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The Weaker Sex

Eight Things I Wish I Didn't Know About the Guy Contestants night on "American Idol."

Show host Ryan Seacrest gives us the bad news right away: Each contestant has to share something about himself. But, so it's not a total loss, he promises us a "very big announcement -- one of the most important events in 'Idol' history" -- during Thursday's results show.

Blake Lewis, it turns out, loves improv comedy and Halloween, and does terrible "The Naked Trucker & T- Bones"-like characters in his spare time, including one we get to meet: Jimmy Walker Blue.

Lewis does, however score points for singing 311's "All Mixed Up" which results in what we think is the very first "American Idol" Judges' Senior Moment -- neither Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul nor Simon Cowell recognizes the song.

"I didn't understand a word you sang, not a single word," Simon says, speaking for the others, only then he goes on to say, "You kind of stand're making it will 100 percent be here next week."

Sanjaya Malakar confides he can actually hula dance or, as he describes it, "shake my booty Hawaiian style." Sadly, he demonstrates.

We also learn, though he doesn't say so, that Sanjaya wants to look like Paula and has straightened his hair to that end.

"It wasn't as ghastly as last week," Simon says of Sanjaya's utterly limp rendition of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." Randy and Paula confine themselves to saying they've been disappointed in Sanjaya lately. But Simon says "I'm finding the whole hoola-hooping, the Paula hairstyle all a bit weird," speculating "but maybe it's your hair that's keeping you in" the competition.


"I think one of the two has extensions -- I'm not sure which one," Ryan says, pointing to Sanjaya and Paula.

The one thing we don't know about pudgy Sundance Head is he's really thin but puts on the fat suit for the show so that afterwards he can walk around all thin and sexy and not be hounded by fans. Earlier Sundance confides he cries like a little girl when he goes to see "Charlotte's Web."

Then he makes a run at the show's Chris Daughtry Token Rocker slot with Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," but he doesn't have the control to pull it off. He's a stranger to any key.

At this point "Idol" kicks off the Human Product Placement portion of the series. Travis Tritt is in the audience and his next album, "The Storm" just happens to be produced by --Randy Jackson.

Chris Richardson, who wants to show us his masculine side, says he used to play football and was "chunky" and now here he is on "Idol" -- 40 pounds lighter.

Chris tries a Keith Urban song, "Tonight I Wanna Cry" but he hasn't the cheekbones to pull it off, and his performance ends with the least sexy close-up ever on "American Idol."

But Randy loves it and says Chris every week "puts the boys on blast." Paula says it's great because of the intonation in his voice. Simon says it was a bit timid and safe, and "cutesy...but you sold it." It has now become painfully clear the judges' comments this week have nothing to do with the actual performances and everything to do with which six guys the judges -- which is to say the producers -- want voted through by viewers to the final 12. It's pathetic.

Weirdly, when Ryan comes on stage to do his blah blah blah before reading Chris's phone number and asks Chris how he lost the 40 pounds, Simon admonishes him, saying "careful!" and "Leave the poor boy alone -- stick to the singing."

When did Simon become the show's Standards & Practices guy?

Jared Cotter, who also wants to show his masculine side, tells us the one thing we don't know about him is that he played college basketball. Only when he realized he wasn't going to make the NBA he became a singer. Zzzzzzzzz.

Jared takes a stab at a Stevie Wonder song -- something other "Idol" contestants have done, and better, at their peril. But the judges are very kind. Paula, surprisingly, is hardest on him, saying she wants to see more coloring up the way he sings and sometimes he shouts through an entire performance.

"I sort of know, amazingly what Paula is trying to say," Simon says. Only that old gag is falling very flat because Paula this season is actually making sense.

Brandon, the only contestant who tells us something about him I don't mind knowing, reveals he is a classical pianist. He sings Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" but in a non-celebratory way. Randy doesn't love it, Paula does; Simon says he's nervous for Brandon after that performance.

Phil Stacey wants us to know he hasn't always been bald and in fact used to have very long hair but then he got into a group of guys in college who kept their hair short so he had to keep his hair short, only he didn't like his hair short, so he shaved it off. Phew!

Phil also let us know, only he didn't realize it, that he is the biggest suck-up ever to appear on "American Idol." We learned this during one of the show's Coke Couch Moments when he tells Ryan he wants the judges to remember how passionately he loves them. Ryan gives him a chance to redeem himself with a comeback question, only Phil this time says the judges are all incredible.

Phil comes out on stage looking like a Justin Timberlake Puzzle -- pieces of different boy-band ensembles -- and slaughters LeAnn Rimes's "I Need You." Randy and Paula go pretty easy on him, but Simon says "I don't get it at all -- the hat, the big eyes, it was all just insane at the beginning."

