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Archive for the ‘Sanjaya Malakar’ Category

I haven’t exactly been jumping for musical joy with this year’s crop of male contestants. The lack of “oomph” makes me long for the seasons were an even distribution of the sexes was not important (and the wildcard round was still in play…ah, the good old days…). I can’t yet put my finger on it but it could be that instead of showing us their true personalities, they have had to try and second guess what the public wants to hear on each of the theme nights. I went into tonight with a lot of hesitation and not a lot of confidence that I would enjoy the show…boy, was I wrong…read on…

 

 

Luke Menard – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

I have liked this boy’s voice and delivery since Day 1 and the judges (mainly Randy and Simon) have knocked him since Day 1. Tonight, Randy thought it was corny and Simon dismissed him totally, telling him he has no chance whatsoever of making the cut – that some the man who’s already made up his mind as to who IS going to win this season and we’re not even into the Top 12 yet! Luke may have started out a little shaky but he did go first and he settled in real fast. Vocally, he was right on – particularly in the upper register where he power sang those notes instead of screaming or stretching too thin. He connects with the audience and actually looked like he was having fun finally! He took the criticism like a man and I hope the voters stay behind him and put him through because, like Paula said, this IS a SINGING COMPETITION!

 

David Archuleta – Another Day in Paradise

The “anointed one” gets behind the piano and shows that he’s a little vulnerable. By that, I mean that sitting down did NOT help his vocal production and it made him pitchy – until he stood up and it all clicked in again as usual. While I didn’t like the song choice at all, he did well enough to make it through to the Final 12 – no question. But it is good to see that he hasn’t peaked too early.

 

Danny Noreiga – Tainted Love

Can this boy be any more nauseating? Between the over-emoting performance and the overly stereotypical gay ‘tude I can’t stand him AT ALL and if he doesn’t go this week, we are in for “Sanjaya Redux” this season. Come on, gang – resist the VTFW kool-aid and dump the dude this week!!

 

David Hernandez – All Coming Back to Me Now

I’ve liked him and his voice all this time but I HATED the song choice! I didn’t think it did a thing for him. The vocal got thin and scratchy up high and he drifted into the pitchy lane in a few spots. I get the impression that Simon would rather have him around than Luke so he gave him a little push in that direction. One more thing: I hope this boy does NOT become the Antonella Barba of this season. OK, he was a male stripper – move on or disqualify him but don’t drag it out for weeks.

 

Michael Johns – Don’t You Forget About Me

He does have a sorta Jim Morrison vibe about him, now doesn’t he? I thought he did rather well tonight and I thought the song choice was perfect for him (contrary to what Simon said). I agree with his rock/soul sound but I think he’s more soul than rock and if he can click into that, he is going to go very far.

 

David Cook – Hello

Interesting…the grunge version of Lionel Richie’s song …not sure if I liked it but I will admit he sang it quite well and made it his own. He is an original, that’s for sure and an intelligent musician to boot – this year’s Blake Lewis for sure. Not my cup of tea but he deserves to stay in this competition just for taking the risk.

 

Jason Castro – Hallelujah

Even with the vocal glitch at the very end, I thought he took a great risk with this difficult song and he actually pulled it off! Great vocal most of the time, a vulnerable performance without the guitar to hide behind and I agree with Paula that he has great phrasing. He is getting better and to send him home now would be a mistake because I think the best is yet to come from him.

 

Chikezie – She Fills Me Up

The last guy of color in the competition slams it home with a great vocal turn on this song. I’m not sure I’d agree with the cabaret label but then again since I’ve done cabaret I wouldn’t put that performance in that category (and there is nothing wrong with cabaret or Broadway, you narrow minded Brit). We need his vocal color in the Top 12 and I hope American feels the same.

 

This was a better set of songs for the guys so far this year and it’s going to be harder than I thought to disengage two more from the collective. However, my choices for “das boot” this week would have to be – and this is solely based on performance — Danny and David H. Let’s see who agrees with me and not with VFTW.

 

The gals have a tough act to follow so until tomorrow night…carry on!

