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American Idol Recap: The Top Five Sing Neil Diamond

American Idol Rundown: Neil Diamond Night

I always look forward to the moment in the American Idol season where the contestants start singing two songs per night. Not only does it make the whole show move a lot faster, but it also demonstrates what the contestants can do under more pressure and given the chance to really show off different sides of their singing styles.

That said, Neil Diamond night was a mess — not the least because of Paula, who amazingly criticized Jason Castro for a song before he'd performed it. I'm sure she had notes from the dress rehearsal and whatnot, but still, it was the first time I think I've ever seen Seacrest rattled (his panicked look offstage was telling). Also, going through the first half of the show without judges' comments was an interesting choice, but it actually made the flow of the show feel even more rushed than it needed to be — and none of the contestants really got a meaningful critique on both songs.

Overall, I thought the night was just OK — no real standouts from the contestants at the top of the pecking order, no real challenges from those at the bottom. What did you think? Don't forget to tell me which singer you think is headed home, and to hear my take on their songs, just

.

Jason Castro — I actually liked Castro's take on "Forever in Blue Jeans." The tempo, the range, and the style of the song were all perfectly suited to him, and he seemed to be at ease performing it. Maybe too much ease, as he didn't really do anything interesting to the song, but it wasn't a disaster. His take on the ballad "September Morn," on the other hand, was a wreck; his voice couldn't handle the verse, and from the look on his face at the end, he knew he'd botched it. He didn't seem that bothered, though, and that's something that's bugged me about Castro for a while now: Does he even want to try? The judges were all unimpressed, with Paula making sense for a moment and telling Jason she doesn't see him fighting.

David Cook — On first listen, I thought David's take on "I'm Alive" was disappointing and "All I Really Need is You" was a showstopper, but actually, after hearing those 30-second song clips at the end of the show, I'm tempted to reverse my opinion. "I'm Alive" sounded about a half-step too low for his voice, but it had good energy. "All I Really Need is You" was one of those power ballads meant to show off his tender side, but I actually found myself annoyed at how he needed to bring a rocker growl into every single note. The final verdict, though, is the same: On balance, he was the best of the night. The judges mostly preferred his second song to the first, and Paula said she felt like she was looking at the winner already — because, as we know, she can see the future.

Brooke White — Show of hands for how many people thought it was a given that Brooke would pick "I'm a Believer"? I certainly did. And on that one, she showed off the same weakness as she had on "Here Comes the Sun": Uptempo stuff isn't her comfort zone, and even this relatively simple song was a stretch for her voice — Simon even called it a nightmare. "I Am, I Said" was a thousand times better; she fits best at the piano, her voice was clearer and more secure, and she managed to make even a horribly cheesy song sound earnest. The judges' comments were along those lines: First song awful and weird, second song a reminder of why Brooke has gotten this far.

David Archuleta — OK, new beef with this kid. Every song he sings sounds exactly the same. Doesn't matter if it's "Sweet Caroline" or the Beatles or Stevie Wonder; it sounds identical to every other midtempo, adult-contemporary song in the book. I would have loved to hear him have some fun with "Sweet Caroline" rather than bust up the arrangement into something I'd hear in an elevator, and "America" was — to steal a Simon term — theme park-y. Simon even called him amateurish at one point, but in the end, the judges said he was in the zone, and Simon praised his clever song choice (as you must if the song mentions America).

Syesha Mercado — Syesha won me over a little last week with her Broadway-esque performances, and I think she must have realized that was the way to go, because we got more sing-acting from her last night. "Hello Again" sounded nice and pleasant, but it was old-fashioned and a little too hotel-bar for my tastes. "Thank the Lord for the Night Time" was better, possibly because Syesha's obviously fake stage personality makes more sense when she's throwing herself into an uptempo song. I don't think she'll win Idol, but she could have a great Broadway career. Oh, and I want her dress. Randy said Syesha is finally coming into her own, and Simon said she could be in trouble, which I think was a gift to her because it will get her fans to call.

Bottom two: It should be Brooke and Jason. Syesha could end up there, too, but again, I think Simon saying she's in danger should actually help.

