‘American Idol’: You Give God a Bad Name

Jovi and the Idol team.Courtesy of FOX

Every week on American Idol, contestants perform songs based on a specific theme … then we ignore that theme and create our own. Last night’s stated focus? Bon Jovi jams. The real issue? God.

Gospel #1: Bon Jovi are ready to be worshipped.
In a flashback sequence that amounted to a blur of perms and spandex, Bon Jovi were revealed as onetime objects of groupie affection. Yet something about the sight of former stripper aficionado David Bryan jazzily tickling the ivories as the contestants filed in implied the band is living a slightly holier life now. Need proof? They donated $1 million to Oprah’s Angel Network. As a kicker, Jon Bon Jovi described Idol as “the great unknown.” (Uh, that’s usually God, Apostle Jon.)

Gospel #2: Blake haveth faith.
In a bizarre twist of fate, the judges praised Blake Lewis’s irreverent take on “You Give Love a Bad Name,” which involved a sixteen-bar vanity break for him to engage in a beat-box drum-off, do the robot, and spit out some seriously cheesy echo effects. Randy and Paula both excitedly described the performance as a “leap of faith.” But Simon wasn’t ready to drop to his knees — yet.

Gospel #3: LaKisha and Melinda are down with G.O.D.
Before a soulful rendition of “This Ain’t a Love Song,” LaKisha Jones revealed that her only pre-Idol singing training came from church, prompting Ryan Seacrest to accentuate his whiteness by wondering, “Are you going to take it to church tonight?” Bon Jovi also broke out the c-word, instructing Melinda Doolittle to toss some spirit into her spunky “Have a Nice Day.” (“Just testify, it’s church!”) Doolittle’s unsurprisingly pious reply: “I was like, okay, I like church!”

Gospel #4: Somebody’s praying tonight!
Though Idol producers were feeling charitable last week, sparing all the contestants from elimination during the “Idol Gives Back” episode, this week only four will be saved, which means Jordin Sparks or Chris Richardson are the likely sacrifices. Phil Stacey’s scorching “Blaze of Glory” should keep him safe (though he lost points for proclaiming, “Holy moly, I am jamming with Bon Jovi!”), but Sparks’s god-awful “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Richardson’s alternately whiney and shouty “Wanted Dead or Alive” may reveal them to be — gasp! — false Idols. —Caryn Ganz

‘American Idol’: You Give God a Bad Name