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American Idol Season 7 (2008)

 

March 25 - And bad mistakes...they've made a few... (Birth year songs)

 

Tonight, the contestants sing songs from the year they were born, which means basically 80s Night Redux - except for Old Timer Michael Johns (1978) and Whippersnapper David Archuleta (1990).  I'm trying very hard not to think about the fact that I had graduated college and was married for over a year by the time David Archuleta was born.  Thanks for making me feel old, Idol.  Sheesh.

Ramiele Malubay (born 1987, sings Heart's "Alone"): If you're going to do a signature Heart song - one that previous winner Carrie Underwood sang the night Simon accurately predicted she'd win season 4 of Idol - then you'd better give a knock-'em-out-of-the-ballpark performance.  Unfortunately, this didn't even make first base.  Let's see...do I start with the screaming, the pitch problems, or the fact that she constantly insists on staying behind the beat?  Ugh, ugh, and ugh.  Randy points out that she's under the weather, but it's still too big of a song for her.  Paula says she's brave for singing this while she's sick.  Simon thinks it was okay and says she'll get through on that performance.

Jason Castro (born 1987, sings Sting's "Fragile"): He goes from singing French one week to singing Spanish the next.  The song suits his voice, but it's the same sort of thing he's done for almost the entire show, and Sting at least had a classical guitar arrangement, as opposed to the straight strumming Jason does.  Randy calls it a very good choice but he's still waiting for Jason to blow him away.  Paula says he's staying true to who he is but agrees he's still being safe in his own zone.  Simon tells him to start taking the competition more seriously if he wants to win.  This assumes, of course, that Jason is looking to win this thing, which I'm doubtful is the case.  I'm thinking he'll just be happy with the exposure and a folksy recording contract.

Syesha Mercado (born 1987, sings Stephanie Mills' "If I Were Your Woman"): It's a little too diva-esque in presentation for my tastes, and she insists on singing "If I was your woman" instead of the correct lyrics, but vocally it's probably her best performance yet.  Very smooth and passionate in all the right parts.  I'll call it, "Diva-By-Numbers."  Randy says it's the best he's ever heard her sing, and he's shocked.  Paula calls her the Dark Horse who will sail on through.  Simon thinks that there's a limit to her vocals, and that song stretched it.

Chikezie (born 1985, sings Luther Vandross' "If Only For One Night"): Ick - did someone barf on the sleeves of his jacket?  I'm not a big Luther Vandross fan, but I'd say that this song suits Chikezie's voice, and the crowd of squealing women in the mosh pit certainly enjoyed the handshakes.  Nice depth to his voice in the ending, too.  The problem with singing an R&B song so close to the original version, though, is that you're just going to be called old-fashioned, which is exactly what two out of three judges say.  Randy calls the performance too "old school" - he wants Chikezie to be bouncy and hip.  Paula calls it a good throwback performance.  Simon says it was sung well but the performance was too cheesy and not original enough.  He and Randy want to see more of Chikezie's personality, and Chikezie proceeds to show them just how pissed that personality can be.

Brooke White (born 1983, sings The Police's "Every Breath You Take"): Meg Ryan sings a stalker song.  She starts off too high and has to start over, but the arrangement - with her playing the piano on her own for the first half - is actually kind of interesting.  More pleading than creepy.  I don't know how she's going to be watching anyone when her eyes are glued to the piano keys all the time, though.  Randy says he didn't really like the part where the band came in and wants her to be more intimate (as opposed to her Pat Benatar song during the semi-finals, where he kept waiting for the band to come in - so much for consistency).  Paula says she enjoyed this better than last week and that Brooke is in her one-note niche.  Simon agrees with Randy.  And Brooke thankfully has learned when to shut up.