Going home: Jason

Photos courtesy of Fox

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DaniCalifornia DaniCalifornia 8 years
Jason- I love him. It's that simple. His first song was good (not quite great), the second...well, I still love him anyways. I do not want to see him go. At this point, I think he's the only one whose album I would buy. I like his style of music. David A.- Go. Home. Seriously, he is so annoying. Has his voice even changed yet? He's reminding me of Melinda Doolittle from last year, with the fake modesty thing. And please, STOP giggling all the time. It's not cute. David C.- He sounds good on rock songs, but I think that's about it. I don't like him. I never have, and I don't know why. I also think he's getting the sympathy vote, because of his brother. It's so sad, his brother's condition, but I kind of am starting to think he's relying on it for votes. First the initials on the guitar, and now on his jacket? Syesha- She's been my favorite girl ever since Ramiele left. I think she has a great voice. It's very strong, and she is good at Broadway songs. She definitely deserved to stay longer than Brooke. Brooke- I have never heard a version of "I'm a Believer" sound SO horrible. But her second song was nice, even if the LA/Arizona thing didn't make any sense. I'll miss her, although she was starting to annoy me. I'm incredibly excited about next week. Rock is my specialty. It's my favorite. I would absolutely love to hear somebody do a Jimi Hendrix song, if they could actually pull it off.
wolfpackgal wolfpackgal 8 years
they're actually doing rock and roll next week. and i meant that its easy to turn any song into a rock song. a lot of really famous songs from all genres have been turned into rock songs. and you sayin.."get over yourself, UGH!" is judging his character, and its a little harsh. but whatever, i guess thats your opinion. congrats to david cook, for getting his genre as the genre of the week next week... that shouldnt help at allll.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
Now that we are at the final five, I feel the same way I did at the beginning of the Idol. None of these performers have the charm AND talent to be American Idol, in my opinion. I'm not saying they couldn't have a singing career but this doesn't seem to be the right venue for any of them. I used to like Brooke but now I am not sure anymore. And its not just because she's a Mormon (no offense to Mormons, I just thought she said she was a Christian) but she is really getting on my nerves with talking back to judges and her lack of performance qualities.
rivrchild rivrchild 8 years
"once again, i felt myself wanting to SLAP the hell out of Brooke when Simon called her first song a nightmare and she screamed NO IT WASNT...sorry brooke, BUT YES, IT WAS A COMPLETE NIGHTMARE" Zombielove watch the clip again. I'm pretty sure it was actually Paula who said that. If you notice, she says it very LOUD, that's because Paula has a mic in front of her. Brooke doesn't. It's just the way they edited made it seem like Brooke was shouting that because she was shaking her head and moving her lips when they cut to her on stage. I think she was actually probably shaking her head at Paula because Brooke always takes the judges criticisms very well.
zombielove zombielove 8 years
everyone is entitled to their opinion, just because someone says someone you like isn't one of their favorites and states their opinion, doesn't mean you have to resort to say they're just "hatin". rock is not an easy genre. if it is, i hope AI does that as a theme...so we can see how easy it is and see how everyone does.
Allyace Allyace 8 years
Did anyone else hear the recap songs at the end and realize that David A's songs just flowed into each other? How do you make two completely different songs sound exactly the same? Wish David A would go, but I fear for Jason :(.
wolfpackgal wolfpackgal 8 years
someone is hatin... theres already a rocker.. chris daughtry!
ktc71 ktc71 8 years
I happen to think David Cook IS amazing! However, everyone will have their own opinion. Here is mine: Jason annoys me beyond belief! He just comes off with this attitude like he doesn't care because he knows he'll be safe. Did anyone catch what he said a few weeks back when he landed in the bottom three for the first time? He told Ryan that since he was one of the last to be called out on stage, he figured he would be in the bottom and it would be the "big shocker" of the night....get over yourself already! UGH! Brooke needs to go. Its obvious that she's in over her head at this stage in the game. She just doesn't have the range to pull off a wide variety of songs. Seyesha has grown on me. Just a few weeks ago I didn't like her but I think she's coming on strong. David Archleta.......snooze! I agree with what others have said about him always sounding the same. David Cook can do no wrong. He is by far the best singer left and I think he will have an amazing career whether he wins or not.
wolfpackgal wolfpackgal 8 years
well.. and you can turn almost any song into a rock song. rock is such an easy genre. i know he's talented.. but he's not AMAZING.
zombielove zombielove 8 years
this doesnt even seem like a competition anymore. DC is the only entertaining one cause he knows how to perform and work the stage and engage everyone from the crowd, to the judges, to those watching at home...he's too good for this show me thinks.
ASpoonfulofSugar ASpoonfulofSugar 8 years
THIS WEEK WAS TERRIBLE. That's all I have to say. ...okay maybe one more thing... I'm glad most of you are on the same page as me about David A. My grandparents and young cousins LOVE him. I can't even watch him. Ugh. Same thing every week - and PLEASE stop slurring!
tsp tsp 8 years
