I was just thinking today of how far this show has come. Raise your hand if you remember when the contestants had to sing with just a piano!! Hehe!! Now they've graduated to a full-blown orchestra, and they are also rubbing elbows with some of the greatest in today's music industry.
Tonight, we will be graced with the presence of the beautiful Gwen Stefani as she coaches/mentors/advises the contestants on their song choices and stage performance. There's a huge chance she knows what she's talking about. Last time I checked, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt were No Joke. Besides, she's special because she and I share a name!
The contestants will be singing songs by No Doubt, or artists who have inspired or influenced Gwen.
Gina singing "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders - I'm with the judges right here. Gina was good...really good. She's not hardcore, but she's got that nice, rockin', groovy voice - the kind that makes you want to jam out with her - the kind that makes you think you can sing even if you're tone deaf. I think she found her niche tonight, and she should stay right there. I don't care if it's Country week. Find a song that fits right in. I'm so happy for her because she seems so eager-to-please. I mean, she's got the look, the hair, and I think she sort of lost herself in the past weeks by striving to be the person whom she perceived others wanted to see. But this song fit her, like the perfect pair of shoes. She took two steps forward, and I hope this propels her straight ahead. Great!!
Melinda singing "Heaven Knows" by Donna Summer - I like the dancing Melinda. The stylists are getting better, but I would have loved to see a V-neck. I'm finding it hard to believe that this woman was tone deaf until after 7th grade. Seriously, those are her own words. I can't even wrap my mind around that. The vocals were excellent and on-point, as always. I'm beginning to expect this from her every single time. I think if she made a complete mess of a song, we would all pass out because she has established herself as a pro in our eyes. And I can't believe that she can actually interpret "Heaven Knows." As far as I'm concerned, this is perfect for dancing and having a good time, but I have never paid attention to the words until tonight. But since her performances have been so phenomenal, she has to be careful because we'll become so immune to the voice. She'll have to pick and choose those moments to completely blow us away. She hasn't disappointed me yet. Y'all know how I feel about Melinda!!!
Blake singing "Love Song" by The Cure - Awwww. Blake has cute, high-school-boy hair. Gwen gave excellent advice about the beatboxing. As cool as it is, it is not always going to work. The intuitive performer knows when to keep simple things simple. Like Chris R. last week, he toned it down and showed us his softer side. The interesting thing is that I feel that Blake has a ton of hardcore fans who will stick with him, no matter what. In that respect, he has the edge on Chris R. I mention him because, sooner or later, they will be vying for the same fans. What he wants is to diversify his vocals so that he garners new fans each night. With each elimination, fans shift loyalties. That's the name of the game. Now that I've said that, I thought Blake did a decent job with the song. It will keep him around for a while, but with songs like this, he will have to prove to us that he has the voice that equals his superb beatboxing and dancing skills. The nice part about it is that when he releases an album, it can be a nice conglomeration of all of his high points.
LaKisha singing "Last Dance" by Donna Summer - Nice job on the dress and boots. The last time I saw a contestant perform this song, it was a premonition. Yep, the next night, Ryan Starr went home. This was not the case for LaKisha Jones...not by a mile. She made a turnaround and started heading back to her old self tonight. This is almost one of those clichèd songs, the kind that makes you cringe when you hear the first few notes. It could be cheesy if it is sung wrong. But it worked for her - the upbeat tempo, the energy of the music - gave her a smidgen of youthfulness that could help her gain back the grip she's been losing. My only complaint is that if it was indeed her "last dance" then could she? Loosen up! It's almost like she says, "I'll serenade you. Just don't enjoy it too much!" She's still not letting us into her performance.
Phil singing "Every Breath You Take" by The Police - Ohhhhhh, I like this song. Phil is my favorite guy in this competition. I don't think he gets the credit that he deserves. Granted, sometimes he over-sings, and that overshadows the great vocals that he possess. But tonight, with a simple melody and not a lot of grasping for the power notes, he did a very nice job. I do agree with Paula. He should work more on powering his lower register. He kind of loses personality when he sings there, and the song gains interest as he revs it up.
Jordin singing "Hey Baby" by No Doubt - This is a fun song but Jordin lost her voice on parts of her lower register. If she hadn't had such strong performances, I would have been worried about her singing this. This is a dance song. It's a song you scream out to in the car when you're by yourself. It's a song you clean house to in order to get energized. But it's very hard to sing a song like this and cause yourself to stand out as a front-running singer. Tonight, she kind of appeared to be in a "dress-up" phase, goofing off, and having a good time. She wouldn't win the competition with the song, but it showed that regardless of how mature and together her voice is, she is still young, and she showed her youthful side. However, as Randy said, she can sing anything. It sounded good, and she'll definitely be around next week.
Haley singing "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper - Well, Haley's coming in off of her high from last week's way, way, way better performance. She set the bar for herself, so it will be interesting to see if she can stay on that level. Ummmm....I don't think so. It was an okay performance, vocally...average and decent. But it lacked any kind of personality whatsoever. I was honestly bored out of my mind. I feel like she backslid to that old sound, and she really doesn't have the background on the show to cushion her falls. I honestly don't think that this performance helped her.
Chris R. singing "Don't Speak" by No Doubt - Vocal Olympics. Absolutely perfect. I'm going to borrow that. I always remember Kenny Rogers telling Elliott to save the runs to blow people's minds every once in a while. Learn to inject emotion into the song. This is good advice for Chris. He didn't do too much of the other stuff tonight, but he was all over the place vocally....very pitchy. I actually enjoyed his performance much better last week.
Chris S. singing "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by The Police - Chris likes knitting and crocheting in his free time. Hehe. Yeah. Keep me entertained. I loved the change from high pitch to low pitch when he was goofing around and seriously answering the question. I didn't particularly like this song. It lacks charisma and, for all of his extroversion when he's not singing, Chris's fantastic voice needs some help with personality. I don't know if he doesn't feel the song, but he has trouble emoting. I've never really seen him have that much of a problem with tempo before. It was slight here and there before, but tonight it was like a whirlwind. Kudos to that band for even trying to keep up with him. It totally threw me off because, regardless of how beautiful a person's voice is, running ahead of the beat overshadows it. Just think about it, "Every little thing she does is magic." It's all about being enchanted with a woman. I couldn't feel that at all.
Sanjaya singing "Bathwater" by No Doubt - Sanjaya forgot his words. In the words of Gwen, "It's going to be a hard song, but he chose it. Good luck to him." Well, lady, it seems like this young man is floating on luck. Simon hit the nail on the head when he said it doesn't matter what they say anymore. I will say this--he was adorable when he was a little boy. The pictures were too cute. That mohawk was an attention getter and he needed the distraction tonight. Words fail me now.