Arrested Development and Vanilla Ice won over the studio audiences during the first two episodes of the NBC series Hit Me Baby One More Time. Chris M. Junior recaps the third episode, which featured Howard Jones (above) and aired June 16.
* First act: WANG CHUNG
Hit played: "Everybody Have Fun Tonight"
Cover song: Nelly's "Hot in Herre"
How the band looked: Definitely older, but not too bad. Lead singer Jack Hues could pass for Corbin Bernsen's brother.
Best moment: The overall nerdiness of "Hot in Herre," especially the "uh-uhs" and Hues' melodic approach to the chorus.
Carry on or hang it up? Hang it up. Covering a Nelly song is unforgivable.
* Second act: SOPHIE B. HAWKINS (above)
Hit played: "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover"
Cover song: Five for Fighting's "100 Years"
How she looked: About the same as her '90s prime, but she should have left those shredded jeans back home with the rest of her grungewear.
Best moments: Her clumsy striptease that revealed a white tank top bearing the title of her highest charting hit; the brief clip of her playing piano at home with a bird on her left shoulder.
Carry on or hang it up? Hang it up. With her dramatic performance of "100 Years," she managed to make an awful song even worse.
* Third act: CAMEO
Hit played: "Word Up"
Cover song: Bowling for Soup's "1985"
How the band looked: Lead singer Larry Blackmon channeled his inner George Clinton by sporting a shiny, black outfit with red accessories, among them a hat and a codpiece.
Best moment: The vision of Blackmon's funky 'fro in the "catching up" segment.
Carry on or hang it up? Carry on. The band still sounds as unique today as it did in the 1980s, and unlike Hawkins, Blackmon and company found a way to make an awful cover choice interesting and listenable.
* Fourth act: HOWARD JONES
Hit played: "No One Is to Blame"
Cover song: Dido's "White Flag"
How he looked: Gone is the ridiculous rooster-like hair; in its place is a close-cropped, thinning 'do that makes Jones look like John Lithgow.
Best moments: Jones praying in the "catching up" segment; host Vernon Kay's claim that Jones was the "sultan of the synthesizer" and a "master of melody."
Carry on or hang it up? Undecided. He sounded fine performing his own song, but was way too nasal on the Dido tune.
* Fifth act: IRENE CARA
Hit played: "Flashdance . . . What a Feeling"
Cover song: Anastacia's "I'm Outta Love"
How she looked: Much better than she sounded, although no woman should ever wear a fedora.
Best moment: When she stopped singing.
Carry on or hang it up? Hang it up -- and quickly. Cara struggled to hit the high notes on "Flashdance . . . What a Feeling," and the backup singers carried her on the cover.
Studio audience winner: IRENE CARA
Most deserving to win: CAMEO. A collaboration with OutKast seems like a natural fit.
-- By Chris M. Junior