Wednesday, March 21

AI - Top 11

This week is extra-exciting as it will determine the Top 10, which is the group that will get to go on the tour (and guaranteed to be on the album, though sometimes it includes more). Our theme is the British Invasion, and special guests are Peter Noone (from Herman's Hermits) and Lulu. They've both obviously watched the show & know a bit about some of the contestants. And Lulu gives incredibly helpful vocal coaching to the girls!

Haley chooses "Tell Him" and performs ok; keep in mind that's a female opinion. She was wearing shorts and high heels, showing off her legs, and a backless top, the front of which highlighted some other assets as she danced & pranced her way out into the audience and in front of the judges (it wasn't lowcut, just allowed for a lot of... jiggling). With that in mind, here are the male judges' comments: Randy said it was the perfect choice for her & her best performance yet. Simon said "You naughty thing," called it/her fun and young, and predicted that people would be talking about more than her singing today. Finally he gets one right.

Chris R. - "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" In the intro we see Peter saying there "may be more to his voice" than the rather thin, nasal side we're all used to; at least he was tactful about it. Chris started out sitting on a stool on the stage w/just a guitarist on another stool. Another 'ok' for me, just wasn't very interesting. The audience seemed to love it though. Randy said it was a great performance & every note was in tune (aside: is it just me, or is it sad they have to mention this as a compliment rather than something that's a given for the supposed top 11 singers out of around 100,000?!!); Paula said it was a good choice & arrangement. Simon said it was his best yet, he had good control & it didn't sound old-fashioned.

Stephanie sings "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," and I really, really hope she does something like Nadia did w/this song because that was awesome. Unfortunately, she doesn't, she just sings it softly and prettily, but it doesn't entertain me (rather, it makes me want to run to my computer and listen to Nadia's version!!). Randy & Paula call her on pitch; Paula also said she needs to have more fun. Simon said she's losing her edge/soul.

And now the real competition begins... Blake has chosen "Time of the Season" and Blake-izes it. Peter liked the arrangement but warned him not to change it too much... and he didn't, it was just right. A bit of beatboxing here & there, enough of his smooth moonwalk/dancing to show that off, but vocals - especially on the verses - that were spot on, intense, and almost sultry. (Too bad he dresses so unattractively; he was wearing another pair of plaid pants and a jacket over shirt & vest on top.) Randy called it brilliant; Paula said she felt as if she were at a concert. Simon said it was a million times better than last week; it was a good choice & he made it contemporary without messing up the melody. IMO this is the 2nd best performance of the night.

Lakisha admits to not being familiar w/any music from the British Invasion (!), and is torn between "You're My World" and "Diamonds Are Forever." She picks the latter and gets to wear about a million dollars' worth of them along with a very unflattering green dress (Paula's main comment is that she was smart in choosing this song because of the jewelry!). The song is good but different for her; didn't hold my attention other than a couple glory notes. Randy said he "didn't feel enough Lakisha in it"; Simon says it felt too old, both vocally and visually. I agree.

Phil sings "Tobacco Road" and I'm excited he finally gets to show his rock side. I can easily picture him doing 'power ballad' type songs, and I'm a big fan of the genre. Anyway, Peter likes his performance & said it's a great choice for his voice. I agree; not only does it show off his higher range, it shows that he can sing low as well! I mean really low... and really well. Do more of that, please! Randy said it was pitchy in spots but good/enjoyable overall; Paula said it was a good choice for him. Simon didn't like it & said it wasn't believable because he didn't have enough grit. Well, I kind-of agree, but it was still one of his best & will hopefully propel him into the Top 10 where he can sing me a pretty power ballad on tour.

Jordin is up and sings "I Who Have Nothing," another song I don't know. Lulu loves Jordin and says this kind of "dramatic" song will be good for her. Amen, sister! Wow. Jordin really knocks this one out of the park and I soooo hope she gets to do it live because it would be awesome. The song has soft, almost chilling parts, as well as louder sections... she nails them all. The crowd loved it, of course. Randy said she chose a tough song but gave a great performance; Simon said she sang beautifully but the song was depressing.

Sanjaya is also torn between 2 songs; he acknowledges that he's not the best singer in the competition so wants to choose whatever he can do the best. He decides to rock out to "You Really Got Me" and is actually pretty good! When he's singing at full voice rather than softly, he shows off the nice tone we heard from him early on. He was wearing era-appropriate (but not unflattering) clothing, came out to the platform, and generally had himself a blast. I was entertained and am now sure that I want him on the tour, as well as sticking around on my tv for a while. Randy is shocked (pleasantly) & said it was his best yet, and Paula also loved it. The only annoying thing was that there was this girl in the audience so excited to be there that she cried during every performance, and they showed her about 7 times during Sanjaya's song! Well, Simon said "the little girl's face says it all," not understanding that she was actually enjoying it!

Gina picks "Paint it Black" and disappoints me this week. It's not a belt-rock song like the Evanescence, and aside from a few interesting vocals toward the end it just didn't entertain me. Randy said it was pitchy & not her best; Paula said it was way better than last week & could tell that she had fun. Simon said she was so off-key that there were "moments of complete torture" (ouch!), and that she is "style over content." Unfortunately this week I have to agree; I hope the negative comments propel her fans to vote her into the top 10.

Chris S. does "She's Not There," but first we see him showing Peter that he's a guy who does his homework (asking him about some 'sexiest' magazine issue he was in, for example). Chris says he loves this era of music and this is one of his favorite songs. He starts out in the audience and works his way up to the stage. Overall it was good but didn't showcase his vocals enough for me. Randy said he started rough but he liked it overall; Simon said it wasn't the best vocal of the night, but it was better than last week & was fun and showed his personality.

Melinda closes us out with "As Long As He Needs Me" (-wow, no one did "To Sir w/Love"!). She says the theme is out of her "comfort zone," and I agree that it shows in her performance. The ending & a few other parts were really good, but overall it was my least favorite of her performances. She did have a cute new haircut though! Randy said it was the best vocal of the night, stunning, & she's a pro; Paula says she's in her own league. Simon asks if she's really as nice as she seems and said it started out boring but that she made the 2nd half "sensational" with her impeccable vocals.

Whew! Ok, overall Jordin was the best, and the first 3 were the worst. I'm predicting Haley, Phil, and Stephanie in the bottom 3 with Stephanie (I hope!) leaving. Let me know your thoughts!

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