American Idol: Top 9 Performance Show Quick Thoughts
One of the big stories this week, leading up to tonight's American Idol performance show, has been what kind of hair Sanjaya Malakar will be sporting when he comes out to perform.  Personally, I'm hoping for a shaved head, but realistically, I don't think it's possible to top the absurdity of last week's pony-hawk.  Anyway, tonight should be an interesting episode, considering it's do-or-die time for a number of performers.  With a poor performance, I think Phil Stacey, Gina Glocksen, Haley Scarnato, or Chris Richardson could be sent home. So yes, I think only the clear cut top four (Melinda Doolittle, Jordin Sparks, Lakisha Jones, and Blake Lewis) are completely safe this week.  What follows are my quick, unfiltered thoughts while watching tonight's edition of American Idol (updated in real-time). 

Did I mention Tony Bennett will be here to mentor the Idol hopefuls tonight?  Well, he is.  What can he possibly say to Blake Lewis and his beat-boxing?  If Tony Bennett gives him some beat-boxing advice, well, than it will be a good day.

By the way, Tony is over 80 years old.  You have to give it up to him for still being in the game.  Seacrest tells us that he’s released over 100 albums and won 15 Grammys.  Mildly impressive.

Tony thinks all the contestants are competent.

According to Tony, the songs being performed tonight are the “best in American history”.  Should be a good night then.

Blake Lewis is up first, and he’ll be singing “Mack the Knife”.  A classic to be sure, and I hope Blake owns it.

Blake voice fits the song (delicate, with personality) and he’s doing a very good job.  He trails off at the end of every line more than I’d like, but still good.  Blake is incredibly natural on stage, doing spin moves, snapping along, really getting into it.  He scats a little at the end of the song.  Very good performance to start the show.

Randy thought it was “a perfect song for him”.  Paula is wearing a zebra jacket.  Very subtle.  Simon liked it, giving it a 7 out of 10.  Blake says he had a tough time with the lyrics during the week.

Keira Knightley, Gwen Stefani, and Mr. Bean, among others, will be appearing on American Idol Gives Back.  That’s right, Mr. Bean.  I wasn’t going to watch, but now I certainly will.

Phil Stacey says Tony Bennett is his hero.  Phil is singing “Night and Day”.  He reverts back to his pattern of starting off songs poorly, with a terribly out of tune first note.  And he continues to sing out of tune.  He sounds like he’s trying hard to impersonate the timbre of an old-style crooner, but he’s not pulling it off.  Good last note, but the whole thing was lacking for me.

Randy didn’t feel a connection, didn’t hit him.  Paula is also wearing a scarf to compliment the zebra.  Paula says Phil is kind of like a young Frank Sinatra, which is utterly ridiculous.  Simon calls it joyless, gloomy. 

Melinda Doolittle will take the stage next, to sing “I’ve Got Rhythm”.  Tony calls her the best singer he’s heard all day.  This is an extremely difficult song to sing, but Melinda is kicking its ass.  As I’ve previously stated, we’ve come to expect nothing less from Melinda.  She is simply on another level than anyone else on this show. 

Randy says Melinda comes out and gives a lesson in singing every week.  Paula rambles.  Simon didn’t like the first half, but loved the second half. 

Chris Richardson is up next, but first he has to answer a fan question from Seacrest.  Chris is wearing a little bowler hat today. He’ll be singing “Don't Get Around Much Anymore” a song by Duke Ellington.  He sings out-of-tune at the beginning, but gets better as the song goes on.  There are still pitch problems, but they’re relatively minor.  He’s not doing his R&B voice Olympics, and the results are good.  One of his better performances.

Randy thought it was “hot” and one of his better performances.  Simon thought it was very good.  That’s surprising.  They all thought it was hip.  This should keep Chris around until at least next week. 

Jordin Sparks will take the stage next.  She’ll be singing “On a Clear Day”.  Tony like how she sings in tune, which he says is rare these days.  Jordin just keeps getting better, but she has a couple small rough spots on some high notes.  This isn’t my favorite song (I’ve never heard it before), but Jordin does a great job with it.  The final notes (high, powerful) are really good. 

Randy thought it was “the bomb”.  Paula calls her a “magnet of joy”.  Simon thought she sang it well, but that it was still old-fashioned.  What a freakin’ sourpuss. 

Gina Glocksen is up, singing “Smile” a song written by Charlie Chaplin.  Tony is very emotional about Smile, saying it’s a song that brings hope.  Gina gets teary-eyed (again) while talking to Tony.

Gina is wearing a lot of make-up tonight.

She’s showing good control on this song (which is a bit boring at the beginning).  She kicks it into gear half-way through, deploying her big voice in certain spots for maximum effect.  The beginning of her last note was a little out-of-tune, but mostly a good performance.

Randy thought it was good.  Paula calls it “flawless”.  Simon says that he can’t rave about the vocals, because two girls came on before her and out-sang her.

Tony Bennett says he’s a big fan of Sanjaya.  He’ll be singing “Cheek to Cheek”.  He sings it in a horribly wooden fashion.  You might remember this song from the incredibly emotional scene in “The Green Mile”.  He goes to the judges booth and slow dances with Paula.  He sang it in tune, but the voice was weak again, and I thought it was terribly wooden.

Randy says he can’t even comment on the vocals anymore. 

His hair is all gelled up.  Whatever.

Simon, be honest.  He isn’t.  Sanjaya is acting very cocky tonight. 

Haley is up next, wearing a very short green dress and some cleavage.  

She’s performing a song (sorry, I missed the title) that’s very jazzy and slow at the beginning. She does great on the slow, smoky stuff and actually sounds very good during the more up-tempo powerful.  She briefly sings out of tune near the end, but, overall, by far her best performance. 

Simon says that Haley has great legs.  Randy and Simon are both wish-washy on the performance, Simon calling it “pageant-y”. 

Lakisha hits up the stage next, and Tony has a few pointers on what she should do with her big note on the end. 

I think this song’s name is “Stormy Weather”.  This style should be in Lakisha’s wheelhouse.  She’s stepping it back up tonight, bitch-slapping some high notes and showing why she was the early favorite to win it all.  Very good performance.

Randy calls the performance the bomb.  Simon says Lakisha is back in form with that performance.  I would agree.

Pretty good show tonight.  Phil Stacey had the worst performance (outside of Sanjaya) and I think there’s a better than average chance he heads home tomorrow.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer

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