Syesha Mercado ("Hello Again," "Thank the Lord for the Night Time")
Brooke White ("I'm a Believer," "I Am ... I Said")
Syesha Mercado probably has good reason to thank the lord for the night time, because he once again saved her during last night's "American Idol" elimination show. If we are to believe what "Idol's" producers would like us to (but we don't), Mercado has now been in the Bottom 2 or 3 five times this season -- more than any other contestant, even Kristy Lee Cook (who last night watched the show from the audience) -- yet has continued to emerge unscathed. Her endurance nearly parallels that of Kimberley Locke (who performed on the show a few weeks ago) during Season 2, who also placed in the Bottom 2 or 3 five times before making it to third-place finisher in 2003, as Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken advanced to the finale. Don't be surprised to see a repeat of that this year. Jason Castro will very likely fall to wayside next week as Mercado, David Cook and David Archuleta move forward to the Top 3, followed by the David-David finale that everybody has predicted for weeks now.
Last night Brooke White joined the list of elimi-
nated finalists. The blonde folkster, who at the beginning of the season was projected by many to make it all the way to the finale, began to tear up even before host Ryan Seacrest said her name. She collapsed into tears murmuring "yes" as he pronounced her the contestant going home this week. As her sad-faced husband watched from the audience, Seacrest, and then Mercado embraced White as she sobbed. Her tears were still flowing after her "journey video." She dabbed at her eyes, then Seacrest swabbed her damp face, as she thanked everyone. Her tears continued during her reprise of Neil Diamond's "I Am ... I Said," as the remaining four finalists surrounded her onstage and David Cook came forward and briefly placed a hand on her back to show his support. For us, it was the saddest departure to date this season and our eyes welled up watching it.
Watch video of Bottom 2 and elimination of Brooke White:
At the top of the show, Seacrest said that the finalists had received more than 45 million votes this week. Next, it was on the Top 5 singing a medley of Neil Diamond songs. Don't know whether it was the songs or the finalists, but it was awful this week, the worst medley of the season. Perhaps the lack of Carly Smithson's strong voice was a factor. We couldn't wait for it to end.
Watch video of Top 5 Neil Diamond group medley:
Back from commercial, Seacrest walking through the audience introduced this season's new "American Idol Extra" hosts, Season 6 finalist Gina Glocksen and Season 4 finalist Constantine Maroulis, but then walked right past Season 5 finalist Ace Young, though the camera did give Young a lot of face time. Seacrest also mentioned the "rumors" about Paula Abdul on the Internet, but never addressed the previous day's gaffe by the "Idol" judge. He only said the rumors weren't true (which ones?) and brushed the entire incident under what by now must be "Idol's" crowded carpet, saying Abdul's still part of the "Idol" family and that they love her. Hopefully one day someone will roll up that carpet and expose all the lies the producers have hidden under it. Are you listening Nigel Lythgoe? You can't keep everyone quiet forever. Sooner or later someone who knows everything we're not supposed to know is going to open their mouth about the dirty little games that go on behind the scenes of this so-called "reality" series named "American Idol."
To get our minds off what he had just
Next was an interminably long pimp video for Nigel Lythgoe's "So You Think You Can Dance." Hey, we love the show and have seen every episode, but is there no end to the newly long-haired Lythgoe's greed? That promo was longer than the elimination segment. Bleech! And as if that wasn't enough self-promotional commercial filler, we next learned that Ryan Lessnow won the design-your-own Coca-Cola cup, which Randy Jackson modeled for everyone.
Back to the results. Seacrest calls out David Cook. Are they going to shock us and lie that he was in the Bottom 2? No, they'll save that lie for Syesha Mercado, who scored the highest number of votes according to DiaIdol.com. Now, we concede that the Web site's tally could have been a bit inaccurate, but there was no way Mercado was in the Bottom 2, not when for the past two weeks the Web site has correctly predicted the contestant who received the least amount of votes (Carly Smithson and then Brooke White). If anyone doesn't believe that the show's producers lie about the results and stage certain events on the show, they are on drugs or in denial. Never forget: This is not considered a game show, it is considered a reality show, which means it is classed by the FCC as a script-based program and the producers can LEGALLY manipulate or change the voting results without consequence. Don't believe it? Record a segment of the show and read the teeny-tiny print at the very end.