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Notes from the Couch for this first semi-final round:

 

David Hernandez – The Midnight Hour

It’s really tough for some to go first but not this one – I’ve like this guy since I first saw him.  Powerful tenor voice that can rock without screaming but he blew it at the very end. Too bad – I think his nervousness got the better of him.  Simon sounded like he was eating a little crow on this one after he basically said last week that he wouldn’t go far without a miracle   The song’s arrangement suited his style and I happened to like it, too.    One thing – what’s with the overpowering reverb? 

 

Chikezie – More Today Than Yesterday

Not sure if it was the song’s bad arrangement or just overwhelming nervousness but he spent the first half of the song under pitch – something no one picked up on.  I liked the tone quality and ease of singing but not the presentation of this song. 

 

David Cook – Happy Together

Weird hair, strange vocal sound – haven’t figured this one out yet but thank God they didn’t fool around with this song’s character too much!  One of my favs and he  did a decent job on it.  I liked it.  His camera work and mic stand work could make him this year’s Constantine incarnation.

 

Jason Yeager – Moon River

I love a smooth, effortless male voice and this dude has that in spades.  Started out a little hesitant but came on strong after the key change – could have been too low to start with.  Personally, there are worst things than being called “cruise ship-like” – at least it was a “lounge lizard” impersonation. 

 

Robbie Carrico – One

Most polished performance of the night – knows how to command a stage.  Soaring tenor with a sparkling tonal quality. 

 

David Archuletta – Shop Around

This year’s token LDS entrant and a former STAR SEARCH winner.  Most natural performer of the lot and he’s only 17!  I love his soulful voice. This one is a contender for sure and  COULD. GO. ALL. THE. WAY!

 

Danny Noriega – Jailhouse Rock

2 snaps up for this dude – very uninhibited performer.  Interesting song choice that could have backfired but didn’t.  He and David will be competing for the teenage vote for sure. BTW, can you say SANJAYA?  Just watch…

 

Luke Menard – Everybody’s Talkin’

Lots of tenors this season and this handsome tall drink of iced tea has the sweetest and easy-to -listen-to one.  Great job on this song (can you tell I don’t agree with the judges) with an effortless falsetto – didn’t understand the “pitchy” part.  I think I’ll vote for this boy just b/c Simon dismissed him.  He should stick around and did a LOT better than a few of the others before him. 

 

Colton Berry – Suspicious Minds

Talk about not connecting with the meaning of the song – that was a “cabaret performance” if I ever saw one.  And the judges LIKED him and not Luke – well, except Simon who is at least honest to admit he only looking for a recording artist. 

 

Garrett Haley – Breakin’ Up is Hard to Do

Frampton/Leif look-a-like that we haven’t seen much of up to now and with any luck, will be gone after tonight.  Not a great song choice even if he did sound like Sedaka.  I’ll agree with the boring comment.  What get’s me is that they put him through and not Kyle…I don’t get it…

 

Jason Castro – What a Day for a Daydream

Give the boy credit for bringing his axe on stage for this song – good job with a very familiar old song and boy was a surprised when Simon agreed with me! 

 

Michael Johns – Light My Fire

OK, Randy compared him with another Aussie Michael Hutchence from INXS and I have to strongly disagree.  He wasn’t all that with the song and I felt he was holding back.  He’ll be around for awhile.

 

Let’s see how the girls do…

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Come one, come all! The Live Blogging experiment continues tomorrow night at 8pm EST/7pm CST/5pm PST. Just click here and join the fun! I make lots of irreverent comments, take polls, show videos, and everyone can add their own POV to the proceedings. What better way to watch IDOL than with others!

See you there — carry on!

J

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    Happy New Year!

    I know I have been away far too long from my AI friends and fans so I guess this is as good a time as any to start cranking up the creative wheels again and get this blog back on a regular schedule. Speaking of schedules, I’m sure most of you saw that FOX has released the broadcast schedule for season 7 of Idol and I was VERY glad to see the Hollywood rounds getting two episodes again instead of last season’s disappointing one. Now in case you’re one of the three people who haven’t seen the press release, I’ll post it here so you can reference it throughout the season:

     

     

    2008 American Idol Season 7 Schedule

    Tuesday, January 15

    Auditions (Philly)

    Wednesday, January 16

    Auditions (Dallas)

    Tuesday, January 22

    Auditions (San Diego)

    Wednesday, January 23

    Auditions (Charleston)

    Tuesday, January 29

    Auditions (Omaha)

    Wednesday, January 30

    Auditions  (Miami)

    Tuesday, February 5

    Auditions  (Atlanta)

    Wednesday, February 6

    Auditions (Could be “Best of the Worst” – I hate those!)

