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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Dream On

mjohns.jpgLast season on "American Idol," we were treated to the first ever "Idol Gives Back." Besides the usual performances, the producers mixed in a combination of celebrities and famous singers. What they didn't consider, though, was how exactly to boot someone after a night of inspirational performances and charity fundraising. So instead, they granted a stay to the bottom singer and kicked two kids out the next week.

Well, it seems the producers had a long time to figure things out, which is the main reason why we're getting three episodes of "Idol" this week. The fun began tonight with inspirational songs, and I use the term loosely based on some of the choices from the Top 8. (I mean, can a person actually derive inspiration from an Aerosmith song?) Wednesday's episode is this year's "Idol Gives Back," and then Thursday will feature this week's elimination.

It was an interesting night on "Idol" as, once again, all the people who stunk up the stage last week, pulled it together and delivered some truly awesome performances. It was also a night where, once again, all those people who had been building momentum suddenly fell to the bottom of the back. So even though visions of ukuleles and power ballads are still firmly entrenched in my mind, here's how I ranked tonight's singers in order from Most Awe-Inspiring to Mildly Motivating: (which was hard since no one was outright awful tonight)

Best Singer of the Night: David Archuleta (sang 7th)

Straight from the mouth of Simon Cowell: "you're going to sail through to the next round." Finally, after weeks and weeks of inconsistent performances (an awesome "Imagine;" forgotten lyrics during Lennon-McCartney week ; a odd choice in "You're the Voice;" a great job on Dolly Night), David A. gave the performance of his "Idol" career with his take on "Angels." Everything was on point, from the mature rendition he gave while playing the piano to the cool runs near the end of the song. Simon nitpicked by saying it was a tad nasally, but I disagree. I think the only critique was that Archuleta doesn't have the best lower register, so those notes kind of fell flat. But seriously, does that even matter? Those screams from the teens in the audience get louder each week, which means he's probably got the Top 2 all locked up. So, who'll be joining him?

Runner-Up: Jason Castro (sang 3rd)

There's a lot of themes on "Idol" this year, but I'm not talking about which songs they get to sing. I'm talking about this theme: how every time I blast a singer for giving a sub-par performance, the next week they deliver the song of the night. If you remember, this happened with Amanda Overmyer, then Chikezie, then Kristy Lee Cook. So it was only a matter of time before the same thing happened with Jason Castro, who I've been calling out for his dull, boring renditions each and every week. Well, everything finally came together for Jason tonight: the right song, great falsetto, an interesting ukulele. I hardly ever agree with Randy, but his comment that Castro's take on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole cover) was "blazing molten hot," is completely accurate. But don't forget one of the other themes from this season: that most of the aforementioned people got their pink slip not too long after their awesome performance. My prediction: Jason has one more week left in him, and then he'll be watching the show from the audience.

3rd Place: A Tie between Brooke White (sang 8th) and Carly Smithson (sang 6th)

Despite what the judges said, I thought Brooke was pretty good. She has a great sound, is very heart-felt and has a lot of emotion (maybe too much, judging by her almost-meltdown after her critiques). I think the problem with her performance tonight, though, is two-fold: First, choosing "You've Got a Friend" as her song probably wasn't in her best interests since it didn't allow her to do any interesting with her voice. It just kinda sat there. Second, she must be attending the "Carly Smithson School of Hard Stares" because she's suddenly developed a look of crazed intensity, much like our Irish contestant. And I must say it doesn't suit her at all. We like Brooke because she's happy, not because she looks constipated. It's no wonder why she looked about ready to fall apart after the judges said it was "just OK."

Carly, who sang "Show Must Go On," the only Queen song left that Michael Johns hadn't performed, also perfected her trademark Look of Desperation. I was so happy when she broke out of the mold last week, smiling and winking at the camera, but this week she reverted back to Intense Irish Lady. It's too bad really, since she has the most perfect voice of any to grace the eardrums of the "American Idol" audience in the past seven seasons. She's a professional singer through and through, but I think she wants this too much (if that's possible). I think America is going to figure it out pretty quickly that Carly is a little too desperate to win, which may turn some people off.

5th Place: Kristy Lee Cook (sang 4th)

Wait, how the heck did she get in here? Did I miscount? Have I lost my mind? Nope, Kristy was actually good tonight! With a successful attempt at several power notes and a renewed sense of confidence, Kristy Lee gave her best performance in the whole competition. Now if only she could do something about that blank/serious stare she's got going on, she could be a real contender. Alas, she's more like the singing version of a deer in the headlights.

