It’s kind of funny how this week, when we are deciding on our final twelve, solidifies everything. It shows us our suspicions are correct. The confused seem to still not get it; those that were barely hanging in there are still doing so, and the great just become even more phenomenal.
Paris Bennett opens it up tonight by telling us a little known fact about herself. She used to be a tomboy, hanging out with her cousins and brothers. While I’m still trying to picture that, she launches into Gloria Estefan’s Conga. So far, since the auditions, Paris has shown us country, jazz, classic R&B, and the great grandmother genre. This week she’s tackling Latin. She manages to pull it off, as with everything else, but I must admit I’ve hard this song sound better.
Randy Jackson calls Conga an interesting song choice, and is surprised by it. He admits it’s not his favorite, but he believes she can sing anything. Hasn’t she already? Randy would also like to see Paris challenge herself. Paula Abdul prefers hearing Paris do uptempo songs like this, but agrees that it’s an interesting song choice. It’s a difficult song to sing, but Paula also has to admit it captivated her attention. Simon Cowell notes that after last week, Paris really needed to do a younger song. He thinks her nerves showed up, being that it’s such an important week. Nevertheless, Simon knows people love Paris, and thinks we’ll still see her next week.
Despite singing older women ballads every week, Lisa Tucker says she loves Jimi Hendrix. He even inspired her to learn to play the electric guitar. Odd then, to hear her singing Tiffany Taylor’s Where I Stand after that statement. This seems to fit Lisa much better than the last few weeks.
Randy loves the whole Jimi Hendrix thing, but thinks the song choice is still a little old for Lisa. He wishes she would fill breaks in the song with “all sorts of stuff.” Paula calls Lisa a seasoned performer, and wishes she would sing songs we could all get into. Yet, at 16, Paula thinks Lisa has the w hole package. Simon says it sounds like Lisa’s “mum is choosing” the songs, and that they come off unbelievable and don’t connect. He expects her to sail through to the final twelve regardless.
Melissa McGhee thinks no one would guess she’s a car freak. She drove a stick shift in school that she would race all the boys with. It’s just fast cars and rock and roll tonight, as Melissa sings What About Love by Heart. She seems a bit too animated, but sounds really good … until a very odd last note.
Now this one, Randy thinks is a really good choice, but believes it got away from Melissa at the end. He notes she was even sounding like Ann Wilson of Heart. Paula says each week Melissa is improving and coming out of her shell. She sees her as a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. Simon completely disagrees with Paula, and tells Melissa the last note just booked her plane ticket home. He thought she shouted the song and disagrees with Randy that rock and roll should sound like that. Melissa tells Ryan Seacrest she was tired of the slow country stuff and just wanted to rock it out.
Kinnik Sky says we would never guess how much she loves chitlins. She knows they’re hog intestines, and that most people don’t like them, but she figures it’s more for her. Kinnik then launches into Alicia Keyes’ If I Ain’t Got You. I keep thinking of how Randy always tells people not to sing stylized songs if you can’t do them better or different than the original performer. It definitely applies here.
Instead, though, Randy tells Kinnik it was a good song choice, and that she started out well, but went sharp and stayed there. He doesn’t think she nailed it. Paula says usually Kinnik does nail it, but she’s had some odd song choices along the way. Paula wonders, too, if perhaps Kinnik couldn’t hear the band, as this is the first time during the whole competition that she’s been off.
Simon agrees, calls is appalling all over, and believes she will be eating her chitlins soon with a plane ticket home. Ryan asks Simon if it gives him pleasure to make people feel badly, but Simon believes he’s just saying the same things people back home are thinking. I have to give it to Simon on that one. I was thinking that. She had just barely escaped last week as one of the bottom three. She needed a home run this week.
Katharine McPhee wore that odd big top (I mean shirt, not a circus tent, although this shirt nearly could fit both categories) and tight capris last week, and Ryan tells her now he had calls in to his radio show asking if it was true she was quitting American Idol and that she was pregnant. Katharine denies both, but is obviously trying to refute the rumors in a very tight black outfit. Nope. Not pregnant. She believes people would be surprised to know, though, that she attended Boston Conservatory, just as Constantine Maroulis did. She believes this to be where she learned her “smoldering look.” You have to love this girl’s personality. Tonight, Ryan introduces her with the tagline of “McPheever”, and she sings something completely different for her, Think by Aretha Franklin. She does the R&B good, but she’s lacking a little bit of soul in it. At the end she says, “Thank you!” and does a cute little spin.
