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I’ve said it a million times to people: There is no bigger wasteland of music than the pop charts of the 1970s. While most of the rock of the decade was pretty good (Zep, Stones, and The Ramones), the top 40 of the time was mostly crap. And tonight, my “Me Decade” argument was solidified even more by the songs picked by the boys of American Idol. Even the judges were shocked by the schlock the contestants chose to belt out. Also, tonight, we were treated to facts about the contestants America would be “surprised” to find out about, but I was more surprised that the 10 remaining guys did not picked their selections tonight at gunpoint.
Michael Johns - The Aussie Idol is up first and we find out he’s a not just good looking singer with a cool accent, but he’s a good tennis player too. Please Idol, don’t make me start rooting against this guy by telling me how fantastic his life is. Next they’ll be telling me he’s a doctor AND a lawyer. He sings “Go Your Own Way,” and Aussie Boy is letting me down. Maybe it’s because this song has been done 1 million times and you really can’t do much more with it than Lindsey and Stevie did, but Johns’ version wouldn’t even cut it as a pre-Holly audition. He’s yelling a little too at times, which just makes it more annoying. Randy says it was slow in the beginning & not his best, Paula notes it was a good song “from a woman’s point of view” which proves Paula doesn’t even listens when Michael sings because she’s distracted by the cartoon hearts in her eyes, and Simon said the song is weak and Johns kinda coasted. We all know Johns is a lock for the final twelve so maybe he’s saving himself for the real competition. But he does show that he’s not perfect and if he’s not careful, a little awkward 16-year old can take him down.
Jason Castro - Will Dready ever stop looking scared? And is anyone surprised that he doesn’t like interviews or being in front of the camera? Doesn’t Jason know that it’s too early for him to have an anti-Idol, Daughtry-like attitude? Anyway, he busts the guitar out again, and plays without the band in the beginning. He sings “I Just Want To Be Your Everything,” and proves why this is one of the worst decades in music. He hits all the high notes with a bit of a whine, and his “deer vs. headlights” look annoys me. Randy thinks that without the guitar, this would have been really bad, