didn't hit the last note, and didn't even look that great, which is a drag, because she's always had the best wardrobe of all the contestants so far. Still, she's done so well in the past that there's no way she's getting voted out.
THIN CHRIS: I didn't think Thin Chris was as awful as Simon did, but he sure wasn't good. His looks will keep him safe for a while, but this was the kind of yawn-inducing nothing of a performance that doomed people like Paul Kim and Mariah Carey. Saved by the grace of Haley is this guy.
JORDIN: The biggest problem with Jordin is that she's sort of generically good (as opposed to the generically bad of Haley and Phil); she's never less than competent but she rarely stands out against the phenomenal Melinda or the dynamic LaKisha. Tonight, thought, I thought she was pretty great -- she filled the swanky-smooth soul-jazz role normally occupied by Stephanie. She's definitely safe, and if this turns out to be a leap forward instead of an abberation, the field of legitimate contenders goes from three to four.
So, my prediction of who's doomed: SHOULD BE Sanjaya, WILL BE Haley. Note, however, that my predictions are are generally terrible, and as the field of eliminated contestants now has been narrowed from 4 a week to 1, this will only become more obvious.