Tuesday, April 29, 2008

American Idol - Neil Diamond Night

Performances

Jason Castro - "Forever in Blue Jeans" / "September Morn"

I'd agree with Simon that Jason just seems to be going through the motions. He didn't put much liveliness into "Forever in Blue Jeans", a song that gets even Neil's fattest and most crippled elderly fans to their feet and dancing. He did a better job with "September Morn" and seemed to be feelin' it. That was a sexy performance. He's still great to look at it, but is that enough?

David Cook - "I'm Alive" / "All I Really Need Is You"

David is looking fugly again, with a hairstyle that makes him look like a Fall Out Boy roadie. Why did he pick such obscure Neil songs? I think he would have done a great job with "Love on the Rocks." His voice is good and I imagine he'll make the Final 2, but I'm not convinced he's really special.

Brooke White - "I'm a Believer" / "I Am I Said"

Simon called Brooke's first performance "a nightmare" and Brooke vigorously shook her head in disagreement. Sorry, Brooke, but Simon is right. It was a terrible karaoke performance and sounded off key, and if the Monkees can sing this, we know it's not a high degree of difficulty. She fared better with "I Am I Said" on the piano, even if she did take Neil's dorky advice to make it her own by changing New York to Arizona (thereby making the line about being lost between two shores as nonsensical as the line about the uncaring chair). At least this song was more in her comfort zone. She seemed to have a bit of twang in her voice tonight, making me wonder if she was grabbing for the Kristy Lee Cook country vote. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

David Archuleta - "Sweet Caroline" / "America"

I loved David's fun version of "Sweet Caroline." He picked probably the most famous Neil song but managed to make it sound fresh, much like he did with "Imagine." And of course, singing "America" is a great strategic move, appealing to the patriotic vote. David seems very drawn to anthemic songs and while he didn't belt this with the passion and "reach for the stars" gesturing of Neil, he did plenty to ensure he'll be back next week.

Syesha Mercado - "Hello Again" / "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime"

Syesha looked really good. I dug her 70s hair. She managed to turn two Neil songs into convincingly Whitney-esque numbers, while leaving me impressed with her technical skill and vocal skills but yawning as the renditions seemed sterile.


Other Comments

Neil Diamond seemed heavily medicated, only really perking up when he got to hug Syesha.

Paula made a huge gaffe, showing confusion at tonight's new format. All the contestants sang their first song without receiving immediate comments. Then they had to line up and hear comments all at once. Paula read off her notes and commented on both of Jason's songs, even though he had only sung once at this point. The looks on Simon's and Ryan's faces were pretty priceless. Simon did his best to cut Paula off and move things along, saving her from having to admit she makes her judgments based on rehearsal takes and spends the actual performance show flirting with Simon while the kids sing their hearts out. The second half of the show returned to the usual format of immediate critique.

I'm hoping for a sing along of "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" tomorrow night, and maybe a montage of Simon and Paula moments set to "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."


Predictions

Bottom 3 will be Jason, Brooke, and Syesha, with Brooke going home. And nobody will care at all, not even the chair.

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