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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Marginal Mystery Tour

chikezie.jpgThis is the first, and last, time I will ever say this, but tonight I felt like Randy Jackson. Don't worry, I haven't started muttering the words "dawg" or "pitchy" while sipping my Coca-Cola. I'm not plugging Paula's new song every chance I get. And nope, I have never name-dropped the band Journey. What I'm talking about is what happened at the beginning of the show, when Ryan Seacrest usually conducts his initial interviews with the judges. He asked Mr. Jackson a question, but Randy decided to let out a big yawn instead. And that's where I come in. I, much like Randy, was yawning through most of tonight's performances. Yes, there were some great routines, but the majority of our Fab Eleven mostly delivered a slew of mind-numbing renditions on Beatles Night.

In the interest of keeping this review on a positive note, let's first take a look at tonight's outstanding performances. But don't get too comfortable, because there were really only two that stood out. The first belongs to Mr. David Archuleta, who had me biting my fingernails in suspense as I waited anxiously to see if he was going to reclaim his past glory, or forget all his words again and curl up in the fetal position. Thank goodness it was the former, as David belted an awesome version of "The Long and Winding Road." I give the kid props for using last week's crash-and-burn performance as motivation to come back and try again. And try he did. Once again, I felt like I was watching a mini Clay Aiken (didn't his song tonight remind you of Clay's performance of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" back in Season 2?). Simon said it was "master class," and so did the throngs of hyper tween girls the producers had packed into the audience. I'm starting to get the feeling that Little David could walk out on stage, sit down and hum for his entire performance, and his fans would still vote him to the finals.

That brings me to the night's other exceptional performance, which definitely surprised me. It seems that every week I pan someone, they come back stronger the next week. Chikezie did it last week with that bluegrass ditty and Amanda did it recently with her Joan Jett song. So, of course, it was only fitting that Syesha Mercado tear down the house tonight, seeing as how I called her forgettable last week. After singing "Yesterday," she was hands down the best contestant of the night (sorry David). Her voice was quiet and controlled, she seemed connected to the song and she hit all the high notes. As Randy put it, "that was a very, very, very good performance."

Having said that, I did see potential in several of the contestants who sang pretty well, but not great. Brooke White satisfied my happy-go-lucky fix when she sang "Here Comes the Sun." The whole idea of her singing this song made me chuckle, because it was just so appropriate. Plus, she was wearing yellow, one of the happiest colors of the rainbow. Like I've said before, with her upbeat demeanor, this girl would be quite at home on Sesame Street or chillin with the likes of Kermie and Gonzo. But, after her sensational performance last week, she was destined to hit some flat notes tonight, which she did. Don't get me wrong, I really like her folksy voice, but her trippy little stage movements just ruined it for me. She was like a modern-day hippie chasing bubbles on stage, but she'll be back for next week's show.

I worry a little for both David Cook and Carly Smithson, but not because of their singing abilities. Both did a great job tonight, Cook with his rock-star version of "Daytripper" and Carly with her solid adaptation of "Blackbird." Once again both of them proved why they're still here, changing songs to match their musical styles and then singing the heck out of them. The reason I'm worried is that they're delivering similar performances each week. Simon noticed it too when he told Cook he was "a bit predictable now." I'm hoping maybe next week the two of them will reverse roles, just to see what happens, with David trying something slower and quieter, and Carly trying her hand at rocking out. Not that it matters, because the two of them will surely be in the Top 5.

Contrary to Simon, I liked Chikezie and his take on "I've Just Seen a Face." He seems like a nice guy, has a strong voice and knows how to give a good performance. And if that wasn't enough, his use of the harmonica, which he learned to play in just one week, was a lot of fun. I'm not sure Chikezie will last for the long haul, but he's interesting enough to stick around for a couple more weeks.

