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"American Idol": Not Much Twang in Country Night

"American Idol": Not Much Twang in Country Night

Country night is typically one of my least-favorite "American Idol" theme nights. It's not that I don't like country music — I just don't like bad country music, and amateur singers butchering the songs by attempting maximum twang certainly qualifies as bad country.

At the same time, it's always been a little awesome to watch, just because the potential for disaster is so high. So I couldn't help but be disappointed by Tuesday night's mostly boring performances. Nobody came out in a 10-gallon hat. Nobody tried Shania Twain. And the singers who wouldn't be good at singing country got around the rule by singing the least-country arrangements they could find.

Martina McBride — who amazed me with her ability to look both 25 and 55 over the course of that opening montage — proved herself an intelligent mentor, but the show itself was a little odd, with several awkward mentions of the tragedy at Virgina Tech. I suppose if there's any time for overwrought emotions, it's country night, though. And reality TV must soldier on. Don't forget to vote on the singer you think is heading home, and to see what I thought of the performances,

Phil Stacey (at left): I did not have Phil pegged as a country singer — in fact, I increasingly wasn't pegging him as a singer at all — but he sounded awesome on "Where the Blacktop Ends." He also took Martina's advice and loosened up, showing more personality in this one performance than in all his other final-round outings put together. The judges were fans, but I don't know how they formed their opinions, given that Paula and Simon were apparently playing "who's got your nose?" while he sang. Seriously, anyone else see that?

Jordin Sparks: I was worried Jordin was becoming forgettable: Before Tuesday's show, I was trying to name the Idols off the top of my head, and her name was the last I remembered. I have a feeling her "Broken Wing" performance will change that. She sounded so awesome, she even made herself cry. She was also wearing what appeared to be a duct-tape dress, but I'll let that go under the circumstances. Simon said he can see Jordin winning "Idol."

Sanjaya Malakar: I had my fingers crossed for a cowboy hat and chaps, but I just got a red bandanna. He sang "Something to Talk About," and it was weird, because maybe for the first time, he didn't really give us much to talk about. No weird hair, no faux-Sinatra, no bilingual choruses — just lots of dull, bad singing. Maybe his lack of freakiness will finally spell the end for him? Hey, a girl can hope.

LaKisha Jones (at right): I am way biased here, because I hate "Jesus Take the Wheel" with a deep and all-consuming passion, but I seriously despised this performance. I will limit my "Jesus should have taken the wheel there" jokes to one and just say that I think she lost the song completely on the chorus. It didn't help that the styling department let her down bigtime (bad hair! big gold boots!). The judges were harsh, but I think accurately so.

Chris Richardson: Martina McBride called Chris "versatile," which made me question her taste severely, because I didn't realize "versatile" meant "everything sounds the same." Timberfake is bringing monotone back. Usually he can perform his way out of a bad song, but he seemed totally bored on Tuesday. Minus five points for sniping back to Simon that "nasally is a form of singing — I don't know if you knew that." Minus a million points for mentioning Virgina Tech — no matter how honest a sentiment, it comes off like a dig for votes.

Melinda Doolittle (at left): I'm against fake hair generally, but extensions were a good choice for her — she looks at least five years younger, and her neck issue (shall we say, neckless issue?) is less apparent. Her "Trouble is a Woman" sounded more soul than country, but that's such a blurry line anyway, and when Simon compares you to Tina Turner, you must be doing something right. This week I finally started believing that she'd be a great "Idol" winner — and I loved Simon telling her to ditch the humility.

Blake Lewis: He covered a Tim McGraw song, but it wasn't very country-sounding. Not that that's a bad thing, necessarily. The trouble is that it sounded a lot like his Keane song from earlier in the competition, and like a lot of his other performances, and I'm getting worried that we're losing what made him Blake to begin with. Meanwhile, Simon picked Blake's critique to give his own Virgina Tech shoutout, which was just awkward.

Who's safe: Jordin and Melinda. After that, anything's possible, though — and I never thought I'd say this — I hope Phil makes it through this time.

