Has Sanjaya Malakar ruined the "American Idol" judges?
Sanjaya Malakar so baffles the "American Idol" judges that they don't know what to say. Simon Cowell decided on a different approach Tuesday night. "Incredible," Simon's lips said. But his eyes said anything but incredible. (Pictured: Simon in happier times.)
Randy Jackson has given up on criticizing Sanjaya's singing, preferring to hail him as a great entertainer. This pussyfooting around is slopping over into the judges' critiques of other singers. Simon praised Haley Scarnato's legs after she vamped through "Ain't Misbehavin.'" Yes, her legs.
Some thoughtful commentary would be nice. But I'll settle for mean. Mean is better than cryptic and coy ... please let us know what you're thinking. That's why you're there.
The nine "Idol" finalists were mentored by Tony Bennett this week. And that setup created an interesting situation for LaKisha Jones. Bennett's suggested how to end "Stormy Weather": hit the big note and leave it at that. She didn't follow his advice -- silly move.
Boy, was it a rocky start for the usually reliable LaKisha. She looked elegant, but she was pushing too hard. Still, the judges threw compliments her way.
The best? Who could ask for anything more than Melinda Doolittle? She sizzled through "I Got Rhythm" with a pro's intensity.
Jordin Sparks was lovely and confident on "On a Clear Day."
Chris Richardson brought surprising, contemporary feeling to "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." The judges loved him. Simon found him good and believable. Randy considered it one of Richardon's best performances.
In the less successful category: Blake Lewis put a mellow, adult contemporary spin on "Mack the Knife." (Oh, for more edge.)
Rocker Gina Glocksen tried, valiantly, to show a warm side on "Smile." She deserves points for trying to stretch.
Scarnato's strutting looked ill-advised and gimmicky.
Simon dismissed Phil Stacey's rendition of "Night and Day" as worthy of a funeral parlor. But Phil had some fine vocal moments in that rendition.
Then there was Sanjaya. He gave a soft-and-fuzzy reading of "Cheek to Cheek." Soft isn't bad -- Fred Astaire sang that song softly. But he sang it distinctively by putting some zing into it. Sanjaya can't do that. His movement around the stage and his dancing with Paula Abdul seemed like ploys to distract everyone from his blah delivery. You can fool some of the people ...
Who do I think is going home Wednesday night? Phil, Gina or Haley. Probably Phil.
How do I rank them for Tuesday's performances?
1. Melinda Doolittle
2. Jordin Sparks
3. Chris Richardson
4. LaKisha Jones
5. Blake Lewis
6. Phil Stacey
7. Gina Glocksen
8. Haley Scarnato
9. Sanjaya Malakar -- oh, Sanjaya, you're making the most of a very strange run.