Now on to the rest of tonight's crazy caterwaulers. The remainder of the contestants left me scratching my head. In fact, some of the routines were so strange that I still don't know what to make of them. For instance, Amanda Overmyer left me cold with her scratchy rendition of "Back in the U.S.S.R.." Forget, if you can, that she brings the same twitchy performance week after week, or that she has trouble hitting a majority of her notes. The reason I don't understand why she's still around, is the way she always mumbles her songs so that I can't comprehend her. Since when is unintelligible a good thing? Somebody get her a crash cart, because this Rockin Nurse is flat-lining! (C'mon, I had to!)

For some reason, Michael Johns seems stuck in neutral over the last few weeks. The Aussie sang "A Day in the Life," but it so closely resembled his performance of "Across the Universe" from last week that I thought we were watching a recap. He also did himself a disservice by dissecting an already complicated song and repackaging it for a minute and a half performance. On the plus side, his voice has an interesting gravelly sound to it and he can definitely hit his notes. The problem, though, is that he is quickly proving the judges' point, that you should pick songs the audience will like, not songs you enjoy listening to. The same could be said to Ramiele Malubay, who also seems to be stuck in musical quicksand. Her once again lifeless rendition of "I Should've Known Better" made me long for the good ol' days of the Hollywood round, when singers like Malubay were good. (Her song choice is also a little ironic, isn't it?) It's a shame that we haven't heard the ‘little girl with the big voice' break out with something new yet, because if it hasn't happened by now it's not going to.

Jason Castro proved just how strange he really is without his guitar. And I mean strange. He warbled, muttered, sputtered and limped through an odd rendition of "Michelle," which featured the dread-head simply walking back and forth on stage, when he wasn't uncomfortably swinging his arms like a five-year-old on a timeout. He only hits his notes about 60 percent of the time, which he even admitted during his pre-performance interview. Hopefully he'll find a theme night that more closely matches his musical style, or he's outta here.

I guess that brings us to Kristy Lee Cook. Thinking back on her performance I!zzzzzzzzzz!.whoops, sorry about that, but every time she starts singing, I tend to doze off. I guess she's the musical equivalent of Tylenol PM, which means I should definitely not be operating heavy machinery when she takes the stage. Tonight's purely awful take of "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" was boring, out-of-tune and forgettable. I've said this a few times, though, and yet she remains. It's too bad we lost our other more promising country vocalist, Alaina Whitaker, back in the semifinals. My guess is Kristy will join David Hernandez in the Idol Unemployment Line on Wednesday night.

So, how did the Top 11 do tonight? Did David Archuleta redeem himself from last week's performance? Was David Cook overly smug about his song, as Simon suggested? And is Kristy Lee Cook actually a Terminator sent from the future to destroy us all with her bland singing and scary stage presence? Post your thoughts below and tune in for tomorrow's results show! –Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on March 19, 2008 2:56 AM
Permalink |

I hope Ramielle stays. Her voice and style is very unique from everyone in the show.

-- 1. Posted by: jov at March 19, 2008 9:59 AM

Kristy Lee needs to go.

-- 2. Posted by: mediaboy at March 19, 2008 10:44 AM

Best of the night:
Syesha, Carly, David A, Brooke

Worst of the night:
Kristy, Amanda, Ramiele

-- 3. Posted by: Lennon at March 19, 2008 1:55 PM

I LOVE seeing ,listening and watching
Ramielle,I think that she and her ways
of performing like singing is very unique from the rest.She sings very professional,her voice to me is like a
healing,entertaining,and it does make
me does'nt like to stop watching her..I
like her angelique,innocent face.and
expression of singing..she seems very
humble too... pls. extend to her that
I'M praying for her to win this contest
and if she wins I love to hug her,hope
she sees me personally to congratulate
her....PLS. TELL her to show up more...
I KNOW that she has the most ability
in the group...God Bless....
Miss Bing Pierce

-- 4. Posted by: Bing Pierce at March 26, 2008 3:10 PM

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