Tuesday, May 06, 2008

American Idol- Top 4

It has been a very busy evening of watching politics, baseball, American Idol, and Hell's Kitchen, so I am going to try to do this as fast as I can, with the realization that it is probably going to be pretty sloppy..

So, last week on American Idol, Brooke White was sent home, which was not a great surprise, nor was her emotional mini-breakdown during her final sing-out.

This week, the Final Four performed songs that were on some sort of Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame list, and there were supposedly 500 of them, so the contestants pretty much had open reign to pick what they wanted. I wish there would have been more actual rock songs as part of the show. I sort of miss last season, when American Idol had both Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi evenings. As I have been mentioning for a few weeks, I really have not liked a lot of the themes this week and the song choices from some of the contestants have disappointed me. Nonetheless, tonight turned out to be fairly interesting. There are three contestants ( I originally typed candidates) remaining, very different in style, who are all very good and would be worthy of a spot in the finale. There is also one contestant who is nowhere near as good as the others and deserves to be eliminated this week, and he probably wants to be as well.

Round 1:

1. Syesha Mercado- "Proud Mary"- Of the remaining four, I believe Syesha would easily have the hardest time succeeding as a recording artist, and I think she will wind up on Broadway or something like that. However, the past few weeks, she has proven that she is trying to win this competition, no matter how great the odds, or at the least, just survive for another week.

She has been looking fine and singing very good. She also has been doing some "acting", something I noticed about her fairly early on. A couple weeks back, she even said she was more comfortable on stage being "someone else." So, for this number, she was Miss Tina Turner, from the song, to the outfit, to the dance moves, and she did a very good imitation. It certainly was not original, but Syesha sounded good. It is too late for her to try to "define herself", instead she is just trying to pull out the most crowd-pleasing performances and get enough votes to live another day.

2. David Cook- "Hungry Like the Wolf"- He did a very technically proficient and decent rendition of a slightly rocked up Duran Duran '80s tune. I just feel there were probably so many better songs that he could have done. It was good. He was comfortable on stage and looked as smug as ever, but it just was not his best performance.

3. David Archuleta- "Stand By Me"- It was good, perhaps even very good, which seemed to be the consensus of the judges. However, I have been tending to find his stage performances to be somewhat awkward at times. Vocally, it sounded a little rushed and gaspy as well. The difference though between being ranked third and second tonight was pretty minor though. If I watched it or listened to it a couple more times, I probably could appreciate it more. His song choices are odd though. When I saw what he would be singing, I thought, "more boring ballads," If there is any reason why Little David will not win American Idol, it will be because his song choices are limiting his appeal to a wider audience. However, on this song and on the one he did in Round 2, he (or his father) actually made it sort of interesting. The instrumental accompanyment was minimal and slightly off-beat (and on this song a lot better than Josiah Leming's ill fated decision to dismiss the band on the same song.) Compared to Syesha and David Cook, I detected some slight technical problems during this song, but it was still good, and his fans will of course have absolutely loved it.

4. Jason Castro- "I Shot the Sheriff"- wow, that was a train wreck. He apparently told someone last week that he is ready to go home and he does seem resigned to such a fate, and looked like all he wanted to do tonight was have fun. Actually, I thought he seemed more interested and connected to the material, a Bob Marley song here, than he has looked in a long time. But vocally, it was a mess, and a song that he probably should not have attempted to cover. Of course, the content of the song will probably turn off a lot of people, as they will connect it with a song about killing a cop. If he has any prayer of staying in this competition, he might need to hope for a huge stoner vote (and hope those with the munchies were not planning to watch Hell's Kitchen.) And if Jason wants to dispute the impression that some have of him backstage with a bong, the two songs he picked tonight will not do it.

Round 2- only changes are the top two slots

1. David Cook- "Baba O'Riley" (not to be confused with Bill O'Reilly)- he says this song has never been done on AI before, and I believe that, but it sure has been done on all sorts of other music shows/contests on television. His version was really strong, but in the time he had, the projectory of the song probably got short-shrifted to an extent. Still though, it was the only true rock song of the evening and Cook's (interestingly enough he is the only non-Hispanic left) large fan base will have been very pleased.

2. Syesha Mercado- " A Change is Gonna Come"- I think she gave a very strong and perhaps even stirring version of this Sam Cooke classic, and looked as good as ever. However, he is where I get very cynical.... she is such an actress! This all seemed very contrived and desperate to an extent. Besides playing the hot chick card, she played the race card, and the emotionally fragile female card.

