American Idol: Top 6 Perform

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 22nd 2008 7:45PM
Top 6 w/ Andrew Lloyd Weber
It's really coming down to it now. There's only six contestants left and we get back-to-back mentors. Following on the heels of Mariah Carey is Andrew Lloyd Webber. Don't know the name? He's the mastermind behind such Broadway classics as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. So now Simon has an excuse to say everyone sounds like they're in some Broadway musical production rather than a pop-star. We're going to keep liveblogging these bad boys, tonight's starting just before 8:00pm ET.

You can join the chat by following this link. Look for the full episode review right here later tonight.

When Ryan came out on stage he was encompassed by a live orchestra right there on the stage with him. As it turns out, at least for tonight's show, Ricky Minor and the band have been joined by a full orchestra to flesh out the music of tonight's theme and celebrity mentor, Andrew Lloyd Webber. I'm not ashamed to admit that I love musical theater, and Webber's had a hand in some of the most important musicals of the modern era. For Webber, it's all about the words and the story that the songs tell, so that was his focus in working with the contestants.

Syesha Mercado - "One Rock and Roll Too Many," Starlight Express
Webber thought she had a chance to bring the house down with a fun and sassy performance, which would be a stark contrast with the string of ballads she's been hitting us with the past many weeks. It's disappointing that she started ahead of the music, but the band recovered and she was able to get into the piece. Of course, Syesha got stuck with the dreaded first is worst performance slot so will people remember that enough to vote for her by the end of the night. Her vocals were solid enough but there were parts in the middle where she lost the performance side of it and on her way into her final line she nailed a note that was a bit flat. Overall, this was a good move by Syesha to showcase a diversity and a not-Whitney/Mariah side to her. And it didn't hurt at all that she wore that incredibly hot little red dress to spice up her look.
Judges: Randy said that she gave her best performance to date and could be a huge Broadway star. Paula said she's real good at this, which she dubbed her "happy place." For Simon, it was a sexy performance and one of her strongest performances thus far in the competition. She showed tons of personality and she is definitely well-suited to the style.

Jason Castro - "Memory," Cats
Well, he's still clearly uncomfortable with interviews, but at least came across as goofily charming when he admitted he'd never seen any of Webber's work. Webber was surprised at the choice and told him he'd really need to let himself go to achieve something wonderful. But then admitted on camera that it might go better for Jason if he ignored everything Webber said and just ran with it. The song's tone and mood is perfectly suited for Jason's mellow vocal style. He looked nice all decked in white and perched on his stool, but I worried about his lower register as he didn't seem to emote when singing down there in nearly the way he can at his upper reaches. Luckily, the majority of the song melted right into the Castro-Zone and he came across very, very well with it.
Judges: Vocally, Randy compared it to a train-wreck but liked the visual of Castro singing it. He felt it had too much melody for Jason. Paula said it was a wise song choice that further identified his uniqueness as an artist. She liked it to Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." It felt to Simon like the longest two minutes of his life and said it came over as a young guy being forced to sing a song he didn't want to. So apparently the judges didn't like it as much as I did at all. Could Jason be in trouble then?

Brooke White - "You Must Love Me," Evita
Webber wanted to make sure that Brooke knew the story of the song. Once she knew the story, Webber got behind her performance and the emotion of it. He called her a natural actress. For the second time this season, Brooke blew the beginning of a song, but this time she stopped the whole band took a beat and started again. Which makes that maybe the second time in seven seasons we've seen a contestant start over like that. I'm not sure how to take it, in all honesty. I love the reports that the mosh pit kids are recruited and told to wave their hands like they did through this number because they looked like idiots. As for Brooke, once she got into the number I really thought she did a good job with it. She strained her limited vocal range but did manage to sell the story of the song, especially in her ending. Reportedly, the standing ovations are mandatory as well.
Judges: Randy liked that she took guidance from Webber and believed what she was singing. But the vocals were a little tough. Paula nailed her for starting and stopping saying she must never do that. She liked that she didn't overact, but Paula really struggled with to say this critique. Simon said because of her flub, she was strained and struggling throughout the performance and ultimately gave a disappointing performance. On questioning, Simon agreed with her decision to stop and start the number, which should help it sit better with the voting public. One thing that comes from Brooke screwing up like that is that she's quite while the judges' critique.

David Archuleta - "Think of Me," The Phantom of the Opera
Again, a song tailored to a female performer, Webber had no idea about how David would approach it. Webber enjoyed the way it was arranged but felt that David needed to work on keeping his eyes open so he can connect better with the audience. David felt right at home in this song and his vocal working of it was masterful. I appreciated that you could see him struggling to keep his eyes open throughout his performance, which means he was receptive to the advice given. I think this is one of the strongest performances David's given thus far on the show and definitely the strongest overall performance of the show so far.
Judges: Randy officially declared David Archuleta the one to beat for the night. Paula essentially seconded the notion by saying that what he just did was absolutely perfect. Simon, however, thought it was pleasant but one of his weakest performances. He didn't think it was a memorable performance, but was good enough to get him through to next week.

Carly Smithson - "Jesus Christ Superstar," Jesus Christ Superstar
Carly tried to sing "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera, but Webber pushed her into singing her second choice. He said she has a huge barrel chest voice and simply had to go with "Jesus Christ Superstar." So she did. I loved that she came out in a crazy patterned short dress with energy, smiles and a big voice. She managed to turn the number into a good-time rock and roll jam and had a great vocal. I still might have liked to see her voice soar on "All I Ask of You," but she nailed this one, too.
Judges: Randy didn't know that this was her best performance, but it was good and he also liked her outfit. Paula liked how unexpected it was and loved her vocal work in the chorus. For Simon, it got a bit shouty in the middle but still rang in as one of his favorite performances of the night. She then ran and grabbed a shirt that says "SIMON LOVES ME (this week)." That was a very cute move that showed a lot of personality.