6th Place: Michael Johns (sang 1st)

Simon hit the nail on the head when he called Michael out for doing impersonations of rock singers. First it was Freddie Mercury of Queen, and tonight it was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. I have no doubt this Rockin Aussie can sing, which he proved last week with a bluesy take on a Dolly song, but he unfortunately returned to his screaming, shouting ways tonight while singing "Dream On." Michael needs to concentrate more on infusing his songs with blues, and less on trying to out-rock David Cook. And speaking of Mr. Cook!

7th Place: David Cook (sang 5th)

It pains me to put David Cook in seventh place. Just last week he was in the middle of a five-week momentum-building streak that was sure to carry him to the finals. But he screwed it all up this week when he sang a bad version of Our Lady Peace's "Innocent." First of all, this really isn't a singer's song, especially with the way it changes from low notes to extremely high only-dolphins-can-hear notes. Second of all, he was hardly in tune. And lastly, he walked out into the audience, a proven performance killer. (Note to contestants: Stop walking into the audience! That never works!) Cook proved the point that singers shouldn't just pick songs they like, but ones everyone will like. On the plus side, though, it's going to take a lot more than one failed performance to shut down our resident rocker.

Last Place: Syesha Mercado (sang 2nd)

Attempting to sing Fantasia's "I Believe," Syesha confidently hit most of her notes. That's really all I have to say that's good about her take on the song. I agree with Simon and Randy that she didn't really connect with it, and probably spent too much time trying to figure out ways to differ from Fantasia's version (which she also tried to do with Whitney Houston's song last week). Here's some advice for Syesha, the Girl With the Big Voice, if she makes it though another week. Stop picking songs that you can never live up to (both Fantasia and Whitney have unique voices that will only make the judges compare you to them; same will probably go for Mariah songs, and any other big belter). Instead, take a cue from Michael and put some blues into your songs, or try what David C. has done and look for alternative arrangements.

My picks for the Bottom Three this week are Brooke, Carly and Syesha. Following from that, I'm going to go on record and predict an all-male Top 3 (which I don't think has ever happened) with the two Davids and Michael Johns. Feel free to discuss your own theories below.

What did you think of the Top 8 tonight? Who's going home? Do you think Kristy can keep her winning streak alive? Can Syesha hang on despite picking songs too big for her voice? And did the usually-flawless David Cook hit his first bump in the road? Also, do you have any suggestions for songs our contestants should be singing to keep them on the show? Post your comments below and make sure you tune in for tomorrow's Idol Gives Back night, followed by the results show on Thursday night! –Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on April 8, 2008 11:55 PM
Permalink |

A pimp-spotter almost never lands in the Bottom 3.

Replace Brooke with the sucktasticness of Michael and that's more accurate. I am predicting Michael gets his first scare...or hoping, I'm not sure.

I thought Kristy was the best, oddly, and Syesha was second best. Arch was great, but this wasn't his best (see Simon's comment about "nasally"). Then Jason was terrific (although I think he was more impressive last week w/ "Travelin' Thru") as well.

Brooke was good and Carly pretty solid, but neither were stellar--just average.

Michael had a nice end to his song, but he looked strained throughout and it was a stupid choice of song for him. Boring.

And oh dear God, I'm all for Cook winning...but he was THE. ABSOLUTE. WORST. He basically took one huge, steaming pile of awful and morphed it into an awkwardly arranged and staged song, with bizarrely deep vocals (and an incredibly useless chorus). Actually, he could land in the bottom as a shocker, but he'd definitely be safe I think.

So while the B3 -should- be Carly, Michael, and Cook, it won't be. I think Syesha will probably head home, though I wouldn't be too surprised if we were treated to a Carly kiss-off shocker. What do you think regarding that, Chris?

-- 1. Posted by: James De Roxtra at April 9, 2008 1:52 AM

Even though the judges had good comments,I feel Jason Castro is going to be the next one to go. Who will be in the top two(2)for the finals? It is going to be the battle of the David's. David A. and David C.

-- 2. Posted by: Allan Defenbaugh at April 9, 2008 1:56 AM

Even though the judges had good comments,I feel Jason Castro is going to be the next one to go. Who will be in the top two(2)for the finals? It is going to be the battle of the David's. David A. and David C.

-- 3. Posted by: Allan Defenbaugh at April 9, 2008 1:56 AM

Is there anyone more annoying than David Archangel? It's the same whiny Disney crapola week after week. Enough already!

-- 4. Posted by: Bill Chuck at April 9, 2008 4:44 PM

Carly's performance was a train wreck. plain and simple...she and Brooke were not good.

the final three...david a...david c...and maybe michael johns.

-- 5. Posted by: alyssa at April 10, 2008 4:50 PM

I told you Michael was in trouble! Slightly surprised he was gone, but it was just in the same fashion as Amanda...poor rockers.

-- 6. Posted by: James at April 11, 2008 12:12 AM

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