American Idols Live Tour / Aug. 29, 2007 / East Rutherford, N.J. (Continental Airlines Arena)
The "American Idol" juggernaut just won't stop. After wrapping up the sixth installment of the wildly popular Fox reality show, the top 10 from the season chugged on and embarked on the massive 59-datThe "American Idol" juggernaut just won't stop. After wrapping up the sixth installment of the wildly popular Fox reality show, the top 10 from the season chugged on and embarked on the massive 59-date American Idols Live tour, all the while with auditions for season seven underway.
Due to popular demand, the "Idol" crew added a second date to its stop in East Rutherford, N.J., and on night two, all the most talked-about contestants from the season were back in full swing. There was the loved-and-hated pony-hawker himself, Sanjaya Malakar; huge-voiced heavy-hitters Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones; long legs-over-talent Haley Scarnato; goth girl Gina Glocksen; big-haired goofball Chris Sligh; Navy dad Phil Stacey; Justin Timberlake 2.0 Chris Richardson; and the beloved final two, beat box wiz Blake Lewis and the all-American 17-year-old winner, Jordin Sparks.
As the group haphazardly busted out onstage to a messy performance of the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started," it initially seemed the kids hadn't cleaned up their act much since their days on "Idol." That notion was, surprisingly, dispelled by the end of the night, as they demonstrated visible growth from novice wannabe superstars into not-half-bad performers and even musicians (if lightly tapping on a drum kit or strumming one chord on a guitar constitutes musicianship. But hey, they tried).
It didn't matter to the crowd either way, though. The "AI" vehicle is a damn powerful one, talent or no. Hoards of tween girls screamed hysterically for pretty boys Chris and Blake, tiny tots waved and smiled at their loveable "Idol" Jordin and mom and dad applauded for their respective favorites -- the "Idol" bag truly holds something for everyone.
By and large, the lowest points of the evening were the group performances, and even worse, the awkward between-song banter (one particular train wreck involved a Backstreet Boys song, a hair style reference and something about orange marmalade). There were also a few overly gimmicky numbers (an unnecessary "America the Beautiful," a pseudo-sexualized "Ain't No Other Man" and pop-punk gone bad, "Thanks for the Mmrs") and sub-par performances from contestants who were, well, sub-par on the show (Sanjaya, Haley, Gina).
But the individual performances and smaller collaborations allowed the contestants to shine, namely Melinda's empowered take on "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" and LaKisha's goose bump-inducing "I Will Always Love You," as well as when the two dueted on a Supremes medley. Blake And Chris were impressive in their own right and played well off of each other on Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Jason Mraz's "Geek in the Pink."
Jordin was absent from the stage for almost the entire show, surfacing at the end for six solo numbers including Shirley Bassey's "I (Who Have Nothing), Jewel's "You Were Meant for Me" (on which she played guitar) and the unfortunate winning single from the season, "This Is My Now." Young Jordin looked gorgeous, sounded beautiful and was a true crowd-pleasure. She proved she has tremendous talent in store and is certainly one who's worthy of her winning title.
So for all things "Idol" -- yes, it's cheesy. Yes, it's fun. But don't expect this phenomenon to die down any time soon.