Last week's "American Idol sings the Beatles" show was so much fun, I figured this week would have to be a disappointment. What was weird was how many of the contestants seemed to agree with me, pointing out moments from last week's show that were their favorite parts of the season so far and wondering how they could top those performances. Which, to be blunt, they couldn't — unless last week's was a train wreck (I'm looking at you, Archuleta).
How do you think the top 11 fared in this week's Beatles redux? Vote for which singer you think is going home tonight, and to check out my thoughts, just
Amanda Overmyer — OK, I loved that when she talked about singing "Back in the USSR," she said she'd be "teasing it up really high and throwing some black eyeliner on it." I don't know what to even say about this performance: If you like her (which I do), then you liked it; if you hate her (hi Pop!), then it's reason No. 1 she should be gone. I will say that, while I like her looking more comfortable on stage, all the playing to the audience was a bit much. Randy called it pitchy and a 7 out of 10, Paula thought she was ahead of the beat, and Simon said it was predictable and she's getting boring.
Kristy Lee Cook — She talked about the stress of ending up in the bottom two, then explained that she'd never heard the song she'd picked for the week, which was the totally obscure "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." Come on, Kristy. She sang it straight this week, no fiddles, and I give her credit for that — but she sounded way off. Randy called it an "interesting" arrangement (maybe he was as confused as I was), Paula thought it might have been better for her to keep the well-known melody, and Simon said she's "musical wallpaper." Kristy then declared forcefully that she could "blow you out of your socks" — and then looked like she realized how silly it was the second it was out of her mouth. Aw.
David Archuleta — He said the best part of the show has been singing "Imagine," so what would our young phenom pick for song No. 3 from the Beatles universe? "The Long and Winding Road," which surprised me, but this song really showed off the richness of his voice. It was a ballad, but an interesting enough ballad to still show some range. Too bad I want to punch all the screaming children who cheer for him. Randy said some unsurprising "Archuleta is back!" stuff, Paula said his sound is pure, and Simon declared it amazing.
Michael Johns — I've been wondering when I was going to stop seeing hotness every time I looked at Michael Johns and start focusing on the singing. Um, Tuesday was the night. Mistake No. 1 would seem to be cutting "A Day in the Life" down to the Idol-imposed 1:40 in the first place, and the second would be keeping a bunch of wailing. Randy charitably said it wasn't one of his good ones, Paula tried to blame it on an ear monitor (which Michael wasn't actually wearing, hee), and Simon said it was a mess. Then Michael said the song was dedicated to a friend who had died (which is sad, but also: sympathy votes?) and everything got weird.
Brooke White — Of course she'd sing "Here Comes the Sun," because she is nothing but a ball of the most pure, PG-13 light ever to grace the Idol stage. This performance managed to seem too practiced and too sloppy at the same time, and now I get why she's started so many song sitting this season: the girl can't move. She tried to cover that with a bunch of face contortions, but that didn't help. Randy called out the awkwardness, Paula babbled that you can't help but smile watching her, and Simon said it and lacked conviction. You know what else was horrible? The way Brooke kept interrupting the judges. At first I thought it was sweet, but then she just didn't stop talking.
David Cook — Man, just when I was starting to like him. So he said last week was the epitome of what he hoped for when he started doing music, which I guess should have been a sign that he'd come out all cocky. But when he started doing "Day Tripper: Whitesnake Version" with the electric guitar as nothing more than a prop — and with that stupid vocal effects microphone — I wanted to punch him. Randy said it felt like a David Cook concert (to which I'm not sure I'd be buying tickets, at this point), Paula said he's ready to go sell records, and Simon hit it on the nose by saying it wasn't as good as David thought it was.
Carly Smithson — After two (or three, even?) great weeks of rock songs from her, it's weird to hear her go back to a ballad, but "Blackbird" was an interesting pick for her. I actually really liked it when it stayed in the low, quieter verses — but taking it up for those Idol glory notes bugged me. Who knew she had such a cool low range, though? Randy said it was great and controlled, Paula liked this side of her, and Simon thought the song was indulgent. Carly then explained that she was singing it for all the Idol contestants who'd spent so long being beaten down by the recording industry, thus proving Simon right.
By the way, did you know the iPhone's awesome?
Jason Castro — First off, he totally owned up to the bum last note on "Hallelujah," which I respect. But then he sang "Michelle" with the dopiest grin (and goofiest French) ever. It seemed to go on forever — was it really just a little over 90 seconds — and I kind of started to fall asleep. Randy didn't get it and didn't think Jason seemed into the song, Paula said he has a distinct charm but wondered why he turned an intimate song into basically the polka, and Simon used this performance to declare it had been a bad idea to do a second night of Beatles songs.
Syesha Mercado — Wow, cleavage. Sorry, but that was all I could think about for the first half of her performance. She said being in the bottom three was a kick in the butt for her, and she definitely did come out better this week than I've seen her be since at least Hollywood. It was a good call to do "Yesterday" as a quiet song — it was the least screechy she's been, and when she did take the song big, it was surprising and warranted. Randy said it was very good, Paula liked her vulnerability, and Simon said it was her best.
Chikezie — I. Love. This. Kid. Sure, it was a bit silly to go for the bluegrass thing a second week in a row, especially out of a classic ballad; it was silly to play the harmonica when he didn't know how. But I. Love. This. Kid. Was that a little Elvis in his voice there, even? He's definitely not going to be forgettable again. Randy liked the fast part better, Paula liked seeing his range, and Simon said there was atrocious harmonica and then some "Achy Breaky Heart" and it was basically a mess.
Ramiele Malubay — Hat! She sang "I Should Have Known Better," and I hate to say this, but I'm starting to wonder if Ramiele's boringness/overall karaokeness isn't a song choice issue but a Ramiele issue. Sigh. I do like her voice, but I just had so little to say about this performance; it was so dull and amateurish. All the judges seemed to think it was mediocre, and Paula said she should do a ballad again but pick the right one.
My favorites: David Archuleta, Chikezie, Syesha
Bottom three: Ramiele, Kristy Lee, Amanda . . . though Michael should be worried.
Going home: Kristy or Amanda, but I really think it's Kristy's time.
Photos courtesy of Fox