Has Jon Bon Jovi truly been coasting for two decades on songs that have no dynamics, no nuances and no modulation? Talk about taking a final six and putting them in an area in which only one person, Melinda Doolittle, of course, shined while the others made Bon Jovi tunes lifeless and dull. If Jersey Jon had visited the set earlier in the competition, it could have shaken up the balance of power so severely that this final six would be a different set of contestants.
The singers went mostly with the hits and only Doolittle’s “Have a Nice Day” stepped out of the karaoke realm. One exception: Blake Lewis’ goofy rendition of “You Give Love a Bad Name” had Simon Cowell accurately say half the audience will hate it and half will love it.
Regardless of the material, this is the producers’ first true misstep with a coach: The singers could not perform the material, including Chris Richardson who has yet to appear comfortable with any genre. He appears to think he has an inner-Nelly Furtado — clipping lyrics, the imitation hip-hop arm movements — but he has been the least convincing performer over the last four eps. Richardson, who skated by early as Justin Timberfake, is now the weakest singer on the show, agree or disagree?
JOSEF ADALIAN: What? Don’t you know nasal is a “form” of singing, Phil? I agree. Chris is out of his league at this point in the competition. He sings all songs the same, and Blake is much more talented in the role of token “cute boy.”
KATHY LYFORD: Absolutely, Chris has taken over that title from Phil, who’s still bad, make no mistake. It’s time for Chris to go home. On a night when they all knew a third of them are being sent home, he didn’t even appear to put any effort into it. I can see better karaoke at the corner bar almost any night of the week. Ditto Jordin and Phil.
GALLO: Last week, Lyford and I attended the Disney Hall concert and were astounded at the difference between the live show and the TV sound: Rascal Flatts was decent enough live and uninspired on TV; Kelly Clarkson was good live and magical on TV, while the reverse was true about Annie Lennox. Tuesday night Phil Stacey’s voice lacked a rock tone and sang “Blaze of Glory” with no authority. Randy and Paula loved it, Simon pooh-poohed it. Another live vs. hall example?
ADALIAN: No, Simon was right. Phil offered up a decent performance, but vocally he’s uninspired. There’s just no passion there.
LYFORD: If Simon had agreed with Randy and Paula, I’d have thought that was the explanation. But Simon heard what I heard, so it’s more likely that Randy and Paula are wrong. I don’t think they really “listen” as much as they “watch.” Something about Phil’s little walk through the audience snowed them. I notice that Simon looks down for part of each performance as if he’s really just wanting to hear what you’d hear if the song played on the radio.
GALLO: LaKisha delivered a comeback performance. Lack of knowledge of the song, “This Ain’t a Love Song,” seemed to help her, and who knows what effect smooching with Simon will have. But did it do enough to save her?
ADALIAN: The diva is back. While still a bit too low energy for my taste, she’s finally trying again. Still, Melinda still overshadowed her, and Jordin may have the youth vote. An upset is a possibility.
LYFORD: I definitely think LaKisha saved herself. After consecutive weeks of performing former Idols’ songs (a cardinal sin on this show), she came back with a song from the Bon Jovi catalog that only the most ardent fan would be familiar with. As a result she can’t be accused of imitation. She also toned down the shouting and finally sang. She should be safe for at least one more week.
GALLO: Will there be enough beat box fans to compensate for Blake’s doe-eyed “Imagine,” which probably had him starting in the bottom three? I thought his intro, in which he mimicked setting a needle on a record was cute, but after that it was stupid gimmick. His hiccupping the lyrics ripped the power out of “Bad Name” and there’s no way he’s in the top three.
Jordin Sparks had the worst performance of her “Idol” run. She knew it, the judges knew it and, quite possibly a few too many “”Idol” voters know it. After shining last week in an arena where it is important — singing songs that inspire — it would be a shame to see her depart on one bad perf. If the voters get it right, Chris and Blake head home.
ADALIAN: You couldn’t be more wrong about Blake. I’ve never seen more musical originality from an “Idol” contestant. I worried he would crash and burn, but he took what has become a cliched song and made it cool again. I even loved his lean into the audience while holding the mic — an homage to the video. Jordin was awful, but thankfully she was great last week; she should be able to hold on. Bottom line: Chris is a goner, with either Phil or LaKisha also exiting.
LYFORD: I’d say Chris and Phil go home. Jordin can rest on her laurels this week but she’d better be back on top next week. And Blake has some sort of magical power over young fans that should keep him around a wee bit longer. He should go back to the spiky, highlighted do, however, or it will cost him votes.
Voted off: Chris Richardson and Phil Stacey