I finally got around to watching the show! :) Here are my thoughts on it:

The show begins each week with the pre-performance pep-talk given by Debby to the group of hopeful contestants. The first time we saw this I thought it was a cute idea to show us a behind the stage morale boost given to rev up the entertainers, but now I find it silly. It is so obviously rehearsed and fake that you know the real talk is happening off camera 5 minutes before the show actually starts taping.

And what is with the "I'm here to work" line that keeps being repeated by each contestant? A backlash against the Corey Clark types that make us despise them for taking so lightly what a lot of us would give anything for--a chance to do something you really love and make money at it? I suppose if we have to see stars being born knowing that the successful ones will make more money than we will ever see in our lifetimes doing things that are FUN, we want to know that they have had to work hard to get there.

Now for my Joey comments for the night: he is getting better, yes, but the awkward pauses while he is finding his place on the teleprompter and the overemphasis on certain words, even when he chances to get it in the right spot (which is not always certain), are annoying to say the least. I cringe every time they list him as an example of a Triple Threat. In my opinion, a Triple Threat is more than just a good dancer and a singer, it is someone who exudes star quality. Joey Fatone does not exude this charm. In fact, I would wager that he would never have been so successful if he didn't have a Justin or a J.C. to carry him along into stardom.

Onto the performers. First we started off with Alexis. In her opening comments when she remarked that she doesn't feel very "pretty," I shrugged and thought she was nice-looking enough. But then she strolled out on stage and I did a double-take: she was gorgeous! Whenever she feels unattractive in the future, she'll only have to take out a tape of this performance and she should feel better within seconds. She was hot.

Her performance was pretty hot, too. Her voice is very powerful and suited the song "Big Spender" very well, and though she is young, the sexiness of it didn't make me flinch as it did last week with the "Black Velvet" girl. I think overall she has a lot of potential, including star-potential, but that her strong voice became too over-powering at times and thus a bit too forced.

Dion was up next and immediately brought a lot of energy to the stage. Within the first few lines of the song, however, I could tell that his voice was simply not strong enough to meld with his dancing and that the song choice was obviously wrong. As the performance continued, though his dancing was hot, even it became too repetitious to keep my interest. Then when he broke out into dance with the song near the end of the number, it was clear to all, I think, that Dion was made to dance and not to sing.

The third performer of the night was Allyson, a woman who caught my attention right from the auditions episodes (though with that flame-red hair, I'm hardly the only one who noticed this firecracker!). I expected her to be hot and spicy, but was surprised to see a sad, insecure woman in the opening comments who doubted her own talent (thanks to a nasty dance teacher who told her, at thirteen, that she should give up). The minute Allyson sang her first note, however, I didn't doubt her talent. This woman has it! If I saw her as the lead in any Broadway show today, I would be standing up and cheering for her. She was fabulous! As Jo-Jo said, she is a P-R-O and I agree whole-heartedly. The younger performers can have remarkable talent, but sometimes they just can't capture that maturity in their voices and performances that someone a few years older can have. Allyson has that quality as well as the talent, the charm, and the polish.

Next up was the boy I thought I cleverly labeled as "Justin Timberlake meets Eminem" until Jo-Jo used that exact line to describe him! But it is so perfect that I am sure thousands of people made the same observation across North America when they saw Justin rap on the Fame stage. I was pleased to hear him do an original rap (which I believe he wrote himself), and though I am not a huge rap fan, I knew right away that Justin has talent. His dancing was not as strong as his rhythmic rapping flavor, but he drew us in with his rhythm, his rhyme, and his pop references and proved himself in league with the others. Toward the end, his rapping broke up with the exertion of his dancing, which was a serious fault in my eyes, but overall it was a strong performance.

The last female performer or the night made me do yet another double-take: she looked exactly like the first of the evening, Alexis! And Christine's song choice was not much different than Alexis' (or Allyson's, for that matter) with "All that Jazz." Before I even saw the number, I thought right away that this was a poor choice. The judges, and us at home, are starting to become inured to this song, just as we are to Alecia Keys' "Falling." Warning all potential entertainers: stay away from these songs, no matter how wonderful they are!

Christine, unfortunately, did not have the spark that ignited in me or the judges that the others had. She was good, but she was the least professional of the bunch. The performance would have blown me away had I seen it at the local high-school, but on "Fame" it just didn't cut it. It's too bad, because I think she could have given a much better performance had she chosen something more young and pop-ish. I saw video of her dancing in the opening comments doing Britney-type moves and she was very good at it. I think she went in the wrong direction and paid the price.

All too soon it was time for the last performer of the night: Raymond. His opening comments made me feel guilty, because I am afraid that I summed him up exactly as he said most people do. When I first saw the six contestants in their brief introduction at the beginning of the show, I wrote down one word comments to describe them. Allyson got "perky;" Dion got "attitude." Well, I am sorry to say it but Raymond got "geeky." I am sorry Raymond!!

I am sorry because Raymond ~rocked~! Though the song, I'll Be There, has never been one of my favorites (flashback trauma from Mariah Carey days), Raymond's velvet voice wooed me immediately. Not only that, but he was hot! His smile was charming in a boyish kind of way, and his movements were smooth and not awkward at all. His vocals were off in a few spots that I heard, but as he finished I eagerly put him on the top of my list.

Whereas the weeks before seemed so easy to me to pick out the three winners, the overall caliber of this week seemed so much higher than past weeks that I thought for sure I would be wrong on one or two this week. My track record is intact, however! I picked Raymond and Allyson as definites and then split my last choice between Alexis and Justin. I figured that Justin was the more polished, the more commercial and more original, but that Alexis was more in tune with what the show is about. Because even though I have called contestants "too musical" before, the tone of the show ~is~ musical. However, knowing that there will be one winner and that winner will be expected to be a pop-type star, I realistically must say that if someone can't break out of that musical-type mould and show some individual personality, it will be a hindrance in this contest. Thus, I was not surprised at all when Justin was picked over Alexis.

I realize I forgot to add in commentary about the dance portion, but really, does that segment change anyone's mind? We know to get where they are that they must be able to dance, so it is the singing, the star-quality, the movements in their first performance that solidify my picks. The best at the dance don't really make a huge difference (in fact, I thought the two strongest dancers were Christine and Dion, the two that I ruled out right away at the end).

I am excited to see the final group tomorrow. Two of the group caught my eye early on: the bald Asian guy and the blond black woman. I'm hoping to see stellar performances by both!