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American Idol Recap: The Top Eight Try to Inspire

American Idol Rundown: The Top Eight Try to Inspire

It's American Idol cliche at this point to talk about song choice, but I'm going to do it anyway: Considering how treacly and dull the show's Inspiration Night had the potential to be, I was really impressed with the variety of songs the top eight performed. It wasn't the overall best Idol performance night of the season (I still give that to Beatles Night, take one), but it was pretty good for still having so many darn singers in the competition.

There were a few other things that stole the spotlight last night, namely Randy's crotchetier-than-average commentary and Paula's odd boobs. But for the most part, the night was a chance for some singers to step up (and some favorites to falter). Don't forget to vote for who's going home, and to get my take, just


Michael Johns — After last week's detour into bluesy rock, Michael was back to the '80s/'90s alternative scene this week with Aerosmith's "Dream On." At the risk of sounding like Randy, I didn't like the beginning but thought he worked it out by the time he got to the chorus. He does have a good classic rock voice (though I don't know about that falsetto), but I think I like him better when he's not trying to be a capital-R Rocker. Randy thought it was pitchy, Boobilicious Paula said he sounded as good as he looked, and Simon said he doesn't like Michael's rock-star impersonations either.

Syesha Mercado — First thought on hearing she was singing Fantasia's "I Believe"? Dangerous! Poaching an Idol-winning song is scary in the first place, and Syesha just keeps picking songs that will leave her compared (unfavorably) to someone else. It wasn't a bad performance, but she sounded a little out of control on some notes and never seemed that into it. It was a pretty song, not a passionate ballad. Randy said she didn't connect enough, Boobilicious Paula said it was one of her better nights, and Simon called it technically good but not emotional.

Jason Castro — Driving home the stoned-folkie image further, Jason performed a Hawaiian ukulele take on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." First of all, I think ukuleles are hilarious, so just watching him play the teeny thing was enough to make me laugh. But more importantly, his voice sounded so pure, and I was utterly captivated by him for the first time since his "Hallelujah" performance. Randy called it "blazing molten hot," Boobilicious Paula said it was the perfect song, and Simon deemed it fantastic.

Kristy Lee Cook — She's getting smarter about this whole country thing, picking a song ("Anyway" by Martina McBride) that's country on purpose. And it hurts me to admit this, but I thought she did well. She has the vocal range the size of a pea, but it's obvious when she's doing a song that's exactly in it because her voice has a strength behind it that disappears otherwise. This was one of her good ones. Randy loved it, Boobilicious Paula said she'd outdone herself, and Simon said she was very good and looked like a star.

David Cook — First of all: I still can't get over how much better his hair looks! David picked one of his favorite songs, "Innocent" by Our Lady Peace, and I don't think it was a good call. The song seemed to force his voice artificially low, which he'd make up for by getting screamy in parts, and he clearly didn't draw the crowd in the way he usually does just by opening his mouth. Nice touch with the "give back" on his hand, though. Randy said it wasn't his strongest, Boobilicious Paula still loved him, and Simon didn't like it at all.

Carly Smithson — Have we heard a woman try to sing Queen on this show before? Carly's voice is actually pretty suited to it, so I was excited to hear what she'd do with "The Show Must Go On." If I closed my eyes, it sounded cool, but watching her, something just seemed off, as it does with so many Carly performances. Randy said she was pitchy on the high notes, Boobilicious Paula said she just isn't feeling engaged with Carly, and Simon said she lost control of the song and came across as angry, which I agree with. She also still seems to get rattled so easily, and we can all see when it happens.

David Archuleta — After some of the lite-rock dregs David's chosen already this season, I was downright terrified to see what inspirational song he'd pick, but thankfully "Angels" was at least a song I've heard. He did his typically excellent job with it, but here's the question: Is it bad to be an adult-contemporary singer when you're 17? David's a technically great singer, and there is something about his voice that's instantly captivating, but I just can't see him being a pop star (despite the outpouring of teenybopper love). Randy called the performance his hottest of the season, Boobilicious Paula said it was fantastic, and Simon said it wasn't his best vocal but admitted he was nitpicking.

