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American Idol Season 5 (2006)

March 7 (Semi-finals: Women) - At least she's not a vixen

Before they sing, each contestant tells us (in a prerecorded interview) one thing that is supposed to "surprise" us about herself.  Ugh. 

Paris Bennett (sings Miami Sound Machine's "Conga"): She's a tomboy who loves wrestling and football.  Maybe, but she doesn't exactly wrestle with this piece.  It's okay, but she sounds so much better on the old folks' songs, which probably doesn't bode well for her chances to win this thing.  Randy says the song isn't challenging enough, Paula says it's a difficult up-tempo piece, and Simon says it was just okay but we'll see her next week, anyway.

Lisa Tucker (sings Tiffany Taylor's "Here's Where I Stand"): Her dark secret is that she loves Jimi Hendrix and was inspired by his music to learn to play electric guitar.  So naturally she comes out and sings a ballad.  [*rolls eyes*]  It's very good, of course, but she needs to stop playing it so safe.  Randy says it was a little too old for her, Paula says she's poised, and Simon says the song isn't believable on her, but she'll sail through with Paris.

Melissa McGhee (sings Heart's "What About Love"):  She loves fast cars, and likes to race the boys, which the snarkmeister in me thinks is probably about all you can do where she's from in Florida.  I liked the song choice, but I wish she'd pulled this out at the beginning of the competition, because I don't think it's strong enough to keep her from being bumped off the show this week.  She needed to start with this and improve from there.  Oh, well.  Randy says she did a good job, Paula says she's improving, and Simon thinks she shouted it and has booked herself a plane ticket home. 

To inject some excitement in the show, Ryan now interviews Katharine McPhee and brings up the Internet rumors that she's leaving the show and that she's pregnant.  She denies both.  He then tries to link her and Kevin romantically, and the camera switches to Chicken Little Kevin, who tries to look smug, then back to Katharine, who looks like she's going to be ill.  I need to race to get a paper bag, because this leads up to...

Kinnik Sky (sings Alicia Keyes' "If I Ain't Got You"): Her secret is that she loves chit'lins, which makes Mike barf right there.  The song is...not good.  Her pitch is just absent for most of the song, and I guess she's going to be joining Melissa on that plane.  All the judges basically agree.

Katharine McPhee (sings Aretha Franklin's "Think (Freedom)"):  Her secret is that she went to Boston Conservatory, where Constantine went, so this is where she got her "smoldering look."  You do not make people feel that dirty, dear.  Anyway, the vocals on this song are pretty good, although I'm distracted by her bouncing boobs.  Her fans apparently now claim they have "McPhever," which means she's going to be around for a while.  Randy says they have a hawt one, Paula likes seeing her have fun, and Simon says she took a risk but pulled it off.  Katharine claims she wants to have fun, fun, fun, and...more fun.  No more caffeine for you tonight.

Ayla Brown (sings Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten"):  She grew up thinking that her father was Elvis Presley.  I have nothing to say to that.  As for her song, I give her props for picking something current.  I do not give her anything for the underwhelming performance.  She's trying, but she can't really pull it off - she has pitch problems, and it sounds as if she's shouting.  Like Paris, she's better at ballads, which isn't going to help her if she makes the top 12.  Randy says it's not a great singer's song, Paula acknowledges that she's working her butt off, and Simon says it was good but not fantastic.  For the first time tonight, I disagree with Simon.  It wasn't even good.

Mandisa (sings Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman"):  Her secret is that she sucked her thumb until she was 24, but praise God somehow her teeth don't stick out of the TV screen.  Hee.  As for the this is what I've been waiting for from the women.  Her vocals are terrific.  Her overall performance is confident and powerful, with just the right amount of sass.  She puts every other woman up there to shame.  Mike and I let out a collective, "Woo!"  Randy proclaims it the best female vocal of the season, Paula declares that she owned the song, and Simon says that all the other women will hate her now.  Ryan then gets her to admit that she sings this in the shower a lot and...well...I'm sorry, Mandisa, but I just don't want to picture that.  Next.

Kellie Pickler (sings Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One"):  Okay, why am I not surprised that she loves dogs and that she owns a dumb one?  Anyway, the song is a remarkably good choice for her.  She's not the most powerful singer in the world, but she turns in a pretty decent performance.  I'll now dub her Carrie Underwood 1.02, because Carrie wouldn't have shown so much personality or dropped to her knees in the middle of a song like that.  Randy says it's a good song choice, and Paula says that guys are in love with her (which somehow astonishes the country bumpkin).

And now we come to the best part of the night.  Simon tells Kellie that she's a "naughty little minx," by which he means she's a "nice bad girl."  Kellie says, "A mink? What's a mink?"  Before she gets a straight answer, Simon says she's not the best singer up there, but she's interesting and he likes her.  In fact... 

...drum roll please... 

...he says "I kind of prefer you to last year's winner."


Kellie's eyes go wide, Mike and I are rolling on the floor, and then Ryan tries to explain the difference between "minx" and "mink."  Kellie ends the show proudly declaring, "I'm a mink!"  She is so clueless, you know she's going to stay around forever.  And right now, I absolutely do not mind, because that, my friends, is truly entertaining reality TV.

My order for the night: 

1) Mandisa - top performance.  Period.

2) Katharine - good vocals, and the boobs won't hurt the voting

3) Kellie - for the comic relief

4) Lisa - decent, albeit predictable, performance

5) Paris - not the best song selection, but she stayed on pitch and was more powerful than...

6) Melissa - good song choice, but probably too little too late

7) Ayla & Kinnik - I can't decide, because both had pitch problems on contemporary songs that just kind of ruined the songs for me

I think it's safe to say that Kinnik is out.  Either Melissa or Ayla will join her, depending on how many supporters Ayla has.

Eliminated on March 9 Results Show:  Kinnik Sky & Ayla Brown

Review 2006 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail

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