Gwen Stefani Is Very Special
How lucky is l'il ol' "American Idol" to get Gwen Stefani -- a pushing-40 pop star whose latest CD has only so-so sales and whose upcoming tour still has plenty of tickets available -- to be guest mentor to the Idolettes this week.
So lucky show host Ryan Seacrest calls the show a Gwen Stefani "special." So special Fox actually gave the producers seven extra minutes.
"Why is everyone so excited?!" Ryan gushes.
Because, Ryan says, answering his own question, Stefani has won two whole Grammys! Why, that's as many as previous "Idol" winner Carrie Underwood! Plus, Ryan says, Stefani's infectious energy, platinum hair and toned tummy have made her an icon! And, besides, Stefani has a line of clothing! Wow -- actual clothes!
See Stefani mingle with the little people who are this year's "Idol" contestants:
"What's it feel like to get to this point?" Stefani asks them, like she's reading from a carefully rehearsed script.
"I'm nervous and I'm not you," she adds, driving home the I'm Gwen Stefani And You're Not-ness of it all.
She tells the camera she's now really invested in the show.
They've promised to let her sing Wednesday in front of l'il ol "Idol's" audience of around 30 million.
Maybe that will help her ticket sales. CD sales too.
Gwen says watching LaKisha Jones rehearse Donna Summer's "Last Dance" makes her sweaty and LaKisha's so good she should be asking LaKisha for advice instead of the other way around. Good for her.
Gwen wonders where the drummer is during Chris Sligh's rehearsal of The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic." It's her way of saying he needs to pay attention to the beat. He doesn't and the song is a mess. "My bad" he tells Ryan, but only after telling Ryan that in his down time he likes to knit, crochet and play bongos in his boxer shorts, which makes Ryan very uncomfortable -- viewers too.
The judges, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, agree his performance was a mess; Simon in particular really gets going on this theme, only the music cuts him off. Best Line of the Evening: "I haven't finished yet - this is not the Oscars!"
Gwen reduces Gina Glockson to tears during rehearsal. "You're a big inspiration for me," Glockson weeps, which makes Glockson seem lame and Gwen seem as old as last week's guest mentor, Lulu.
Gina wants to sing "I'll Stand By You" which, Gwen says, is "all about the lyrics -- maybe 'cause I'm a girl." Gina's performance is totally flat, sometimes off key, but she's dressed as a roaring 20's swimsuit model which is fun. Randy and Paula say it's one of her best performances. Simon says it's not one of her best performances - crowd boos. It's her very best performance, Simon adds -- crowd cheers. Simon says that compared to her performance a few weeks ago it's like "chalk and cheese." Crowd is stumped, not knowing whether to boo or cheer. Gina blows kisses to the audience.
Gwen doesn't think Sanjaya Malakar is up to her group No Doubt's song "Bathwater" and she's right; he seems timid about the lyrics -- bathing in the used bathwater of this very naughty chick he's supposed to be hot for. His fauxhawked hair, on the other hand, is totally into it. (For a recap of Sanjaya's Hair's performance of "Bathwater" see today's TV Column.)
Gwen says Haley Scarnato's song of choice, Cyndi Lauper tune "True Colors," is one of her favorite songs. Too bad, because Haley's version is weak and saccharine and "adult contemporary" as Paula says. Only Haley has the most gorgeous legs ever seen on "American Idol" and shows them off wonderfully in a little dress and heels, so she's probably not in trouble. Now, Chris Sligh -- he's in trouble.
"Wow - I didn't know it was going to be that good," Gwen says to Phil Stacey as he rehearses Sting and Police's "Every Breath You Take." And you thought only Simon could disguise insults as compliments. Stacey does a practically perfect imitation of Sting doing the song and watching him makes you appreciate how important Sting's hotness is to your enjoyment of this tune.
Gwen tells Melinda Doolittle her rehearsal of Donna Summer's "Heaven Knows" is beautiful; Melinda grabs her "Who? me!" look from her bag of three facial expressions and slaps it on her face. She then sets loose all those other well-rehearsed expressions and body movements that have become our old friends during this competition - bending over on her right side, eye squint, etc. -- and belts out the tune to the adoring judges.
This time it's Ryan's turn to try to explain away Melinda's annoying schtick. Last week, Simon tried out "Are you really as nice as you seem?" to no avail. This time Ryan will test "You always look so surprised" to see if he gets any further with her.
"It's fun," she responds.
Which was not what he'd hoped for. Ryan perseveres, telling the professional backup singer more pointedly that, by now, being up on stage should have become habit and she should "embrace it."
She embraces herself, after applying Smile No. 3 to her face.
Blake Lewis tries to wow Gwen with his beatbox routine.
"It's pretty," she tells him.
But then she tells the camera he'd better watch it or he'll wreck The Cure's song "Love Song" with that beatbox gimic. He stifles the beatbox, leaving us with sweet and dull. The judges declare him the male frontrunner because he's "contemporary" and "cool." He tells Ryan he's speechless and starts to break into a song about having no words, but Ryan cuts him off with "No! Don't sing it or we have to pay for it."
Gwen says she's "shocked" by Jordin Spark's ability to sing No Doubt's song "Hey Baby." Gwen appears to expect very little from "Idol" singers.
Gwen also is unimpressed with Chris Richardson's "vocal Olympics" and hopes he doesn't trot them out for his performance of her group's "Don't Speak." He mostly doesn't.
Editor's note: Before Sanjaya showed up with his ponyhawk, the Style staff imagined a few new 'dos for the "Idol" star; Cut and fold your own look for Sanjaya.
Lisa de Moraes
March 28, 2007; 8:51 AM ET
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