It’s new set night for our Top 12. We’ve gone Imperial Senate on Star Wars with the stage and the opening graphics. This means I have to work Star Wars references throughout this recap. There’s an exciting new ‘mosh pit’ in front of the judges. I bet they love that.
The thing I like about this particular night is that it’s the first time these kids are actually performing live. We’ll see who chokes under the pressure.
The theme tonight is the Lennon/McCartney catalog. Ryan in his subtle faux-hawk is singing their praises. Ryan fails to mention just how much drugs and gurus also influenced their writing. Ryan asks Simon a stupid question and Simon replies in kind. It’s the usual.
In the death slot is Syesha Mercado. She’s an active girl. And she grew up listening to music. Fascinating. She’s singing ‘Got To Get You Into My Life.’ She’s dressed as though it’s ’80s night with skinny jeans, big earrings and a crop top. When she’s not powering the note, she gets drowned out by the band. The band is now lording over the contestants, just like Senator Palpatine. It’s ok, but she’s in the death slot, so we’ll see how she does. Randy wanted her to loosen up & fly right. Paula says she’s a 2nd-half singer — it sounded better from the mid-point. Simon called it better than all right, although she looked nervous.
I should note at this point that even the screen behind the contestants is this half-circle shape. I didn’t notice it at all as Syesha sang.
Next up is Chikezie. Ryan notes that he’s come a long way from working security at LAX. He thought he was going home last week. He was raised on Nigerian cultural music, which actually is interesting. He’s singing ‘She’s A Woman’ and he’s planning on putting his own flair on it. He starts sitting — the killer Katherine McPhee move. He’s surrounded by musicians. When he gets up, he’s got way more energy than last week. He’s almost spastic, but it’s a lot more entertaining than the times he’s trying to be Lando Calrissian. Randy declares that Chikezie smashed it. Paula’s been waiting for this, and then I think she says the reward paid off, which doesn’t make sense. Simon agrees with Randy & Paula, which makes Chikezie go crazy. Simon also says that Chikezie seemed drunk through it. Ryan eggs him on to continue going crazy, to the point of Ryan becoming winded. Slow it down there, Ryan, you’ve got the whole show to do.
Ramiele works in a sushi place. She has to pour soy sauce & tends to smell like it. She’s singing ‘In My Life’ and chooses to start on the stairs. She does all right, but she doesn’t have much opportunity to really show off during most of the song. She’s a great singer, but she’s not a very dynamic performer. It’s like the ‘romantic’ dialog in any Star Wars movie — you’re in the middle of something you like, and then you’re suddenly bored. Randy calls it pretty, and pretty boring. Paula says she’s pretty, and a safe song choice. She gives her the good advice to do something more with her voice. Simon was bored to tears. Ramiele does a little pout thing, which is annoying. Simon says she’s better than that. It’s a little unfair coming behind Chikezie, who was so high energy. Ok, all of you who voted for Jasmine Trias — it’s your night to vote.
Jason Castro is up next. Who wants to hear him sing ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’? I do! I do! He’s going to A&M and failed a music class this past year. His family is from Colombia, which is, again, an interesting fact. He’s singing ‘If I Fell’ because he can relate to it. He’s also playing guitar. It suits his voice pretty well, but I still want a song with some drug innuendo out of him. It’s the dreds. He does this weird thing with his face when he goes up at the end of the song. He can stop that. Randy liked, but didn’t love it. He was thrown by some of the switches in the melody. Paula disagrees because she feels his heart. She notes that he makes emotional connections with the song, and that gives him charm. Simon calls it student in a bedroom at midnight. He agrees that he’s unique, but that he wasn’t as good as last week. I do agree with Simon on this — Jason better do something different. He’s good at what he does, but he needs to show some variety.
Carly is next. She misses Ireland. She waitresses, bartends & sings. These are not revelations. She’s singing ‘Come Together,’ which she apparently sings all the time in the bar, so she’s got a leg up on this week. It’s like the Commitments singing ‘Come Together.’ She does a great job, and the crowd goes nuts. Randy calls it a stellar performance. Paula felt like she was already watching a star. Perhaps Carly will be the Death Star to David Archuleta’s X-wing fighter? Simon thinks up until this point she’s chosen the wrong songs, until now. He’s reminded of Kelly Clarkson. The graphic says ‘Carly’s Husband’ but I see no one with a tattooed face. Hmm.
David Cook had a standard upbringing. Boring, David, boring. He called himself a drink-slinger. Stop it, David, and cut your hair. He’s singing ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and is shown smashing a guitar in a photo shoot. You’re so original, David. He’s Daughtry-ing up this Beatles classic. He thought that playing the guitar would be too much. Especially since the song didn’t particularly feature the guitar. He sings ‘I look at all the lonely people’ like he rules over them, rather than actually caring about them. Kathy points out that David Cook is the Jedi Padawan learner to Daughtry’s master. Or perhaps apprentice to Daughtry’s Sith Lord? That is dependent on one’s perspective. Randy loves it. Paula calls him a thoroughbred & a front man. Simon thinks it was brilliant and predicts he could win the show. Oh, come ON! Simon’s just missing Daughtry in the worst way.
