There are very few things I obsess over musically, but the Lennon-McCartney songbook happens to be one of them. And while not every song from the pre-1966-era is a masterpiece, most of the Beatles catalogue is pretty much untouchable to be. So reviewing tonight’s American Idol show, knowing that it’s based around John and Paul’s work, is going to be a tall order for me. But let’s see what America’s rising talents do with the work of the Fab Four:
Syesha Mercado - She says music has been with her for her entire life. She sings “Got To Get You Into My Life.” I already don’t like the horn-heavy version, and her voice also starts out kind of weak. It sounds like a Vegas-showroom version of the song. I’m just not getting into the arrangement that Ricky and the band have laid out for her tonight. Her voice improves as the song goes along, and she finishes strong, but I think the performance was not that good over all. Randy says it had problems, but ended alright, Paula uses the word “pitch,” but then calls it OK, and Simon thinks it was a good choice of song and really liked it. Not while it’s not elimination-worthy, it’s not that great, but we’ll definitely be seeing her next week.
Chikeze- Chikeze owns up to his LAX security gig that TMZ revealed last week. I guess once Harvey Levin shows you at Terminal 3 singing carols, you’re just going to have to admit it. He sings “She’s A Woman," and the band pulls out the fiddles and banjos to countrify the song a bit. Initially, I don’t like this version, but he really kicks it in after he gets up and gets away from the hoe-down going on the new stage. I actually like that he’s having fun with the song. And even his big note at the end is good. I didn’t want to like it, but he won me over. Randy says he smashed it, Paula likes how risky the version was, and Simon is surprised by how much he agrees with everyone else. I’m not a big fan of Chikeze, but this week he earned my respect.
Ramiele Malubay– She hates the fact that her sushi bar job makes her smell like soy sauce. She sings “In My Life,” which she dedicates to those who left the show (I’m guessing Danny is among them, since she cried her eyes out when he got voted off). She sings it with a very nice tone, one that accompanies the band in a pleasant way. She also doesn’t let such a good song by the Beatles eat her up on national TV, and I can do without the annoying swaying the front row is doing. She takes a very serious and heartfelt song and does it justice. Randy calls it boring, which is hard for a song this difficult, Paula thinks it was safe and wanted more from Ramiele, and Simon says he was to tears. I say it’s hard to make it more than it was; I think she did enough to continue, since “In My Life” is a tough song to screw around with the arrangement.
Jason Castro- He likes being in the top 12, which is a step up from when he hated the whole process. Although he loves “Yesterday,” he sings “If I Fell.” He breaks out the guitar for this one, and gives the song a nice singer-songwriter vibe. “If I Fell” is not one of my favorite Beatles songs, mostly because of its bordering-on-corny harmonies, but Jason manages to eliminate those with a nice twang that makes it sound like a song of his down. Randy tuned out for a bit, but thought it was alright, Paula disagrees and thought he made a connection with the song, and Simon thinks it’s boring, but good enough to hang around. I thought it was better than that, so we’ll be seeing Jason next week.
Carly Smithson- She’s rooming with Amanda, which makes sense to put the two rocker girls together. She sings “Come Together,” which diffuses the rumor that the post-Apple Beatles songs were not allowed on tonight’s show. She sings it with too much of a shrill tone to her voice. Her ending of the song is great though, so I don’t know if the beginning was due more to nerves than her singing voice. Randy likes her confidence and thought it was stellar, Paula says Carly already has star quality, and Simon is happy she finally picked the right song. When Simon compares her to Kelly Clarkson at the same time in the competition, I think he’s absolutely right, and it might be David Archuleta who is her only real at this point.
