American Idol: Top 9 Perform
by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 1st 2008 7:45PM
(S07E26) The success of these live Idol chats just keeps growing and growing. So come on in and join the hottest American Idol party on the web this week during both the performance and results show. Tonight the festivities begin in time for the live 8pm ET performance show. This week's theme, mentor and guest performer tomorrow are all Dolly Parton. Dolly's written some great songs, but we've only got one hour tonight so expect wall-to-wall music. Come on in, the chatter's fine!
You can join the chat by following this link. Look for the full episode review right here later tonight.
Gallery: AI '08 Top 12
Did anyone fall for Ryan's April Fool's Joke that the show was going to be pre-empted for a Simon Cowell-led edition of Moment of Truth. Oh, I totally fell for it. I started turning off my computer and was all like "Hey, no review tonight!"
Theme: Dolly Parton
Pedigree: She's written 3,000 songs, had 110 singles, 25 of which went to number one on the charts and has sold 100,000,000 albums worldwide. This week, she took some time to hang with the kids and help them get some songs from her catalog just right.
Brooke White - "Jolene"
Dolly thought Brooke had a "sweet, warm way about her," and there was an honesty about her that she liked. For her performance, Brooke took a page from Chikezie's playbook and brought select members of the band out onto the stage with her. She sang from a stool surrounded by a fiddle player, a percussionist and a single back-up singer. I liked the idea of making an ensemble piece out of her performance, because it gave the audience something to look at as Brooke herself did not move at all during that performance.
Randy: "This kind of music could definitely suit your voice. You could make an album out of it. I don't know if that was a stellar performance for me, there were some pitch problems and sometimes you rushed the music a little bit. But it was alright."
Paula: "What's great about you is that you're consistent. Your are who you are ... You have an emotional connection with each song that you pick. And I think that's what record companies and executive want. You are Brooke White: excellent and wonderful."
Simon: "I totally disagree with Paula, because I think what was lacking on that song was any emotion. It looked like you were busking your way through the song. I thought all of you looked very odd together as a group ... It wasn't one of your better performances ... I wasn't that crazy about it." The music cut him off during the end of this critique.
Jason: "You sang it well enough and I liked the ensemble touch of adding an intimate 'band' around you, but your performance came off as safe and boring for me, Brooke. And I'm going to have to agree with Simon in that I didn't really feel anything from you on that one. You have the potential of being a real breakout talent on this show, it just didn't happen tonight. It wasn't bad, it was good. Just not great."
David Cook - "Little Sparrow"
As I expected, just like they did two years ago with Chris Daughtry and Live's arrangement of "Walk the Line," Ryan sat down with David Cook to dispel any potential illusions that David has been doing his own arrangement. He name-dropped every band from whom he's borrowed an arrangement, and then just to prove he's his own man advised that tonight's performance would be his own arrangement. Dolly thinks he's secure in himself and thinks his voice is absolutely beautiful. He opened the piece with almost no accompaniment to better showcase his voice, and his vocal control is just amazing. Like Daughtry and Bo Bice from seasons past, David has a "rock" timbre to his voice but the most beautiful tone.
Randy: "You know what I love that you've been doing the past couple of weeks? You're a rocker but you've been showing that you've got this unbelievable range. I liked how you went into the (falsetto) there. You made your own arrangement which was very cool, and once again another hot, consistent performance."
Paula: "I like your haircut. Let me tell you something. I've never heard a guy do that song and it was fantastic hearing you do that, going into your false with strength ... It shows how well-rounded you are as an artist."
Simon: "I'm not going to say it was as good as last week because it wasn't, but if you can make a song about sparrows good, which actually you did, congratulations."
Jason: "This was as we've come to expect from you, which is good. You didn't slip at all in the quality of your performances as others have done. You didn't reach new heights or blow me away, but your voice is a real find and a real treasure this year."
Ramiele Malubay - "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind"
Dolly thinks she's cute, sweet and scared. Ramiele admitted to being completely star-struck. Dolly connected with her because they're both equally tiny in stature. Ramiele showed a little more personality in this performance, but I'm not sure how authentically she sold the story of the lyrics. Still, there was some vocal diversity where she could showcase her power. During the more mellow portions of the song, it didn't work quite as well for me. Overall, though, you could tell she was really trying to bring something more to her performance.