Brooke White is up next. She misses being a nanny, but she likes being on Idol. She’s singing ‘Let It Be’ not to be confused with ‘Letter B’ from Sesame Street. She starts on the piano. She’s a good girl, though, and doesn’t go all Tori Amos on the piano. The mosh pit can’t get it together to sway in one direction. She’s ok, but she doesn’t really do anything new with the song. She just sings it real pretty & plays the piano. She looks a little disappointed by her performance, or she’s just overwhelmed. Randy calls her performance heartfelt. She looks like she’s going to cry. Oh, wait, she is. Paula again talks about feeling hearts, and it just reminds me of General Grievous. You know, right before Obi-Wan kills him when you see the heart in his metal chest. Anyway, Simon thinks it was one of the best performances of the night. Ryan comments that she’s very emotional, and we discover that she was playing barefoot, so Ryan gets her shoes. This starts the gay-baiting that we apparently need on the show.
David Hernandez worked at a pizza bistro. Uh, huh. That’s what they call it now, do they? He took a Beatles course in college and will be singing ‘I Saw Her Standing There.’ He starts off behind the judges and makes his way through the mosh pit to the stage. I find it interesting that he’s letting the backing singers do most of the falsetto stuff, since he’s done that before. It’s ok. I have a feeling Yoda would tell him he needed to unlearn what he has learned. Randy was lost because it was too much. Paula loves his voice. She also feels like he overdid it. Simon calls it corny verging on desperate and not very cool.
Penelope, I mean, Amanda Overmyer, is up next. She made the unfortunate choice of wearing black & white striped pants. She’s singing ‘You Can’t Do That’ and apparently she hasn’t heard it before. She’s going to put her ‘Amanda spin’ on it. Great. It’s still sort-of identifiable as the original, like puppet Yoda vs. animated Yoda. The ears still shake, but it’s a little different. She has ‘rocked it up’ as promised. She sounds like she’s got to scream to be heard above the band. If the contestants are ever forced to do a ballad, she’s in so much trouble. Paula’s standing up. Randy says she brought a Beatles song to a southern bar & it was really cool. Paula is blown away. Simon doesn’t think it was as good as last week. He only understood about 30% of what she was singing. But he’s glad she’s in the competition. Ryan’s running out of time, so the banter is cut way down.
Michael Johns is originally from Australia. Really? That’s shocking. He coaches tennis for money and we’re shown a picture of him as a kid with Vegemite. I’m feeling Down Under already. He’s singing ‘Across The Universe.’ He also makes odd faces while he sings. He also looks like he just came out of the smuggler’s hold of the Millennium Falcon. He INXS-es it up. It sounds good, but it sounds exactly like you would expect it to sound coming out of him. It’s also kind of a weird one lyrically for American Idol. The main lyric is ‘nothing’s going to change my world’ while you’re on this show that will change your world, at least for a few months. Randy thought it was too sleepy. Paula disagrees & said he showed quiet confidence. Simon agrees with Randy and tells him that he’s got to let go & show more.
Kristy Lee Cook is from a small town, things are different, blah, blah, blah. She’s changing ‘8 Days A Week’ into a country song. She’s hoping the risk is worth it. She starts too slow, or at least sounds too slow because the beat behind her is going 500 parsecs a minute. She doesn’t try to move around too much, but she does that weird eyebrow-raising thing. The last note was also not good. Randy is torn — half of him likes it, half of him doesn’t. Paula didn’t like it. She warns her not to go too far with their criticism. Simon calls it Dolly Parton on helium. He hates the arrangement, and calls Ryan unnecessarily obnoxious. Truer words have never been spoken. It may be back to the moisture farm for Kristy.
David Archuleta gets the golden spot, like he almost needed it. He picked a song that Stevie Wonder covered — ‘We Can Work It Out.’ He isn’t falling into the morose teenager trap, which is good. Oh, wow, he forgot the lyrics right in the beginning of the song. Oh, poor David. He’s folding a bit under the pressure. He still sounds good, and he keeps his energy up, but he’s got a bad poker face. He’s the only one who seemed to be really affected by the new stage and live performance. I think he’ll be forgiven this slip. Randy didn’t like the vibe. He heard the Stevie version in his head & couldn’t get it out. Paula brings up that he forgot the lyrics. Simon called it a mess. He expected incredible performances this week, and that was not incredible. Do, or do not, David. There is no try.
We get the recap of all the singers. It’ll be an interesting elimination tomorrow. Singers who didn’t do so well have big followings, so may be safe. Other singers who do well, but are forgettable, may have problems. But now America must vote. Good luck with that. I’m going back to Wookiepedia.