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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: A Hard Day's Night

dcook.jpgWelcome to the Top 12! Going into tonight's episode, I was perfectly content in knowing how "American Idol" was going to go this season. The lesser stars, like Chikezie and Kristy, would fall early, followed soon by those who weren't making a statement, like Syesha and Michael. Eventually we'd transition into a Top 6 that included all three Davids, Carly, Brooke and Ramiele. But after watching the "Idol" train derail tonight, the world as I know it will never be the same. It turns out little David Archuleta does have his Kryptonite!and it's called the Lennon and McCartney songbook! It also turns out that Chikezie is a lot of fun!and an interesting singer! Oh, and for all those David Hernandez fans that thought the intense media coverage of his stripper past wasn't going to be a problem, his lackluster performance tonight may prove the contrary.

So, in the theme of so many high school yearbooks, let's take a look at what honors each of our contestants should win after a night of Beatle-mania.

Most Likely to Become Forgettable: Syesha Mercado

The student/working actress from Florida failed once again to showcase her awesome talent when she sang a quiet/boring version of "Got to Get You into My Life." Your voice is huge Syesha! Use it! Wasn't she the one with laryngitis back in Hollywood who still managed to belt out one of the best performances of the round? Is it going to take more hoarse-ness to get you to show off that voice, or what? Predictably Paula and Randy agreed that she was off-tune in the beginning and didn't hit her stride until the middle of the song. In order to be a competitor against the likes of David Cook and Carly Smithson, Syesha needs an injection of pep, stat! (Maybe the Rockin Nurse could help her out with that.)

Most Surprising Use of the Instruments from "O Brother Where Art Thou": Chikezie

Wasn't I the one who predicted Chikezie would go home three weeks ago? Yup, I admit it, I was wrong. My "American Idol" crystal ball has never let me down before. (OK, it's actually a Magic 8-Ball, and it said "Reply Hazy, Try Again," but that doesn't prove anything!) I wasn't sure what to expect when this happy-go-lucky baggage screener took the stage. There were banjos and fiddles, and at first I was confused. Chikezie likes to sing ballads, I thought to myself, so they must be playing the wrong music. Nope, apparently Chikezie is Mr. Undercover, and was just saving his best stuff for the Top 12. From the cool way he started singing "She's a Woman" as if it were a bluegrass ditty, to the way he transitioned it into a funk-rock opus, the guy had me hooked. Turns out he's also a really good singer and performer. The judges were just as surprised as I was and hailed him for being original. (Side note: Did Ryan Seacrest stop taking some form of medication before he jumped on stage and batted poor Chikezie around like a rag doll? And if so, isn't there some sort of blow gun we can shoot at the guy?)

Most Likely to Bore Simon to Tears: Ramiele Malubay

If Ramiele doesn't want her new nickname to be ‘Lullaby,' then why did she pick such a boring arrangement for such a quiet song? For the most part I disagreed with the hits she took from the judges on her solid performance of "In My Life." While it was a tad boring and didn't spotlight her giant voice, it was still pretty darn good. She has great control of her voice and is hardly ever out of tune, something she's proven since she made the semifinals, and hence why I call her one of the only consistent singers. But unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make Randy ("it was pretty, but pretty boring"), Paula ("pretty safe!you're holding back") or Simon ("bored to tears") enjoy her rendition tonight. Personally, I liked that she held back on that big voice of hers because it showed another side. We'll see if the voters agreed.

Most Likely to Star in the Movie "Groundhog Day 2: Castro's Revenge": Jason Castro

Hey look, it's Jason Castro singing with his guitar. Oh and listen, he's singing his song just like Jack Johnson. Does this all seem familiar? It should, because aside from the one week he sang "Hallelujah," Castro has pretty much been giving the same performance over and over. And for weeks he was earning high praise for it. Well I guess all strange things must come to an end. Tonight our dread-headed friend sang "If I Fell," complete with his trusty guitar and possibly now-trademarked befuddled expression. Unfortunately he fell into the same trap Ramiele did, by not infusing a quiet song with more oomph, character or personality. He could've switched up the melodies, he could've changed the arrangement, he could've even sped it up!but no, just more contemplative guitar-strumming. And the judges noticed. All three agreed that it wasn't his best and didn't make much of an impact.

Most Professional: Carly Smithson

Carly is used to moving around. She moved from Ireland to San Diego. She moved from the semifinals into the Top 12. And judging by her rendition of "Come Together," she'll quickly be moving into the Top 2. As usual, her performance was calm, collected, professional and entertaining. She has a cool rock-tinged voice and plenty of confidence in performing in front of cameras. Her arrangement of the song would take the award for best rendition of the night, if not for Chikezie and David Cook. It was only fitting then that Simon Cowell mused about how watching Carly reminded him of six years ago, when he was watching Kelly Clarkson.

