Tuesday, May 6, 2008

American Idol Top 4 Perform
Jason Castro's Hall of Shame

This week's theme was choices from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. At the top of the show, Ryan Seacrest announced that three of the Top 4 had been voted No. 1 at some point during the competition, which proved that a) Syesha Mercardo was indeed No. 1 last week as DialIdol.com said she was (it was the only week she could have logically been No.1) and not in the Bottom 2 as The Evil Puppeteer (Nigel Lythgoe) wanted us to believe, but never actually had Ryan say and b) That Jason Castro was in way beyond his depth, a fact he proved with gusto Tuesday night. Castro, who has been falling apart for weeks, finally imploded last night and will be gone tonight. Overall the performances were solid, but there was nothing that spectacular that we'd want to listen to it over and over again.

First up was David Cook, who sang Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf," and, unlike Paula Abdul, he didn't leave us hungry for more. In his intro, Cook said that the song didn't immediately jump out at him, but the more he listened to it the more he felt it could work for him. He should have trusted his initial instincts. It was by no means horrible but lacked inspiration, making it one of Cook's most mediocre performances of the finals.

Randy Jackson said, "That was an OK choice and it was a solid performance but ... that was just OK for you. It wasn't amazing, it was just OK. It was just OK." Paula Abdul countered with, "Well, I think your "Hungry Like a Wolf" has left me with a big appetite David. To watch you grow and flourish over the past several months has been remarkable. It also makes me realize why I tolerate being the only girl in the boys' club." Simon Cowell said, "David I thought it was good. You know, I know where Randy's coming from because it was a little bit copycat. You know, you didn't do what you've done in previously weeks, where you chose a song and made it your own. Is it good enough at the moment to probably get through and make it to next week? Yes."

Watch video of David Cook singing Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf":

It was Cook's second number, The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" that actually left us hungry like the wolf. Though annoyingly brief at the 1 minute 43 seconds allotted to it, it was a much stronger performance than his first selection. But just as we were getting into the return of the Cook vocals we've grown to love, it was abruptly over. Aaarrrgh!

Randy said, "That's more like the David Cook I've grown to love right there. ... Just go out there and be you, because you are great." Paula added, "I just want more! I want more! I want more Dave Cook. I'm really humbled to sit here and watch your soul. Thanks for sharing it with everyone." Simon put it simply, "Welcome back David Cook."

Watch video of David Cook singing The Who's "Baba O'Reilly":

The question on everyone's mind as the evening began was "Who was leaving this week? Syesha or Jason?" We were excited when we heard the spoiler that Syesha Mercado was going to sing "Proud Mary." She's come into her own so much the past few weeks, we envisioned her just breaking loose in a short up-to-there fringy dress singing and dancing and going wild onstage. She was good and she occasionally shook what her mama gave her, but for the most part left us wishing there was a bit more -- of everything -- in the performance.

Randy told her "This is the third week in a row that Syesha has showed up and she's in the zone. Nice going. You got pretty good timing because you showing the heat late in the competition which is when you need it. So very nice, very nice, very nice." Paula said, "You look like a star ... You started this competition as a pretty girl with a big voice and you've turned into this beautiful woman with a magnetic voice and presence. Simon said, "Syesha, I'm sorry to put a slight damper on things. For me, I just thought it was a bad, shrieky version or (boos), let me finish, a bad impersonation of Tina Turner." Syesha answered, "Simon, I was just trying to have fun," to which he said, "Well, good, I didn't." Snap!

Watch video of Syesha Mercado singing Tina Turner's "Proud Mary":

As with David Cook, Syesha's second number, Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," was much stronger. Looking gorgeous once again, and putting her girls on display for this number in a gown with a cutout prominently featuring her cleavage, she sang the song with emotion and depth, though there were a couple of pitchy moments. But it was certainly good enough to keep her going right through to the semi-finals and earn her a celebratory trip home before performing three numbers next week.

Randy, however, wasn't in love with this performance. He said, "For me, the first song I loved, this one I did not love as much, here's why: First of all, I didn't love the arrangement with the music. I didn't even like the arrangement with the vocals and I felt like you pushed out things, you were trying for things that weren't there. ... You don't need to do anything extra special ... and it felt all disconnected to me trying to be something that it wasn't. So it fell flat for me." Paula began by standing silently for Syesha and applauding. Syesha started biting her lip and getting emotional. A few seconds later, the floodgates would open and the tears gushed when Paula told her, "I want you to know, that how you orchestrated your vocals -- beautiful. You utilized everything I was hoping you would use. You turned this into a superstar performance for me, and I gotta tell you, singing the song "A Change Is Going to Come [sic]," you have changed, you are magnificent and you have come. Welcome to your dream, Syesha."

With Syesha crying and trying to maintain control onstage, Paula then again stood and applauded her. Simon had a look of either discomfort or disgust during this. It was hard to tell which until he began to speak. He said, "Syesha," to which she answered a little coarsely, "Yeah?" as if she was expecting to get rapped. He continued, saying, "Syesha, I have to be fair. And I'm going to agree with Paula." Syesha then really broke down as Ryan approached her. Simon added, "With all due respect, I thought that Randy got that wrong," as Paula nodded. Cowell continued, "I thought you sang that really, really well." Randy started defending himself saying "It's a matter of opinion," with Simon mocking him, "You made her cry," while Syesha onstage was saying, "It's OK." It became a zoo.

