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''Bee Gees week looked a little better on paper''

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Was Bee Gees week nearly as good as anyone thought it would be? Hell no! Blake beatboxed our ears till they hurt, Melinda left us feeling flat, Jordin failed in her effort to take on on Babs Streisand, and LaKisha…well, as we know, things went bad enough to send her packing. Let’s hear what Idol‘s musical maestro Michael Orland has to say.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I thought Bee Gees week would be the absolute high point of the season. What went wrong?
MICHAEL ORLAND:
Bee Gees week looked a little better on paper than it did in reality, when it came down to it. I thought the show would be really fun, but once the judges started with their negative comments, it brought everyone down. The kids came out there almost defeated. You couldn’t please Randy this week. I thought it wasn’t as bad as they made it out to be.

I was surprised that out of all the songs in the Bee Gees songbook, those were the ones the contestants chose to sing. Did LaKisha really have to do ”Stayin’ Alive”?
With LaKisha, it had to do with her lack of knowing any of those songs. Yeah, everyone got a three-CD set in advance, with the 50 best Bee Gees songs on it. But she had no frame of reference with any of that music. She struggled a lot with those song choices. She changed her mind a lot. And then Barry Gibb told her not to change the key, and she did, and she wasn’t sure about it. When you’re feeling not as secure about a song, you flounder back and forth about what to do. Plus, something happened to her outfit at the dry cleaners.

Really? Because I thought she looked her best all season this week.
Yeah, I’m a big, huge LaKisha fan — I have been since the beginning. I’ve seen what she can do more than she even shows it on TV. She was the one from the whole group who was more secretive than any other. She realized it was a competition. People would say, ”What are you singing?” and she wouldn’t tell anybody. She was nice to everyone, but secretive. It was great. She was in it as a competitor. I hope some great, big things will happen for her.

I almost never agree with Paula, and yet I understood what she was saying about Melinda needing to do a ”wow” performance. What’s your take on that?
Since day one, Melinda gives 150 percent every week. I had that conversation with her right after the performance. I said, ”I thought that was great.” She said, ”I don’t know. I gotta give more.” I don’t know what else she can do. She’s had nowhere to go…because she started so high up.

I just wonder if she needs a performance like Blake’s ”You Give Love a Bad Name” to get her to the finals. Does she need to get out of her comfort zone?
She’s done all different styles of music and I’ve never seen her out of her comfort zone. It’s crazy how she can sing anything. When Paula said that to her, my initial reaction was ”I get it. Maybe she does need it.” But then I was like, ”I don’t know what else she can do.” She’s great and she started out great. We’ve watched other contestants grow and change. They’re all up to where Melinda is as a performer now, but they’ve become that, whereas Melinda started that way.

You worked with Jordin this week, so you must have been disappointed to hear the judges pan her rendition of ”Woman in Love.” Do you agree it was off-key?
When we were watching it back, I was like, ”It wasn’t off key!” I don’t get it. I think she was tired. They were feeling like maybe she was pushing it a little bit. That is a powerhouse song, and at the dress rehearsal we were like, ”Oh my God, this girl is out of the ballpark!” But it’s a long day on those Tuesdays. Maybe they picked up on her fatigue. I thought it was definitely her night, though. She picked two really great songs.

Could you believe it when Barry Gibb predicted she would be ”one of our greatest female recording artists”?
After she did ”To Love Somebody” with Barry Gibb at rehearsal she was all teary-eyed because she was so moved by his reaction to her singing. He was blown away, especially because it’s a male vocal [with] a male vibe.

I was so annoyed that, after a stellar performance during Bon Jovi week, Blake felt compelled to beatbox through not one but two songs this week.
I think he would probably agree with you, now that it’s over. Maybe he had such a great week on Bon Jovi week that he opted to do it. That second song he picked [”This Is Where I Come In”] — maybe one of the most obscure Bee Gees songs — I thought he did a great job with it. But maybe he felt like he needed to give it his treatment for people to respond.

Was Barry into the Blake rendition?
Barry was into it. He loved that Blake was doing that second song. I guess it was the title of one of their albums and they wanted it to be a hit and it wasn’t. He was excited that Blake could do it and make it a hit.

So this week the finalists are doing three songs each. How do you prepare them to conserve their energy and voices?
They definitely learn how to conserve. But for the first run-through, they sing it out to test it so the sound people know how big the song is going to get. And during dress rehearsal they have to sing it out because the recap clips [at the end of the show] come from there. Beyond that, you have to make them be quiet. These three are in it to win it, though. Any one of them could be in the finale, and any one of them could win. All three of them have huge groups of people into them, and all three of them are completely different performers. Now it’s just high drama. I wouldn’t go to Vegas right now to bet on anyone.

You’re working with Jordin again this week. How are you both feeling about her judges’ choice song?
I thought it was an interesting choice. We took it and made it work for her. At first she was like, ”Really?” But now I love it and she loves it.

So you’re feeling good about Jordin’s chances?
Let me just say that I don’t know what will happen. Any of them deserves to be in the finals, but I don’t think I’ll be out of work before the end of the season.

NEXT PAGE: The Idol stylist on Blake’s ”horrendous” tuxedo tee

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