Brooke White — I like Brooke best when she's being an innovator, but I can also understand why inspiration week would have seemed like the time to pull out some Carole King and sing it straight. "You've Got a Friend" was clearly her thing, very folky and sweet, though not different or unusual in any way. Randy didn't love it, Boobilicious Paula thought it was a great way to close the night, and Simon dubbed it "a pleasant walk in the park" — but not necessarily in a positive way.

My favorites: Jason Castro and, um, Kristy Lee, kinda?

Bottom three: Based on performance, David Cook should be there, but he won't be, so I'll say Brooke, Carly, and Syesha.

Going home: Syesha.

Photos courtesy of Fox

Join The Conversation
orisugar orisugar 9 years
I think David Archuleta would make a great adult contemporary singer. I mean he will be 18 soon...that's not soo young! And I would buy his album because I love his voice and he makes me love any song he sings. The fact that he already has a huge fan base (probably more female fans than some already established recording artists) proves that he does appeal to a huge demographic and would be a marketing success. Trust me screaming girl teeny boppers would buy your album no matter what, if they love you. fyi i am not a teeny bopper.
aoitenshi aoitenshi 9 years
em1282, I agree with you on Kristy Lee Cook! She did an okay job with her last performance but I still want her to go go because she should've been gone a long time ago, ugh. I loved Jason Castro's performance! His voice was unbelievable in that song. David Cook really messed up last night, but I give him props for singing an Our Lady Peace song.
hadassah hadassah 9 years
I agree with someone else that David Cook was trying way too hard to make his voice sound like the lead singer of OLP's, which is a very unique, distinguishable voice. I think since a lot of people hadn't heard any our lady peace, they didn't realize it.
Suzaila Suzaila 9 years
I thought David A did a wonderful job. I have always loved Angel. Although no one can beat the original (love u Robbie), David A's version still rocks. It is amazing to hear that big voice from the lil guy. I would definitely buy his record when he comes out with one (and I am sure he will whether he wins or not). Jason was so entertaining! Love him and his lil guitar. Bottom three would be Brook, Carley and Syesha with Syesha going home.
xrawk_starrx xrawk_starrx 9 years
I agree with zombielove. David Cook is AWESOME!! And I love his pompous face :-)
kristyrk kristyrk 9 years
David Cook makes me want to break my TV. I thought his "give back" message on his hand was about as thoughtful as KLC's "Proud to Be an American" song a few weeks back. Ugh. Stop it already, both of you!
zombielove zombielove 9 years
i dont mind his pompous face invading MY screen! fact i want more of it
em1282 em1282 9 years
David Cook was all sorts of bad last night. He doesn't have much of a lower register (I kind of think he was trying to imitate the lead singer of Our Lady Peace a bit too much, but it works on that singer and not Cook) and I'm tired of his pompous face invading my screen every week. And the "give back" scrawled on his hand? Ugh. So lame, IMO. I get it--the show's about being "inspirational" and all, but...I don't know! That was so lame! I also didn't like how they had to blather on about different songs and why they picked them. Let's face it--dreams of winning Idol versus dreams of not being malnourished are pretty much polar opposites. They should have just sung the songs and cut out the commentary--we'll have PLENTY of that tonight, won't we? ;) Jason grows on me more and more every week...I don't know why, but he does. The ukelele made me giggle too but he pulled it off well. I'd also kill to have skin as clear as his. Hello?!?!? Carly needs to go home. Kristy Lee's not going anywhere, because she sang about God. One week it's "I LOVE AMERICA!", this week it's "I LOVE GOD!"...she knows how to appeal to a demographic, eh? But Carly killed that Queen song, and not in a good way. Plus, again, she already had her shot, had a supported record deal and an actual record, she shouldn't be here, blah blah blah. :) Oh, and although a lot of people are hatin' on Archuleta, he picked a Robbie Williams song and helped to further erase the memory of that screechy Jessica Simpson version of it. So, bravo. :)
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
