TV Recap

Week 15: No Guts, No Gloria

Gloria Estefan night was caliente -- not! The performances ranged from feeble (you KNOW who we mean) to just uneven, says Brian Hiatt

Diana DeGarmo, American Idol | 'BEAT' IT Diana had her best showing of the season
Image credit: American Idol: Ray Mickshaw
'BEAT' IT Diana had her best showing of the season

Gloria Estefan night was caliente -- NOT

Is it too late to cancel this season of ''American Idol'' and start over? After a disappointing night of Gloria Estefan songs, it's hard to say that any of the six remaining contestants truly deserve to win. There may be one exception -- fear not, I'll get to her.

But to risk accusations of beating a dead, red-headed horse, there is one competitor who definitely DOESN'T deserve the top slot: John Stevens. Could this (nice, grandma-loving) kid sing any worse and still make it through? Not only does Stevens have, at best, a range of five feeble, wobbly notes, he is incapable of hitting the right ones: As Randy pointed out, Stevens' wince-inducing performance of Estefan's ''Music of My Heart'' was as flat as ''The Restaurant'''s ratings.

The kid knew it, too, visibly cringing after one horrifically off-pitch moment. Anyone still thinking of voting for him -- even his sainted grandparents -- should remember those pained facial expressions and spare the little guy further agony. Otherwise, we're fast approaching Will Hung territory.

Meanwhile, most of the contestants who actually deserve to be finalists didn't do themselves any favors in this episode. Seemingly rattled by her near-vote-off experience last week, Fantasia (previously among my faves) gave her weakest showing of the season, stumbling through a clumsy ''Get On Your Feet.'' Plus, her two separate shout-outs to fallen comrade Jennifer Hudson seemed both excessive and ill-advised -- since the public voted Hudson off last week (however unjustly), it hardly seems helpful to link oneself so closely to her.

George Huff's performance of ''Live for Loving You'' was similarly disappointing; in recent weeks, George seems to be hitting the limitations of his talent. Outside of his trademark, churchy soul tunes, his voice can sound pinched and hoarse, a problem he accentuated tonight with weird scat singing and other embellishments. The way-too-kind Estefan memorably called them ''personality things''; I call them ''things that must stop -- now.''

Simon was correct about La Toya London's uncharacteristically lively ''Rhythm Is Gonna Get You'': She pulled herself out of a boring adult-contemporary rut. But as nice as it was to see La Toya move (and move well) the actual performance sounded like a wedding band on a good night. There's something stage-y and removed and well, old, about La Toya: yet another candidate for ''Broadway Idol.''

The increasingly stylish Jasmine Trias, who does have a gorgeous vocal tone (which Paula reminds us about each and every week), fell short this time, delivering a forgettable, haphazard performance. But at least she kept the freaking flower out of her hair.

Diana DeGarmo showed surprising strength, barreling through ''Turn the Beat Around'' with an energy that convinced me to ignore her far-too-numerous off-pitch moments. Watching her spit out the song's pseudo-rap section while bumping hips with the Miami Sound Machine's guitarist, it suddenly became possible to imagine her as the American Idol. On a weak night, DeGarmo may have turned the competition around.

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Originally posted Apr 28, 2004
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