Last season's American Idol winner Jordin Sparks has apparently overindulged in her "now" and is skipping the first scheduled opening dates on Alicia Keys's tour with an acute vocal-cord hemorrhage. Sparks's inarguably sad predicament is reportedly the result of pushing her voice nonstop for the past two years, through her Idol victory and the release of her first album. Her injury would make a fine cautionary tale against too much overwrought vocalizing by the remaining six Idol finalists, except that tonight is, of all things, Andrew Lloyd Webber night.
On Andrew Lloyd Webber night, what choice do they have? Andrew Lloyd Webber is the closest thing we have to a Crown Prince of Vocal Hemorrhages, responsible for "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and other such tour-de-brute-force classics.
Andrew Lloyd Webber night seems sure to be a brutal parade of horrors, from the inevitable David Cook reimagining of "Any Dream Will Do" as an alt-psycho stalker ballad to the moment when David Archuleta balls up his right fist and squints earnestly into the camera while truly and deeply feeling the holy hell out of "Macavity: The Mystery Cat," which he will announce is a song with "a great message" about mysteries. And cats. It will be interesting to see whether any of the judges feel any obligation, in light of the Sparks story, to pay lip service to the concept of restraint ("Yo, dawg, I liked the way you didn't take 'Music of the Night' too far over the top"), or whether it'll still all about the enormous glory note that sounds — hey, sort of like your vocal cords are just about to start bleeding! According to the L.A. Times, the Lord himself has tagged the genially acoustic Brooke White as the one who impressed him the most, so perhaps America's ears will be saved by the first performance of "Memory" accompanied only by tinkly wind chimes. —Linda Holmes