In an amusing turn, Ryan ask David C. his reaction to Paula calling him the next American Idol. David answered that the first thing he thought about was what Simon said to Carly Smithson the week before about it being the kiss of death. A bit of comic relief before David joins the other two remaining male finalists on the couch. That left Syesha and Brooke as the Bottom 2. After chatting "the girls," up, Ryan tells them to have a seat for now, as they have other business to take care of first. As Brooke departs, she says that's fine, they'll stay as long as they can. Even Ryan cracks up at that.
Then it's time for the Star Who Just Released a New CD filler. Up at bat, Natasha Bedingfield performing the single "Pocketful of Sunshine" from her new album of the same name. As these things go, she wasn't bad, nor was the song. We'll give it another listen. After her performance she asks to go to couch and sit next to Archuleta. Ryan suggests David take her to the prom. He goes into giggle mode. Perhaps the sandbox would be more appropriate.
Watch video of Natasha Bedingfield singing "Pocketful of Sunshine":
And yet more filler. The stupid viewer call-in Q&A, which actually got good at the end, but not before we found out why Paula is the only judge that always gives contestants a break and whether Paula is going to do another video with Randy. The last question is from Tara (age 46) who asks Simon what was more memorable, kissing Paula or kissing her at the age of 9 in his backyard? Simon blushes, especially after she convinces him she really is the Tara Miller that he kissed when he was 9. Ryan asks Tara if Simon was a good kisser and she hems and haws. Simon reminds her that he was only 9 and didn't have a massive amount of experience. Paula wonders if she is over the rabies yet? Tara jokes that she has had a lot of therapy. Simon wonders if she is still cute? Tara tells Simon that he has aged well and she thinks she has, too. Simon, apparently smitten by the whole thing, tells everyone that Tara really was the first girl he ever kissed and that she was his first crush. Ryan promises that they will get to exchange phone numbers and then does a public service announcement warning kids not to start kissing at age 9.
Watch video of Q&A with Tara Miller, the first girl Simon kissed and his first crush:
Coming back from the break we watch the Ford commercial with the Top 5 singing "Catch the Wind" in an environmentally correct Earth Week-ish video featuring a Ford hybrid car and the Idols magically restoring green to the Earth while getting rid of garbage and environmentally bad things.
Watch video of the making of the Ford commercial "Catch the Wind":
Watch video of Top 5 Ford commercial "Catch the Wind":
Finally, the week's mentor, Neil Diamond, performed "Pretty Amazing Grace" from his forthcoming CD, due out on May 6, as his mom watched from the audience. After he sang, Ryan chatted with him. Diamond said the judges were a bit harsh on the contestants, that the contestants should ignore Simon, and that if they love what they are doing they should never stop ... never.
Watch video of Neil Diamond singing "Pretty Amazing Grace":
Next week, the remaining four finalists will each sing music from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The results show will feature live appearances by Maroon 5 and Season 4 runner-up Bo Bice.
MORE ON SIMON COWELL AND TARA MILLER
After that Q&A, People magazine located Tara and interviewed her. She chatted with PEOPLE about the fateful pucker.
"He'd taken me to the bottom of his garden," said Tara, whose last name is now McDonald-Smith. "It was very cute and it was very memorable. We were just kids. We didn't know what we were doing!"
As for who made the first move, Cowell's former neighbor in Radlett, Hertfordshire swears she can't remember.
"Really, I can't," McDonald-Smith insisted. "In those days there was like three channels on the television, there were no computers. We used to play spin the bottle ... and I got him a lot of the time. It was all good."
So what prompted her to reach out after all these years? "I saw him on American Idol and [I thought] wow, that's amazing," she explained. "It was just one of those 'This is Your Life'-type situations, and I thought I'd go for it. I hope I didn't embarrass him."
And, for the record, McDonald-Smith is not at all surprised that her childhood pal turned out to be TV's favorite Mr. Nasty.
Even back then "he was pretty forthcoming and said what he thought," recalled the single mom, who has three sons Connor, 17, Rory, 16, Liam, 11. "He was not too different than he is today."
Now that they've reconnected, the North California-based sales manager would welcome an in-person reunion.
"I'd love to meet up with him. I seriously would," she said. "We were good friends... and I think it would be great fun."
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