Best Rocker: David Cook

For weeks I've been declaring this competition as the Battle of the Davids. But so far, David Cook is winning. Taking a risk in changing the arrangement of his song, just like his predecessors Chikezie and Carly, Cook saw it all pay off. He stumbled in the beginning with some low notes, but overall he rocked it out! Once the song picked up, you could see him gain confidence. It was fun watching him keep his winning streak alive, and surprising to see him actually smile after it was over! The judges said he "rocked it out" (Randy), was "fantastic" (Paula) and was "brilliant" (Simon). I think I'll put his album next to Daughtry's once it's released.

Most Heartfelt (Also: Best Smiler, Most Likely to Duet With a Muppet): Brooke White

We should call her the Happy Nanny, because Brooke has enough smiles to go around. She has to be the most positive contestant ever to make it to the Top 12, and that's not a bad thing. Breaking out her piano skills this week, Ms. White once again showed off her awesome musical talent with her cover of "Let It Be." And while she didn't really change the song, she infused it with her folksy tone which made her performance seem more original. I hope she keeps it up and steps out from behind the shadow of Carly Simon, which so many people have compared her to, and becomes one of the top performers this season. Note to producers: If Brooke does make it to the Final 2, please let her sing with Kermit the Frog. She's so upbeat, I feel as if she's destined to sing alongside a Muppet!

Biggest Decline: David Hernandez

Only weeks ago, this was Hernandez's contest to win. Or at least come in second at. But it looks like the media coverage of his strange stripper past may have taken its toll. His voice sounded weaker than usual, possibly from the strain of dodging questions from reporters. Whatever it was, it didn't seem as if his heart was in it this week. That's not to say there weren't good moments. The beginning of the song, in which David H. sang without the backup band, was very good. His downfall, though, was over-singing a simple song, which all the judges noticed. Let's hope he makes it to next week and calms his nerves, or he'll be out of this faster than we thought.

Most Unique: Amanda Overmyer

The Rockin Nurse is a different breed of contestant, just like Taylor Hicks, with her snarls, lip curls, crazy hair and Joplin-esque tones. Lately, it's all been working for her too. She's made some great song choices (last week: Joan Jett, this week: "You Can't Do That") and she ALWAYS does something that twists the song to her style (which tonight meant stuttering the words "let!let!let!you down"). I must admit, I'm slowly coming around to liking Amanda. (That makes two people I've changed my mind about. What's going on?) She'll ride the popularity for a little while longer.

Most Monotonous: Michael Johns

Here's what's good about our Aussie contestant- he has a nice voice, great control, good stage presence and likeability. Here's what wasn't so good about tonight's performance: he was boring. He may like the lyrics to "Across the Universe," but the song didn't really translate well on television. Like Simon said, I wish he had done something with it, instead of remaining so faithful to the original. But at least this week I didn't hear him shout!

Most Likely to Be Going Home: Kristy Lee Cook

What can I say about Kristy's version of "Eight Days a Week?" Should I say that it felt like much longer than eight days? Should I recommend that the house band never, under any circumstances, play an awful arrangement like they did with this song? (It sounded like the mutant baby of a square dance and a rave.) And should I also say to Kristy that there were several ways to make this song more country that didn't involve a fiesta of fiddles? Perhaps she should've just used her country voice to influence the song, instead of turning it into a mess. Sorry to say it Kristy, but there just might be too many Cooks in this kitchen.

Most Likely to Forget the Words: David Archuleta

I felt awful watching our former frontrunner fumble the words. It worried me a little bit when he declared his nervousness in the pre-performance video. It then worried me a little more when he said how much he disliked songs from this era. So with all that worry hanging over his head, combined with the pressure he's probably feeling from already being declared the winner, it wasn't completely unexpected to see him crash and burn tonight. The poor guy forgot most of the words, and was then so shaken up from forgetting, that he gave a half-hearted performance for the parts he did remember. Simon said it best when he proclaimed "that was a mess." I'm guessing his contingent of loyal tween fans won't let him go home, so he'll get another shot next week. What he needs to do is take a page from Clay Aiken's Rulebook, only singing songs that show his unique voice, which means slower ballads.

So, how did this season's Top 12 stack up to past years? Has the status quo changed, with some of the frontrunners faltering, and several Dark Horses emerging? Did you feel as bad for David A. as I did? And what did you think of the new credits and huge new set for this year's "Idol"? (Me? I liked the giant stage and thought having the band on the second tier was a cool touch.) Post your thoughts below and make sure to watch the results tomorrow night! –Chris Sardelli


Posted by Chris on March 12, 2008 3:11 AM
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I thought that Chikeze was awesome last night. I can't get that song out of my head.

-- 1. Posted by: search engine placement at March 19, 2008 5:37 PM

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