Randy likes “McPheever”, and goes to the Dawg Pound, saying we have a hot one here. Paula says it was really fun to see Katharine cut loose. She calls Katharine a well-oiled machine, and says she likes her control, and to see her able to have some fun with it. Simon agrees with Randy. He calls it a risk, but says she pulled it off. She made it appear effortless (she always does!), and believes she will sail through this week. Noting that Simon agreed with Randy, Ryan would like to hear Simon say, “We got a hot one here tonight, Dawg Pound!” Wouldn’t we all?
Ayla Brown has quite a funny intro bit. Until she was 10, Ayla was truly convinced that her dad was the real Elvis Presley. He would sing her to sleep every night with Elvis songs. She heard the real Elvis one time in a car, and announced to everyone that that was her dad. She was disappointed to find out it wasn’t true. The truly funny thing is that Ayla’s dad is really a senator. Hopefully no one will think she’s the real Natasha Bedingfield, as Ayla sings Unwritten. This is the first time we have heard her uptempo, just like Katharine. It doesn’t sound quite as effortless, but it does sound good.
Randy tells Ayla he likes her, and is a fan of hers. He likes that she gets her hoop on. He believes she sang the song okay, not great, and says the problem is it isn’t a singer song with only a five note range. Paula still loves Ayla and has to give her credit for fighting the fight very week. She calls it interesting to hear Ayla uptempo and asks how tall she is in her wedgie shoes. 6’3″. Simon calls the song “pretty good actually.” He says he loves her in film clips at 17, and wishes she were more like that on stage, rather than seeming like she is 30. Ryan gives Randy a hard time, asking him if he knows Natasha Bedingfield, and if he is now working with her, along with everyone else in the music business.
Mandisa has quite the admission, saying she sucked her thumb until she was 24. She says God is good, as she is a walking miracle. With that habit her teeth should literally be protruding through our television screens. It’s funny, as I was just starting at her teeth trying to figure out why they don’t look like she sucked her thumb for so long. As soon as I hear Mandisa is singing Chaka Khan, I get excited. And oh my God, does this girl deliver on I’m Every Woman. Last week we were wondering when she was going to let loose. Apparently March 7 is the date for that. She brought the house down. I rewound it on my TIVO three times.
Randy says one of the greatest things about this show is that you never know what is going to happen. He is giving Mandisa props as the best vocal of the season. He says she set the benchmark for everyone else, and calls it “ridiculous.” Paula says that’s what we’re talking about. Mandisa owned it, it was arranged great, and an awesome song. Paula says she sang her butt of and that she has chills. Simon predicts all the girls are going to hate Mandisa. She made everyone before her appear ordinary. He says this one is the only one that will make him rewind his TIVO. Wow, maybe we were rewinding at the same time. Mandisa tells Ryan she has sung this song many times in the shower to herself. And you know what, everyone remembered Kinnik’s chitlins statement after she sang. No one is thinking about Mandisa sucking her thumb right now.
Kellie Pickler calls herself a huge dog lover, and says she is missing her dog Comet. As if my nine-year-old daughter didn’t already like Kellie enough. In a taped bit she tells him to fetch, and he just sits there. It’s so … Kellie. She sings I’m The Only One by Melissa Etheridge, and I keep thinking of the title and thinking Kellie truly is unique. She sounds good, but it’s very similar to Something To Talk About that she did last week.
Randy says he knew he liked Kellie before, but that dog thing … He says every week Kellie is consistent, and he likes how she threw a little country into Melissa Etheridge. Paula noticed Kellie getting her groove on dancing, and Kellie answers back that she’s been practicing. Paula tells Kellie all the guys are in love with her, and calls her adorable. Simon calls Kelly a “naughty little minx,” and she asks what a minx is. Paula says it’s like calamari. Simons says he really likes Kellie, although she’s not the best singer. Then in a stunning statement, Simon says he likes Kellie better than last year’s winner, Carrie Underwood. Honestly, a hush goes over the crowd. Kellie continues to be funny after, and while Ryan is trying to give her phone number, she says, “I’m a mink!” She is corrected that it’s “minx”, not mink. She also tells Ryan her new food this week was salmon.
Kellie only got even cuter this week. Mandisa pulled out that thing we’ve all been waiting for, and was even more amazing than we imagined. Ayla continued to be a hard worker, Katharine continued to make it appear effortless. Paris kept trying different things, showing us she’s more rounded, and Lisa keeps singing beautiful sounding things. Melissa and Kinnik both fired up some bad notes with good song choices. It’s not looking promising for them. I’m excited after tonight, and know that there’s only more in store for us tomorrow night with the final eight guys.
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