Randy: "I wasn't jumping up and down, but I wasn't mad at you either. It was alright. You showed some signs of strength right there and conviction. I thought it was a pretty good performance. I would say six-and-a-half out of ten."
Paula: "I'm very proud of you because I was a little worried that you weren't going to connect. But I think that you really had a great minute and thirty seconds and you really connected with the audience and you were having fun."
Simon: "Look, we're not going to remember this in ten year's time are we? It was cute. You sang it quite well. But overall, I thought it was forgettable, and I thought it was very reminiscent of something you would see and hear on a cruise ship, if you want my honest opinion."
Jason: "You're starting to come out of that little shell. Are you really that shy? You've got this big old voice trapped in that tiny little body and tiny little personality. I know there's more to you than what we see on that stage, you just need to find that confidence and comfort in yourself."
Jason Castro - "Traveling Through"
Dolly made a terrible joke "I would dread to have to do those locks" about Jason's hair. I felt bad for her. She thought he made a good song choice; that it felt his style and personality. I have to agree, as the song and tone fit him perfectly. And I think he took Simon's advice that he put more effort into the show to heart as this was a very focused performance. I won't say it was the best Jason has done, but it was an improvement.
Randy: "I thought it started a little bit rough for me ... but by the middle of the song I thought you picked it up. I thought, 'Yeah this is kind of cool.' ... You worked it out."
Paula: "This was one of your strongest performances. You seemed so comfortable, you let go. Your voice sounded so strong and rich and you were confident. It was great. I loved it."
Simon: "This is the point where I lose my season pass to Dollywood because I didn't like that at all. It sounded like the same song as before (referring to Ramiele's song--Simon probably doesn't know any of Dolly's songs). I didn't think you sang it particularly well. I don't think this kind of music suits you well. If this had been the first time I'd seen you or heard you, I wouldn't get it. Sorry."
Jason: "Well, I thought it was better than that. I agree with Paula that this was one of your stronger performances. It's not always about how familiar the song is you're singing but what you bring to it. And you've gained tremendous confidence on that stage. Was it your best? No, but you're growing and getting better."
Carly Smithson - "Here You Come Again"
This was a song not written by Dolly, and in fact Dolly thinks it's far better suited for Carly's voice than her own. It's a much mellower and more tender song than Carly has been giving us. And like others before her, she opted to have a single guitarist join her on the stage. And on this song, she showcased that beautiful voice that she's supposed to be all about. There were a few places where it seemed like she held back, and she still makes those funny faces when she hits her big notes, like that ending Idol power note she worked in, but it was a good vocal.
Randy: "I do believe that that will probably be one of the better performances of the night. Nice job."
Paula: "Carly, that was glorious. You are such an amazing talent. You are beautiful, that voice of yours--oh my god! And you look great!"
Simon: "I thought it was good. I don't think it was great ... I also think that you've got to have a word with whoever's dressing you at the moment ... I think at this stage, without being rude, you've got to start looking more like a star and I'm not seeing that progression at the moment."
Jason: "The irony of Simon giving wardrobe critique just sells itself. What can you add to that? I thought you had a beautifully controlled performance. I think you've kind of fallen into the middle of the pack in past weeks, but that performance right there should remind the people at home why you're here and how good you can be."
David Archuleta - "Smokey Mountain Memories"
This is a song dear to Dolly's heart. The song gave David chills, reminding himself about his own home and family. Dolly thinks he has the voice to become a great, great singer. And he does, he just often shows how young he is still. And he emotes as if he's trying to come across as a much more seasoned and mature singer. But I think this may be the best David's been in the past few weeks.
Randy: "David Archuleta is back tonight and I stand corrected. That was the best performance of the night right there."
Paula: "You have an amazing tone in your voice, you're strong, you have a beautiful aura about you. You're just glorious."
Simon: "I had issues with your choice of song last week. This week, absolutely on the money."
Jason: "That was a great performance for you, David. You hit a rocky patch a bit there but you seem to have righted yourself this week. This song and style definitely suited you."
