The Idols are being challenged like they’ve never been challenged before. David Duchovny and family are looking forward to that challenge. Maybe that challenge is the fact that every episode they’re told that sounding like you’re on Broadway does not equal sounding like a pop star. So making Andrew Lloyd Webber sound contemporary will be a challenge.
The band has been brought onto the stage and is closer to a full orchestra than usual. The Top Six Idols are belched out of the stage again. Brooke looks like she’s going to cry already. Good call, Vote For The Worst.
We get a package on Andrew Lloyd Webber. He’s called ‘important.’ Kathy and I would call him ‘commercial’ but then again we’re total theater snobs. The American Idol contestants are flown to Las Vegas to the Phantom of the Opera Theatre on the Las Vegas strip. We get a shot of him in the audience and he looks like a sick Muppet.
Randy calls it the toughest night of the season. Paula thinks tonight will be especially difficult for the contestants who are already struggling. Ryan asks the good question of how the contestants will do well when they’re constantly told not to sound Broadway. Simon essentially says they have to do well.
Syesha Mercado — “One Rock & Roll Too Many” from Starlight Express
Syesha is up first, prompting conspiracy theorists to say that the Idol producers want her gone next week. She’s also doing a song from Starlight Express. Who out there remembers Starlight Express? Yep, thought so. It’s on the cover of a stagecraft book I had in college. The cast was in roller skates. Syesha is not in roller skates, she’s standing on the piano and has brought out her big guns and a slinky red dress in hopes they’ll bring her votes. I’m impressed with her ability to get off the piano without giving the audience an entirely different show. She sounds good, but she doesn’t really make it contemporary. She’s a theater girl, she has to put on a show. Randy thinks Syesha is in her element and could be a Broadway star. Paula says she brought the house down. Allison Janney enjoyed it. Simon calls it sexy and calls it one of her strongest performances.
Jason Castro — “Memory” from Cats
Jason is up next and gets the Ryan Stool Treatment. Jason is readily admitting he’s never seen an Andrew Lloyd Webber show. ALW never thought he’d see a guy in dreadlocks sing “Memory.” Jason didn’t know a cat was singing the song. Oh boy, here we go. Andrew Lloyd Webber thinks Jason is making a brave choice. I’m wondering if he knows that many of the lyrics are from TS Eliot. Maybe Jason read some of his poems in a 420 literature class. Jason’s doing his usual Jason thing with the song, and it works, sort of, but it’s way, way safe. Jason also can’t do the money note. Randy is laughing. That’s not a good sign. He calls it a bit of a train wreck. Paula notes that most are used to hearing a power balladeer do this song, and she thinks his choice makes him more unique. She likened him to Joe Cocker singing ‘You Are So Beautiful.’ Simon called it like a young man being forced to sing a song at a wedding that he doesn’t want to. Simon also calls it one of the longest 2 minutes of his life. Jason laughs a bit like, ‘yeah, I hated every minute of it.’ I think it would’ve been better in a cat suit.
Brooke White — “You Must Love Me” from the film version of Evita
Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn’t think Brooke knew what she was singing at all. He explained the song to her and held her hand to coax it out of her. If you’re unfamiliar with this one, it’s the song that was written especially for the Madonna/Antonio Banderas movie version. She starts a bit too shaky and actually starts the song again. She may need those pink pills tonight. It’s hard to tell if she’s emoting the song or if she’s just upset. She’s also sitting during the performance, which I don’t think is helping her. Ok, so she stood up as soon as I wrote that. Randy got the vulnerability, but didn’t think that vocally it was all there. Paula tells her that she can’t restart songs, but credits her for not overacting. Simon loved the drama of the beginning, but it made her too tense and hurt her vocally in the middle. Ricky Schroeder is in the house, and by his hair I think he’s filming a Western ’cause he’s looking a bit shaggy in comparison to how he looks in The Andromeda Strain. Brooke admitted that she restarted because she forgot the lyrics. Ooohhh. Simon admits he would have done the same thing. Paula thinks she should’ve just sung something, which Simon thinks is a little nuts since it’s even more obvious when you do that with musical lyrics. Someone get that Brooke some pink pills. She looks a little nuts at this point.
David Archuleta — “Think Of Me” from Phantom of the Opera
David Archuleta not only gets the Ryan Stool Treatment, but some girls are pulled up on stage to hug him. Again, Andrew Lloyd Webber can’t imagine a boy singing one of his diva songs. ALW likes that he’s putting his own take on the song, but he wants the kid to keep his eyes open when he sings. I kept getting the title of this song confused with “Drink With Me” from Les Misérables, which Andrew Lloyd Webber only wishes he wrote. David takes the mush mouth route of flubbing the lyrics, but he keeps going. He actually makes it more like a pop song than the other contestants. Randy knew it would be a big night for David, and calls Archuleta the one to beat. Paula thinks it was absolutely perfect, not mentioning the flubs. Simon thinks it was pleasant but one of his weakest performances. He still thinks he’ll be through next week. I wonder what Paul Stanley of KISS thinks. I wonder if he’s a huge Andrew Lloyd Webber fan.
Carly Smithson — “Jesus Christ Superstar” from Jesus Christ Superstar
Originally she was singing ‘All I Ask Of You’ and Andrew Lloyd Webber stopped her. He tells her she needs to pick the songs that fit her and be happy doing the song. He does not mention Carly being a female Judas. The lighting designer had way too much fun putting the funk on the stage. Carly’s rocking a seventies dress. She should be kissing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s feet because she actually looks like she’s having fun, which she wouldn’t have doing ‘All I Ask Of You.’ And she does something upbeat, which we haven’t had from any contestant for like 2 weeks. Randy thinks it was definitely good, but not her best. Paula liked how unexpected it was. Simon thought it got a little shouty in the middle, which shows Simon doesn’t know the show. Carly pulls out a T-shirt that says ‘Simon Loves Me (this week)’. Nice touch, Carly. Way to fight back.
David Cook — “Music Of The Night” from Phantom Of The Opera
Did David Cook need the strongest slot of the night? No, he did not. I bet he’s not going to wear the Phantom mask either, cheater, cheater pumpkin eater. Andrew Lloyd Webber calls it the sexiest song he’s ever written. Ew. David has to pretend that ALW is the sexy woman as he sings it. Ew again. Andrew Lloyd Webber thinks David’s performance might work. Might. He starts out singing it pretty traditionally. He’s not messing with it like he does everything else. Actually, it’s refreshing to hear that he can sing and not do the rocker mumble all the time. Then he has to go & put the rocker rasp on the last note and I’m totally disappointed in him. Disappointed, David. Randy calls it an amazing vocal performance and a molten hot lava bomb. Paula thinks he’s so well-rounded as a performer. Simon doesn’t like this side of David, completely ignoring the fact that it might be good to hear a different side from him now and then.
This has been American Idol. Now it’s your turn to vote, even if you don’t live in Pennsylvania. The show signs off with the judges wearing Phantom masks. Nice touch, but I wanted that thing on David Cook. Oh well.