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.

Literally.

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.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 28, 2007; 8:51 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: "Idol" Results Show: Time Flies When You're Being Had | Next: Sanjacko!

Comments

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To Sanjanya:

"Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this..

AND TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!"

Posted by: Justin | March 28, 2007 9:17 AM

Pookie, why all the hatred for Gwen?! Her appearance on that show is not nearly as desperate as some of the other REAL has-beens that have appeared on American Idol over the years(Kenny Rogers? Paul Anka?!!). I think that Idol should be applauded for getting someone who actually has been popular in the last 5 years being a guest on the show so we don't have to put up with another Burt Bachrach night. Gwen is playing the "game" of marketing herself, and you shouldn't slam her for that. She's teaching these kids a valuable lesson that they will have to learn to be successful themselves.

Posted by: AB | March 28, 2007 9:48 AM

I have to admit, when Sanjaya showed up with that insanely ridiculous faux-hawk, all I could think of was the Washington Post cut-and-fold thing! HOW DID YOU GUYS GET TO HIM?

And although I truly hope that the voters will put Sanjaya out of my misery and send him home, I also have to admit that last night's performance, while still mediocre, was the most watchable and listenable performance he has given so far. He clearly knew the faux-hawk was over the top and was just having a great time with it.

Posted by: Northern Girl | March 28, 2007 9:52 AM

I can't believe LaKisha and Melinda found old songs to sing even on Gwen Stefani night.

Chris's mention of playing bongoes semi-nude was an odd tribute to Matthew McConaughey's old arrest for same while stoned. Maybe that's the point he was trying to make?

I like that Gwen trashed everybody and that nobody took her advice. Weird night.

Posted by: NoVA | March 28, 2007 9:56 AM

Geez, why is this called the "on TV" blog when all it's about is American Idol?

Well, someone had to break the ice...

Posted by: Just kidding | March 28, 2007 9:59 AM

The show was very boring last night. At least Sanjaya provided some entertainment with the hair do. He'll be around for awhile.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2007 10:06 AM

meow, hiss hiss... Don't like Gwen or something?

Posted by: jj | March 28, 2007 10:06 AM

i hope sanjaya stays with it one more week and goes for a "kim jong il/don king" look

Posted by: b | March 28, 2007 10:07 AM

Lisa, your AI columns are hysterical - thanks for making me laugh early in the morning! I have to say - I am a Jordin fan for sure. I really hope to see her in the finals and then go on to win!

Posted by: Milwaukee | March 28, 2007 10:07 AM

Was Sanjaya's appearance just another disguised commercial, this time for Swiffer? And will somebody please tell Phil Stacey that when you look like a movie villain, you shouldn't be singing stalker songs?

Posted by: JD | March 28, 2007 10:15 AM

sorry, Jordin sucked last night. Song choice, a really bad one she chose.

Sanjaya even failed at backsassing Simon. Kid's never going to get it, and sadly I don't think he'll be going home. Tonight he'll share the bottom slots with Sligh and Scarnato, and Sligh will go home, thus saving us all from extreme unnecessary close ups of his pores. >

Posted by: Chris | March 28, 2007 10:22 AM

Justin - good one! I think I like Sanjaya now just for the dumb and dumber factor - I can't wait to see if he can come out and do anything more stupid than he's already done.

Lisa, thanks for turning up the snark factor on the recap - last night couldn't be more deserving. I remember high school talent shows from growing up in Ohio that were better than what this group is capable of.

Posted by: Stugats | March 28, 2007 10:24 AM

once sanjaya came out w/his less than tepid performance and really, honestly, and truly ridiculous hairdo it became a total waste of time. everyone else could have sounded like fingers on the blackboard because if sanjaya is still on there after tonight, this show is more than the farce i thought it was.
the best thing about last night was seeing beautiful gwen stefani.

Posted by: methinks | March 28, 2007 10:30 AM

Phil- I couldn't figure out why I couldn't look at him until I realized he looks like an alien. Huge eyes, bald head, pointy chin.
Gina- She was terrible. I thought she was really flat and off key. During the performance I said to my husband that she was done for, and then the judges praise the heck out of her. I believe it is a plot because they want her to stay.

Posted by: EF8 | March 28, 2007 10:46 AM

In only watched about the first half last night, and the judges seemed to be praising everyone left and right despite the fact that they were -- well, it was all pretty bad. I think the judges are just giving up.

Did you see the smirk Sanjaya had while the judges were talking to him? He knows he's awful, but he's now figured out all he has to do to stay in is pull ridiculous stunts. Thanks for the display of dignity, San.

Posted by: sara | March 28, 2007 11:18 AM

I think Phil should only do songs from Midnight Oil so the audience confuses him with Peter Garrett, wondering each week "Wait, do they have two aging pop stars as guests this week?" and voting off someone else instead. I mean, Beds are Burning would rock.

