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American Idol Season 7 (2008)


April 8 - The show must go off (Inspirational Songs) 

Tonight, the Idols get to show us how much they care. I'm simply hoping that they inspire me beyond boredom. Like, am I supposed to care that Ford's CEO is in the audience?

Michael Johns (sings Aerosmith's "Dream On"): I was thinking he'd wimp out on Steven Tyler's ultra-high screaming at the end, but he didn't, and I'm impressed. He didn't quite make me as hot and bothered as last week (I had to run a blow dryer on my keyboard to get it to work again), and that goofy ascot around his neck has to go, but he's still nice eye-candy, and he did a respectable job vocally. I just wish he could interact with a band, because he really comes across as more of a front man than a soloist. Randy thinks it was a pretty good song choice, but the performance was just aigghht. Paula says he sounded as good as he looks. Simon thinks it was a pretty good performance but wants Michael to stay in the bluesy-R&B box he pulled out last week.

Syesha Mercado (sings Fantasia's "I Believe"): Uh...why? LaKisha did this last year and tanked. Is there nothing else diva-esque that Syesha can attempt? Nothing? Say what you will about Fantasia's voice, but she injected a passion that Syesha can't possibly match, even with that Mariah Carey note at the end. And that orchestra and choir are about to drown her out. Sheesh - turn it down already. Randy calls it okay but thinks Syesha lacked Fantasia's connection. Paula believes she made it her own. Simon thinks that technically it was good but agrees with Randy that it lacked that wave of emotion that Fantasia gave it.

Jason Castro (sings Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"): Looking up this version on YouTube, I see it's quite popular among the Internet masses. I didn't think I'd like it - setting this tune to a ukulele and making it sound like something that I'd hear stepping off a cruise ship in Hawaii is rather disconcerting to think about - but somehow Jason managed to infuse the song with a conviction and innocence that was quite refreshing. And the orchestra, having killed itself on Syesha's piece, stayed subdued throughout the piece. Thank you. Randy says that Jason is back in the hunt. Paula says that he has a definitive sound, and that was the perfect song. Simon calls it fantastic. He actually praised Jason? My jaw just dropped.

Kristy Lee Cook (sings Martina McBride's "Anyway"): Martina McBride sang this on Idol last year during her mentor week. She sang it much better than Kristy, if for no other reason than she stayed on pitch. Ouch. Get off the stage already. The judges, however, have drunk from Paula's Coke cup tonight, and they gloss over the pitch issues. Randy thinks it was really good. Paula thinks it was Kristy's best performance by far. Simon says she was very, very good indeed, and she looks like a star tonight. Okie-dokey, then.

David Cook (sings Our Lady Peace's "Innocent"): Eeuw, that hair color makes him look way too pasty. Someone give him a blood transfusion already. And while I get that this song is by his favorite band, no one recognizes it. So he has to resort to gimmicks to make an impression, like walking out to sing to the judges and then turning around to show the words "give back" written on the palm of his hand. Please. In the end, though, what's supposed to matter is the voice, and for David, it's kind of boring, with only a few hints of the powerful rock edge that he's brought to previous efforts. Randy doesn't think this is one of his strongest weeks. Paula calls him the whole package and she believes in him. Simon doesn't like the performance very much at all and thinks it was a bit pompous.

Carly Smithson (sings Queen's "The Show Must Go On"): Okay, that choir must go. Now. I guess Carly did okay on this, but the orchestra and that darn choir just overwhelmed everything so that she was reduced to practically shouting the song. There was nothing that really showed her off to any advantage, and I'm beginning to think that they should just retire Queen songs permanently from this show. Randy, in need of another thesaurus this year, says it was just okay for him. Paula thinks Carly's voice is perfect, but she didn't feel engaged with her. Simon says that Carly looks good (for once), but he thinks she oversang the song to the point where it was too angry, and she might be in trouble because of it. Carly says she was distracted by Simon's face while she was performing. I don't even want to think about that, so I'll stop commenting here.

David Archuleta (sings Robbie Williams' "Angels"): David plays piano on this, and I wish he wouldn't, because his attention is divided between the keyboard and his singing, which keeps the latter from being the best it could be. Still, he focuses on his chief strength - taking an inspirational ballad and reducing all the women in the audience to tears. And while I don't have any particular problem with this approach, per se, I'm becoming a little tired of his predictability. Is he going to make an entire album of save-the-people-and-the-puppies ballads? Can he do something a little more upbeat for once, and do it well? Eh. The judges don't care. Randy calls it his hottest moment of the whole season. Paula says that sums it up for her. Simon calls it the best song choice of the night so far, although not David's best vocal to date.

Brooke White (sings Carole King's "You've Got a Friend"): In a turnaround from last week, Brooke performs this song with conviction. It's not particularly original-sounding, but she does well, and everyone feels like they have a friend now. Maybe she and David A. can run to the local shelter after the show and adopt all the animals. Randy once again calls it okay. Paula calls it the perfect way to close the evening. Simon says it was like a pleasant walk in the park and thanks her for it.

My rankings:

1. Jason - I shouldn't have liked it, but I did.  It was certainly the most memorable performance of the evening for me.
2. David Archuleta - He's way too serious for his age, but he was good.
3. Brooke and Michael - Very, very good karaoke.  I can't decide which one I preferred, so they're a tie.
5. David Cook - The gimmicks were annoying, but there were a few moments of his usual strong singing mixed in there.
6. Carly - Not that memorable, which means I should probably rank her lower, except I think she's a better singer than the bottom two.
7. Syesha - Too much acting like a diva without the voice to match.
8. Kristy - Boring, off-pitch country just doesn't do it for me.  Can she please go home now?

Bottom 3 (in order announced on April 10 Results Show):  Syesha Mercado, Michael Johns, Carly Smithson

Eliminated:  Michael Johns


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


April 1 Review | Season 7 Index | April 15 Review