    Tuesday, February 12

    Hollywood Part 1

    Wednesday, February 13

    Hollywood Part 2 – Top 24 Revealed

    Tuesday, February 19

    Top 12 Males

    Wednesday, February 20

    Top 12 Females

    Thursday, February 21

    Top 24 Elimination

    Tuesday, February 26

    Top 10 Males

    Wednesday, February 27

    Top 10 Females

    Thursday, February 28

    Top 20 Elimination

    Tuesday, March 4

    Top 8 Males

    Wednesday, March 5

    Top 8 Females

    Thursday, March 6

    Top 16 Elimination – Top 12 established

    Tuesday, March 11

    Top 12 Perform

    Wednesday, March 12

    Top 12 Elimination

    Tuesday, March 18

    Top 11 Perform

    Wednesday, March 19

    Top 11 Elimination

    Tuesday, March 25

    Top 10 Perform

    Wednesday, March 26

    Top 10 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 1

    Top 9 Perform

    Wednesday, April 2

    Top 9 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 8

    Top 8 Perform

    Wednesday, April 9

    Idol Gives Back 2

    Thursday, April 10

    Top 8 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 15

    Top 7 Perform

    Wednesday, April 16

    Top 7 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 22

    Top 6 Perform

    Wednesday, April 23

    Top 6 Elimination

    Tuesday, April 29

    Top 5 Perform

    Wednesday, April 30

    Top 5 Elimination

    Tuesday, May 6

    Top 4 Perform

    Wednesday, May 7

    Top 4 Elimination

    Tuesday, May 13

    Top 3 Perform

    Wednesday, May 14

    Top 3 Elimination

    Tuesday, May 20

    Final 2 Perform

    Wednesday, May 21

    Season Finale & Winner

     

    Other than another installment of Idol Gives Back, which I have mixed feelings about, it should be another interesting year of bad auditions, questionable judging and America getting it wrong at least ten times, if not more. Has Idol become predictable? In a way, yes — but it still manages to provide enough angst and raw emotions from both contestants and viewers to keep it the main topic of water cooler conversation from January to May. Couple that with the lack of any viable competition due to the writers’ strike and it should top the Nielsen’s easily again this year. There will, however, be some changes and additions and I am looking forward to them. From what we already know:

     

    ****Less focus on guest mentors and more on the contestants themselves in an effort to get to know them better. I would hate to see the producers do away with mentors altogether (especially the music god himself, Barry Manilow, who is due for another visit this year) because some of them, like Barry, really do care about the kids and want to see them do their best. However, last year’s over-emphasis, I believe, did take away from getting to see the contestants as regular folks just like us and allowed one very charismatic individual to get more attention for his non-singing antics than he deserved. Let’s hope the producers have learned a lesson from this.

     

    ****Allowing the contestants to show other sides of their musical abilities is certainly a welcome addition. Most of the other big Idol franchises already allow this and I believe it does help show how musically well rounded an individual is or isn’t. As a musician myself, I think it takes a lot more than a pretty voice to make it BIG in music or to achieve longevity in this field. Building on skills and gifts, as well as the occasional reinvention of the artists, helps to keep their creativity alive and, hopefully, keeps them out of becoming boring or trite to the listening and buying public. Since most Idol contestants haven’t traditionally had much experience or “dues paying” prior to being on the show (there are exceptions, obviously), they seem to lack the staying power of others who have taken awhile to “make it.” However, the public seems to think that if a musician isn’t ALWAYS in the news or on TV or on the radio that they have somehow “failed” at making a career of music – which is not necessarily true. Being able to judge a contestant’s full musical potential may begin to tip the scales away from those with just great voices and towards the “total musical package” types – something that may not be a bad thing. I guess we’ll have to see what the producers put forward this year for us to judge (and it had better be better than last year…).

     

     

    If you’re like me, with the holidays now a fond memory and the writers’ strike making TV more of a vast wasteland, you’re just as anxious for Idol to get going. It’s only a little longer, folks… get those TiVOs and DVRs primed and ready… we’re almost there and I’M READY! Are you?