Posted by: ThingsThatShine | March 28, 2007 11:24 AM

If Melinda validates her Favorite status by winning, it will be the beginning of the End for Idol. America wants a refreshing and exciting new face who can continue to develop and surprise, NOT:

a boring and smarmy overweight 30-year old R&B has-been professional backup singer with very limited commercial potential and with no fashion sense or presence and with one endlessly repeated boring "gee little ol' me" schtick who can't or won't sing a song written in the last 30 years or is outside her boring limited repertoire ("As Long as He Needs Me" as British Invasion???-- How could they let her get away with THAT???).

Haley, Blake and Jordin may not have been all that great last week, but I'll bet they'll still be there after Melinda the Mundane has been mercifully given the boot.

Posted by: Christin | March 28, 2007 11:46 AM

I started this comment by confronting our author with her apparent hatred for all that is Idol. Then I went back and read some other postings and am pleased to report that this chick is on to something.
Ms. de Moraes I encourage you keep on keepin' on!

Thank you for being the oh-so-sarcastic voice of reason (and reality) in the otherworld that is "Idolland"

Danke!

Posted by: Jack-tor | March 28, 2007 12:09 PM

No, Christin, America wants an American Idol that can actually, uh, SING.

Posted by: Phillyfilly | March 28, 2007 12:10 PM

Ahem, it should be "whose" not who's.

Posted by: missedhercompletely | March 28, 2007 12:12 PM

I'd have to agree with Lisa's portrayal of Gwen. Am I the only one that thought she came off as cold, standoff-ish, and mostly negative? And what exactly did she do? Usually when they have the guest helper people, they show them giving some advice while the contestant sings. The only time they showed Gwen with them was when they said their hellos and sang a line of a song. Then they cut to Gwen all alone making negative comments.... I usually like Gwen, but I got a bad taste of her last night.

Posted by: Robert | March 28, 2007 12:33 PM

Sorry Christin. Those of us who actually listen to something other than Top 40 radio actually do want someone who can actually SING. We actually don't want another size 0 plastic with questionable talent producing other album. We've already got a Britney, Justin and feux punk bands, how about someone who can sing and not have to have it changed in the studio to sound decent.

By the why, your "a boring and smarmy overweight 30-year old R&B has-been" is our sista who can sing classic songs with the best out there (which most pop songs today either sample or steal from). I dare you to say that to Aretha Franlkin or Patty LaBelle.

Posted by: k-gotham | March 28, 2007 12:35 PM

How old is the person writing this inane commentary - 19, maybe 22 on the outside? How low the WashPo is sinking. Well, hear this, Ms. Not-Old-Enough-to-Know-Any-Better: "pushing 40" is not much of a slam these days. In case you haven't heard, it's no longer essential for someone to be 25 or under to be considered a valuable, credible artist, and only a punk would make a comment like that. In case you haven't noticed, either, it takes one hell of a lot of stamina and experience to get to the top of the biz these days, and few if any of the babies who try to run before they can walk are up to the challenge. Gwen Stefani, while not a personal favorite of THIS musician, is nonetheless a skilled professional most of these silly AI wanna-be's could only dream of being on par with, let alone besting. Save your bush-league snotty remarks for Tiger Beat - that's the kind of publication to which you're obviously more suited.

Posted by: Sarah in California | March 28, 2007 12:42 PM

Phillyfilly, I have agree with Christin. Christin never said Melinda can't sing. And obviously America doesn't want someone who can sing because Sanjaya is still on the show, and may still be on after tonight.

I am tired of watching LaKisha and Melinda. The same old thing week after week from them. Personally I felt like I was at a karaoke show last night when those two were on. Really good singing but NOTHING different.

Melinda's outfit...I think my mom wore something like that last year! Just shows Melinda is too old to connect with most of the viewers.

Posted by: VA AI Watcher | March 28, 2007 12:46 PM

I guess someone doesn't like Gwen.
Next time write about something you don't care about instead of something you hate up front.

Posted by: Sam | March 28, 2007 1:06 PM

Sarah in California: You may not have to be under 25 to be valuable, but there is nothing sadder than a grownup (someone pushing 40) that doesn't realize they're not under 25 anymore, but continues the schtick (Gwen Stefani). Except maybe the people that buy into it...

As a musician, I would think you would take issue with people trying to get rich off of pretending they are musicians, so if you honestly feel the need to stick up for this class of no-talent schlubs in the current round of Idol, then you probably belong with them and I hope you spare us all and don't release anything.

Read your own California paper - we love our Lisa AND all of her snarky comments.

Posted by: NoDoy | March 28, 2007 1:18 PM

now, now...gwen isn't exactly "pushing 40"...what is she? 37? 38? so, what? she's been around a while, long enough to establish herself as more than a one-hit wonder. and besides, 40 is the new 30!! (says the chick who is 39 *gulp*). besides, my husband guessed that she was 27. botox, anyone?

all that being said, i did not get that show last night at all! what was the theme? what was the point? (other than for stefani to sell some records)? it was bad, and i'm a gwen stefani fan! (i loved her negativity!!!).

oh, and did sanjaya see the post? he picked the ONE hairstyle the style staff omitted! i bet they are kicking themselves for that now....

