Episode 26Tony Bennett, a very swingin' 80 years old, was the week's musical mentor, so the emphasis on Tuesday night was on the old standards that most of the contestants aren't really very familiar with. As Bennett told Blake Lewis, who was about to sing "Mack the Knife": "This song is pre-rap, you know." Yes, Mr. Bennett. And Blake sang it very well too, smoo-woo-wooth and with only a bit of his vocal affectations at the very end.
Jordin Sparks keeps rising and rising in my estimation. She trilled her way with breathless exuberance through "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Even if her performances aren't perfect (and this one wasn't), her voice is the most distinctively youthful in the competition: She should win, if you ask me.
The judges – Randy and Simon particularly – by now seem to hope that by ignoring Sanjaya Malakar he'll just go away, as if he were a neighbor's dog staring in through the screen door hoping for a biscuit. He wore a white suit and waltzed around singing "Cheek to Cheek" and afterward they had no serious comment to make about his vocal performance. This is condescending and demeaning: Didn't they put him through the audition and Hollywood rounds? Deal with it, people.
I was also a bit mystified at the judges' positive reaction to Chris Richardson's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." He looked and moved, as he tends to, like JustinTimberlake with two left feet.
The one serious miss, though, was Phil Stacey, who sang "Night and Day" from some weird, deep region of his throat: The notes sounded as if they were bubbling up through sludge. Very puzzling. It'll probably be enough to send him home.
For more from last night, see AOL's Idol coverage.