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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Grilled by Webber

csmithson.jpgUsually when Simon Cowell tells a contestant they belong on Broadway, it's hardly a compliment. But when Andrew Lloyd Webber stops by and lends the contestants his Broadway songbook, it's a totally different story. Tonight's episode was all about being dramatic and intentionally making a performance look cabaret, traits usually shunned on the "Idol" stage. Let's face it, though, only singers with a big voice can cut it on Broadway, which is why only a few ruled the stage tonight, and why two performers have all but cemented their attendance in the Final Two.

Singing first tonight was Miss Syesha Mercado, the big singer who, despite some early momentum, has recently failed to impress the judges. Well all that changed tonight after she performed "One Rock ‘N Roll Too Many" from "Starlight Express." Finally we were seeing the Syesha we all loved from the Hollywood round. As she strutted around stage, danced with the band leader and hit all her notes, she proved why she was still on the show. Ironically, she also proved why she won't win the show. While I agree with Randy that this was her best performance to date, I think it definitively proved why Syesha should try her hand at Broadway instead of the pop music world. She was totally in her element here, and judging by how much Webber liked her, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw her in one of his productions sometime in the future.

My opinion of the next singer has flip-flopped so much over the last few months that pretty soon he'll have me reaching for the Dramamine. Of course I'm talking about everyone's favorite dread-head, Jason Castro. First I liked him, then I couldn't stand him, then he impressed me with some Jack Johnson-esque performances, then he played the ukulele!I can't keep up with this kid. Tonight my opinion of him is back in the negative column. I mean, yikes! Just because he was singing a song from "Cats" ("Memory"), doesn't mean he should screech like he was one. I understand it's hard to bring his hippie, slacker, Dude Where's My Guitar persona into the Broadway musical world, but wasn't there a better song for him than this? (My favorite quote from him definitely has to be "I didn't realize a cat sings that song.") Randy said it best when he called it a "train wreck" and Simon concurred when he said "that probably felt like the longest two minutes of your life." It's going to take a lot of votes to keep him in the game, but I know for sure he'll be in the bottom group tomorrow.

Up next was Brooke White in what will probably go down as the most uncomfortable performance ever on an "Idol" stage (unless you count William Hung, but he sang in an audition room and I guess that doesn't count). I think Andrew Lloyd Webber summed it up when he noticed Brooke had no idea what her song meant. (She performed "You Must Love Me" from "Evita.") It's too bad she overcame that hurdle just to hit another wall during her live performance. Apparently Brooke has been listening to a little too much of that OneRepublic song "Stop and Stare," as she killed her song five seconds in, gaped at the audience and then pleaded with the band to start over. Wow, what a momentum killer! I would say it's just a fluke, but she's already pulled this trick earlier in the competition. Even though I like her singing style and despite Simon and Randy defending her choice to stop and start, I have to agree with Paula on this one. (Hey, there's a first time for everything!) Ms. Abdul appeared to be both disappointed and irked that Brooke chose to halt her performance and told her as much in her critique. I was also irked because all it did was make her nervous and ruined what could have been a solid performance from her. (Side note: watching the recap at the end of the show, her vocals were actually pretty good.) Seeing as how she's already been in the Bottom Three a number of times, this slip-up could really cost her.

Transitioning from the awkwardness of Brooke, we got to hear David Archuleta sing in a style we all knew he'd be good at. Did anyone question that the kid with the golden voice was going to hit a homerun tonight? He sang "Think of Me" from "Phantom of the Opera" and proved he could still step up his game. After Webber criticized that David closes his eyes when he's singing, Archuleta made a conscious effort to keep his peepers open for the crowd, working the camera a little in the process. I think he's also become much more confident over the last few weeks, which has definitely contributed to the performances. (Hey, it probably doesn't hurt that girls like to come on stage and hug him during the show. Talk about a confidence booster!) Judging by the Scream-o-Meter I installed on my television to gauge audience reaction, Archuleta has firmly locked up the tween vote and will be back for more singing next week.

Next on stage was Carly Smithson who had to learn a whole new song once Webber was done with her. After hearing her first choice, he immediately cut her off and told her to sing "Jesus Christ Superstar," preferring to hear her utilize her big voice. Dressed in a funky-cool outfit and using the lightshow once reserved only for Michael Johns, the Irish singer rocked the stage. And for once she looked like she was having fun doing it. I agree with Simon that it was a tad shouty, but he still picked it as one of his favorite performances of the night. Clearly elated, Carly quickly displayed a bright blue t-shirt that read "Simon Loves Me (this week)." She proved she's good enough to at least make it to next week.