Kristy Lee Cook - "Coat of Many Colors"
This is a true story from Dolly's childhood but she feels Kristy turned it into something of her own. Kristy went for that homey feel sitting on the edge of the stage. Definitely the country tone of the song fit Kristy's vocals well, and after "God Bless the USA" last week and this one this week, she's definitely finding a way to stay in the competition week after week, so while she may not be the strongest vocalist, she's definitely one of the smarter contestants. And wow did she give a really snarky and overly arrogant response to Simon's critique.
Randy: "Country music is definitely your wheelhouse, and I think you gave a very nice performance ... This is kind of the Kristy Lee week."
Paula: "You look stunning tonight ... You just gave a beautiful performance. I think this was your best performance."
Simon: "I totally disagree. I thought last week was your best performance, and I thought this was pleasant but forgettable."
Jason: "I knew that this would be a good week for you because this is the kind of music you can sing. And if this were Country Idol, I'd be praising you as a contestant. But it's not and I know as soon as you can't sing something country you're going to go back to being the girl who's just way out of her league on that stage. Or maybe you'll grow as a performer in the meantime and surprise us all. But I'm sure we'll see you next week."
Syesha Mercado - "I Will Always Love You"
Dolly liked that Syesha created a blend of both Dolly and Whitney's approaches to it. And of course, Syesha has found a way to do another Whitney-esque song by doing a Whitney song. The problem is she's doing what could be the most well known Whitney song and there's no way she can do it as well as Whitney. She keeps reaching for the stars and as Simon said, no one is as good as Whitney. Still, Syesha sings well and pulled it off a lot stronger and better than I thought she would. And all of that from the seated position on a grand piano. And she hit the grandmother of all ending Idol power notes. By the end of it, she'd sold me on the Syesha version of that.
Randy: "You took on the biggest tiger of the night, and I think you did pretty good. It's still hard for me to hear anyone else sing that song. It was alright."
Paula: "You look beautiful. That color's gorgeous on you. Let's talk about your voice. Your voice [has] like a velvety tone. That's it for you and I just think you're growing and growing and growing and you're connecting with the audience so much more and I love it."
Simon: "You forget what a brilliant song writer Dolly Parton is because this is one of the best pop songs ever written. I almost wish you hadn't got it in a strange way ... the first part was good, the second part, as I had a feeling, unfortunately paled by comparison to the Whitney version ... I don't even know if it helped you that much. It was a good; it wasn't a fantastic version of the song."
Jason: "If we try really, really hard to not hear the Whitney version in our heads I think you did a really good job on that. The problem is it's so hard to not hear that version. You've got a beautiful voice and I think you sang really, really well tonight. I just worry that people won't be able to forgive you for not being Whitney Houston."
Michael Johns - "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right"
Michael revealed that his first concert in 1986 was a Dolly Parton show and he was overwhelmed by the chance to meet her. As for Dolly, she liked his voice and thought she could write some nice songs for him so was hopeful that he became a star to give her that opportunity. Everybody felt the need to jam with various members of the band tonight as Michael kept Syesha's grand piano and added a guitarist. And then he turned around and gave one of the strongest performances of his Idol run to date, and the most controlled and passionate vocal of the night.
Randy: "You keep on bring it up every week a notch, dude. That was a blazing hot performance. Nice job."
Paula: "I just want to say one thing ... You're a star, a rock star, a blues star ... and you look gorgeous."
Simon: "I think this is the best I have heard you sing throughout the competition."
Jason: "Far and away not only your best performance to date, but the best performance of the night as well. Great job!"
Best of the Night
Carly Smithson, Syesha Mercado, Michael Johns
The Bottom Three
Ramiele Malubay, Jason Castro, Kristy Lee Cook
Ramiele (or could Kristy Lee's time finally be up?)
|Brooke White||105 (3.3%)|
|David Cook||354 (11.2%)|
|Ramiele Malubay||117 (3.7%)|
|Jason Castro||106 (3.3%)|
|Carly Smithson||201 (6.3%)|
|David Archuleta||945 (29.8%)|
|Kristy Lee Cook||112 (3.5%)|
|Syesha Mercado||87 (2.7%)|
|Michael Johns||1140 (36.0%)|