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American Idol: The emancipation of Mimi

It’s Mariah Carey week and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m not a big fan of her music but as celebrity personalities go, it doesn’t any better than this.

Kathy: It’s Mariah Carey week and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m not a big fan of her music but as celebrity personalities go, it doesn’t any better than this.

I’ve always kind of been fascinated with Mimi. I loved her back in the day when she was married to her svengali manager, and later, when she dated Derek Jeter and started a fashion trend by cutting the waistbands off all her jeans and even when she stuffed herself into too-tight spandex outfits. I dug her when she melted down on “TRL.” I was amused by her ill-advised attempt at acting — remember “Glitter”? Through all these travails, her career may have dipped a bit it never went in the toilet like those of other pop stars with public relations problems. Gotta love her. Now, I’m admiring the new, slender, classier Mariah.

Lord knows, she’s got a gigantor catalog of No. 1 hits for the contestants to choose from. But she’s one of those untouchables I keep harping on (along with Whitney, Celine, Xtina and, for me, Queen). Nobody can match that bazillion-octave range, certainly none of this year’s Idols. Nobody should even try. But here they are, forced to. My instinct is that the boys will fare better, if only because they won’t sound as if they are trying, and failing, to imitate her. I’m predicting an all girl bottom 3 this week. We’ll see.

(I wrote the above before the show and, as usual, Simon said exactly what I was thinking. But producers, is it really fair to set up half the contestants to fail?)

Erin: I need to a moment of silence and reflect on the great loss of Michael Johns. Oh Michael, we hardly knew ye. Your memory will triumph on as I cringe to the high pitch squeals and song-butchering stylings of Kristy, not to mention the rantings of Syesha telling me to believe in myself. I know that there was no way you would have won “Idol,” but I at least expected you to stick for another few weeks. If you need help getting through this ordeal of getting the boot too early in the competish, I suggest you contact Jennifer Hudson or Daughtry. I hear they are doing all right.

Anywho… back to Mariah.

Now, while Kathy embraces the antics of Mimi, I must admit I’m not the biggest fan. But while her music might not be my cup of tea, I must admit that the lady has a tremendous set of pipes on her. She’s got a gift. A gift that’s wrapped up in a package of instability and halter tops at times, but a gift nonetheless.

I agree with Kathy that this will be a difficult situation for the Idols. Well, the girls at least. When a chick attempts to sing a Mariah song, there will inevitably be comparisons. But for the boys, it will give them a chance to shine as they come up with creative ways to interpret the tunes.

Or both groups will bore us to death with ballads. It can go either way.

Beginning audience camera pans reveal Minnie Drive and Teri Hatcher in the audience.

David A. (TV Guide power ranking #2)
Song: “When You Believe”
Erin: Once again the kid is in his element, so he shines like a diamond. David A. lost a little face over the weeks due to his issues with Beatles songs and a deep unabiding love for obscure Canadian ballads, but this week he’s returned to the top, despite the falsetto and leather pants. This song is the exactly why teen girls love, love, love him.
Kathy: Leather pants. Oh my.
Mariah did this as a duet with Whitney so it really had that double-whammy potential for failure. But since he’s a boy, the judges all loved it. Had Syesha busted out with this song, she would have been slammed. Did he do much with the song? No. Is he safe for another week? You betcha. I really don’t get the appeal of this kid. But I’m not 12 so there you go.

Carly (TV Guide power ranking #5)
Song: “Without You”
Erin: I’m amused that Mariah called her own song a classic.
Carly brought down the range to her level of singing ability, but in doing that, came off as too restrained and low key. It was very technical and lacked a lot of passion. I thought it was mediocre at best.
Kathy: Carly says it’s been boring without Michael Johns. I hear ya, sister! And I was also amused that Mariah called this a classic, then I realized it was a cover of someone else’s song. Badfinger, as it turns out. Thank you, Wikipedia. At least Carly wore sleeves this week. That might stave off elimination this time around. But the girl has got to start investing herself in the songs. To borrow Simon’s favorite insult, she really is very much a cruise ship singer. She’s fine if you’re floating down the Panama Canal enjoying some beef Wellington and chocolate mousse but she’s not the kind of singer who’s going to collect Grammys and sell out arenas. She’s just lacking that certain magic that makes you want to plunk down your hard earned cash for tickets.

