American Idol Recap: Reach Down Deep Inside

It's very interesting to see how inspiration breathes life into whatever it touches.  The American Idol contestants performed songs that inspire them.  And you could tell... they were moved.

That spark makes people feel good.  It's what will drive American Idol viewers to want to help provide for a culture less fortunate.  This week, Idol Gives Back hopes to raise $100 Million dollars for people in poverty situations.  Tonight's show draws in a-list celebrities for a bang-up concert and entertainment that will last from 7:30-10:00.   

The organization hopes in return, that you will phone in or submit online -- a donation that will be distributed to six charities.

Each contestant made at least one memorable impression.  It reminded me just how much better you can be... at anything if you're motivated by inspiration.  If you're inspired, you can do great things.

The American Idol 8 were absolutely great.  Read on for pictures and details of the night.  

Syesha Mercado -- my most favorite female performer of the night (and competition)!  She sang a song that was first made popular by American Idol, "I Believe".  AI season 3 winner, Fantasia Barrino sang it on stage after she won.  It also topped the charts of the Billboard 100. 

Why do Randy and Simon insist on telling Syesha that she doesn't sound like Whitney Houston .. or this week Fantasia.  I get that she is singing their songs, but she is holding her own.  She is not trying to imitate them.  Syesha has been giving the songs she sings her own twist.

Infact, I thought she sounded better than Fantasia.  Syesha has mad skills.  Randy commended her for taking on "another tiger" of a song, but told her she lacked that "special connection."  He said, "Fantasia has all this attitude.  You have range, but I felt no connection."   Boooo!  

Simon said, "of course there's going to be comparison.  She sang that song when she won the competition.  Technically, I thought you sang that very well, however what it lacked for me was that big wave of emotion which I got when Fantasia sang it."

Ok... that big wave of emotion came from Fantasia becoming the next American Idol.  How much more emotional can it get for a 19-year-old single mom who before this competition had next to nothing?

Good thing for Paula who stood up for Syesha, "not many people can take on songs like that.  Fantasia has her own style.  You flipped it a little bit and made it all your own."

Now let's take a different perspective... at how other contestants who don't do as well, seem to get praise.  What the heck, after this performance -- I'll even give Kristy Lee Cook an award -- the "most improved."  

Kristy Lee is an example of someone who's been cut breaks for weeks.  It is necessary to point out that she did a really good job singing a song that inspires her, "Anyway" by Martina McBride.

Simon said with this broad range of songs to choose from, "you have an opportunity to show who you are.  You are very good indeed."  You look like a star. 

Randy pointed out a couple of pitchy problems, but said he "loved it!"

Paula told Randy that he needed to leave pitch moments alone.  "You outdid yourself tonight," she said.  "This is your best."

So I remind everyone... her best day would be considered the worst day for any of the other seven contestants she's competing against.

Jason Castro captured our hearts with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo. 

This guy just keeps winning with me... First it was Jeff Buckley's rendition of "Hallelujah" now this.  He's just the coolest American Idol contestant to ever live.  Love him!

Randy called it blazing, molten, hot!

Paula told Jason he was the most definitive soul and noted that she loves the version he chose.

Simon asked, "this is the version by Israel something, right?  The first time I heard it, I wasn't sure.  The second time, I loved it.  The third time, (as he pointed to Castro) fantastic!

Enough said! 

Move over Katherine McPhee -- there is another "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" performance that Simon gushed over.     

Aerosmith's "Dream On" by Michael Johns exploded the American Idol scene.  Wow, another strong night for Michael Johns!  He's not messing around anymore.

Paula thought the song was perfect and told him he sounded as good as he looked.   

Randy was really annoying with his critiques.  To Michael he thought it was a pretty good song choice, but had some pitch problems.  He also added, "I don't buy you in any way like an Aerosmith.  That's not the singer you are to me."

The judge pushed more.."that's the song you chose?"  The very enthusiastic aussie contestant responded, "I just had to do it!  I'm up here living in America and dreams can come true!  It's happening!" 

But Randy nitpicked, this show is about being the best singer, not about dreams."

Oh get off of it Randy, it certainly is about finding the best singer -- but it's also about fulfilling the dreams of regular people who might not have the opportunity to make it big and cut a record.      

Simon sort of agreed with Randy.  He likes when Michael gets bluesy.

I suppose Randy is fine with AI contestants who have already fulfilled the dream of signing with a big label and cutting a record.

Hmmm.. why has the ultimate name dropper not mentioned that he worked with Carly Smithson?

Randy has been hard on Carly lately and I wonder if that's intentional to try to look unbiased.

To Carly's "The Show Must Go On" by Queen - "it didn't quite hit the mark" for Randy.  He thought the beginning was ok, but got pitchy by the middle.

Paula is a huge fan of Carly's voice, calling it "pretty perfect."  But she said she didn't feel the connection with this performance.

Last week Simon told Carly she needed to look more the part of a star.. so he started his criticism off by saying she looked good.  But he thought it came out as an angry performance and said, "once again you've chosen the wrong song."

Carly mentioned that during the song she saw Simon's bitter face and she lost it.

Is it just me... or does David Archuleta look like he's aged about five years since the start of the show?

The song he chose is Robbie William's "Angels" because "despite what you are going through, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel."  I'm curious what his light would be?


Randy "loved it" x3.  "When you stopped and did those runs - crazy hot."  That summed it up for Paula.

Simon thought it was the best song choice and called it one of the best pop songs ever written.

David Cook is always trying to be a little different to stand out.  

During his performance of Our Lady Peace's "Innocent" he jumped over to the judges table -- and after the song he held out his hand which had the words -- give back -- written on it.

Paula noted, "I caught something inspirational on your hand."  She told Cook, you are so well defined... the whole package.  "You are it."

Randy wasn't too impressed saying it's not one of his strongest weeks.

Simon didn't get the performance either, "I thought it was a tinsey winsey bit pompous."  He went on to say, "I didn't like the white jacket."

Randy chimed in, "I like the white jacket."

Simon finished, "this for me is the weakest performance...not anywhere near the last two performances.

The weakest performance of the night for me came from Brooke White who was singing Carole King's version of "You've Got a Friend".  It wasn't consistently a bad performance all the way through, but she was definitely struggling in the middle.

Randy gave the line of the night here, "I wasn't jumping up and down, but I wasn't mad at you either."

Paula thought it was a perfect way to close the evening.  "Your definitive and I love you," she told Brooke.

From Simon he goes, that was "like a walk in the park.  It was nice.  Was it original?  No.  Was it pleasant?  Yes.

I go back to my original thought here with Syesha.  Brooke sounded completely amateur compared to Syesha, yet she gets the harsh criticism?  Where's the justice?  That's just wrong.

Who's with me?

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