     

    Carry on!

    J

     

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    Found this in my Google alerts today – nice to know they are FINALLY admitting it!  Read on, McDuffs!

     

    At TV’s summer press tour, Nigel Lythgoe admits that last season suffered by focusing more on famous mentors than on contestants — and says the show can learn from ”So You Think You Can Dance”

     

    By Tanner Stransky


    At Sunday’s TCA press tour panel for Fox’s summer hit So You Think You Can Dance, a lively discussion about what makes certain finalists on the dancing show stand out from the rest turned into a much more interesting back-and-forth about what Dance can teach its bigger — and much more powerful, in terms of ratings — older brother, American Idol. Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer of both shows who also serves as a sharp-tongued judge on Dance, said there’s plenty — and that we should all expect some changes on Idol next season. ”We realized we made mistakes on Idol last season,” he said. ”We were so engrossed with the mentors and didn’t really focus on the Melinda Doolittles of the show. We didn’t know them as much as the Kellie Picklers of last season.”

     

    Lythgoe is referring to the marked difference in the ways the two programs showcase their contestants: In recent seasons, Idol has tended to shun details about its singers to instead focus on the big-name stars who come to the show to perform and work with the contestants, especially in later episodes. Dance, however, spends quite a bit of its airtime featuring the back-stories of its dancers and their struggles to get on the show.

     

    ”We’re all attached to them a little more,” Lythgoe said about Dance‘s focus on its contestants’ lives. ”I think that’s affected us all a little bit more. There are little emotional hooks that come out.” As for an Idol tune-up plan for season 7, Lythgoe revealed the production team is always looking to ”tinker with the program,” adding that ultimately he’d like to see the Idol contestants be as strong as his prized top 10 on So You Think You Can Dance.

     

    And what of Sanjaya? Of course, the faux-hawked menace snuck his way into the discussion. Speaking about the top 10 dancers seated behind him on stage, Lythgoe said: ”There isn’t a Sanjaya here, although I do think Sanjaya helped the last season of Idol. I think there’s enough talent with enough great stories to warrant the fact that we are basing it on their talent. No one needs to alter their hair on this program.”

     

    Pasted from <http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20047678,00.html>

     

     

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Here’s a look at France’s Idol show, Nouvelle Star

Wow, and I thought Sanjaya was as unusual as they get…

It’s going to be a looooooooong 7 months.

Carry on!

J

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After six seasons of American Idol one would think I would know better than to get all upset over the predictable and inevitable “stacking of the deck” against one of the contestants.  It seems we’ve all “heard that song before” and this Top 3 night was simply more of the same old script.  Could Simon have BEEN more obvious in his quest to manipulate a Melinda/Blake finale and send Jordin packing?  We all know that he HATES teenagers in the finals and if I recall correctly gave Diana DeGarmo a similar hard time in Season 3 (not like she could have really beat Fantasia anyway).  I just can’t abide trying to make America vote in a way that validates the judges’ wishes and not the will of the viewers.  We are NOT that dumb.  We know what we like and who we like. 

 

Ok, I’ll get down of the soapbox…for now…

 

I was also VERY disappointed tonight by the absence of the one and only Mr. Clive Davis.  While I personally think his is as swarmy as they come for music executives, he is the definitive Idol-maker and still wields major clout in the biz.  His master touch was sorely missed and the ensuing bad choices testified to his absence.  BTW, since when do the producers of this show have the music creds to choose songs for the contestants???  Are you kidding me?  The songs chosen for Melinda and Jordin were deplorable while Blake was given a song that was handpicked to make him look as good as possible. 

 

More obvious manipulation.

 

Can you tell I’m really HOT tonight over what transpired?  Of course, having this show scheduled one hour before finding our who made the finals of Dancing with the Stars didn’t help my mood much, either (Yeah, Apolo!).  Note to TV programmers: Don’t let these two shows go up against each other next year — I can’t take the stress of TWO competitions at one time! 

 

All of that being spewed, here’s how I heard tonight’s vocal cornucopia from my red leather couch:  

 

Jordin Sparks

Wishing on a Star – (Simon’s Choice)

This is not one of my favorite songs but she sure sang the heck out of it.  I was waiting, however, for the “K” word but Simon slammed the arrangement (and thus her vocal of it) where I thought the jazz vibe couldn’t help but improve an otherwise insipid song.  Randy rightly acknowledged that she came to secure a place in the finale and she did make something out of very little with her performance. 