David Cook - "Music of the Night," The Phantom of the Opera
This is one of the most passionate songs from The Phantom and generally brings the house down. I love that David isn't vamping this into a rock number but rather relying on his voice to sell it as Webber wrote it. The song has enough of an edge to it that he can keep his rock roots. I've seen this song performed brilliantly and performed very badly and David definitely steered toward the side of amazing. I could hear that performance in the show itself and wouldn't think twice about it. This was an absolutely amazing night for David Cook. And he definitely proved that he's no one-trick pony as he was tender, passionate and brilliant.
Judges: Randy said that was an amazing vocal performance. Paula thought it was fantastic and showed how well-rounded a performer he was. Simon doesn't like that side of David but felt he made the most of what he was given.

Best of the Night

The Davids Two

The Bottom Two
Brooke White, Syesha Mercado (if they still do three, we'll throw Jason in there just for fun).

Going Home
Brooke White (Syesha Mercado may get cursed by having gone first, but I think Brooke's time may be up)

Which contestant had the strongest night?
Syesha Mercado397 (9.6%)
Jason Castro158 (3.8%)
Brooke White99 (2.4%)
David Archuleta647 (15.6%)
Carly Smithson559 (13.5%)
David Cook2292 (55.2%)

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April 24 2008 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't understand why Brooke is still on the show...eliminating Carly was a huge shook....Brooke should have been eliminated a long time ago..

April 24 2008 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry. David A may have a great voice, but he has the stage presence of broccoli stalk.

I never hear him sing anything out of his comfort zone; he takes no risks and he never challenges himself. He never moves, and his range is only so-so.

I liked the advice ALW gave the kids. You know he actually knows what he's talking about.

Frankly, I think David C is an astounding talent whose career is already a done deal. I tune in mostly to see how he'll give me the chills that week.

April 23 2008 at 9:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to laugh at a number of comments here.
A common theme is clearly rooted in the posts of David Cook fans who see David Archuleta as the obstacle to their idol winning "the prize". There's nothing wrong in preferring a rock baritone to a polished R&B influenced crooner, but to resort to calling David A. "boring" or "ballad boy" is quite revealing or to question his vocal skills is ridiculous. Anyone with a true musical background and pro training will acknowledge that David A. has "mad skills" as Randy often says. Is he incredible like Josh Groban? No. Did he give the best vocal performance last night? Yes. (Da bomb - Randy again)
I indicated in a prior post that I really felt that David Cook's performance was beautiful as he gave a really nice interpretation of his song and revealed his vocals without crunch guitars and flashing lights as a background. A close listen (Double Play it) finds a number of out of tune notes, particularly the pick up notes to phrases. Pros don't do that.
Carly? Great voice as she has showcased all season, but she strained at points even missing a note completely. Even Paula made note of it and she, historically, likes everything by everybody.
Syesha was pretty much on the money vocally and gave a rousing stage performance.
Jason and well, Brooke, are not worthy of mention as they are not in a true pro vocal realm, with Jason making a terribly poor song choice and Brooke sealing her fate as the weakest vocalist, not even deducting points for her re-starting a song (!?!).
I like David Cook and see how and why he can win. I just happen to be tired of the rock baritone style that has been on the frontline of radio rock for so (IMO, too) long. He really brings nothing new to the table to make me say "wow, he's really different".
David Archuleta is the other top contender in my book, but I dig his sound, interpretive skills and soul technique. Randy called them "Stevie runs" last night. And, as of last night, after a season of strong vocal performances, David Archuleta has clearly proven himself to be the best singer in the competition, and if he wins, the best American Idol vocalist along side Carrie.

April 23 2008 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To Joe or should I say Mr. Archuletta,

Please stop pontificating with replete platitudes about your son...we know you are a physco stage dad, however everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Yes your son can sing, however let the kid be a kid and stop pushing him. Is he as good as some of the others not a chance as he has one style and one only.

Let the kid live his life and let others have their opinions...the world doesn't need another stage dad or mom for that matter Joe...oh sorry that is Mr. Archuletta...

April 23 2008 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does David A have asthma? He sounds so out of breath after he's done singing.

cdawg - I love Starlight too. It's my absolute favorite ALW show. I wore out my vinyl copy (even before I saw the show years later). It's too bad Chikezie is gone - would have loved to hear him doing Light at the End of the Tunnel!

April 23 2008 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Brooke's a nice girl. I like her. But she's going home this week. The week's winner was clearly David A. followed by David C. and Carly S.

April 23 2008 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I STILL cant stand to watch DAvid Archuletta sing... his facial expressions kill me, someone NEEDS to tell him to stop looking so "short bus" out there!

Syesha ROCKED it, as did Carly and David. (I love Starlight Express!)

April 23 2008 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fair enough...this show has become more of a performance show. But, in my book David A. has the best singing voice ever on the show.
Carly is quite the talent, but I wish she would settle down and stop screeching. David Cook is awesome. The others can go home as far as I'm concerned.

April 23 2008 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't know how anyone can say Jason sounded good last night, he chose a challenging song and absolutely butchered it. Jason, ya gotta know your limitations.

The great David Archuleta debate goes on. He has had vocal training and is pretty good but to me, his voice is thin. Everyone makes the Josh Groban comparison...ok but a young Groban had more power and range than we have heard from young David. Why didn't he try Music of the Night (no easy song) but he picked something that safely fits into this range. If the kid is going to play in the big leagues, he has to go for it.

April 23 2008 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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