Ryan reminded the judges in a little tongue and cheek fashion -- that they will critique the contestants after EACH performance. Paula was on her best behavior. She was engaging, sounded intelligent and focused on the contestants and what was actually happening on stage.
Again this week, the contestants had two songs to sing. I got the most entertainment value from Syesha Mercado. What beautiful, versatile vocal strength! And she had the dance moves to light up the night. The next best overall performance was David Archuleta. His voice is always spot on, but his presence (although sweet) is less exciting. That's where he lacks the oomph needed for idolism. Surprisingly, third for me was "resident rocker" David Cook. You'd think he'd be in his element on this rock 'n roll themed night. Don't get me wrong, he still rocked, but he wasn't as electric as we're used to seeing him. Ug, oh no... that means Jason Castro's performances didn't cut it. If his fans weren't working those dialing fingers like crazy, it will be Jason who is leaving the show.
You have to figure last week's ouster (goody two shoes) Brooke White's fans will not be dialing for Castro. My guess would be that those votes go to Archuleta or Syesha.
Well... what are you going to do.. only two more weeks left in the competition after this one. A lot of Castro's problem this week was enthusiasm. He also "lost the words" to one song, but we know that's not a mortal sin on this show this year -- Brooke White did it and her fans continued to vote for her. David Archuleta did it a while back too.
Here's what each contestant sang and what the judges had to say about it.
Paula said his "Hungry Like the Wolf" left her with a big appetite. Randy and Simon weren't as keen on it. Simon didn't like that Cook didn't make the song his own. But I say, why does he have to do that every time?
He got a better review on "Baba O'Reilly"-- a song never performed on the show and a chance for Cook to "spin it" his way. "Welcome back David Cook," Simon's remarks were short and sweet. Paula gushed, "I want more. I want more. I want more David Cook! I am really humbled to sit here and watch your soul. Thanks for sharing it." Randy didn't feel the vibe, "something's going on with you... shake whatever off and just be you cause you are great."
"Proud Mary" equipped with Tina Turner moves was how she kicked off her night. Syesha said she talked herself into just doing it (those moves) and having fun. Paula told her, "when you feel the fear and do it anyway - magic happens." Randy noted she's bringing the heat late in the competition -- when she needs it. "What a difference a couple of weeks makes. You are in the zone," he said. Simon "put a damper" on the love coming from the panel calling it a "bad interpretation of Tina Turner." Syesha said, "I just wanted to have fun." Simon snapped back, "well I wasn't."
She slowed it down for her second song,"A Change Is Gonna Come"
. Paula gave Syesha a standing ovation, "you have changed. You have come. Welcome to your dream Syesha." Randy didn't love the music or vocal arrangement. He didn't think that she needed to do anything special to the song, it's perfect as is. Simon agreed with Paula on this one saying, I think that Randy, "with all due respect got it completely wrong."
He gave us that same spiel that there were a just few songs on the list he knew. So he decided on (as he said, "go figure") a Bob Marley tune, "I Shot the Sheriff". He sure has the look, but not the follow through. What happened Jason? Simon said the performance was like a "first round audition massacre" and called it "utterly atrocious." He added, "the only similarity is the hair." But why is he talking similarities, when he wants contestants to make the songs their own? Randy called his performance karaoke and nothing special. You could tell Paula was not impressed either. However, she managed to stay positive commenting on how she's never seen him perform more to his audience and telling him his "artistry always shines through."
I was pleased to hear Castro sing "Mr. Tambourine Man" and thought it was an appropriate song choice for his genre, but it pained me when he forgot the words at one point. Randy didn't say what he thought, but kind of did by asking Castro, "what do you think?" Simon told him to pack his suitcase. Paula said, "obviously it didn't blow me away, but you blow me away."
"At least there's a guy who every time he hits the stage, brings the great vocals," Randy called out. Archuleta sang, "Stand by Me". Paula called him way beyond his years. And Simon joked that the "truth is - you could have whistled the song and it would have sounded better than the last song (which was Castro's rendition of "I Shot the Sheriff").
Archuleta tried something different for his second song. He says he never sang a romantic song on the big stage before. "Love Me Tender" was tender and sweet just like the contestant himself. "I felt your heart and it's beautiful," Paula said. Randy thought he "caressed each word" and has it going on -- giving him the hottest vocal of the night. On top of that Simon told him, "you didn't beat the competition tonight. You crushed the competition."
What Simon said about Archuleta is how strongly I feel about Syesha's performances. The girl who has been in the bottom percentile for weeks is gaining momentum. That's an idol for you.
It doesn't seem like Jason Castro would really care to get knocked off the show at this point. I think he knows he's not going to be the winner in the end. Fourth is a respectable place to be. And it's about time to party, to be free! A guy like him can only be inundated with American Idol schedules and guidelines for so long