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Round of 8: Latin Night - April 10

We're down to eight in the search for the next pop superstar, and Jennifer Lopez is on hand to school our intrepid singers in the sultry sabor Latino. But will we be shouting "que rico" or will it be another case of Montezuma's revenge? The party starts... right now.

First, a bio. Jennifer Lopez (she no longer wishes to be called J-Lo) got her start as a Fly Girl alongside Carrie Ann Inaba (of another monster reality series) and parlayed that into movies. It was a turn as slain Tejano singer Selena that made her a star. She proved that she was a triple threat with her 1998 debut CD, "On the Six", following that up with "J-Lo", "This Is Me... Then", "Rebirth", and her newest release, "Como Ama una Mujer." She thinks the diversity of the top 8 is a good thing to watch. For more info, Wiki "Jennifer Lopez".

First under her wing is Melinda Doolittle. She is singing "Sway", which Jenny recorded in Spanish, Michael Buble recorded in English, and the Pussycat Dolls recorded in several dialects of orgasm. Jenny tells her in no particular terms to bring sexy back. A challenge for Melinda, because, "I'm so not sexy."

What they say: Randy thought it was another solid performance. Not really her best, but she did echo Celia Cruz. Paula didn't think it was one of those performances that begged to wow. Simon... didn't like it. "That song is all about personality. You appeared much much older than what you are. I thought the end was quite good. Someone as good as you has to come out every week and put on a wow-factor performance."

What we say: Melinda's happy that Simon finally said something bad. As for me... well, that's rather rude. She's got the flavor down. It sounds good, looks terrific, and is a good start for the show. And for someone who isn't sexy, she sure has us fooled. It's not sexy, but it is sultry, and this song calls for it.

Next up, LaKisha Jones is in the hot seat with another Ask-an-Idol question. Stephanie of Birmingham wants to know what made her try out. She just wanted to provide a better life for her and her daughter. She's singing "Conga" by the Miami Sound Machine. Say it with me now... "CONE-gah." Jenny says you don't have to do too much. Just ride the rhythm...

What they say: Randy said she was having fun. Paula didn't feel it as much as Randy did, calling it "very safe." Simon agrees... with Paula. "This is not a singer song. You were having fun, but I'm not sure everyone at home was having the same fun. And the dancing wasn't very good."

What we say: Well, Gordon, you got your non-R&B performance. I hope you're happy, because I sure as hell am not. You're the one that asked for this, and I got a sharpened jelly-rolled performance/shimmy nightmare. I blame you. That said, someone with that many rolls should a) not do what she did, b) not wear that dress, and c) a and b combined.

Chris Richardson is up with "Smooth" from Santana (featuring Rob Thomas). He tries it in the key it was written. He'll be performing half a step up for star time.

What they say: Randy thought it was very cool. Paula called it hot. Simon preferred it to the first two, calling this more contemporary.

What we say: First of all.. Props to the conga drums... and to the guitar. I'm hoping Carlos is watching and nodding in approval. Anyway. He's spunky. He didn't kill it, thank God. This could be his best performance, but when you're Chris Richardson, that's not saying much.

Number four for the night is Haley Scarnato, who'll be doing Vicki Sue Robinson's "Turn the Beat Around." In practice, she needs a beat. Jenny signals for the human beat box of the season to lay it down. Good move, because this song is all about percussion, rhythms... That sort of thing.

What they say: Randy, keeping it honest and real... "That was really karaoke." Paula calls it a fun song. Simon... laughs. "You have a very good tactic, Haley. Wear as least amount of clothes as possible." She can't sing her way to the top, so how's about slutting your way to the top?

What we say: This song is about rhythm. Something Haley is sorely lacking. Her problem, and this is a recurring issue, is that she pronounces EVERYTHING. When you do that, you create a breathing issue that is painfully obvious. In short, she's a stoned prostitute with a flat voice and a bit of an armpit hair problem. Ew?

Halfway there, halfway home. Next on the set list is Phil Stacey... who forgot what he was singing. The song is "Maria Maria" by Santana (featuring The Product G&B).

What they say: Randy said that he didn't quite connect with the passion, all while cracking. Paula thought it was a good vocal... except for cracking. Simon thought the song choice was good, but no originality and flat... and he cracked.

What we say: That's real white, man. Good use of runs, not a fan of the arrangement. He sold it with ad-libs and the hat, but we returned it for store credit with the cracking.

Ask-an-Idol asks Jordin (from Brooksville, FL) to choose next week's theme. "I would probably choose 80's music, because I love it!" She chooses a song from the 80s... MSM's "Rhythm is Gonna Get You", which reminded Jenny of Michael Jackson.

What they say: Randy once again sees some power in the 17-year-old. Paula thinks she's authentic and adorable. Simon feels it was okay... but nothing stunning. "I haven't seen a progression tonight."

What we say: Best of the ladies. She's got the subtle shimmy going, not doing too much with her body. A couple of sharp points, but hey, it works.

Next up, another appearance from Blake Lewis, but he's singing. He's taking on the mentor's husband with Marc Anthony's "I Need to Know."

What they say: Randy: "Best song choice of the night." Paula: "Very smart performance." Simon agrees on both points.

What we say: That getup reminds me of my father. Heh. Anyway, He's the best of the guys, engaging in the audience and soothing the viewers with eye contact and velvet lyrics. The issue here... is it's very safety. The song itself is textbook Latin, and Blake does nothing to enhance it.

We're down to the final number of the night with the embodiment of Latin passion... aside from being half-Italian, which is about as close as he'll get... Friends... it's Sanjaya time. Jenny is impressed by his song choice, telling him to take his time and not rush through it. Tonight's closer comes from Andrea Bocelli, among others... "Besame Mucho".

What they say: Randy calls him one of the smartest contestants ever. "That was actually really good." Paula thought it was nice. Simon? "I couldn't understand a word of it. You sang like a 14-year-old. I'm going to hate myself for this... It wasn't horrible!"

What we say: You're a shrewd one, Mr. Malakar. Finally, a good song choice and a solid performance. He's taking this week with the seriousness deserved. Let's see him do that next week.

So, where should you put your stock this week?

ˇAzucar!: Melinda, Jordin, Blake, Sanjaya
Asi-asi: LaKisha, Chris
ˇAy-yi-yi!: Haley, Phil

See in 24 if you actually did.



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