Michael Johns (born 1978, sings Queen's "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions"): Am I the only one who giggled when he sang, "And bad mistakes, I've made a few?"  That could be his theme for his entire run on this show so far.  But not tonight.  Okay, he sort of shouts some of those high notes, but this is probably his best performance so far.  He's confident and he finally seems to be enjoying himself.  I'm actually beginning to see a bit of the sexy in him.  And, of course, the crowd goes wild.  Randy says that Michael finally believes in himself.  Paula says the judges can all shut their mouths now.  Oh, please?  Simon says it's the first time he's seen star potential in Michael and calls his performance the only memorable one of the night so far.

Carly Smithson (born 1983, sings Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart"): Carly's voice is okay on this, but I keep wondering if this is the song that Amanda was originally going to do.  It's too harsh and doesn't really show off Carly's vocals very well.  And, seriously, when she squatted down and screeched the ending I was thinking that someone was going to have to toss a toilet on stage for her.  Randy says he liked the performance but didn't love it.  Paula mumbles something about Carly doing no wrong.  Simon claims that Carly was too tense and it didn't quite work for him.  Maybe if she'd succeeded in what she was doing at the end, that tension would have been released.  And then she tells the world that she went to the bathroom before she got on stage, which, just, no, don't tell us that.  Please.

David Archuleta (born 1990, sings David Foster's/John Farnham's "You're the Voice" - John Farnham did it in 1988, but David Foster released it on his own album in 1990): Gee, 1990 must have been such a sucky year for music that David had to resort to singing something that no one outside of Australia knows (the winner of the first Australian Idol sang this in 2003).  And, you know, I hate to say this, but David's just continuing to prove that he should stick to ballads.  This pop-rock song just does nothing for him.  He certainly can't give it any sort of edge, and it all comes off as a bit too cutesy.  Randy calls it very nice, even though he doesn't know the song.  Paula says he could sing the phone book and they'd love him.  Simon says he didn't like the performance at all and calls it reminiscent of a theme park performance.  And yes, I can see Mickey and Minnie and Donald and Goofy waving their hands behind David at Disney World on that one.  Shudder.

Kristy Lee Cook (born 1984, sings Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A."): Well, gosh, golly, take that Mr. Obama's pastor!  Ack.  I hate these über-patriotic songs, especially when the arrangement is so overwrought and the singing, when it's on pitch, isn't particularly powerful enough to impress me.  But that was the perfect song to pack in the red-state votes, so I'm sure she'll be gracing my screen for one more week.  Randy thinks it was a very nice performance.  Paula calls it a good choice for her and says she's growing.  Simon calls it her best performance by a mile and the most clever song choice he's heard in years.

David Cook (born 1982, sings Chris Cornell's version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"): I'm seriously not a fan of this dirge-like arrangement, but I like the power of David's voice on it.  Very.  Much.  Best singer of the night by far for me.  Why can't he impress me this much on something a little more up-tempo?  Randy calls him the most original and bold contestant they've ever had (even though he's basically only done covers of other people's arrangements of these songs).  Paula is blown out of her seat.  Simon says David was brave and calls the performance amazing.

Except for the top person and the bottom person, the rankings are tough this week, because most people had problems somewhere along the way.  But here's a stab at it:

1. David Cook - Rock on, bro
2. Michael - He finally showed what he could do
3. Brooke - Sally stalking Harry has an odd appeal to me
4. Syesha - Solid vocals, although the diva act has been overdone on this show
5. Chikezie - See Syesha and add a touch of boredom
6. Kristy - I have to agree it was a smart song choice
7. Jason - Appropriate song choice, but someone needs to tell him that there's a difference between "laid back" and "lying down"
8. Carly - Give her a laxative already
9. David Archuleta - The Disney Channel is calling. They have your mouse ears waiting.
10. Ramiele - Poor song choice + poor singing + number one slot = bottom 3 in most cases

Bottom 3 (in order announced on March 26 Results Show):  Chikezie, Syesha Mercado, Jason Castro

Eliminated:  Chikezie

 

Review © 2008 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.

 

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