Who should be in the bottom three: Sanjaya, LaKisha and Chris

Who will be in the bottom three: LaKisha, Phil and Chris

Who's going home: Chris

Photos courtesy of Fox

Join The Conversation
HeatherStJoeMI HeatherStJoeMI 10 years
Design R Chic, Thank You !!!! I can't agree with you more. To whoever said Lakisha was pretty bad, I agree, but SANJAYA is finally GONE !!!!!
DesignRchic DesignRchic 10 years
Chris is WICKED sexxi!! Hes my fave guy. B4 Blake, of course! I felt bad for him last night! He was about to cry!! Hes kinda looks hotter when hes upset! lol ♥
treb treb 10 years
I think the extensions took years off of Melinda. I really want to like her, but she was starting to get boring. Thought she brought it back last night. And that Tim Mcgraw song is actually a Ryan Adams song, who is not a country artist, which may explain why it doesn't sound like a country song.
Maggie-Mae Maggie-Mae 10 years
Have you all heard about the controversy related to Simon rolling his eyes after Chris' VA Tech comment? Supposedly someone saw him roll his eyes on camera after Chris' speech and that's why Simon had to come back on and say that stuff about VA Tech at the end of the show when he was critiquing Blake. Now there's an article on CNN about how Simon is saying that's now the reason he rolled his eyes... ooooh, interesting. I wonder if he is going to address it tonight?
Justinsbelle Justinsbelle 10 years
I really liked Phil and Jordin last night. I DO NOT want Chris to go home. He might not be the best he is my favorite and he is such a cutie. He just needs to choose better songs and loosen up. Phil was much better last night due to the fact he showed some personality. I'm not sold on Melinda or Lakisha...they have good voices but I don't think they are very marketable. I think Blake, Chris, and Jordin are the most marketable in todays music scene. And Sanaja NEEDS TO GO! He creeps me out to no end.
Alleigh Alleigh 10 years
I agree that Chris' shout out to Virginia Tech was warranted as he is from there. I don't think it was a dig for votes. I hope, hope, hope that Sanjaya will be leaving tonight. The guy can seriously not sing and really butchered a great song. But it will probably be Chris or Phil leaving, and I agree with everyone else that Phil actually sounded good singing country!
Lindsb Lindsb 10 years
Although the hair helped her, I just don't see Melinda as the next idol. I love Jordin, she did so great last night. And damn you all - I love Chris. Hahaha. I can't help it. I think he's adorable.
workinggirl83 workinggirl83 10 years
I missed the show last night, thanks for updating me!
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
Great recap, Buzz! I agree with your assessments of the performances. Sanjaya should go, but Chris or Phil will likely be leaving, even though Phil actually pulled off a credible performance.
Bonfire Bonfire 10 years
I was psyched that Simon asked Melinda to drop her fake 'surprised' expression before he gave her a good critique. He did her a favor. She was able to do so too which really is in her best interest because she is sooo less annoying without that act!
crispet1 crispet1 10 years
I agree with you, Buzz, that Melinda's extensions flattered her neckline and that Simon finally told her to stop the humility crap.
miss-britt miss-britt 10 years
Sanjaya lost his flare, i'm ready to see him go now. I was really disappointed by everyone- I think Phill might go-but to be honest i didn't even see him perform. ****"Everything in life is only for now."-Avenue Q****
crispet1 crispet1 10 years
Chris's mention of VT was not a dig for votes. He is from the area, therefore he automatically gets to give a shout out. The dude was crying for heavens sake!
Shiloh-Jolie-Pitt Shiloh-Jolie-Pitt 10 years
I hate country night too and I missed Phil's performance. I can't wait for tonight's results. _________________________________________ * snap! *
calibabi calibabi 10 years
every week i look forward to your rundown, buzz! i saw the "who's got your nose" thing too...weird. i'm still holding out for sanjaya to go home...who knows when it will actually happen.
Maggie-Mae Maggie-Mae 10 years
I was really surprised by Phil's performance- he did a great job! This was the first show where I have actually liked Melinda- she looked young, sounded great, and showed some personality. LaKisha was pretty bad.
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