FuggyBootnling's Viewpoint:

A year ago, I had a roommate who was from Peru...was actually a soap star down there at one time, but I digress. Anyway, he had this great collection of Latin music that he would often play. A lot of it was from the 60s and 70s, all of it was in Spanish (which I don't speak)...but it was FANTASTIC, so full of passion and power, with utterly absorbing, challenging music. How fantastic? As a lifelong music fan, one of my main bellwethers of hearing good music goes something like this - if I'm doing something else (like writing Survivor articles! *LOL*) and I suddenly find myself stopping and going "What IS this? It's amazing!" I know I'm hearing good music. Something to capture the attention of a cynical music fan like myself (current fave new band: I'm enraptured with The Rapture). That's my marker of hearing something really cookin'.

Unfortunately, Gloria Estafan could have a blowtorch in hand and be unable to cook a can of soup above lukewarm. About ten years ago my mom (of all people) made the astute observation that Gloria must have THE greatest agent in the history of popular music. Just name an awards show, a celebrity tribute, a charity event, or a bar (or bat) mitzvah, and she's there with bells on, spewing forth her utterly dumbed down take on a fine and storied musical genre. And that's the story with her...somehow her agent weaseled in with the powers that be at AI, and convinced them that a Latin night would be a good idea. It wasn't.

Simon wasn't impressed with the performances, and I wasn't either, even though all six of them did the best they could. But the fact is that NONE of them can really do Latin music - it's not a diss on them, it's just not a style that suits any of them. So my question is - why do it??? What is the point? If I'm going to buy George's album after this crap is over, it's not going to be his meringue album! So it just does a disservice to each and every last one of them to shove these square pegs into a sombrero-shaped hole.

Anyway, here we go...

Fantasia Barrino
"Get On Your Feet"

Give her lots of props for giving shouts out to the sorely-robbed Jennifer during her performance - it was very much in keeping with the kind of devil-may-care, defiant personality she seems to be trying to project. As for the performance, it was passable, fun if you like this sort of thing, and the best she probably could have done. She could have gone into vocal histrionics singing "I Can't Stay Away from You" but why not at least seize the opportunity to show America she can have some fun? Moving on...

George Huff
"Live for Lovin' You"

Another gigantic problem with singing this particular band's music is that it's simply not arranged to highlight the vocalist front and centre. In spite of Gloria Estafan vaingloriously changing the name of the band in the early going from simply Miami Sound Machine to GLORIA ESTAFAN and the MSM (a move reminiscent of Diana Ross adding her name as a selling point above the Supremes...and of course she's the most humble artist in music ever *snerk*) Gloria's only halfway-decent voice is often just one more instrument in the band, not its focus. But of course American Idol is all ABOUT the singer, the manufactured star, up on stage. Again, I'm inclined to say George did his best in a genre not suited to him, in a song where the vocals simply are not the premiere element of the song. So how can I judge him? All I can say is he is one of the three best singers up there. And that he may well go this week.

LaToya London
"The Rhythm is Gonna Get You"

The indomnible Ms. London once again found herself with a genre that didn't necessarily suit her, but showed off her incredible versatility and professionalism to...well not blow us away, but certainly not blow either. Even her dance moves were above average from the rest of the lot, though utterly amateur as Latino singers go. But you can forgive that because...IT ISN'T HER STYLE!!!! It isn't ANYONE'S style!!!! Can I beat this point to death enough??? After the fiasco of last week, she should be safe to continue into another week and hopefully discover greener song genre pastures.

John Stevens
"Music of My Heart"

Ah, Jon Stevens. I have such conflicted views here...

On one hand, there is the mind-numbingly obvious fact that he is in so far over his head he's at the bottom of the Marianas trench in the Pacific ocean. He's not final twelve material. He's not final 32 material. And Scooter Girl who didn't even make it that far could slay this guy in any competition that is truly based on talent. I have a truly sadistic desire to see this completely talentless hack win the competition and get the big recording contract based on nothing more than 14 year old girls who love baby faces and red hair. And there you go America - you picked him! I would find that to be funny enough that I would be seen breaking out into spontaneous giggle fits on the streets of Toronto.

But then, I really dig what Simon said - that a truly sweet 16 year old boy has endured week after week of the most intense hatred, vitriol and bad will one could possibly imagine, and he's "taken it like a man." You really gotta admire him for that. I feel sorry for the kid...I really do. And with the comments the judges gave, he's probably going to get America's Pity Vote and squeak through another week.

As for the song he sang? Well, a crappy song crappily sung. What else is new? Next...

Jasmine Trias
"Here We Are"

The thing that struck me was how she took the song and sang it very straightforward. She performed this sappy piece of crap the way it was meant to be sung - as it was written, and no doubt Gloria was impressed that Jasmine didn't show her up. Simon described it as "pleasant." Well, given a night where every single person was out of their element, that really was a compliment. So good job...and honestly, she's just so damn cute!

Diana DeGarmo
"Turn the Beat Around"

Obviously Diana was picked as the last performer because she was the best at doing something with this week's theme. She turned in a spirited and entertaining performance of a song that wasn't even Gloria Estafan's in the first place (it was originally a disco hit for someone named Vicki Sue Robinson) and really it's about the best I've heard Diana sing. Which is quite an accomplishment all things considered. Of course Simon didn't like the dress...and lord knows when I buy a CD, I'm looking at fashion choices on the CD cover for pointers on what to buy. *sigh*

So I think George is in big time trouble...he is talented as hell, but that is completely beside the point as we all know. No, I think Jon got sympathy votes, and Fantasia and LaToya will get a stack of votes as a backlash against last week. The bottom three will be Diana, George, and Jasmine, and Mr. Huff will be the next talented singer criminally voted out of the contest. Geez, I hope I'm wrong. But even though this is the first season of the show I have subjected myself to...I don't think I am.