David Cook- He shows that his biggest jobs before Idol have been bartending and singing. He sings Eleanor Rigby and insists that he won’t play guitar. He does it with a goth tone, and it’s not really working for me. It’s not the kind of song you do with the smirk he’s doing right now. He’s doing this song like Gavin Rossdale wrote it. Randy thinks it started rough and liked the rock version, Paula calls him the dark horse one this show, and Simon thinks it’s brilliant. I think that he changed a classic a little too much tonight, and as much as I liked his “Hello,” last week, you don’t mess with the classics, but I guess he’ll be back.
Brooke White- They show her with the two babies she’s a nanny for. She sings “Let It Be.” About ten years ago, I saw Tori Amos do this song in concert, and Brooke sounds just like her tonight. She is doing a beautiful job of this, especially since she’s playing the piano herself. The stylists have also given her a more sophisticated look, which is a good change from the whole Carly Simon-thing. So far, this is my favorite one on the show. Randy says she was heartfelt and he likes it, Paula calls the song something from her niche, and Simon thinks it was one of the best performances. When Brooke was first featured during Hollywood Week, I thought she wouldn’t be able to break out, but tonight, she has totally become a force to deal with on the show.
David Hernandez- He was fired from his pizza job, but I’m sure he didn’t complain too long once he got his stripper gig. He sings “I Saw Her Standing There.” This is one of my least favorite Beatles songs, so to see him singing it in such a cheesy way is not winning me over. He’s doing this song like any other guy in a karaoke bar. It could be song choice, but he really didn’t try to challenge himself. Randy says he did too much with it, Paula thinks he over did it as well, and Simon just gives him three “no’s.” I thought last week he should have gone home, so I think I was ahead of the curve, since he’ll be going home this week.
Amanda Overmyer- She looks different this week (dare I say, younger?). She’s singing “You Can’t Do That,” which she says she’s never heard before. It’s a good rocker song and she doesn’t disappoint. She puts in a little country/soul into the song, which it really can use. There’s a part where the band takes a step back and she lets her do her thing. This is a great version that benefited from her attitude. Randy loves it and liked the southern vibe she brought to it, Paula thinks she was a star, and Simon says it was good she’s here, even though he couldn’t understand some of the song. I didn’t think she would survive earlier weeks, but she’s been stepping it up lately.
Michael Johns He shows his true Australian heritage with a baby picture that has him wearing a Vegamite t-shirt. He sings “Across The Universe.” He has such a modern voice that he could take anything from the last 30 years and make it sound like it’s from the ITunes 100. His voice has a lot of body to it, and he doesn’t reduce “Across The Universe” to an ordinary ballad. It is a hard song to do, and he pulls it off. Randy calls it sleepy but OK, Paula is impressed by his quiet confidence, and Simon compares him to the “Irish Girl,” (Carly) and thought he could have done better. I really liked it and I think he’s in.
Kristy Lee Cook- She’s taking a “risk” by singing “Eight Days A Week” with a country flare. The country version is OK, but it’s…too…fast! Maybe it’s the dopey fiddling in the background, but doubling the tempo of the song is not going to win you any fans. She does get points for doing the song in a different way. Randy says he’s torn and is 50-50 on this one, Paula didn’t enjoy it, and Simon calls it horrendous, and thought she sung on helium. I give her credit for doing something out of the box, but only because David Hernandez didn’t take such a risk, she’ll get to stay.
David Archuleta- He doesn’t like the 60s, so doing Beatles songs makes him nervous. He sings “We Can Work It Out.” He does the Steve Wonder version, but he forgets the words!. He’s losing runs and getting distracted. He’s going back to his comfort zone by hitting big notes and flashing that smile that has made him the daring of this competition. This is easily his worst performance of the show so far, but he has so much goodwill on the show, that he will survive this week despite how bad it was. Randy says this was not his vibe and it didn’t work for him, Paula tells him to never let forgetting the words show on his face, and Simon says that was a mess, and he had to say it to be fair to everyone in the show. If he hadn’t been picked so early on, this would be the week he would be in trouble, but he’ll be around for a while.
Download It- Brooke White’s “Let It Be”
See Ya- David Hernandez
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