Syesha ex-
plained the crying:
"Before I sang the song, I actually researched it and I just found out so much information about it, like why it was written. And it came out during the Civil Rights movement, and it just meant a lot to me and it took on a totally different meaning when I started listening to it after the last results show. And I just couldn't stop crying because I feel like I've changed alot (applause, and as Ryan calls offstage asking for a tissue for Syesha, she says, "Aw, I probably look like crap right now"). The debate continued between Randy and Simon until Ryan had to shush them by saying to Randy, " 'Hell's Kitchen' is going to start."

Watch video of Syesha Mercado singing Sam Cooke's "A Change Gonna Come":

So much for the emotional part of the evening. The disasterous part of the night belonged solely to Jason Castro, whose first performance, of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," might have been his worst of the season. The amateurish singing was only exceeded by the horrible arrangement. It was, sadly, almost laughable. The judges were appalled.

Randy said, "Oh man, listen dude. OK, look for me, that was really karaoke Bob Mar... (boos). Dude, it was just OK, there was nothing special about it. And at this point, you guys have to really show that you deserve to be in the finals now. ... That just wasn't good for me. I didn't get it." Paula added, "Well I will say on a positive note, I've never seen you perform more to the audience. ... Here's the deal, Jason. I wasn't really crazy about the performance or the song, actually." Simon began, "Well Jason, stand back. That was utterly atrocious. Sorry. That was a song you do not touch. The arrangement was atrocious (Randy agreeing with "Weird" in the background). The performing and the singing were as bad as I've ever heard. This was like, honestly, a first-round audition massacre. I don't know what you're thinking!" To which, Jason smart-assed, "I was thinking Bob Marley, yeah!" Oy.

Watch video of Jason Castro singing Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff":

His second selection was savvy indeed -- Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." It was perfect both for his voice and style. Unfortunately, he forgot the chorus lyrics "In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you" the first time he sang them and tried to nah-nah-nah his way through them. It was a disaster. Even though he didn't stumble throughout the rest of the song ('though the final note was pitchy), we were stuck in time on the lyric mishap, as was probably the rest of America. Certainly the judges were.

Randy started by asking Jason how he thought he did. Jason answered, "Well, I lost some lines in there. That's kinda bad." Randy said, "Jason's not in the zone tonight. I don't know what's going on." Paula said, "It is what it is ... obviously it didn't blow us away, but you blow me away." Simon curtly said, "Jason, I'd pack your suitcase."

Watch video of Jason Castro singing Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man":

Finally, there's was David Archuleta, who, predictably chose ballads, and who, predictably, never was off pitch. To be less predictable, David (or, more likely, Daddy Dearest) has changed the arrangements and even the lyrics to the song's he's sung the past two weeks. It's an unnecessary move and, especially in the case of his second song, an annoying move. We thought his version of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" was solid, but were creeped out by his intro video where he said he sang the song in his room to himself. Huh? Does he have a clone of himself in there. He said he also sings it to his dog, which probably makes more sense, but he is such a weird kid we can't picture him being a superstar. His emotional immaturity is scary. He can barely get out a complete sentence without giggling.

The judges, naturally, were enraptured with him, as The Evil Puppeteer has already decided he's going to win (and to that end will probably place him in the Bottom 2 tonight whether he deserves to be there or not just to build votes for him for next week). Randy said, "There's four of you left and at least there's one guy who hits that stage every time trying to win the whole thing! ... He brought the hot man vocals, Paula. I loved it dude, it was hot." Paula said, "You delivered, you really delivered on this. You're taking in everything that we're saying, good and bad, and throwing out what you don't need, and you're seasoned already (well, then, roast him)." Simon, who wasn't done tearing Jason a new one for his first song, said, "David, well the truth is you could have whistled the song and it would have sounded better than the last song. (David, trying to suck up to everyone, smiled and said, "I liked Jason's song.") You were very well-placed [after Jason]. Very good choice of song, I thought you struggled a little bit at the end of it (boos), a little bit, a little bit. But, look, OK, in the grand scheme of things, I'm going to call that as the best performance so far.

Watch video of David Archuleta singing Ben E. King's "Stand by Me":

David next sang Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender," saying that he had never sung a love song "on the big stage." He changed the tempo and arrangement of the original, which didn't need any fixing. He also was doing a lot of the gasping/breathing into the mic and a lot of the squinty closed-eye thing, which makes him look myopic or as if he has a headache. We thought it just OK, but the judges were having orgasms over it, which we just didn't get at all.

Randy said, "Another great performance for you. I like how you were so tender and caressed each word. Dude, you got it going on right now. The hot vocals of the night." Paula said, "That was one of my favorite performances from you. I felt your heart, it was fantastic and very beautiful." Simon, in ridiculous hyperbole said, "David, you didn't beat the competition tonight, you crushed the competition tonight."

Watch video of David Archuleta singing Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender":

Well, Simon, America disagrees with you (or at least DialIdol.com does). According to the Web site, David Cook is No. 1, while David Archuleta and Syesha Mercado are in a dead heat for Nos. 2/3. The Cheese, aka Jason Castro, stands alone, at No. 4 and will be unquestionably eliminated tonight according to DialIdol.

As for us:
Worst of the night: Jason Castro
Everyone else ties for the Nos. 1/2/3 positions.

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