Syesha (TV Guide power ranking #7)

Erin: Nope. This song doesn’t ring a bell, which could be a good thing. Picking obscure songs is the way to go with the girls to avoid any comparison, but it gives even hardcore Mariah lovers nothing to grasp onto. To her credit, Syesha hits the high notes like Naomi Campbell hits the help.
Kathy: Is it just me or did these first three songs all sound exactly like one another?
Poor, poor Syesha. She just can’t win with these judges. For weeks she’s been criticized for singing songs that are too familiar thus inviting comparisons to the original. So she puts on her thinking cap, chooses a more obscure song that suits her voice and then the judges ding her for not choosing a song people know. What is she supposed to do? Well, Syesha, at least your stint on “Idol” may boost your fledgling acting career.

Brooke (TV Guide power ranking #4)
Song: “Hero”
Erin: Brooke bypasses the high notes altogether to match her Joni Mitchell/Tori Amos/Carly Simon vibe. In doing that, the tune works on a certain level, but nothing I haven’t seen at the mall when they hire the holiday singers for shoppers. Simon calls her a hamburger without the meat, and she does this cute pouty thing.
Oh Brooke, you just might have missed your sister’s wedding for nothing.
Kathy: Brooke tried something a little daring and it almost, sort of, worked. She missed some notes here and there, but at least she wasn’t doing a strict imitation of Mariah. I think she deserves props for attempting to put a spin on the proceedings. And she wore a great dress, I’ll give her that much. How this all devolved into an argument between the judges about fast food fare, I’ll never know.

Kristy Lee (TV Guide power ranking #6)
Song: “Forever”
Erin: A perfect song that accurately describes what it feels like to listen to Kristy sing. At this point, it’s clear that all the girls have the same gameplan and are steering clear of the hits to avoid comparisons, thus creating one of the most boring nights on “Idol” yet. Mariah told Kristy that her version of the song gave her goosebumps. I’m pretty sure it was shingles.
Still not a fan of the chick and her country-fried song stylings. As she struggles through the ballad, it makes me miss my saucy Aussie even more. Each high note is like a dagger. A dagger that was been bedazzled, covered in sprinkles and has Kristy’s name written on the side in puffy paint.
Kathy: Another shiny outfit and another song that sounds just like the first three. And, I’m bored to death. Did Kristy sell her pizzazz along with her pony?
Erin: Man, the ladies are not faring very well at all. Now I see why Mariah chose to stay away.
Kathy: I don’t know how they decide on the order of the performances but who’s the genius who decided to lump all the girls in the middle of the show, knowing full well they’d struggle with this week’s assignment? It was like an engraved i
nvitation for the non-recapping audience to tune out. But if you had tuned out, you would have missed the turning point of the season…

David C. (TV Guide power ranking #1)
Song: “Always Be My Baby”
Erin: I was kind of hoping he would rock out to “Fantasy,” but David C. still delivers the goods with a Nickelback-esque version of the Mariah tune. Looks like the boy is back on top after last week’s fiasco.
Hey, maybe I can rebound with David C.? I did feel a pang of jealously when that dancer felt him up at the “Idol Gives Back” perf. Naw, it’s probably best if I don’t get too attached. I like David C., but my track record at picking “Idol” winners is not the best.
Oh, but he’s tearing up. That’s so cute.
Kathy: Finally. I’ve finally seen the performance of the season. The kind that validates all the hours I spend with this show. That little jolt of humility he got last week seems to have done him a world of good. I imagine Mr. Cook really had trouble wrapping his head around the task at hand this week. Mariah isn’t exactly in his wheelhouse. But he took a ballad nobody probably ever wanted to hear again and made it something special. Bravo! At last, I believe somebody deserves to win this thing.

Jason (TV Guide power ranking #3)
Song: “I Don’t Want to Cry”
Erin:Does anyone else out there think that Jason looks exactly like Clifford from “Muppets Tonight”? Am I alone on this?
“Idol’s” posterboy for the legalization of marijuana gives the Mimi song a Caribbean feel, sans the steel drum. And honestly, it works in his favor. Like all of his male cohorts, he did well with the song because he made it different enough to not be boring.
Kathy: He does have a bit of a Clifford vibe going on. Being a boy really didn’t help Jason at all, if you ask me. He was no better than David A. and three of the girls. There was no risk, no attempt to make us forget the original version. Nothing special at all here for me.

Erin: All the boys
Kathy: David C. by a huge margin

Bottom 3:
Erin: Pick three girls
Kathy: Carly, Syesha, Kristy

American Idol: The emancipation of Mimi

Fox; Tues., 8 pm

Cast: Related links: Season Pass
Lack of personalities concerns Cowell

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