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By the time you read this, Sanjaya Malakar could’ve be packed his so-sweet smile and his ponytailed fauxhawk and said farewell to all (insert cringe here) his fans.
Which means some unearthly force swept over the dead-in-the-head devotees who voted for the rainbow haloed kid (come on, hula hooping?) each week on “American Idol.” Let’s call it common sense – or a weepy girl’s speed-dialing mission.
I’d like to say that as this issue hits newsstands (on the day after we say adieu to another wannabe star), the hair-hoopla-kid will no longer have me squirming on the sofa every time he tries to outdo himself – not with his bland voice, but his manic manes. Sadly, I’ll probably be peeved.
Something’s gotta give, right? Now in its sixth year, the contenders are botching words, making silly song choices (and even worse fashion ones) and relying on hypnotizing pre-pubescent girls. So, who are they?
9. Sanjaya Malakar
I admit it. I fancied the femme boy during prelims when he outsang his sister and his smile proved that someone does use more Crest White Strips than judge Simon Cowell. But week after week this Fruitloop has affirmed that his Stevie Wonder performance was a fluke; that his flimsy delivery is as intriguing as listening to warblers at a karaoke bar (try YouTubing his garbage-worthy No Doubt imitation of “Bathwater”), and his stage presence (pre-crazy British Invasion week and fauxhawk) is as glowing as a firefly in the winter.
8. Haley Scarnato
You hear that? It’s a tick-tock noise signaling this ho hum Faith Hill wannabe’s time to clock out (as she put it so sarcastically to Simon earlier this season). At least she had the quasi-cute factor going for her, but after sporting a thigh-high purple dress with a hideous oversized ribbon waist-wrap, even that title is questionable. I wish there was something – just one tasteful tid-bit – I could offer about this Texas bonbon who’s as forgettable as the corny “Idol” finale song she’ll thankfully not be singing. Oh, it’s coming. Ah! Here it is. Damn, it’s gone.
7. Phil Stacey
There are worse issues than this belter’s dildo-looking head and bug eyes. Dude, LeAnn Rimes? Sure, do it if you can pull it off, but the first throaty and muffled verse sounded like a Kermit The Frog interpretation. Though his upper register soars (like on his recent on-the-money take of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”), his verses carry as much flight as a dead bird. It doesn’t help that his often-dismal tune choices pile on the cheese. Soon he’ll be saganaki that no lemon will be able to put out. Opa!
6. Chris Richardson
Thankfully, this suave singer has shed some of the Justin Timberlake shell. Though he rebounded with a slower-paced, R&B-tinged version of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” his voice – a nasally fixture that lacks much oomph but continues to stride for longer runs – isn’t what’s saving him from being booted; it’s his J.T. charm.
5. Gina Glocksen
Don’t call her Kelly Clarkson. The resident rocker deserves props for segueing into something that suits her more gritty style. Though her insipid “Paint It Black” lacked the voluminous vocals (we don’t count shouting) required to pull it off and pitchy problems oozed on an Evanescence remake, girl gets kudos. Her emotional and pitch-perfect Pretenders performance should drive her through the next few rounds – unless she decides to unearth more faux rockers.
4. Blake Lewis
He reminds me of a recent “Idol” judge, Gwen Stefani. He’s got style, he’s got flair, and he’s got moves, but his voice? Eh. Though Lewis, whose song choices boast an off-beat array of alt-rock, is easily one of the bunch’s most marketable, he lacks in the vocal chops department – and his beatboxing ability is growing almost as distracting as Richardson’s continous over-the-shoulder glance. Still, the sly metrosexual, whose tender performance of The Cure’s “Love Song,” is destined to hook an onslaught of chicks and gay guys for a spot in the top.
3. Jordin Sparks
Like an eagle swooping in for its prey, Sparks came out of nowhere. Until she wowed crowds with a Diana Ross offering, this small fry dreadfully treaded Pat Benatar territory with as much zing as a professional Sanjaya. But unleashing passion, her glistening falsetto and as much tenderness as broiled salmon into Ross’s “If We Hold On Together,” Sparks could be the hare-turned-tortoise in this race.
2. LaKisha Jones
The Flint native broke the Whitney curse. A long-known “Idol” no-no is attempting to take on walloping-voiced warblers like Whitney and Mariah, but Jones’s skyrocketing rendition of “I Have Nothing” scored her extra credit. To sneak past Melinda Doolittle, though, the supple singer (whose charismatic charm is finally exposed) will have to steer clear of mathematical LaKisha/”Idol” fodder. Sure, her Donna Summers’ “Last Dance” interpretation was spot-on, but on “Gwen Stefani and Her Inspirations Night”? It’s all too predictable, Ms. Jones.
1. Melinda Doolittle
There’s nothing little about this big-voiced star-in-the-making (except maybe for her neck). When the crooner unleashes her dead-on pitch and her striking stage presence, there’s not much we can do but be taken into Doolittle-land – even if her material is often dated. But, please, drop the sheepish look ’cause while humble is a satisfying change of pace, did any female chanteuse reign over divadom by thinking, “Aw-shucks”?