A high school student, an actress and a bartender. That's what the three American Idol finalists did before the competition. Which hopeful will be going back home to that harsh reality of coming so close, but just not enough.
Tripling the chances... There were three phone lines open for each of the three contestants. They sang three songs each. The contestants picked a song, the producers picked one for them and so did the judges.
The three contestants got a chance to go back home to be adored upon. That's when they were first told which songs the judges chose for them to sing on this very important moment in the competition. Let's see how well the judges have tapped into the core of each singers' strengths.
This is a picture of David Cook in Kansas City throwing out the first pitch at a Royals game. He also sang, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch. Simon picked a Roberta Flack song for Cook, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". That song might have seemed like a stretch for the rocker, but he made beautiful music. Simon called it one of his best performances and told him what makes him brilliant is his risk taking. "Round one goes to Cook and Cowell," the judge boasted. Randy didn't agree. He would have picked a song that rocked for the "resident rocker."
Here's pretty girl Syesha Mercado at a rally and "Vote for Syesha" parade in Tampa. "If I Aint Got You" is what Randy asked her to sing. He thinks music like this Alicia Key's song is the kind of record she can make and be successful. Randy was pleased with Syesha's version, "I am so happy you are peaking at the right time." Simon said he wished Randy would have chosen something for her "where you weren't going to just sound like the original." Randy pointed out to Simon when he listens back he'll hear that she changed quite a bit of the notes.
Ryan asked Syesha if she's been holding back. She answered that she's feeling more comfortable to be herself. I say, holding back? Please, this girl has been outstanding vocally every week.
David Archuleta sang the National Anthem at a Utah Jazz basketball game when he went home. Paula had the pleasure of thinking up which song she thought would best "exploit the beautiful timbre in his voice." She was beaming after he sang Billy Joel's "And So It Goes" and said she really felt he was a storyteller in that performance. Randy called out that he's "in it to win it." And Simon thought it was really good, but a bit predictable.
There are two more rounds to go. Next, the contestants chose their own song followed by the producers' picks. There were some interesting ones in there.
Sticking with David Archuleta, the song he wanted to sing was "With You" by Chris Brown. I almost choked on my drink that was so funny to me. I couldn't help but laugh and try to think what he was thinking... hmmmm no daddy around to coach me - this could be my only opportunity to have fun. I'm going for it!
Breaking free, you gotta love it! It wasn't really him, but... he was out there bobbing around (eyes actually open) and he was more alive than ever. It was good for him. Randy said while seeing him sing about his boo, he just "couldn't believe" him. Simon was glad he didn't do a ballad, but compared this performance to a "chihuahua trying to be a tiger." Paula called it "perfect" and right in the right tone of his voice. She told him he should be singing songs like this. "You are so used to singing ballads, but this is another part of who you are."
Archuleta switched from that song to the opposite end of the spectrum with what the producers picked for him, "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg. The 17-year-old went from teen to senior citizen. This performance was very much like what we are used too. It was a bit boring, but spot on. Simon thought the song was "gooey" and the lyrics were horrible, but he sang it well, "I think you've done enough to get into the finals next week."
Syesha Mercado had a prop for the song she wanted to sing Peggy Lee's, "Fever". She picked it because she liked the vibe of the song and wanted to use the chair. It was a sexy performance and she was amazing. That said, none of the judges could understand why Syesha the powerhouse picked this song to show off her skills. "I think you will probably regret that decision tomorrow. You had the chance to prove you are a contemporary recording artist with your own choice of song. Instead you did quite a lame cabaret performance," Simon blatantly said.
The producers picked up her tempo with Gia Farrell's "Hit Me Up" from the Happy Feet soundtrack. Randy said he could see her doing a song like that, but it was "just alright" for him. Paula said as much as she liked it she didn't think it was the type of song that defines her and, "I don't know if it's good enough to get into the finals of American Idol." Simon added, "it's fun, it's young, but it didn't give you that defining moment."
I know most think the writing is on the wall, but I am not counting Syesha out. She's more versatile than Archuleta and maybe even Cook. And think about how long she has survived when the odds against her were stacked.
David Cook is really the contestant to beat. For himself, he chose "Dare You to Move" by Switchfoot because "lyrically it wrapped up this whole experience... appropriate song for the for the appropriate moment." The judges felt like it wasn't good enough according to the standards he has set. Randy thought it was a great song choice, but performance-wise it wasn't your best." He even called it a little pitchy. Wow, have you heard "pitchy" for Cook as a critique this whole season? Another first was Paula, not gushing all over him, "the challenge is to get the audience to feel like they got the beginning middle and the end." That's because the contestants have to condense a normal length (three and a half minute) song all into a minute thirty. She added, "I feel like you just got to the beginning when you hit the end and I wanted more." Simon agreed, "not much more I can add to that. It's pretty much what I expected."
Aerosmith's "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" was what the producers wanted him to sing. Randy thought this one was predictable. Paula interrupted that, "excuse me! This is where the song's beginning, middle and end is... David see you in the finals." Simon topped that with "David Cook wins the night!"
I think Cook's going to win it all next week. I'm still on the fence about this week though.
Who is going to go back home?