"It's like ordering a hamburger and only getting the bun. In other words, the vital ingredient was missing." That's how Simon described Brooke White's rendition of "Hero".
Randy and Paula chimed in to correct Simon -- saying it wasn't the beef that was missing. It was the bun that was off.
Either way, Brooke White was the least suited for Mariah Carey week and the worst performer of the night. However, all three judges thought her approach was smart.
Randy appreciated the "singer songwriter" take on the song.
Paula told Brooke it was a good choice to do the unplugged version. "Every ounce of you is authentic to who you are."
Simon said, "I don't think you had much of a choice other than to do what you did."
Brooke agreed that Mariah's songs are bigger than she's used to. It's just not her style.
When Brooke was practicing, Mariah called her genuine. She really could see that Brooke felt the song and meant the words with her heart.
Just because you are true to yourself, doesn't mean that it will always work. I don't think it's been working for Brooke these past few weeks.
One identifiable contestant who's made each theme episode work for him is Jason Castro. Mariah called him unique and enjoyed working with him.
Jason sang, "I Don't Wanna Cry".
This time Randy was the judge making the strange analogies. He didn't get it, "I felt like I was at a weird beach luau and someone was playing music in the distance."
"I'd love to be at that luau and listening all night long," Paula swooned. She also mentioned Castro's gain in confidence and how lovely it is to hear from him.
Simon agreed with Paula, "Though it wasn't the best vocal, having said that, it's identifiable with you. It was a very cool version."
Now it was time for Paula to spew her metaphor, "He wants poi (pointing to Randy). He wants beef" (pointing to Simon).
"It was like coming out of karaoke hell into a breath of fresh air," is how Simon described David Cook's performance. "That was original. It was daring. It stood out by a mile."
What David Cook did to "Always Be My Baby" made Mariah proud as a songwriter that it stands the test of time. First, she was surprised that he picked it and wasn't sure what he'd do with it.
Randy stood up with applause for the first time this season, "You are a hot recording artist." He told Cook, more than anyone this season, "you are ready to make an album."
"That song could be in a movie soundtrack," Paula said, "You're it! You have the whole package."
An overwhelmed Cook wiped his eyes after all three judges sang his praises. It's an extraordinarily emotional week for Cook. Family members, including his brother who's been battling brain cancer, were in the audience rooting him on.
Syesha Mercado was impressed with how Mariah took time to show her how she could make the song "Vanishing" her own. She was dazzling.
Paula called her performance unbelievably magical. She thought Syesha made a smart choice to pick a song nobody really knows, "It can't be compared."
Simon disagrees telling her at this stage -- it's not a good idea to pick a song not many people know. But as he said last week, "technically, it was very good indeed."
Props for picking the "toughest songs," Randy says he likes how she is bold and goes for all of it. "You did a good job all things considered."
Randy told Carly Smithson he likes how she challenges herself with big songs as well. But he added, "you have to believe and trust in yourself that you have that lower range too."
Carly sang, "Without You".
Paula liked how she showed vocal restraint.
Simon admitted he really wanted Carly to sing this song, even before Mariah night. He said the question was - could she pull it off, "and I don't think you did."
The judge explained further that he thinks she's capable, but that she held herself back in the end.
Mariah told Carly that she's been loving what she's doing. She also thought she made a wise decision on the song, "picking notes for her range."
Before Carly's performance, Ryan pointed out how upset she was last week when Michael Johns was cut from the show.
Carly says she misses him and it's been boring without him there to crack jokes.
"I got goose bumps," Mariah told Kristy Lee Cook, "This could be a hit for you. I like your version (of "Forever") better than mine."
Simon begged to differ, "You didn't give me chills." He thought it was a bit whiney at times too.
Randy pointed out a couple of pitchy notes, but thought she got it together in the end.
"It wasn't just the end," Paula responded. She also called Kristy Lee a very smart girl for stepping it up each week and picking the right songs. "I'm blown away."
"It must feel great for Mariah to hear your interpretation," Paula told David Archuleta after he sang "When You Believe".
Archuleta said Mariah's advice was helpful. She gave him suggestions to better his performance that he didn't think of (like using his falsetto).
I want to know... whose idea was the leather pants? Nice touch. But by the looks of this picture, I am also trying to figure out what those circular bulges are on the middle of his thighs?
Randy called this performance "the bomb."
Simon said he just knew Archuleta would choose this song and added, "You performed that really well."
American Idol has narrowed the songwriter contest to 20 songs. It's time for you to vote on which song you think this year's winner should sing during the finale.
You have until April 23 to chose which song you think is the best.