Jordin and her hair made of magic look gorgeous beyond belief, and she sings Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" with a few bum notes but many, many more fantastic ones. Randy immediately gets to crapping on the boys by way of comparison. Sabrina dips into soundtracks from lady bank robber movies for her song, En Vogue's "Don't Let Go." She's a great singer, of course, and I totally want her to stick around, but Simon points out that she could be in trouble if her personality doesn't start showing up on stage. Antonella abducts Corrine Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On" and does bad, bad things to it...in a ladies' bathroom THERE I SAID IT. Happy now, Frenchie? Simon's actually really kind to her while laying out the realities of life and the limitations of her talent for her, and she's snotty and clueless in response, so then Simon indirectly calls her trashy. It's kind of awesome. Haley books her plane ticket home with some incredibly dumb Faith Hill song, and while Randy and Paula tiptoe around that fact, Simon lays some truth on her, and then when Ryan takes the stage, we get some primo keeping it real from, like, everyone. It's jarring to see. Stephanie's "Sweet Thing" soared too close to Chaka Khan's sun for Simon and Randy's tastes, and she manages to be just boring enough to make me nervous. LaKisha...shares a profoundly weird relationship with Ryan. Then she dips into that infernal Bodyguard soundtrack for Whitney's "I Have Nothing." It's not one-eighth as exciting as her performances the past two weeks have been, but vocally it was the most she's impressed me all season. The judges consider crowing her the winner right now. Gina Glocksen, in my opinion, pulls her ass out of the fire by rocking out some Evanescence and running full-speed into the rocker chick box the judges so enthusiastically want her in. Simon really wants her in the top 12, America. Please oblige. Melinda Doolittle is a woman, W-O-M-A-N, and she once again comes to life onstage, this time strutting and being kind of...vampy? I know! She even makes OCD sound great. Going home? Haley, for sure. And...dare I say Antonella? We can all hope. But don't freak out on me if it's Sabrina or Stephanie.
Ryan rattles off a whole bunch of numbers at us, to start: 8 contestants, 31 million viewers, 1 last chance to make the top 12 2morrow night. And then Ryan says Paula isn't here, which makes my stomach drop, because maybe she's had a relapse and is in an abandoned warehouse right now and she needs our help! Or maybe she's on the can. Who knows? Credits.
The top eight girls parade past the camera and into the RC Cola Lounge as follows: Jordin puts her spirit fingers and her big, beautiful face all up in your business. Sabrina and Antonella copy the spirit fingers bit as well, but Haley opts for a single-handed wave, probably because that's how she saw one of the princesses do it at the Disney World parade that one time. Stephanie blows a kiss, LaKisha waves like a visiting dignitary from the land of Slamdunkistan, Gina makes fists because she a bad-ass rocker bitch this week. And Melinda may or may not be dressed in camouflage colors this week, but I can't tell, because she's invisible from the neck down. Which makes for one giant head to be floating around like that. It's a floating head that can out-sing everyone else in this competition, though.
Ryan introduces the Dawg Pound and once again teases the "most important and groundbreaking" charity event that's going to get announced tomorrow night. And then it's to the judges! Paula's there, thank God, and Simon has far too many buttons unbuttoned on his shirt. No one needs to see your dÃ©colletage, dude. Simon jokes that Paula was "under the desk" a minute ago, which is simply a drunk reference, and we're used to those, but then Randy's like, "She had to get something for me," which throws things into blowjob overdrive, and Ryan would like to avoid that subject if at all possible. If by "avoid" you mean "hop around like a little girl because he's so excited that someone else is bringing the innuendo for once." He's all, "It's a family show!" and "Don't go there!" and "TMI!" and "Live television!" and so forth. Ryan then adds that Simon apparently didn't know last night's show was live, which is a big deal for Ryan Seacrest, who lives inside your picture tube and who nourishes himself on things like hitting your mark and getting the show in on time, but I'm not sure if Simon would give a good goddamn either way.
Jordin Sparks is up first, and we're still doing those dumb My Super-Special Secret clips like we did with the guys. Jordin's big secret is that she loves football. I know! With the dad who was a pro cornerback for the Giants, who'd have thought? And not only is Jordin a super-fan, but she also for a time thought she wanted to play football rather than sing. And scoff all you want, boys, but take one look at Jordin Sparks and tell me you'd like to see her running full-steam at you, all six-feet-seven of her with her shoulders squared and the fire in her eyes. Didn't think so. By the way, I think I've defected into the Jordin camp as far as whose hair truly has magic and restorative properties. Sorry, Sanjaya. You blew it with the flat-ironing. Onstage, we see she's chosen to sing Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker," a song I love from an artist I love sung by a contestant I love, which should all add up to...something better than what occurs, frankly. Jordin's not bad, but she's flat way more than she should be. And she's bailed out by the backup singers at least once. She stills pulls off some awesome notes, and she's a great performer for your eyeballs, but this is the second straight week I was waiting for her to blow the doors off the place and she didn't. Pick it up next week, Jordin! Please! She does, however, hit the high note at the end, and Ryan assures us we're live, so the fact that her voice keeps going after she drops her mic at the very end is some kind of echo effect, I suppose.
Randy says it's "weird" because of how the girls are always so much better than the boys. "It's like a different show," he says. He talks a mile a minute while acknowledging the pitchy spots and that it wasn't Jordin's best performance, "but it was still better than ALL the guys!" Paula loved Jordin's energy and tells a lie when she says Jordin's getting "better and better and better each week." She sees Jordin "coming into her own artistry," which is a bit of the Paula we know and love. Simon says he's not as enthused as everyone else. He found it "a bit manic" and "shrieky" in the middle. I have to say, those weren't my problems with the performance at all. I thought foremost that she was flat in spots she shouldn't have been. I think what Simon found "shrieky" in the middle of the song was...the song. That's kind of how it goes. He does say that Jordin will "100% be here next week." Ryan takes the stage and cranes his neck to be able to speak to her. She bounces around and is goofy and seventeen for a bit while Ryan reads her numbers. Then she lowers herself to Ryan's height as she did last week, and it's still funny.