David C did not measure up last night (loved his palm message, though), nor did Carly and Michael. I was fairly bummed -- but I'm fond of each of them, and wouldn't like to see them go. I cannot even remember the performances by Sayesha, KLC and David A. I liked Jason (I'm enamoured with Iz's version of that song) and Brooke was really very pleasant (but I am a fan, anyway). Ideally, I'd love for either Sayesha or Kristy to get the boot, but I'm guessing KLC will have garnered another reprieve from the American voting audience. I don't know who will round out the bottom three. We may see Carly there again, or (sadly) Brooke, maybe Jason. Someone mentioned that MJ might be a shock-revelation for the bottom brood, and I think that person may be right. I do feel certain that neither of the Davids will be found there (even though David C earned a bottom three placement with his performance).
zombielove zombielove 9 years
i love me some david cook, but even he sucked last night. and he looked very bummed out which made me say "awwww" out loud =[
spazzydana spazzydana 9 years
I just cant like David Cook. It always looks like he's trying to be cool. I like my singers to be very lame, and proud of it. I do admit he has good performances, but hes just such a wanna-be douche. his whole performance last night was totally emo. and yes, Paula just had the weirdest boobs.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
It's hard for me to hear that version of Somewhere Over the rainbow without comparing his to Brudda Iz, but he did a good job. I don't think anything compares to Iz's version, but I did like how he changes a few things here and there. I liked Michael's song, I didn't mind the falsetto, I think he's great. David A still just seems so teeny bopper to me, like he's trying to hard to be an adult. He has a good voice, but sometimes he stuggles, I didn't like his lower voice on Angels. I still don't like Brooke. I almost Want her to win me over, but I just don't like her voice that much. Syesha can go home, so can KLC even tho this week wasn't as bad as previous.
HustleRose HustleRose 9 years
As to the David Archuleta, adult contemporary star at 17.... It's not like he's the only young (ish) person out there making a career out of the adult contemporary genre. I mean didn't Josh Groban start pretty young.... and he's huge on adult contemporary radio. I should know it's all I listen to all day at work. Then there's people like Michael Buble or Clay Aiken. I can honestly see David A. having a career in AC if he keeps choosing those kind of songs, however, it's not something I'd ever buy or listen to outside of the show. Therefore I don't think he's the best choice for AI. For me the best Idols are the ones who I watch on the show and think.... I can't wait to get their album. Honestly though there haven't been very many of those. Kelly Clarkson of course, and Carrie Underwood although I didn't especially like her on the show I like some of the music she's made since. Anywho, David A. is adorable and all, but I am still rooting for David C. for the win. Yes that song last night was probably not the best choice for him, but the new hair, and the white jacket, and the Chris Martinesque "Give Back" on the palm of his hand, and the puppy dog eyes to the camera..... pulled me in and won me over, as opposed to performances by Syesha or Kristy Lee that were still (and always have been) boring and generic.
millarci millarci 9 years
I agree about David Archuleta. He reminds me of Melinda Dolittle last year. Techincally, he has an amazing voice. But I just can't picture him as a pop singer.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 9 years
Oh, and I think tonight's "surprise contestant to end up in the bottom three for his routine wake up call" will be Michael Johns. He was first and forgettable.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 9 years
My first thought was that Carly would go home after tonight, but most people on your earlier poll were saying Syesha, so I hope that's true. I really can't stand her. I really like Carly, but I feel like she's been a bit underwhelming and last night I just didn't like her at all. She really does get rattled easily, poor girl. I absolutely loved Brooke last night- far more than the judges did. There's no end to my undying love for David Cook, but I agree that he deserves to be in the bottom three...and won't be there. However, I justify this with the fact that stupid annoying Archuletta didn't even land himself there when he offered up a terrible performance TO WHICH HE FORGOT THE FREAKING WORDS on Beatles night #1. I'm not bitter or anything. I've always harbored a secret love for Kristy Lee that I can't justify (even though I have recognized that she should have been the one to leave many times), but I felt she gave me a reason to love her last night. My favorite of the night was easily Jason Castro. Stoner or not, he's seriously awesome.
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