Last, but definitely not least, was rocker David Cook. If somebody had bet me last week that David C. would do well without his usual rock influences, I would've lost big time. I was predicting he'd have the worst night, simply because it would be hard to transform any of Webber's songs into rock classics. Singing "Music of the Night" from "Phantom of the Opera," Cook revealed a whole new side of himself. Staying true to the song, he still managed to pack it full of emotion while also adding a touch of his rock flair to some of the big notes. And then for him to slow the song down, then speed it up, hit a high note and then a low note!it was very impressive. I don't think his critics can blast him this week for borrowing another rock star's arrangement. This was all about Cook using his great voice to sing the song. I still say it's going to be a battle of the Davids when the finale comes around.

What did you think of the Top 6? Did the contestants with big voices have a distinct advantage? Was Andrew Lloyd Webber the first mentor to actually criticize the contestants? And were you reaching for your earplugs when Jason was painfully attempting a song from "Cats?" Post your comments below and make sure you tune in for the results show tomorrow night! –Chris Sardelli


Posted by Chris on April 23, 2008 12:42 AM
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Clearly you need to be informed on a few things, so allow me.

First, Jason was MAJORLY sick. However, like when Archie had strep a few weeks back, they didn't acknowledge it--they never do with the guys, for some reason. But he was on four meds...and probably a lil pot in celebration of 4/20.

Secondly, the reason Brooke's recap sounded good was because it wasn't from the actual show. Recaps are actually from REHEARSALS, one hour earlier. Also, I thought it was both interesting and bizarre how ALW completely muddled the message of Evita. It's not "you MUST love me", it's "you must LOVE ME". She's not demanding, she's in shock and saying how it must actually be real.

Third of all, Arch forgot quite a few lyrics and covered them up by mumbling. I agree with Simon, which you biasedly chose not to mention. Simon stated it's "pleasant" but one of his "worst performances".

Fourth and finally, of course David Cook did well...HE'S A MUSICAL THEATER MAJOR! He was very active in his college days. It's great to hear such crisp vocals. I LOVE that he's now the new "chosen one" and is potentially headed for the win! A new King David emerges....

I love Jason the most and Brooke the second most, but they were the two worst this week. Carly and Syesha were the best, followed closely by Cook and Arch soon thereafter.

As for a Bottom 2 (or 3, but in Season 5, they did only 2 this night), it's a tough call. Whose fans rallied to their aid and whose got complacent. Well, we needn't worry about Cook. Nor Arch, although his decline has begun.

That leaves several possible scenarios: Brooke fans spared her from certain death and Jason will be going home. Or Jason raked in some pity love and Brooke will have a nervous breakdown tonight. Syesha being first worked against her and her number's up. OR Carly, being the "middle of the road" person this week, will be a slight shocker. I'm gonna say Brooke and Jason will be in the B2, and hopefully Brooke will go--but I fear it'll be Jason. But for all we know, one of the other two ladies will bite the dust instead--as this IS a male season....

-- 1. Posted by: James at April 23, 2008 5:52 AM

I think Andrew Lloyd Weber has messed up David A about the open eyes comment. Most famous singers do close their eyes when they sing, especially when hitting high notes and when engrossed in the feelings of the song, showing a lot of emotions, so I'd say it is perfectly okay to close the eyes in moments like these. So David A, feel free to close your eyes. We feel more connection in that way.

-- 2. Posted by: Davidson at April 23, 2008 5:57 AM

Could someone please tell my why David Cook still has not gone first and is given the premier spots every week? Could Idol be pushing the rocker this year?

-- 3. Posted by: Nancy at April 23, 2008 7:34 AM

My rankings and comments for this week...

Carly, simply the best this week. Maybe its because the arrangement was more my style, but she did sing and perform well. Way to go.

David A, no stopping this kid now. Its his competition to lose, no matter what we think of David C. And thats fine, he's genuine and a powerful singer. Much better than the last 2 winners.

Syesha, yes this was her element. It was cute and fun, and sung well. And if performances count for anything she should be around at least another week.

Jason, I didn't dislike it as much as others apparently. I knew this week would be his (and Brooke's) biggest challenge. However, I thought his song choice was brave, and he did a pretty good job with it.

David C, yep, I have him this low. I thought this was easily his worst performance. It was weird, and unlike some of his other performances, he did nothing to make me think this was a David Cook song. It was boring. I do however think he is fine and will be around again next week.

Brooke, man I hated to see that. Brooke is one of my favorites. But this week was gonna be trouble already, and then she does the stop-and-go again! It totally detracted from the performance, which I thought was better than expected. But at the end, you just couldn't get the taste of the beginning out of your mouth.

