On 'American Idol,' Here Comes the Real Judge

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

"American Idol" barely has time for the singers and definitely can't be bothered with the judges these days, cutting them off mid-critique.

On the other hand, it has plenty of time for Judge Judy to frighten small children watching at home with her Halloween-ish mugging for the camera and screeching about being separated at birth from Simon Cowell. Also, it has gobs of time for show host Ryan Seacrest to hug JJ and tell viewers she and Simon have been dating for three months.

And there's plenty of time for those lame questions from viewers at home. Did you know Melinda Doolittle's first music purchase was Michael Jackson's "Bad," only her mom wrote over the cover "Good"? And how about that Jordin Sparks, managing to still pull down A's and B's in school while participating in the singing competition?

This week's guest coach, Barry Gibb, spent half his on-air time blathering about how the remaining Idolettes -- "three women, as well as Blake" -- are perfect for his songs because "I've made a lot of records with ladies." The other half he spent having a hard time imagining one of the chicks singing one of his songs because "it was written for a man." Sometimes, however, he conceded, "I was singing it like a lady in the first place." That's Gibb for "falsetto." He seemed to be having only slightly more fun coaching the Idolettes than Gwen Stefani.

Melinda refused to sing some of the lyrics on "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" because, she told Gibb, she's been "very careful not to sing about being a loser on 'American Idol.' " And then she flashed him her golly-gosh eyes. And you didn't believe me when I said she was "All About Eve"!

Of Melinda's first song, "Love You Inside Out," Simon said she looked like a backup singer -- duh -- while Randy Jackson said she's their resident pro, which was kind of saying the same thing. Melinda's Bag of Tricks was back, especially Melinda Moves No. 3, 4, 5 and 6: I'm a Little Teapot bend to the left, head shake, left hand shake, eye squint. By her second song, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?," even judge Paula Abdul was begging her to throw out her "technique," though Simon said it was good enough to land her in the semifinals.

Which is only next week, but still.

LaKisha Jones took "Stayin' Alive" -- talk about your total cliche -- slowed it down and gave it a nice interpretation. But the judges preferred the version of the song lip-synched by Helen Mirren, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hugh Laurie, the cast of "Friends," et al., while doing the Look at Me! dance a couple of weeks ago on "Idol Gives Back." And so they savaged LaKisha. "No kiss tonight!" Simon sneered.

Her voice gave out on the very last note of her second song, "Run to Me," causing Randy and Paula to cut her some slack. Simon started to say something but got cut off, after which LaKisha said "Hoarse" to Seacrest, but he had no time to ask her about that because the producers wanted to cut to Jordin backstage having her makeup applied.

Jordin picked two draggy ballads: "To Love Somebody" and "Woman in Love." The judges raved about the former and were mostly okay with the latter, while Gibb predicted Jordin "is going to be one of our greatest recording artists."

Gibb deliciously could not conceal his disdain for Blake Lewis and how he beatboxes to death everything in his path. Gibb said one of Blake's song choices this week "does give him a chance to explore those extra little gifts he has."

Who knew "extra little gifts" was an insult! Even Randy finally came out and told Blake after his second number, "This Is Where I Came In," to knock off the beatboxing because it's gotten old.

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