 

She Works Hard for the Money – (Producers’ Choice)

You have GOT to be kidding me!!!   Ok, she sang it the best she could  but WHY choose a song like that for her?  It did NOTHING to showcase her talent and EVERYTHING to bring her down a notch or two with the voters.  Way to go, PTB!  You showed your hand with that one!

 

I, Who Have Nothing – (Personal Choice)

I was glad to see her pull out ALL the stops and sing her heart out (even besting her first outing with this song) but I believe TPTB have stacked the deck against her making the finals.  That would be a tragedy because of the last three standing, she would have the most to gain by being in the finale.  I’ve like this child from the get go and while I go back and forth as to whether she should win or not, she needs to place at number 2 in order to get a decent recording contract.  That may not happen now and we have the producers and Simon to thank for that.

Definitely on the bubble but I’m voting as much as I can for her to survive.

 

 

Blake Lewis

Roxanne – (Paula’s Choice)

Now THAT was Karaoke with a big K.  He didn’t seem to be comfortable with the song from where I was sitting but as you saw, the judging troika did not see it the same way I did (hubby was the one who pinpointed the uneasiness with the song).  Don’t get me wrong — his vocal was decent but it sounded almost like a Sting copy most of the time.  I also thought he dropped a few lyrics.  Didn’t matter, I suppose.

 

This Love – (Producers’ Choice)

Ok, now he gets a GOOD song from them, especially so he can beatbox? We knew that would come out tonight only he needed to be careful not to overdo.  He was truly in his element and with his edgy, current vibe will make a great recording artist no matter where he places. 

 

When I Get You Alone – (Personal Choice)

I have never heard this song before tonight but I have only one comment it — what a way to butcher Beethoven!   UGH!  Hooked on Beethoven was better in its day.  Having said that, I have to say that Blake brought his “A” game tonight and went at it with everything he had.  He deserves a place in the finale given his performances but only if everything was equal.  In my view, it was not.

Could be on the bubble but only if other voters feel like I do.  If not, he’s safe. 

 

 

Melinda Doolittle

I Believe in You and Me – (Randy’s choice)

Subtle and soulful — I loved it!  She came through Randy’s little test with flying colors and at least for one night we didn’t have to hear the “never do a Whitney song” mantra.  Way to go, girl!

 

Nutbush City Limits – (Producers’ Choice)

WHAT????   YIKES!  They had to be searching pretty to try and come up with something that she might bomb on but as usual that was NOT to be the case!  She was able to show her “inner Tina” again and it worked.  We’ll probably never hear that song again for 20 years but at least it was given a proper rendering at the hands of a master singer.

 

I’m a Woman – (Personal Choice)

I absolutely LOVED it!!!  And bringing out the backup singers has to be a little homage to her humble beginnings.  How fitting.  I agree with Simon for the first time tonight — she does deserve a place in the finals, hands down.  We all know that no matter where she ends up she will be a winner but for consistency and sheer vocal brilliance, she does deserve to win it all.

She WILL be safe — Simon has made sure of that.

 

 

Where does that leave us?  Well, my prediction for the “odd person out” has to be, and I HATE saying this in print, Jordin  but I hope and pray that won’t be so.  Honestly, folks, any two from these three will make for a great finale in a season of so-so performances all overshadowed by the “Sanjaya factor.”  My advice for next season?  Return to some of what has made this show a great success:  better selections for the Top 24 (less backstage drama, more obvious vocal ability), more focus on the contestants themselves (what ever happened to the “Halfway Home” show?) and bring back the WILDCARD show!!!!!   That might help if the shark hasn’t already been jumped…

 

Carry on as we wait for the results and kudos to the Top 3 for leaving us with some of the best performances of the season!

J

 

PS — looking forward to hearing Elliott tomorrow night! And if you can guess what song I got my title from this evening (and who sang it), well, you obviously spend waaaay too much time on Google (just like I do!).

 

 

 

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I about lost my hot chocolate over this GREAT video by Grey Blackwell found on the Raleigh News and Observer website. I just HAD to share this with y’all so ENJOY!

