Jennifer Lopez is on hand, and this week we're pretending that she makes Latin music, so that's the theme. She's really helpful if you're having trouble pronouncing "Conga." She's also really pretty, and I kind of like her, but don't tell anybody. Melinda starts off with "Sway" and is her usual brilliant-if-a-bit-old-fashioned self, and since the false modesty about her voice has gotten a little offensive, she finds something else to be humble about: her lack of sexiness. I salute you, Melinda! Simon finally gets to dislike a performance of hers ("a bit lazy, a bit wooden"), which hopefully keeps her voting base from getting complacent, if nothing else. LaKisha performs "Conga," which isn't so much a song as it is a series of steel drum interludes built around a tongue twister, and that's essentially what Simon tells her. Also, she continues her streak of ignoring mentor advice and persists in pronouncing the title of the song like a gringo. Chris Richardson performs "Smooth," made famous by that noted Latino superstar Rob Thomas. And you know how much I love Chris, but he's...not good. Disinterested karaoke, is what it is. The judges, however, are very forgiving. Haley sings "Turn the Beat Around" -- again, not so much a song that you sing -- and is aided in practice by some fake-spontaneous help from Blake. On stage, she gets confused and employs all her sex kitten tools at once -- hot pants! Stilettos! Bright red lipstick to beat the band! -- and essentially goes into overload. The singing is wretched, and I don't usually have much of a problem with her singing. She HAS to go home this week. Phil opts for "Maria, Maria" and it's droning and unending. He also stupidly over-emphasizes the fact that Carlos Santana isn't there. Can't Donald Trump show up and shockingly get rid of both him and Haley this week? Jordin sings "The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," and...she looks disinterested like Chris did. My two favorites seem as bored with Latin Week as I am. Simon comes down on her hard for it. Blake next chooses the trÃ©s suck-uppy "I Need To Know" by J-Lo's Skeletal Frame Of A Husband. I know the song, I hate the song, I've been known to be underwhlemed by the Blake Lewis Experience, and yet...he's totally freaking awesome. Impressive, compelling, and totally hot despite the fact that he's dressed like Panama Jack. The judges and I agree: best of the night. Finally, Sanjaya gets the pimp spot, which is delicious and sure to drive this already-batty One Nation Under Sanjaya even crazier. He sings "BÃ©same Mucho" and he's dressed like his own evil twin, but he's actually pretty good. Judging by the extremely low bar he's set for himself, he's pretty really good. Which means this is the week he'll go home. I'm totally kidding, he's never going home. SANJAYA IS FOR THE CHILDREN!
So when I first heard that Jennifer Lopez was going to be a guest mentor this season, I started to wonder what kind of theme week she'd bring with her. I mean, she's not much of a singer anyway, so you figure she'd be there repping a genre. So...dance music? That was my best guess. That or the now-customary "music of the current decade" week, which would have been fun, if only to see Sanjaya sing one of Fergie's many songs about the joys of spelling. Honestly, among my top five potential themes for J.Lo week, "Latin music" was nowhere to be found. It just never registered for me. It probably would have helped if I knew that she was currently charting with a Spanish-language album. Guess that subscription to Billboard would have done me some good after all.
But Latin week it is, according to Ryan Seacrest, who is convening with the Top 8 backstage when the show just happens to go on air. Ryan's all, "Oh! We're on." Like he doesn't have every act break this show has ever taken in six seasons embedded in his DNA. It looks like Chris Richardson is recording things on his mini-camcorder thing, which someone probably told him to do, but it's adorably Chris-like, in its way. I like to imagine that he's taking these movies to send to Gina, whom he misses terribly. See, while Jacob and Blake are taking gondola rides and feeding each other grapes, Chris and I have been rendezvousing behind the bleachers. And the school won't let us go to prom together because they're fascist assholes, so he's going with Gina and I'm going with Jordin, and we couldn't afford a limo, so we got a van, and after, we're gonna go to Jordin's dad's cottage by the lake, and I'm pretty sure I know someone who can get us a bottle of Rumple Minze, but if anyone asks you, we're just going to a movie and then midnight bowling, you got it? You know your mom and my mom talk. Anyway, so Chris is taking movies for his best girl Gina, and Blake and Haley are making faces at each other, and Sanjaya's hair and Melinda's hair have crossed the same point on the graph. You'd think after reading this paragraph that things are about to jump off this week. You are sadly, sadly mistaken. This...is American Idol.
Ryan takes the stage to the applause of many, including Nathan Fillion and company from Drive. Ryan gives props to the band and introduces the judges. After three months of this shit, I can't be bothered to once again report on the un-witty repartee of the judges, so let's all assume that Randy said "yo" a lot, Paula smiled awkwardly, and Simon looked away from the camera until the last possible second, proving that he's been listening to Tyra all these years. Oh, hey, look! It's Mickey Dolenz. I feel like we've seen him in the audience before. Does he just live in the neighborhood and stop by because he's got nothing else to do that day? I mean, sure, he's essentially the godfather of the kind of pre-fabricated "affront to all things music" that Idol represents, but maybe his Tuesday nights are just really boring.