As she sang, I almost immediately thought that she was deliberately trying to make herself cry, so that she could finish it all dramatic-like and in tears. Those tears did not quite come though until the judges comments, and then she lost it in a a major way, a way that would have made Ramiele Mulubay, Carly Smithson, and Brooke White beam with pride. Major waterworks. Total sympathy factor. Then, a few seconds later, with her face overrun with tears, she started speaking again, and her voice and demeanor then seemed like nothing had happened. Am I just way too cynical? Was it genuine? I just think she was trying to get votes anyway she can (and Hillary Clinton is probably going to have to do the crying thing in the next few days now as well), in addition to how she deliberately brought up the "Civil Rights Movement" in relation to her song, both in the video introduction and then after she sang it. Pretty shrewd if you ask me.

3. David Archuleta- "Love Me Tender"- this song choice could have been extremely boring, and it was a little, but not as much as I feared. I actually think he had a very strong performance, if one is able to overlook the gasping again (which David Cook and Syesha do not do) and the fact that he missed a falsetto note at the end (but what do you know, in the recaps, filmed in reherasals, when Paula was taking her notes, he did it correctly). Since I am not a teenage girl or an Elvis loving grandma, I certainly was not jumping up and down over this, but I have to admit, it probably came across better than I would have expected when I heard he would be singing it, and those constituencies I just mentioned will have loved it. So, it was a very good choice. It was a little different than the other ballads he had done (at least since Imagine) and I think it was a positive for him that it was a love song, and not a schmaltzy message ballad, and that it did not come across as cheesy, like last week's Neil Diamond tunes, and that maybe since he was sitting down and looking intently at the camera, there were no weird hand gestures, etc.

The Chicago Bears might have cut Adam Archuleta today, but David Archuleta is probably going to make it to the final three and likely into the finals. I have always thought he is extremely talented, and is going to be very successful in music for years to come. He just apparently has no edge to his song choices at all (at least at this point in his life) and that is limiting him and might make him an underdog to David Cook. There was a time when I thought he would absolutely steamroll all contenders. Not many people think that anymore, despite the fact that Simon Cowell said that he "crushed" all competitors this week. He did well, but I certainly think the other David and Syesha more than held their own. Jason, was crushed though.

4. Jason Castro- "Mr. Tamborine Man"- speaking of which, the first five seconds of this song, I thought might actually be pretty good for Jason's style, but then he lost several words, but at least he did not pull a Brooke and start over. At parts, he sounded decent on this song, but certainly not on the level of the competition.

Averaging them together, and with a tie-breaker for first (which was hard to do), I have it as:

1. Syesha Mercado
2. David Cook
3. David Archuleta
4. Jason Castro

So, I think Jason will go home. I think he deserves to go home. I think he probably wants to go home. The two Davids are just very good and have huge fan bases. Syesha has her somewhat less vocal fan base as well, and she cried and talked about the Civil Rights Movement. Time has probably caught up with Jason.... unless, his fans are so horrified by what happened with Paula Abdul last week, and how "mean" all the judges were to him this week, that there is a backlash and he somehow finds a way to survive.

It could not be anymore obvious that the AI Powers That Be, want Castro gone, stat. (And they apparently are a little worried about Archuleta, perhaps after last week's vote totals, so he really got talked up). Simon told him to pack his suitcase, but they might as well have told him to bring his guitar with him on stage for the results show, because he will probably need it right before the end of the hour.

I still do think he will be eliminated, but the whole sympathy factor for Jason probably should not be totally dismissed. His supporters are heavily motivated, as our Syesha's. An elimination of one of the Davids would probably be an even bigger shocker than the cuttings of Tamyra Gray and Chris Daughtrey at this exact stage of the competition in American Idols past. I do not think we will see that happen, but one never knows....

If there is any fairness though, David, David, and Syesha will be back next week to sing three songs that best show off their vocal skills, as in my view, all three should probably be considered evenly matched at this point, based on voice alone.


At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservative Democrat:


Jason will go home tonight due to Gov. Perry and his fellow Texas A&M cronies NOT saving him.

How I see the rest:
3. Syesha-ala Kimberly Locke

2. Archuleta: Runner-Up, unless the Hispanics vote for him in massive droves.

1. Cook-WINNER: Missouri gets their 1st Idol winner and Sen. McCaskill and the other MO Politicos will see to it.


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