American Idol: Top 10 Performance Grades
The top 10 American Idol hopefuls sang songs under the tutelage of pop star Gwen Stefani last night, and the results were underwhelming (at least compared to last show).  There were no great performances, insomuch as a typical Melinda Doolittle performance isn't considered great.  In truth, all of her performances have been great, but we're used to that level from her and, therefore, they've begun to sound typical.

As we've been doing for the last month or so, I've given each singer a grade for their performance last night.  This is not like the NBA Slam Dunk Contest; I'm not going to give a bunch of A's just because I can.  I've yet to give an A-plus, though I'm hopeful it will happen at some point this season (I'm looking at you, Sanjaya).  Check out the grades below.

Lakisha Jones: B

I was disappointed with Lakisha's output last night, not because of the song (“Last Dance”), but because I don't think she's putting forth maximum effort.  The judges liked it, yet I've completely soured on Lakisha over the last three weeks.  She still has a great voice and time to redeem herself (which I hope she does), but she's not going to do that without putting out the effort.

Chris Sligh: D

On some parts of the song, his voice sounded pretty good.  Other than that, it was one of the worst non-Sanjaya performances of the year.  I can't totally blame Chris, though, because he sang The Police's “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”, which is an impossible song to sing.  First, it is really high (Sting's voice is a fluke) and, rhythmically, it is all over the place, syncopated and completely off the down beat.  Nonetheless, the degree of difficulty can't mask the mess that the performance was.

Gina Glocksen: B+

The judges thought it was Gina's best performance, and I might agree, although I wasn't familiar with the song (turns out it's by The Pretenders).  She reigned in her voice for the most part, but let it loose when she needed.  Gina could very easily sneak up on some people.  She is different enough to have found a niche voting audience, and likable enough to pick up the occasional votes simply based on her weekly performances. 

Sanjaya Malakar: F

Sanjaya's worst performance of the season was last night.  It was beyond unbearable.  He sang No Doubt's “Bathwater”, which he sang out-of-tune (the whole time), forgot the words to, and he generally sang it in a weak-voice.  It's getting more and more unfathomable that he made it to the top 24.  The judges had ample time to evaluate him.  What happened?

Haley Scarnato: B-

Not bad, nothing special.  Haley sang “True Colors” by the once-great Cyndi Lauper, and she gave us a pretty good rendition.  Problem was, as Simon iterated, that thousands of girls have sang that song just like Haley did.  Not saying it was bad, just not special.  Haley should stick around another week, if only because she'll get the adolescent male vote.

Phil Stacey: B+

You've got to give it up for Phil last night.  He was damn good, giving us a non-terrible rendition of The Police's “Every Breath You Take”.  It's a great song and he did it justice.  I have a sneaking feeling that we've all been undervaluing Phil throughout the whole season and I, for one, am feeling a tad guilty about it.  Simon finally changed his tune, giving Phil love for the first (and likely only) time.  Now, watch as Phil get sent home tonight.

Melinda Doolittle: A-

I should be giving Melinda an A, but she's graduated to her own scale, wholly separated from the rest of the competition.  I was unfamiliar with the song, but I enjoyed it, as I always do when Melinda sings.  However, it wasn't as dynamic a performance as I expect from Doolittle.  She's still the front runner and it's probably going to come down to her and Sanjaya in the end.

Blake Lewis: B+

No beat-boxing.  Incredible!  Blake goes and sings a Cure song straight on, nothing exceptionally unique or weird, but just sings the hell out of it.  Blake continues to sneak up on me as a pure singer and, although he doesn't have the biggest or most distinctive voice, he knows how to use it and he knows how to perform.  Simon called him the best male on the show last night.  I probably agree, although Phil may be making a push after what he showed last night.

Jordin Sparks: B

The judges loved it, admiring her versatility and whatnot, but I was still miffed by the song choice.  She sang No Doubt's own “Hey Baby”, which is a club song, all chorus (pretty much) and an easy tune to sing, especially for someone as talented as Jordin.  Jordin did a fine job, and she is still one of the favorites overall, but I wanted something more challenging from her.

Chris Richardson: B-

Again, the judges kind of liked it, but I didn't.  Chris sang No Doubt's “Don't Speak”.  This is a great song and I didn't think Chris was up to it.  Maybe I'm just used to Gwen's voice singing it, but I guess you could say that Chris did his best with it.  There was nothing glaringly wrong with the performance, but it just didn't do it for me.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer

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