Maybe it’s just me, but I’m still finding it sad to turn on American Idol tonight. I find I’m still missing Chris Sligh. He just seems to have left before his time was up. I’ve downloaded his band’s, Half Past Forever, CD to help, but I still wish he was around. It’s just a big reminder on why you have to be sure you always remember to vote for your favorites.
Our guest mentor tonight is Tony Bennett who has enjoyed a 60 year career in the music business, charting hits in every decade since 1950, with 106 albums and record sales totaling 50 million worldwide. The octogenarian owns 15 Grammys, and as he meets with the Idols this week, he appears to be wearing a blazer than looks like he should be selling real estate. He thinks the songs the Idols chose this week are the best songs ever written in America, and feels they’ll never go out of style.
First up tonight is Blake Lewis, singing Mack the Knife, and he’s very excited to do this swing song. Tony notices he’s putting a beat to it, but figures somehow he’ll come around and get to the meaning of the song. He notes to Blake that the song is “pre-rap,” and should be very soft. He would also like him to slow down the tempo a bit, as it gives the lines more impact. Blake sings the song tonight and is in a jacket and tie. I keep looking at his pants after reading he makes his own and never wears jeans. It’s definitely the right song choice for him, and he ends it with a little bit of scatting.
Randy Jackson calls it a very good way to start out the show this evening, and says it’s very interesting with Blake, the whole cool jazz vibe. It was the perfect song for for him to pick, although there were a couple of pitch problems. He always waits to see what Blake is going to do, because he’s the funky cool kind of guy. Paula Abdul says he personified pizzazz and is a “hip cat.” She agrees it was a great way to start the show, and says Blake is fun as usual, and just cool. Simon Cowell agrees with the song choice and that Blake performed it well. He gives him a 7 out of 10 and gives the band 8 out of 10 as they played a big part. Ryan Seacrest asks if the toughest part was going first or the lyrics, Blake says he enjoys going first to get it out of the way, so the lyrics was definitely the hardest part. Ryan also mentions rehearsal, so I wonder if Blake forgot the words in rehearsal.
Phil Stacey has been looking forward to this week more than any other week on the schedule, as Tony is his hero. Singing Night and Day, Phil says he was doing it real slow since it’s a passionate love song, but Tony wants him to put a little beat behind it. He wants Phil to believe him when he says he is one of the better singers he’s heard, and not just that day. Tony sees him as a real good singer. Phil sounds very clear on this with great vocals, but is a tad boring. It’s definitely a fitting genre for his voice. Randy calls the song an interesting choice, and notes the clip of Phil singing with Tony, saying he sang it good with big notes that were cool for him, but he didn’t feel any real connection. It just didn’t really hit him. When the audience boos Randy, he says he knows how they feel, as he was listening to it too. He just felt a bit disconnected.
Paula finds better news with it, saying he is reminiscent of a young Frank Sinatra. Simon is incredulous of this statement, and Paula continues, offering the constructive criticism that Phil still needs to have more joy and warm the vocals up so they don’t become warm and swell in the chorus. He needs to have personality come through. Simon asks which Frank Sinatra Paula is referring to, as for him it had all the joy of somebody singing in a funeral parlor. It was all that came to Simon’s mind as it was completely and utterly gloomy and slightly dull. There was no life in the performance and it was really dark. Put on the spot by Ryan, Phil says he appreciates Randy’s comments, because if he’s saying it, it’s the real thing. Phil says he was just concentrating on his wife while he sang.
Melinda Doolittle sings I’ve got Rhythm for Tony, and he thinks she has a good chance in the business. He tells her she’s a real good singer, the best all day. She says it means so much to hear that somebody believes in you, especially somebody of that calibre. Tony adds if she keeps believing in herself, she’s going to do great as she has a lot of promise. Singing it tonight, she does a great tempo change, slow into fast. It’s so funny to me, as it seems like she flicks a switch when she sings and moves into someone so powerful and self-assured. It reminds of Jerry Van Dyke on the Dick Van Dyke show. He played a character who could only be fun and entertaining when he was sleepwalking. When he was awake, he was shy.
Randy says what he loves, and it’s the God’s honest truth, that Melinda comes out every week and gives everyone there a lesson in singing. She interprets the lyric and sings with the feeling the lyrics portray, and this is how you do it. Paula agrees, calling it a master class for everyone else to watch with a beginning, middle and end. It was a flawless performance, and she not only has rhythm, but CDs, #1s, and concert halls. Simon laughs, saying every song has a beginning, middle and end. He thought the first part was a bit cabaret, but liked the last part with great personality and fun. he doesn’t think they’ll ever be able to criticize Melinda and calls it a problem. Ryan asks why it’s a problem, and Simon says they like being mean occasionally.