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American Idol Season 7 (2008)


May 6 - It's only talent wasteland (Songs That Influenced Rock & Roll)

This week, the contestants supposedly got to choose their selections from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll."  As that list is broad enough to encompass almost every musical style, the kids have no excuse to suck.  But someone will manage to do so, anyway, I'm sure.  It wouldn't be Idol otherwise, right?

David Cook (sings Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf"): David points out that this song came out the year he was born.  It also came out the year I graduated high school.  Thanks for reminding me of how old I am.  While the instrumentation is a little edgier than the original version, David pretty much sings the song straight.  Since he can't bring Simon Le Bon's whine and cheese to the party, though, the whole performance ends up being pretty boring.  It's not helping that David's just sort of meandering around the stage, not showing any excitement at all.  Zzzzzz.  Randy says it was an okay choice and just an okay performance.  Paula disagrees, saying that she has a big appetite now.  No, Paula, that would be the effect of the drugs.  Simon thinks the performance was a little copycat, although it was good enough to get David to next week.

Syesha Mercado (sings Tina Turner's "Proud Mary"): I guess Syesha is auditioning to play Tina Turner on Broadway, right down to attempting the same dance moves as Tina on this song.  But oh, honey, you are not Tina.  You don't have her voice, and you don't have her legs or her energy.  So once again, as with David Cook's song, the performance falls flat.  Randy, however, says that Syesha is in the zone.  Paula believes that she looks like a star.  Simon feels that she gave a bad, shrieky impersonation of Tina.  I don't know about shrieky, but I'll agree with bad.

Jason Castro (sings Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff"): Well, gee, this is the most excited I've ever seen Jason.  The problem is that Bob Marley's songs come out of a particular social and cultural context, and while Jason may have the dreadlocks, he just doesn't have the background to be able to connect with the lyrics.  So in the end it's all a big pile of blah.  The judges agree.  Randy feels that the performance was "a really karaoke Bob Marley."  Paula thinks that Jason really performed for the audience, but she wasn't crazy about the song.  Simon calls it utterly atrocious and compares it to a first round audition disaster.  Ouch.

David Archuleta (sings Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"): David likes to sing this song to himself and his dog in his room.  After I stop snickering, I admit that I'm absolutely fine with David's performance from a vocal standpoint.  But I have to close my eyes about fifteen seconds into it, because I can't watch this innocent little 17-year-old try to flirt with the girls in the mosh pit.  That's just too creepy.  Randy calls the performance hawt.  Paula admires the way David's communicating with his eyes.  After dissing Jason's performance one more time, Simon says that he feels that David struggled a little at the end, but he gave the best performance so far.

David Cook (sings The Who's "Baba O'Riley"): Maybe I'm in a bad mood for having my vacation interrupted (I watched the show this while in Orlando), but starting this song out dirge-like and turning it into a mid-tempo rock ballad just doesn't do it for me.  It's not teenage wasteland, it's talent wasteland.  I like David's voice, though.  And so do the judges.  Randy says that this is more like the David Cook he loves.  Paula wants more.  Simon welcomes David back to the competition.

Syesha Mercado (sings Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come"): Syesha compares her journey on this show to the civil rights movement.  Um, I don't think so.  But she looks good, and she sings this song about a hundred times better than her first one.  The judges' reactions are mixed, though.  Randy doesn't love this as much as the first song because of all the stuff Syesha added vocally.  Paula claps for her and says it was a superstar performance.  Syesha starts crying.  Simon agrees with Paula and says Randy got it completely wrong.  Syesha cries some more and then starts rambling about how she researched the song and she's changed a lot over the course of the show, blah, blah, blah.  Then Randy starts defending his opinion, and everyone goes on and on and on until Ryan mercifully cuts them all off.

Jason Castro (sings Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man"): Jason forgets the lyrics.  Oops.  And if that wasn't bad enough, this is the first time that I think that he's really doing karaoke.  And man, you don't want to do a karaoke version of Bob Dylan.  That's like a nails on chalkboard version of nails on chalkboard.  Just...no.  Randy says Jason isn't in the zone tonight.  Paula is her usual profound self and says that it is what it is.  Simon tells Jason to pack his suitcase.

David Archuleta (sings Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender"): David wants to sing a really romantic love song.  I'm all ready to shudder...but he's actually very good.  The vocals are great, of course, and he doesn't try to flirt with anyone in the studio audience.  He just turns the tune into a sweet, plaintive song.  Randy calls it another great performance.  Paula says it was one of her favorite performances from him.  Simon says David crushed the competition tonight.  Yep.

My rankings:

1. David Archuleta - I think he needs to grow into those lyrics some more, but he had the best vocals by far.
2. Syesha - Broadway called.  They want you to play the girl who substitutes for the fired Effie in Dreamgirls.
3. David Cook - I think he knows he's already made the Top 2, so he didn't put as much effort into it as usual, and that annoyed me.  But vocally he was much better than...
4. Jason - He just wants to go home.  Please let him go, America.

Bottom 2 (announced on May 7 Results Show):  Jason Castro, Syesha Mercado

Eliminated:  Jason Castro


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


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