You know how Simon often cuts down American Idol contestants by telling them their song was "too cabaret"? This week, that would have been a compliment. The top six had the unenviable task of having to take on songs by musical theater legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, and while I can't say I understand what singing Broadway has to do with being a viable, chart-topping pop star, I'm willing to make the stretch. Well, sort of — to be honest, listening to bad Broadway is actually lower on my list of things to do than listening to bad Mariah Carey imitations.
That said, it was interesting to see which contestants made the most of Lord Andrew's catalog — and which were swallowed up by the theme. Don't forget to vote for the singer you think is going home, and to check out my thoughts, just
Syesha Mercado — Syesha's so theatrical anyway that a Broadway theme should have played to her strengths — and sure enough, "One Rock And Roll Too Many" brought out the shiny, slinky, diva-licious side of her. It was hilarious to see her turn on the "Showtune Syesha" switch the second Lord Andrew asked her to. She took command of the stage for the first time, and she sounded pretty great for most of the song (though am I crazy or did she lose some steam leading up to the big ending?). Randy said it was her best performance to date, Paula said this style was "her happy place," and Simon said it was sexy and one of her best.
Jason Castro — If there's one thing to say about Jason, it's that his Sir Andrew footage was the funniest of the night. I loved the lukewarm endorsement of Webber saying Jason "kind of got what ['Memory'] was about . . . I think," especially when paired with Jason's "I didn't know a cat was singing it!" Unfortunately, "Memory" taken down to the five-note Jason Castro range is just pretty boring; it's not the kind of song that's meant to be strummed on a guitar or crooned in the college quad. Randy said the song was (still!) too big for him, Paula liked that he still put his spin on it, and Simon said it was like Jason was forced to sing at a wedding he didn't even want to attend.
Brooke White — Brooke also got a talking-to from Lord Andrew about the meaning of her song, and the footage, which showed her sincerely appearing to get it, got me so excited to hear what she'd do with "You Must Love Me." Unfortunately, it was a disaster. The starting and stopping at the beginning might have been forgivable if it hadn't rattled her so much; the rest of the song just seemed desperate, like she was using the lyrics to plead with voters. The thing is, I thought she sounded pretty good in parts, and it could have been a big moment for her if she'd been able to keep it together. Randy said it wasn't great but he appreciated the vulnerability, Paula chided Brooke for the false start, and Simon said that all the drama made him uncomfortable.
David Archuleta — Sorry, Lord Andrew, but Young David's eyes look closed even when they're open. Maybe he should have picked on the false humility or lip-licking instead. I was expecting David to sing "Think of Me" straight, but instead he delivered the adult contemporary radio edit, complete with relatively cheesy arrangement. His voice is undeniably good, but he didn't make this song particularly special. Randy anointed him the one to beat again, Paula said it was absolutely perfect, and Simon was more on my side, saying it was pleasant but one of his weakest.
Carly Smithson — Carly has Lord Andrew to thank for making her stop with the "All I Ask of You" and bust out some "Jesus Christ Superstar" instead. I love Rocker Carly, I really do, and she came out looking relaxed, actually moving around the stage and seeming less stressed about hitting every note perfectly. I wish she'd taken control of the chorus more, rather than leave much of it in the hands of the backup singers, but I think it's proof that Carly should stick to the up-tempo stuff. Randy said it was good but not her best, Paula loved the surprise of it, and Simon said it was one of his favorites of the night, which is kind of weak praise when you think about it, but it was enough for Carly to bust out a custom-made "Simon Loves Me" T-shirt.
David Cook — I admit, I was distracted throughout this performance because I just realized that "Music of the Night" is all about sex. I saw Phantom when I was 10 years old, OK? Jeez! Anyway, if I'd been asked to name a contestant who would do a traditional Broadway arrangement, Cook would have been at the bottom of my list, but hearing him sing the song straight with no frills was an important revelation: He can't just rock — he can also sing. I think that was a wise choice for him. Randy called it "a molten hot lava bomb," Paula praised him for being well-rounded, and Simon didn't like this side of him but said he made the most of it.
My favorites: Carly and Syesha, followed closely by David Cook.
Bottom three: Brooke and Jason, for sure. I'd actually like to see Archuleta get his first bottom-three scare, but I doubt it will happen, so I'll say Syesha will end up there (but be safe).
Going home: Brooke. Honestly, I feel like I'm watching her nervous breakdown.
Photos courtesy of Fox