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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: I Was Thinkin Bob Marley!

smercado2.jpgIf you watched tonight's episode of "American Idol," then you already know what the title of this review means. We've heard dread-head Jason Castro say some pretty dumb things during his time on "Idol," but he may have topped them all tonight. After performing an excruciating version of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," he braced himself for a pretty nasty beating from the judges. And man, was it awful. When Paula struggles to find something nice to say about you, then you know it's been a bad night. Then Simon asked him what he was thinking, to which Jason blurted out (complete with his slacker smirk): "I was thinkin Bob Marley!" Sheesh, what planet is this dude on?

Anyways, tonight's theme included songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which covers a pretty wide range of decades and styles. I was expecting big things from tonight's performances, especially from David Cook, but in the end only a few could be considered great. So, here's the rundown on your Final Four, who each performed two songs tonight.

Singing in the first slot was David Cook. I guess this means all you conspiracy theorists who were wondering why Cook had yet to sing in the Slot of Doom can rest easy. He first sang Duran Duran's ‘80s hit "Hungry Like the Wolf," which was an interesting choice for him. His voice was pretty decent, and he ditched his guitar to shake things up, but he didn't really do anything different with the song. It was kind of like watching him do his best Duran Duran impression. What happened to that trademark Cook-ness that he usually brings to each performance? Simon agreed that it was a bit copycat, but Paula just creeped everyone out when she said it left her "with a big appetite." Yikes, moving on! For his second song he performed The Who's "Baba O'Riley." And for all you TV junkies who are wondering where they've heard that before, it's the theme song for "CSI:NY." This was the David Cook I was waiting for, with his slow, slightly altered intro, followed by his cool, gruff vocals as he sped it up. It impressed all three judges too; who all agreed that this was the David they remembered. FINAL WORD: It looks like the pressure of carrying Rock night by himself caused Cook to fumble, probably because he didn't know exactly which rock songs to pick. He has a loyal fan base, though, and will make it through to the Top 3.

Syesha Mercado filled the second slot, first singing Tina Turner's "Proud Mary." Dressed in a classic Turner-esque sparkly dress, Mercado shook her hips so vigorously that I figured she was going to knock over some of the band members (and give Shakira a run for her money). Her big voice really shined through here, and she also proved how successfully she can take on the guise of someone else (in this case, Tina Turner). Which, I'm sorry to say, will make her better on Broadway than as a pop star. For her second performance, Syesha chose "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, switching from her bedazzled outfit to a more glamorous dress. I thought her vocals were very good on the second song, but that the performance overall was kind of a downer. What was most interesting, though, was listening to the judges flip-flop on their critiques of each performance. (Except for Paula, who loved both songs.) Randy loved her first song, but Simon thought it was a bad, shrieky impression of Tina Turner. It was funny, then, that Randy completely disliked her second song, while Simon thought it was wonderful. During the second song's critiques, tears started falling from Syesha's face, to which Simon said: "Randy, you made her cry." FINAL WORD: Overall, Syesha had a very good night. She's progressed steadily over the past month, turning in several awesome performances, including both of her songs tonight. Unfortunately, if there's a Bottom Two tomorrow, she's going to be in it. That's just how it goes here on "American David Idol."

Third to hit the stage was Jason Castro who, as I discussed earlier, completely ruined the Bob Marley classic "I Shot the Sheriff." It was off-pitch, dull, screechy and just plain wrong. All I could think while I was watching it was "make the pain end!" Randy called it karaoke, Paula grasped at straws to say something nice ("I've never seen you perform so well for the audience. But I wasn't crazy about it."), and then Simon told Jason to stand back, because the criticism was going to be rough. Here are some fun words from his verbal beat-down: "utterly atrocious" and "massacre." For his second song, "Mr. I Don't Seem to Care about American Idol" performed another Bob song, "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan. And while it was miles better than the first song, it was still pretty bad. It didn't help that dread-head forgot his lyrics either. FINAL WORD: I think Simon summed it up when he told Jason to pack his suitcase. Flubbing one performance is bad, but messing both of them up is poison on "Idol." Unless his loyal fans pressed the redial button all night, I think we'll see Jason as the other member of the Bottom Two.

Last but not least was burgeoning tween heartthrob, David Archuleta. Several of the writers for USA Today have been critiquing the contestants all season, and usually offer some suggestions for songs the singers should choose. One of the writers picked "Stand By Me" for David Archuleta, which surprisingly (out of a choice of 500 songs) is exactly what little David picked. Aside from some weird things going on with his hair (did he let Ryan Seacrest style it?) and a shaky last note, David's performance of the Ben E. King song was truly cool. He was made for songs like this. I see him eventually filling the shoes of people like Clay Aiken and Josh Groban, singers who have pure voices and sing mature songs. As for his second song, I was a little worried. When he announced in his video package that he had chosen Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender," I flinched. Hardly anyone can touch an Elvis song and make it sound as good as the original, so I worried we were in for some pretty awful karaoke. But David surprised me! He took a cue from David Cook and changed the melody around, turning it into a contemporary pop ballad, which completely suited his voice. Thankfully there was no hip swiveling or lip curling to speak of. My girlfriend summed up the second song best, though, when she turned to me and said it reminded her of that song from "The Lion King," the one where the two lions fall in love, called "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" And after listening to it again on the recap, I did find myself wondering if he was going to pull a lion cub from back stage and hold it up for the audience to see. FINAL WORD: Elvis covers and "Lion King" similarities aside, this guy has a great voice, a ton of fans, plenty of support from the producers (check out the multiple camera close-ups) and rave reviews from the judges. The real shocker would be if somehow all his fans forgot to vote and he was sent home tomorrow. (And just so I don't get a bunch of crazed Archulunatics leaving me angry messages at the bottom of the review, I'm not saying he's going home! I'm confident he's sticking around, so don't worry. You can now go back to stitching those "I Heart David A." t-shirts.)

So, what did you think of the Top 4? Who do you think is making it to the Top 3? Were the judges overly harsh of Jason, or did he deserve the critical tongue-lashing that he got? Do you think the contestants chose the right songs? And if not, what rock and roll songs from the past 50 years do you wish they had performed? Post your comments below and make sure you tune in for the results show tomorrow night! –Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on May 7, 2008 12:56 AM
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If there is any justice in American Idol land, Castro is gone after tonight for not giving a dread lock about preparation. That defines the final three in my book.

-- 1. Posted by: Wendell at May 7, 2008 2:02 AM

I don't understand how Jason has survived this long. In my opinion he is not talented enough to be an American idol finalist. He is good looking. But American idol is suppose to be about talent not looks. I think a lot of the young ladies keep voting for him because they like to look at him every week. However I hope that last nights performance will help his fans to see that Jason cannot sing and do the right thing by not voting for him. Maybe Jason can get into modeling. He certainly has the looks.

-- 2. Posted by: Debbie B at May 7, 2008 8:29 PM

so informative, thanks to tell us.

-- 3. Posted by: DedoVioheds at September 29, 2010 8:10 PM

Wonderful post. I learned many interesting things. Thank you)

-- 4. Posted by: Abigail at January 24, 2013 7:35 PM

Well done! I learned some interesting things for me)

-- 5. Posted by: Taylor at January 24, 2013 7:36 PM

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