a friend and i were talking this morning about her theory that paula pulls that stuff strictly for publicity...and i think she might be on to something. i mean, paula IS kooky, but i think she plays it up. and let's face it, idol is a snooze-fest these days...would anyone be talking about last nights show if it weren't for paula's antics? i used to love brooke and jason (but hey, i lean towards the singer song-writer types anyway) but i'm so over them. i used to hate david cook but these days he's kind of my favorite...but the way things are going, i don't know if i can force myself to finish out this season. zzzzzzzzzzz.
PinkTink707 PinkTink707 8 years
I think this competition is over already - crown David Cook the winner and allow us to not hear the rest of them anymore!! Jason puts me to sleep, Brooke needs to go, David A is the exact same every week..no matter what he sings, and Syesha should just stick to Broadway. I am done. David C is the next American Idol.
brittanybe brittanybe 8 years
Doesn't anyone else think what we witnessed with Paula last night is proof that the judges are told what to say ahead of time?
mswender mswender 8 years
I am shocked that people actually understood david a's lyrics because the boy doens't annunciate at all. it was a blob of words to a familiar tune and he doesn't know what he is singing about. 11 year old girls should not be allowed to vote anymore. Brooke was a mess! I'm a believer was a nightmare, but her second song was not that great either. Jason Castro needs to go home, but those 11 yr old girls seem to like him too. Syesha will have a great stage career in disney shows, but she is not an American Idol, but really no one is but David Cook. We should just end the show right now.
fireyelectra fireyelectra 8 years
Each week, Sleepy Puppy continues to prove that while he is technically a very good singer, he is a lifeless shell of a performer. "Sweet Caroline" is a song about a nice girl, sung by the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. In Archuleta's hands, it was completely meaningless. Same goes for Neil Diamond's anthem to the American dream, "America." I think he actually suffers worse than Brooke does from "not knowing what the hell he's singing syndrome." Castro did better this week, but I still want him to go home. Syesha is finally coming alive. Too bad its too late in the game. David Cook is unstoppable. Brooke regained my respect this week when she stepped back behind the piano for "I Am, I Said." "I'm a Believer" was indeed the stuff of nightmares. Brooke, like Sleepy Puppy, is not the greatest performer. HOWEVER, Brooke is a great performer from behind the piano. And I think that at this point, she should stay there.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 8 years
duck duck goose- it would be AWESOME if Archuleta were a surprising oust this week, but I don't think it'll ever happen, especially based on a story my boss told me this week. He recently saw his 11 year old goddaughter who confessed to him that thanks to her unlimited texting plan, her and all her friends text their votes in for Archuleta every week...averaging roughly between 300-500 texts every week. Multiply that by the millions of other 11 year old girls that do this and I just can't see that kid going home. Ugh. Drives me nuts.
zombielove zombielove 8 years
once again, i felt myself wanting to SLAP the hell out of Brooke when Simon called her first song a nightmare and she screamed NO IT WASNT...sorry brooke, BUT YES, IT WAS A COMPLETE NIGHTMARE put that girl out of her misery please America.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 8 years
But wouldn't it cause a stir if Archuletta were voted out in another surprising cut? I can imagine the outrage. (I wouldn't be sad.)
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 8 years
Holy Heck -- Paula was the highlight of the evening's show. Crack-kitten! I liked Brooke's second song. I thought she out-performed Castro. (But I'm charmed by him even still, as much as I am bored by Sayesha and Archuleta.) Cook was predictable. Nothing terribly ground-breaking. Jason and Brooke in the bottom, I'm betting -- perhaps Sayesha, due to her modestly sized following. Jason deserves to go before Brooke (imo), but we'll see. (I hope Sayesha goes, but I don't think that will happen.)
wolfpackgal wolfpackgal 8 years
its too bad the judges already have their favorites. they didnt like Jason's first song, even though it was great. Brooke sucks all around, i would never listen to her outside of this show.. Jason has actually a really cool style.. i think he might just be burnt out.. i saw an interview where he said he was getting lonely. Brooke should go home, but i'm scared Jason might.
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
Phasekitty — I can't keep all the daydreams and believers straight! Thank you. :)
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I watched the first half of this last night, and SERIOUSLY, what is Paula on? She's a mess.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 8 years
It's official, barring the Monkees songs he wrote and Sweet Caroline, I don't know ANY Neil Diamond songs. BTW, Buzz, Brooke sang I'm a Believer, not Daydream Believer. I wouldn't point it out if I wasn't a huge Monkees dork, but then again she probably would have botched both equally. Last night was boring, boring, boring. Cook, Brooke, and Syesha's second songs were pretty good, but Archuleta and Jason were cringe worthy. And Brooke's I'm A Believer was simply "OMGawful." Oh, and I know that she had to take the note from Neil Diamon, because who turns down notes from Neil Diamond, but it sounded so silly with Brooke singing that she was caught between two shores...LA and Arizona. Riiight. I'd be okay with anyone leaving right now except for David Cook. It should be Brooke and Jason in the bottom two and Jason should go for good, but I have a feeling it could be Syesha. No matter how well she does she always ends up in the bottom and she wasn't great last night.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 8 years
jason or brooke should go. so should archuleta. boring boring boring
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