Congratulations, Sundance! After you sang “Mustang Sally” on last night’s American Idol, Paula proclaimed, “That’s like the best vocal I think we EVER HEARD!” Well put, Paula. She’s crazy, obviously, but it was a whole lot better than “Nights in White Satin.” Sundance has learned what side his bread’s buttered on, and he took the lead last night by giving the old ladies at home what they want: a nice husky Southern boy with good manners (he even calls Ryan Seacrest “sir”), lots of Bo Bice winks and a King Tut beard. The other dudes are still struggling, probably realizing it doesn’t matter since Lakisha Jones is going to roast them all. Howard Jones look-alike Blake Lewis did his “vocal turntablism” on a version of Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity,” but he was more fun last week with his blatant Morrissey imitation. (Request for Blake: “I Know It’s Over!”) Chris Sligh, still doing the Jack Osborne class-clown shtick at 28, revealed he’s married to an apparently real nice girl, but he’s still grating. A.J. Tabaldo’s voice is like a lard bath, but it’s never going to win him a date with Antonella. So who’s going home?
1. Brandon Rogers. After singing a colon-unloadingly terrible version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” he patiently explained to the judges that it couldn’t possibly suck, since (a) his grandma was very nice, (b) it was his dad’s birthday and (c) “I was trying to feel the song and give it to you.” Eeeewww.
2. Sanjaya Malakar. We love him — he’s the Indian El DeBarge — but the best thing he has going for him is his hair, and last night he hid it under that Michael Jackson fedora. His version of Irving Berlin’s “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” was his way of pleading, “Let me go home, America. I miss my sister. And I left school and got my GED but maybe it’s not too late to try the SAT’s again?”
— Rob Sheffield