Chris Sligh wants us to know he used to have a shaved head but decided to grow it out and "ended up having these lush curls." Call me old-fashioned but there is something really unattractive about a guy discussing his "lush curls." Oh, and, we also need to know "This is my real hair; I have not ever had a perm, nor will I." Ick, ick, ick.

Chris sings dc Talk's "We All Want to Be Loved." It was by far the night's strongest performance but the judges aren't kind, though Randy says it was the night's best vocal, which is damning with faint praise.

Then Chris, in marked departure from his "sorry Simon I'm not singing as well as your precious Teletubbies" strategy, apologizes "that I did not bring it like I should have." Then he insists Ryan give him a hug, which causes Standards & Practices Simon to start making slashing motions across his neck with his hand.

When this train wreck finally ends, Ryan asks the judges how many of the eight guys actually deserve to make it into the final 12. Of course, we know six will make it through because the final 12 must be six guys and six girls. Unless that's Ryan's big important Idol surprise.

"Keeping it real, only maybe four," Randy says.

"Four" Paula agrees.

"Three and a half," says Simon.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 7, 2007; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Terrible. Ghastly. Hideous. Any other good adjectives to describe last night's performances? Oh yeah -- CRAPPY.

If justice prevails, all of the guys will get booted off one by one, until the top six are all women.

Posted by: Phil | March 7, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

It was simply unbearable to watch last night. It sucked royally.

Posted by: Marie | March 7, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't impressed by last night's show myself. Sanjaya and his hula "hoop" needs to go. To me, it's a toss up for 2nd place out of there!

Posted by: Milwaukee | March 7, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The best thing about last night was Sanjay's hair. Seriously, who is dressing these guys? I can't BELIEVE that Brandon broke out the Members' Only jacket.

Oh and none of them should sing again - EVER - outside of the occasional office birthday party and then only VERY QUIETLY.

Posted by: Ex Cap | March 7, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, I'm happy to see that you are back to writing this column with added commentary! I had missed your extra insights. Much more fun than just a re-cap. Thanks!!!

Posted by: happy | March 7, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

So...what WAS the big announcement?

Posted by: snarko | March 7, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I was expecting so little, and I got even less. Is there anyway to get some change back?

Posted by: Domokun | March 7, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I could not be more dissappointed in the judges not knowing 311. By far one of my favorite bands. I was so mad I almost turned it off. Almost. Even Randy didnt know it!

Posted by: all mixed up | March 7, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

well, if only 4 men are good enough for the final, does that mean that 8 women are? I think not. I can't fathom a final with skanky toilet girl.

Sooo many to choose from for the boot, but I'll say the same as I said last week, it can't not be Sanjaya and Brandon.

Posted by: cj | March 7, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Sanjaya has to go. Jared should go. Sundance should go -- you took on Pearl Jam? Really? To quote Wilbon: "Please." Actually, they just need to reboot this entire season for the men. Maybe that will be the big surprise on Thursday and not just the songwriting competition. God, please don't let it be a Michael Jackson announcement...

By the way, my wife thinks Chris Richardson looks like the offspring of David Beckham and a monkey. And when the showed his football photo my wife, God love her, immediately said, "I'll bet he was the kicker." I actually did a spit-take.

Posted by: Chris C | March 7, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why they need to have an even number of males and females in the top 12.

In the first few seasons, they had four or five groups, from which the voters passed through just the top two from each group, and then there was a wild card round. In Season Two, at least, they ended up with an even male/female distribution anyway, but it was based on talent, not demographics.

Posted by: hosaa_joy | March 7, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

As far as I remember, "All Mixed Up" came out in the fall of 1995 - it's a song that's almost 12 years old. And Paula, Randy, and Simon thought Brandon was bringing American Idol current?!?

Posted by: Current? | March 7, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Was anyone else disturbed by Sundance wearing eye-liner? As if it would help. It's hard to predict who among the men deserves to go this week. Probably Ambi-sexual Sanjaya and Ambi-timberlake Chris Richardson.

Posted by: Idolatry | March 7, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I thought that Blake and Chris S. gave the most enjoyable performances of the evening. I'm suprised that Randy didn't give him more props! Sometimes I swear that what we hear on TV is different from what the judges are hearing. Maybe it's the acoustics. But seriously, Chris S did WAYYYY better as far as staying in tune and having a strong voice. And as far as the perm comment.. I think he was being sarcastic. I love his dry sense of humor.

Posted by: Kit | March 7, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The ax murderer that did the LeAnn Rimes song needs to leave my TV forever. That just ain't right. The boy needs some medication, and he needs some of that special 'fuzzy' TV screen effect that Barbra Streisand gets. As for Sanjaya, all I can say is no. As a gay man I'm all for camp, but that's getting ridiculous. Just put a dress on already, dude. You know you want to. Not that there's anything wrong with that. At least it'd end the painful Road to Drag Queendom that he's clearly embarked on.

