Now that American Idol has narrowed the field of competitors to six boys and six girls, viewers are forced to sit through the excruciatingly drawn out process of one-at-a-time eliminations that often fail to cut the crappiest or most loathsome contestant. This week, during their first time on the big stage, virtually all of the singers choked -- except the unflappable Melinda Doolittle and Lakisha Jones, who are so good they're almost ruining all of the delicious schadenfreude.
The challenge this week was to interpret songs popularized by Diana "Call Me Miss Ross" Ross, who's composure in the face of these contestants' ineptitude makes me think she's not as off the rails as people say. Haley Scarnato somehow redeemed herself simply by screwing up and then acknowledging it. "I feel like a schmuck," she said, after she bungled the words to "Missing You." Even Simon was charmed by her adorable failure, telling her she had great stage presence. First time all season I've disagreed with him. Phil Stacey, who looks like Sean Patrick Flanery's stunt double from the 1995 film Powder, got props from the judges for simply singing well. The bar has officially been lowered, as the gaping chasm between Doolittle/Jones and the rest of the singers widens.
So, yes, there was a lot of sucking last night. But who sucked worst? It's tempting to call out Chris Sligh, who looked like Staind's Aaron Lewis in a Sideshow Bob wig during his Daughtrified version of "Endless Love" or Gina Glocksen, just because I hate her with a seething passion I haven't felt since Kevin "Chicken Little" Covais copped 'tude with Simon last season. But, when you get down to it, there are only two heads on the chopping block this week: Brandon Rogers and Sanjaya Malakar. So who will go home? I'd put my money on Rogers. Though Malakar — who's ever-changing hairdos make me think the stylists backstage have turned him into their own personal Barbie head â€" made "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" sound totally ball-less, even Miss Ross seemed to fall in love with his sweet, virginal charms.
Rogers, meanwhile, committed the dual offenses of being boring and awful at the same time. Even his Afro looked limp. His wimpy, nervous performance of "You Can't Hurry Love" felt like an outdated karaoke performance, and it only got worse when he screwed up the lyrics and then tried to smile his way through the outro. As Simon put it, he "sounded like a background singer for a background singer." It's a shame, because he definitely has potential. Too bad Sanjaya's got the better curls.