Posted by: wats | March 28, 2007 2:26 PM

So Tank Girl pretended she was Chrissie Hynde this week...well, good for her and her Mark Nason-y boots. Probably the best I've liked her even if she was flat, but feh.

Now, I used to be a HUGE Cure fan, and while I like Blake a lot, choosing "Love Song" is guaranteed a yawn--I was yelling at him through the teevee to do "Close To Me" but he just wouldn't listen. Coulda had his Beat Box and a fun tune. It's just more shame.

When's Grace Jones week? I mean, if we're going to choose random recording artists that like clothes and all.

Posted by: Domokun | March 28, 2007 2:34 PM

I did not realize how beautiful Gwen was until last night - when she was toned down - she is just stunning. I also thought that she was helpful and honest rather than telling Haley what a great studio voice she had.

Posted by: Betty | March 28, 2007 3:23 PM

Apparently, according to Sanjaya's friends and family, he has yet to show us what he has.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/03/28/americanidol.malakar.ap/index.html

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2007 4:24 PM

"Then they cut to Gwen all alone making negative comments.... I usually like Gwen, but I got a bad taste of her last night."

Robert, it's all in the editing. She could have made 100 positive comments for every one negative comment, but positive is not nearly as TV-worthy as negative...

Posted by: Jane | March 28, 2007 4:28 PM

Lisa....why the hatred for Gwen? Did she beat you up in another life. Yes she has only won 2 grammys...that is 2 more than any of us. The fact is, she is currently one of the top female pop culture icons in the US right now. If you put her picture up a vast majority of 12-34 yearolds would know who she is and what band she was with. She has sold 30 plus million albums...so yes, I think it was a big deal for Idol to get her. Compare that to the previous week with LuLu and you tell me who wins!!

Posted by: HappyDad | March 28, 2007 4:30 PM

I enjoyed Gwen Stefani's negativity. It was the only thing that livened up a really dull show. I continue to be bored with Melinda and Lakisha because despite having the best voices there, they have no spark. As is often said, it is a singing competition, but idoliciousness in a pop sense is much more.

Posted by: Leila | March 28, 2007 5:02 PM

Gwen is like any other O.C. chick who has become a millionaire...not much to say, not very interesting while saying it, but you apparently have to pay attention because the girl has bank.

LaKisha and Melinda scrounged up two disco tunes, and Richardson and Cancer Boy found two Sting songs. Take me out back and shoot me.

Jordin hasn't done a bad song yet. And Blake even without the BB and the fluid moves is still more interesting than the rest of those sluggish dudes.

Say goodbye Sligh or Haley.

Posted by: filmex | March 28, 2007 7:00 PM

Good thing Gwen's better at what she does than Ms. Moraes. "Whose latest CD," not "who's."

Posted by: Anne | March 28, 2007 8:05 PM

"...that is 2 more than any of us..."

Speak for yourself, HappyDad.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2007 9:12 PM

> Michael Jackson is in discussions about creating a 50-foot robotic replica of himself to roam the Las Vegas desert, according to reports.
>
> The pop legend is currently understood to be living in the city, as he considers making a comeback after 2004's turbulent child sex case.
>
> It has now been claimed that his plans include an elaborate show in Vegas, which would feature the giant Jacko striding around the desert, firing laser beams.
>
> If built, the metal monster would apparently be visible to aircraft as they come in to land in the casino capital.
>
> It is the centerpiece of an elaborate Jackson-inspired show in Vegas, according to Andre Van Pier, the robot's designer.
>
> Luckman Van Pier, his partner at the company behind the proposal, claims blueprints have been drawn up for the show and seen by the star.
>
> "Michael's looked at the sketches and likes them," he told the New York Daily News.
>
> On the subject of the robot, he continued: "It would be in the desert sands. Laser beams would shoot out of it so it would be the first thing people flying in would see."


Rumor has it that Michael Jackson is considering adding a companion Sanjaya Malakar robot that periodically bends over and grabs its robotic ankles.

Posted by: Mister LasVegas | March 28, 2007 9:51 PM

Sarah in California: Lisa wrote for trade pubs in LA for quite a while, so you might want to consider the chance that she maybe knows more about the entertainment industry than you do.

Posted by: jw | March 29, 2007 8:21 AM

Well, jw, if she's such an expert - something that I don't, by the way, necessarily concede you automatically become by writing for "trade pubs" in L.A.; like there aren't forty million of those around here, about one-tenths of a percent of them useful or credible - then why would she make snotty comments about an all-out, bona fide original like Gwen Stefani? And I reiterate that Stefani is not even on my radar of personal favorites. But any expert that can't see the merits of Stefani and No Doubt - especially against a backdrop of today's barren landscape of 15-minute wonders - is, very likely, nothing of the sort.

Posted by: Sarah in California | March 29, 2007 3:42 PM

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