Posted by: Hillman | March 7, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, I wasn't home when Idol was on last night, but I couldn't bring myself to watch it recorded on my DVR. Thank you for your column. It cracked me up, and it didn't cost me an hour of my life that I won't get back! Thank you - - where can I send you a plaque for your desk that says Lisa de Moraes - National Treaure?

Posted by: Peggy | March 7, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Any one else think Jared looked exactly like Carlton from Fresh Prince? I was waiting for him to break into that cheesy dance.

And I have to agree with previous posters, the only males who are doing well at this point are Blake and Chris Sligh. The other Chris' attempt at country last was night was almost made Sundance's performance sound good...almost. And Phil? What the hell was HE thinking? And that hat??? Made him look more like a chemo patient than previous weeks.

Sanjaya must go...NOW. and take Sundance/Phil/Brandon/Jared with you.

Posted by: Ron | March 7, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

ok, what gives? in the gossip chat, amy and roxanne just noted that this year's crop of contestants is short on "IT" factor and i totally agree. i love idol, but am not seriously excited about *anyone.* i don't understand... producers and screeners see however many tens of thousands of auditioners and this is the best group they can get? are the judges losing their ability to pick true talent?

Posted by: sarita | March 7, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Only two performances worth remembering...Blake's version of the 311 song was fun. The guy has a 'commercial' voice and seems like he can give any tune a good go.

I'll be a contrarian and say I also liked Brandon's "Celebrate" number. The guy has personality, and stands out as having charisma in a field that has next to none.

I like Chris' sense of humor, but this ain't Last Comic Standing. And even his moppy head is interesting in a Mark Volman-The Turtles kinda way. But, criminy, if these guys don't stop doing these ghastly power ballads at every opportunity...

Is it possible to find a catchy song with a good hook? With Katherine McPhee's new single, "I'm Over It" #1 on TRL all week long, it's obvious she is going to follow in Kelly Clarkson's path and do catchy pop songs that people remember.

There ain't nothing wrong with that! They're called pop songs (as in popular) and they're infinitely better than this parade of songs that invariably sound like they were songs eliminated from a Broadway musical score, a la The Lion King.

What's happening with Sanjaya is weird. The guy had a genuinely nice voice in the original audition. But, my guess is the judges have stomped all the confidence right out of him, so he's currently bringing nothing to the table but a weird collection of Michael Jackson-like makeovers.

Posted by: filmex | March 7, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Last year was the first time I watched AI from start to finish because when Taylor Hicks auditioned there was just something about him that I liked. This year NONE of the contestants has caught my interest. I was watching at the beginning of February because there was nothing else on the tube. Then the pix broke on that skank/twit Antonella Barba. When she goes I might come back to watching AI, but in light of Lisa's reviews, I might not.

Posted by: Shelley | March 7, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

man, i so miss the earlier format with the mixed groups and the wild card round. this new boys vs girls is just too campy. maybe they will learn and shake it up for next year. or, maybe since the talent this season ba-LOWS, the surprise announcement thursday will be a different kind of wild card round. infuse some decent voices into this season, please.

Posted by: mt | March 7, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Chris Sligh and Blake are the only two worth watching - I thought I would hate Blake but he has really blown me away with his performances - well, at least as compared to the other guys. Brandon had better stay - I think he has potential. When I saw Chris S on the audition part of the show, I thought he was one of the joke auditions - but from the first note, he was awesome. I thought they might have problems with the way he looks, but I think he could pull it off - really.

Posted by: star11 | March 7, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Since you are in Washington, the home of conspiracy theories, here is my little contribution: Sanjaya, despite being one of the worst singers on American Idol, ever, will win, because the ballot box is going to be stuffed by all those Indians who work at the call centers in Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. Sanjaya actually sings in a sort of Bollywood style, and since the call centers have essentially unlimited calling access, I believe they will do just enough, along wiht the US Indian community, to keep him in the running until the end, and then up the number of calls to push him over the top. I'm not being racist here, and have lots of Indian friends, but I have heard via some of them how much they love Sanjaya and want to see him win.

Posted by: steve | March 8, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

sarita - did it ever occur to you that maybe there just aren't that many talented people out there? I mean isn't it obvious that people with true talent don't need American Idol to make a name for themselves, so 99% of what the judges have to sort through in the auditions are the leftover scraps?

steve - that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. If you believe that, I've got a bridge for sale in Brooklyn...

Posted by: cynicalJ | March 9, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: you! tube | March 19, 2007 8:43 PM | Report abuse

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