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I couldn’t resist using a Bon Jovi song in the title since, along with the fact that tonight the singers are paying homage to the career of Jon Bon Jovi, there is a rare DOUBLE ELMINIATION this week.  I’m not so sure the producers should have played the “charity” card with the contestants but we’re kinda stuck with this mess.  Speaking of a mess, I thought last Wednesday night’s drama known as Idol Gives Back was, in a word, lame.  Not that raising money for worthy causes is lame, but sort of “pre-empting” a reality show competition to play Jerry Lewis was a little in that vein.  I felt that it slowed the momentum and rhythm of the competition, especially since there was no more Sanjaya to talk about, to the point where some of the less committed viewers might start to fade away.  Let’s hope that theory doesn’t get reflected in this week’s voting because who ever had a bad week last week may not be able to rebound this week, even with another 4 hour voting window.  Idol needs to stick to what it does best and so far this season it has gone so far afield that it could be “jumping the shark” as I type.   I’d hate to see that happen.

 

So, now that I’ve made you wait longer than I’d like for my opinions on this week’s “rock-a-thon,” let’s get to how I heard the music from my red leather couch:

 

Phil Stacey / Blaze of Glory

For the third week in a row his boy has roared out of the gate and given a solid vocal performance while managing to NOT creep the viewers out too much!  He’s been making me think twice about his chances because of his solid singing but given the fact that he may have taken a little too long to warm up, he may be going out in a Blaze of Glory this week.

I’d like him to be safe but he might be on the bubble.

 

Jordin Sparks / Livin’ on a Prayer

I have loved this child for taking chances and up until this week she was able to beat the odds but, even by her own admission, this was NOT her night.  I don’t think she did as bad as the judging troika made it out to be but between bottoming out on the low notes and trying just a tad too hard to be a rocker chick, she had her first truly bad night of the competition.  Normally that would not be a cause for concern but because of last week’s elimination that wasn’t, she could end up in jeopardy or worse and THAT would not be fair.  Good thing there is a four hour window to vote tonight…now, where’s my phone?

Will make her safe if I have to vote all night!

 

Lakisha Jones / This Ain’t a Love Song

The hubby and I totally agreed on this one — she ended with a bang but it shouldn’t have taken her the ENTIRE song to get there!  KiKi has been struggling for the last three weeks and while this song was a good vocal and performance song for her, she made us wait too long for the payoff.  Now, either folks will forgive her for that and vote to keep her in or they will have had enough and she’ll be gone.  I can’t say for myself which way I’d like to see it go and I feel badly for that because she has a great talent.

This one is TOO close to call!

 

Blake Lewis /You Give Love a Bad Name

That was GREAT!!!  Even my hubby loved it!  I was waiting for the judges to slam him but they, too, were stunned by how masterfully he took this song and gave it a whole new slant while still remaining true to the essence of the song.  This boy IS a musician and even though I don’t fancy his brand of music, his is no less talented and special.  Top 3 material for sure — if not Top 2.

If last week didn’t hurt him too much, he should be safe. 

 

Chris Richardson  / Dead or Alive

If I had too choose, I’d say that was a DEAD performance.  Didn’t care for it at all.  There will be too much comparison to last year’s superb rendering by Chris Daughtry, meaning that might just have been the nail in the coffin for the faux Timblelake.  I won’t be sorry to see him go.

Should be on the bubble and Daughtry should be singing him HOME this week.

 

Melinda Doolittle / Have a Nice Day

I was a little nervous about this gal singing this genre but she just continues to “shock and awe” me!  By channeling herself a little Tina Turner ‘tude, she once again showed us all that SHE CAN SING ANYTHING!!!!  I’m beginning to think she actually SHOULD win because she has been in the competition since the beginning and has pretty much out sung all comers.  She kinda deserves the title, don’t you think?

Miss Doo-a-LOT is once again SAFE!

 

So, my bottom three for this week?  I would have to say  Lakisha, Chris and Jordin with the double “das boot” going to Lakisha & Chris.  I’d say we have an interesting Top 4 this year with Phil as our dark horse, Jordin having to play “catch up” after this week, Blake riding a strong musical wave and Melinda still out distancing the pack. 

 

That is, unless, TPTB have another plan…  😉   We shall see…

 

Carry on!

J

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