Wednesday, May 2, 2007

"I've never listened to his music, but I seen him on Oprah"

Well, if that doesn't sum up the musical legacy of Bon Jovi, I'm not sure what does. (Thanks for the headline, Lakisha). Last night's Idol was "rock night" with Jon Bon Jovi and his keyboard player. Where was erstwhile guitarist Richie Sambora? Probably somewhere discussing nuclear physics with homewrecker Denise Richards. (Though I can't bag too much on Denise Richards. After all, she did give us "Wild Things" with Neve Campbell, particularly a scene that worked out the rewind, pause and slow mo buttons).

Congrats, America! After Idol's "telethon" last week, you completely wiped out poverty, disease and starvation. Now we can get back to more pressing matters, like televised karaoke.

Interesting note: last week there were a lot more votes than usual, because people care, y'all. And since last week's vote totals will be added to this week's, and two will go home, it would seem that good and bad performances from last week would count "more" towards staying or going than this week's. Probably good news for Jordin, bad news for Lakisha.

JBJ's top of the show advice was unique: "make it your own," said the star of Moonlight and Valentino, and Vampires: Los Muertos. Unbelievably, one of the Idols took that straight to heart.

Phil starts us off with "Blaze of Glory," a song from a movie where Kiefer Sutherland killed people much less efficiently than he does these days. JBJ said he had a "big voice for a big song." I don't know what it is with Phil. I seem to like him much more than most Idol pundits, and certainly more than Simon (with whom I usually agree). Maybe it's because I'm a fan of Buffy, Angel and other vampire lore, so I'm not disturbed by his Nosferatu appearance. Phil rocks the song out, hits the big notes and is really good.

One of my frontrunners (along with Melinda), Jordin, takes on stadium rock staple "Livin' on a Prayer." Not sure I buy Jordin's knowledge of "Tommy and Gina" and their union travails working on the dock. Not sure I buy her version of this song, either. Actually, it's a big hot mess. Jordin, who has been pretty unflappable crossing different genres, shits the bed here. Her vocals seem underpowered and the song just swallows her whole. I like her hair, though.

Lakisha finds a Bon Jovi song that isn't necessarily a "rocker," the soul-tinged "This Ain't a Love Song," and belts it out (she probably looked to see if Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard or any other Idols had recorded a Bon Jovi tune, but came up empty). She even appeared less than ornery in her moments with Seacrest before the shrieking begins. Sorry, I'm just not a Lakisha fan, and even though the judges fall all over themselves to praise her for this, it really did nothing for me. I start eagerly anticipating the return of Veronica Mars at this point. Lakisha, blessed with a big, bold voice, sings every song with the subtlety of a William Shatner Shakespeare festival and the personality of Sean Penn at a paparazzi convention. She's better this week than in previous weeks, but I don't know if that is gonna help her (I can only hope).

Every week Blake comes on, I dread the return of the goofy beatboxing. Spitting and trying to imitate Michael Winslow in the Police Academy movies isn't necessarily my idea of music. But you know what? Holy shit. Blake gives beatboxing a good name. Blake takes the anthemic "You Give Love a Bad Name" and really, truly "makes it his own." I don't think I've ever in all my Idol watching time, seen someone take a song and rework it so completely and do something so original with it. And it's not like "Bad Name" is something by Sinatra or The Beatles, so sacred and perfect as is that it shouldn't be tampered with. Against all better judgment and previous conceptions, I absolutely love this. He also manages to work in some straightforward "singing" through the middle of the song, to throw us non-beatboxers a bone and show us that he can carry a tune as well. I rewound it three times to watch it again. I'm astonished that I found this adventurous and bizarre take so compelling. Bravo, Blake. Bravo.

Chris Richardson comes out with "Wanted Dead or Alive." I watched Chris Daughtry. I listened to Chris Daughtry. And Chris Richardson, you're no Chris Daughtry. While Chris Richardson is not quite as nasal as usual (though he still tries to rock through his nose somewhat), this is about as "rock" as Vanilla Ice is "rap."

Melinda, who is nervous about performing a rock song, completely charms JBJ, who tells her to take "Have a Nice Day" to "church." In about 3 seconds flat, Melinda completely dismisses any concerns we might have had about her taking on a rock song. She growls, belts and sings her way through the the newer Bon Jovi song, and even has fun with it. She cozies up to the guitarist, hits every single note (as usual), and fiercely prowls the stage like Tina Turner with shorter legs and no neck. Outstanding (as usual).

Wow, Top 2 is tough to judge. It's definitely a choice between Melinda's and Phil's straightforward rock versions, and Blake's just beamed in from Alpha Centauri version. As much as I'm a (lonely) fan of Phil, I'll go with:

TNRLM's Top 2: Melinda, Blake
TNRLM's Bottom 2: Jordin, Chris

That's just for this week, of course. Cumulatively, I'd say the bottom 2 should be Lakisha and Chris, and if all is right with the world, that's who should be going home tonight (though I'm betting the teenyboppers who like ersatz Timberlake will keep nasal boy, and send Phil and Lakisha home).

Oh, and George W. Bush? Your thank you to America (and Bono!) for our charity was a little pitchy there, dawg. Laura had some yo factor, but in the end, you brought it home and made it your own.

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