American Idol: Top 5 perform
by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 29th 2008 7:45PM
(S07E35) Hey look, another mentor that's a solid hundred years older than every single contestant. But Neil Diamond's still a cool cat so I forgive him. Oh and what do you know? Neil has an album, Home Before Dark, coming out next week. I'm sure that's just a coincidence. He really did the show because he enjoys it and truly wants to help the contestants. Not to promote an album. That Neil he's a swell guy. Why don't you drop by tonight and chat us up about it in our live chat?
You can join the chat by following this link. Look for the full episode review right here later tonight.
Well, it was inevitably coming but I have to say that I'm disappointed that in the week in which the contestants start singing two songs a piece, they had to pull both from Neil Diamond's catalog. This was an opportunity for the contestants to finally sing something without a theme behind it and give us an idea of what kind of singer and performer they see themselves as. Since we were robbed of that in the rounds up to the Top 12, I thought we'd get one Neil Diamond song and one contestant's choice. But no, it's Neil Diamond and Neil Diamond. To speed things up, the contestants ...
"Forever in Blue Jeans"
For his first song, Jason started out way too restrained for the first few lines but quickly settled into his mellow groove. Neil Diamond's music is a good fit for the folksy intonations Jason uses in his performances. All in all, he did a nice job on this one.
Judges: The judges gave a quick run-down of the first round's performances at once. Randy said this was better than last week but still just okay. Paula enjoyed his lower register and then reviewed his second song which he hadn't performed yet. She later explained this off as saying she thought he'd performed twice already, and then that she was reading David Cook's notes. What the hell was that? Simon came right out and said he didn't like any of them. His one word review for Jason: forgettable.
So, did the contestants listen to Simon and up the ante for their second song of the night? Well, the audience did their cool arm waving thing; can't Simon tell them to knock that off? Jason again missed an opportunity to take his performance to the next level as we know he's capable of. When he stood I thought he might find that magical place, but other than the fact that he was standing, there was no change in what he gave us. Ultimately it was a pretty dull and lackluster night for Jason. Somebody should have warned him that when you sing first you really need to do it well.
Judges: Again, it was just okay for Randy. Paula agreed with me that both performances were safe and in his comfort zone. Simon said that the Jason they initially put into the competition appears to be gone, as he did nothing to the songs to make them his own or make the performances special at all.
David, like Jason, brought his own guitar to the jam, only his was electric. Everyone has settled quite comfortably into their musical niche and David brought a rock vibe to this number. I wasn't blown away by the vocals he presented here but, at the same time, there aren't any specific complaints I can make about what he did. I guess I could just call it a very safe performance whereby he didn't challenge himself at all.
Judges: Randy felt he was grooving in his zone. Paula never recovered from reviewing both of Jason's songs before he'd sung the second. Simon's two word review: above average.
"All I Really Need is You"
David went acoustic guitar on his second number. He gave us a little more vocally, and I enjoyed the intimacy of his performance. Then, as is usual with David, he rocked the song out a bit toward the middle. His voice was on pitch throughout and he treated us to a wide range of voice throughout, from tender to falsetto to raw, with that edge of rock. All in all, head and shoulders above his first song.
Judges: Again, Randy said he rocked the house and that he was a huge fan. Paula was proud of him and felt she was already looking at the American Idol. Simon said the first song was okay but the second was brilliant. He actually made the song feel like it was written this year, modifying the arrangement to make it sound current and relevant.
"I'm a Believer"
Brooke joined the guitar brigade at the start of the show, taking on a song that quite honestly rocked out a little more than she does. If the judges were commenting I think they'd say that she should be grateful she has a second song to come. And for some reason, the expressions she was making throughout came across as comically earnest rather than sincere. Man, I like Brooke, but if this is what she has to offer tonight she may be singing one of these again tomorrow night in farewell.
Judges: Brooke, too, was better than last week per Randy, but still a little karaoke. Paula was out of her gourd and didn't review Brooke here. Simon's one word review: nightmare.
"I Am I Said"
Brooke seated herself behind the piano for this number. Some of her best performances have come behind the comfort of the ivory keys so maybe she'd find herself again here. She tweaked the lyrics to speak about her own experiences, living in LA away from her Arizona home. Maybe doing so made the song speak to her in a very real way because her performance of it spoke to me. This was the Brooke that has wowed us in prior weeks and eluded us these past few. I'd say that performance spells trouble for Mr. Castro.
Judges: Randy told her that that Neil Diamond song is one of the tougher ones to sing, but nice job. Paula liked the piece for her vulnerability and the connection she made with the audience. Simon reiterated that he hated the first song but confirmed that this was the Brooke they liked. It was a million times better than the first song, if still not incredible.
It must be a night for rocky starts, because it took David a few words to find his own groove vocally. He found it quicker than Castro managed, but again I didn't think he really did anything that challenged him. Maybe Neil's songs don't lend themselves to amazing performances, because there hadn't been one to this point on the night yet.
Judges: Randy simply said that David was "da bomb!" Paula was probably thinking about his performance in the finals. Simon's one word review: amateurish
Is it just me or does the emotional vibe that you get off of David the same for every song no matter what he sings? He's got an impressive voice and is truly an amazing singer for his age, but I seem to get more that he's trying to showcase his singing prowess rather than sell the story or message of the songs that he sings. You can commence slamming me in the comments now.
Judges: Randy said he was in the zone with another good performance. It was a perfect song choice for Paula. Just as Simon credited Kristy for singing "God Bless the USA," he credited David with another clever and smart song choice to appeal to his audience, guaranteeing his place in the Top 4. Does he think Americans are so easy to manipulate? Are we?
I think Syesha was Neil's favorite as he had nothing but nice things to say about her command of his music and he wanted to hug her. Or maybe he just thinks she's hot. I'd certainly hug her. Syesha put a little bit more into her opening performance than any of the other four finalists. There was a sincerity to her expressions and the way she emoted the lyrics. Maybe she just connected with the story of the song in a way the others didn't. After the first round of songs, Syesha stood as the strongest on the night.
Judges: Randy thought it was strong but not amazing. Paula was restrained and given Valium. Simon's one word review: old-fashioned.
"Thank the Lord for the Night Time"
Syesha was just adorable with the attitude she gave the opening of this number. She was clearly having a blast singing this number. I think Syesha may have made the smartest song selections on the night. She followed up her opener with this up-beat number to showcase her diversity. And, of course, her power and range was on display again here. She's definitely got one of the strongest voices left in the competition. But does she have the support?
Judges: Randy thinks she's finally realizing who she is, and he likes her in the genre and style of this number. Paula loved the vulnerable texture of her first song, and appreciated the theatrical showcase that this second piece gave us. For Simon, she demonstrated that she's a very good actress/singer, but nevertheless thinks she may be in trouble tonight. He didn't think she had a really memorable second song like some of the others. Maybe Simon said that to try and save her; you know how those psychological games of his garner sympathy votes.
Best of the Night
Syesha (both songs), David Cook and Brooke White (second songs only)
The Bottom Two
Jason Castro and Brooke White (should be, but I worry about Syesha)
Jason Castro (at this point it's almost impossible to say for certain as I have no idea what America's voting for anymore, but Jason has consistently shown he's falling behind the pack, and Brooke's second number should be enough to buy her at least one more week)
|Jason Castro||196 (6.2%)|
|David Cook||1586 (50.4%)|
|Brooke White||173 (5.5%)|
|David Archuleta||393 (12.5%)|
|Syesha Mercado||801 (25.4%)|