American Idol: Top 11 Performance Grades
American Idol finally gave us a show worth watching all the way through.  I was impressed.  After last week's Diana Ross debacle, the contestants stepped up their game and put on the most entertaining show of the season.  Hey, even Sanjaya was passable! (Well, kind of.)

The Top 11 Performance Show had the theme of “The British Invasion”, which was an immaculate choice, giving every contestant a well of great songs to choose from.  We saw some performances that were true to the originals and we saw a few that put their own spin on the classics.  As we do after every performance show, we've graded every song in a completely biased manner.  Is there any other way?

Haley Scarnato: B+

I was going to give her a B for the performance, but her outfit (what there was of it) bumps her up half a grade.  Haley has burst out of her shell over the past two weeks, fully embracing her new role as the one female remaining with legitimate sex appeal.  There will always be room for one of those.  And, oh, her singing?  Pretty damn good last night.  She sang “Tell Him” which was a fun song that Haley sang adeptly, but the performance of it was the best, her traversing the stage and surrounding areas expertly, with heels on no less.

Chris Richardson
: B+

Chris took Simon's critiques to heart, toning down his activity on stage, stripping down his song and just singing it, which he did very well.  His voice was much improved, a phenomenon that tends to occur when you stop running around the stage like a damned banshee.  The judges loved it and it's safe to say that Chris is back in the running after that little hiccup last week.

Stephanie Edwards: C

I think there's a slight chance that Stephanie goes home tonight.  Where most everyone else raised their game last night, Stephanie took a step back on what I thought were already middling performances.  She sings out of tune, something she hasn't improved upon yet.  That's the main issue for me.  She's got a good voice, but not great and I can't see her progressing too much further.

Blake Lewis: A-

Singing The Zombies “Time of the Season” Blake showed why he's the most exciting performer on American Idol this year.  No one can bring the creativity and originality that Blake does on a weekly basis.  Although he sang the song pretty straight-forward, he still added some beat-boxing interludes.  His demeanor on stage reinforced the psychadelia of the song, creating an awesome overall performance.  I look forward to his performances more than anyone else.

Lakisha Jones: B+

Lakisha is going to sound good no matter what you give her.  That's not the problem.  However, she's going to have to make better choices throughout the rest of the season if she wants to take Melinda down.  Singing a Bond theme song was a suspect decision.  The song was fine and her performance was fine, but it didn't have the awe-inspiring effect that her earlier songs did. 

Phil Stacey: B

Simon Cowell's jihad on Phil is a bit weird and it seems clear that Simon is making a push for Phil to be sent home.  That being said, I think Phil was pretty good last night.  His voice, especially in the high stuff, is as good as any guy still around.  The problem is Phil is still a little boring and I'm beginning to become convinced that that's just who he is and there's no way to stop it. 

Jordin Sparks: A-

Damn good performance.  Jordin toned it down again, singing what Simon called a “gloomy” tune, but she knocked it out of the park.  She has gained more and more control of her voice as the season has gone along.  This was always the question with Jordin.  Given her youth, would she be able to mature and string together a number of great performances in a row without slipping up?   It looks like she is up to it.  I think she just leapfrogged Lakisha into second place this season behind Melinda.

Sanjaya Malakar
: C+

I can't decide whether last night's performance by Sanjaya was actually okay, or whether my reaction is skewed based on his track record of abject mediocrity.  Regardless, the crowd got into it, somewhat bafflingly so, and the judges gave him some props for the first time.  Still, the performance wasn't an enjoyable one for me for a couple reasons.  One, Sanjaya just creeps me out.  Two, he sang one of the all-time great songs, a Kinks song that didn't deserve the Sanjaya treatment.  Again, it'll be a massive upset if Sanjaya isn't sent packing tonight.

Gina Glocksen: C+

Gina chose a dark Rolling Stones song (“Paint it Black”) that I'm on the fence over.  She sang it alright, I suppose, but I do agree with the judges that she screamed at points and that it didn't really do the song justice.  On the other hand, I'm willing to chalk up the okay performance to song choice, that it was going to be near impossible to kick that song's ass for anyone.  It's hard to blame Gina.

Chris Sligh: B

Chris gave a by-the-books performance of The Zombies “She's Not There”, which I think was the right decision.  He didn't give us a spectacular show, but the song is so good that I still really enjoyed it.  It was a solid decision by Chris, a song choice that's not going to get him eliminated.

Melinda Doolittle
: A-

Not her best, but that's not saying much.  She dominates this song, a slower tune, until the last note, which got a tad shaky for a second.  Other than that, it was another powerhouse performance by Melinda, one that continues to cement her as the singer to beat on American Idol this season.  The thing is, as good as a number of the other performers were last night, Melinda is just in another league and she seems to reach these heights effortlessly.  

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer