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American Idol: Sanjaya Brings Viewers to Tears

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In the six seasons of American Idol, LAist can't recall a more average group of singers -- in voice and personality. Tuesday nights so far have been two hours of tedium, except for one or two standout performances a night. Last night -- British Invasion Night -- was no different.

The song choices were unappealing to those under 40, and it's a safe bet that many of the contestants never even heard of their coaches -- Lulu and Peter Noone of Herman's Hermit's. They definitely weren't as starstruck as they were with Diana Ross last week.

But what was most surprising on last night show was that love him or hate him contestant Sanjaya Malakar didn't suck too badly. Or maybe as badly as past performances, which is a big step for him in our eyes. His rendition of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" moved a little girl to tears. (She liked it, we think, but every time the camera panned to the little AI fanatic, she had tears in her eyes. It reminded us of those over-zealous fans who swooned over Elvis or fainted during Beatlemania. But seriously, crying over American Idol?) Sanjaya showed his edgier side last night, even crooning to Paula during the chorus of the song, so we're pretty sure he'll stick around for another week.

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The worst performances of the night belonged to Gina Glocksen with an awful rendition of "Paint It Black"; an off-key Stephanie Edwards for "You Don't Have to Love Me" and Phil Stacey's karaoke version of "Tobacco Road."

Even favorite LaKisha Jones had an off night with her cover of "Diamonds are Forever." There was a passion lacking in her voice this week that we've seen in prior shows. Other front-runner Melinda Doolittle did much better, earning top vocals last night, with "As Long as He Needs Me," but her song choices have been a little boring lately. Spunky Jordin Sparks did well again with "I Who Have Nothing," so she could be making a run for the finals under the radar if she keeps it up.

As for the guys, Blake Lewis is growing on us. He surprised us by turning "Time of the Season" into something cool and modern. We sometimes forget he can sing through all that beatboxing.

Other random AI notes:

  1. What was up with Ryan's lamer attempt at humor this week? Pretending to break a phone he threw offstage was just painful. You could hear crickets in the live audience, and we just felt sorry for the guy at home.
  2. And did you see Simon oggle Haley Scarnato in her go-go/hootchie mama outfit? She looked great and she did much better with "Tell Him" than she did last week. At least she didn't forget the words this week.

See who gets the boot tonight at 9 PM on FOX.
Photo: FOX/Frank Micelotta