I doubt there are any shockers tonight. Brooke, Jason, and either Syesha or Carly in the bottom 3. Unfortunately I think Brooke wrote her ticket home. Its too bad because it really should be Syesha's turn on the chopping block.

-- 4. Posted by: Andy at April 23, 2008 10:27 AM

David Cook actually surprised me, he was good. It annoyed me that no judges pointed out that David A forgot some words again, and it feels like they are not judging and guiding the public, but bullying us to vote for their choices, who you would have to be blind and deaf not to realise they want both Davids in the finale. David Cook looks better every week with his fake hair extensions, remember the comb over, there is no way that is all his hair.

-- 5. Posted by: jean at April 23, 2008 11:35 AM

I was thinking the same thing about Andrew Lloyd Webber, he was the first guest to actually say some useful things. Carly did awesome thanks to him changing her song. And OMG that shirt she held up was funny. I actually found it at http://www.simonlovesmetshirt.com along with some funny ones about Paula and Randy, in case anyone else is looking.

David Cook is still the best!

-- 6. Posted by: davidcookishot at April 23, 2008 11:39 AM

to all of you that thought david forgot his lyrics,
you are wrong!! he didnt forget his lyrics. the notes were low, therefore he sang them a little more quietly than the rest of the song, therefore being muffled a but by the background music.
also, when you forget a lyric, you can see it on their face... they get a little uncomfortable. however, when david pulled out of his lower register, he looked confident and absolutely fine!

from best to worst--
-syesha (hey, i was entertained!and she's not even my favorite!)

-david archuleta (im an archangel. what else can i say!?!?)

-carly smithson (she was actually pretty good! i thought her vocals were alittle strained, but she did well.)

-david cook (i was confused his whole performance. it was...ok. )

-brooke white (her vocals were okay...but i felt so awkward watching it!)

-jason castro (NO COMMENT!!)

-- 7. Posted by: Stephanie at April 23, 2008 2:52 PM

David A. is soooo overated its amazing. hes definately not as good as people think he is and I think the judges just want him to win. They are not pointing out the mistakes he makes but if one of the other contestants make one they point it out. Its a popularity contest not a singing contest.

-- 8. Posted by: Josh at April 23, 2008 6:55 PM

This is OFFICIALLY the worst season of Idol every. When do we get to hear David Disneyland sing like The Little Mermaid.

-- 9. Posted by: Bill Chuck at April 23, 2008 8:29 PM

I like this AI review site--good job! Wow, ALW week--it was not that great... pretty boring,& fairly predictable. Poor Brooke. I hope she doesn't break down tonight 'cause it's bottom 3 for her-- and if her fans didn't push, she'll be gone. I truly hope Jason goes tonight, he just doesn't strike me as a consistent singer with any real talent. Dumb comment about "Cats", too--after his performance. Syesha surprised me, she was in her genre & element, though. ( but I would like to see her go, pop's not her thing). Looks like the judges have decided already--the Davids in the finale. David A.--ugh! I'm tired of the unwarranted praise they gush on him every week, no matter how insipid or vastly forgettable his performance. "You're the one to beat" oh really? I'd like a real upset there.Carly had better really impress the judges soon.( but seems their minds are made up no matter what...so....? ). Well I just hope the finale's good, still waiting for the Neil Diamond week. D.Cook--well, maybe he can overcome the judge's bias re: little Davy, but he needs another stellar performance.

-- 10. Posted by: serenity at April 23, 2008 9:49 PM

Do you think the band guy who gave the shirt to Carly was just out to make money? I noticed the tshirts went on sale like minutes after the show: http://www.simonlovesmetshirt.com/

I also noticed David Cook had a tshirt in his back pocket. Maybe it was the Paula Loves Me (every week) shirt.

Pat

-- 11. Posted by: Patty at April 24, 2008 9:55 AM

I really think the best part of the night was when Carly busted out that Simon Loves Me t-shirt. I actually just found where you can buy them. Not sure if anyone else is looking, but they also have a Randy and Paula one. I bet the other contestants had those shirts just in case. I saw David Cook had a shirt in his pocket. Anyways, here’s where I got the shirt:

http://www.simonlovesmetshirt.com

Do you think people are paying the contestants to wear shirts like that, so that people will see them. Seems like a cheap way to advertise to me. Any thoughts on that?

Pat

-- 12. Posted by: Pat at April 24, 2008 10:52 AM

so informative, thanks to tell us.

-- 13. Posted by: DedoVioheds at September 29, 2010 7:24 PM

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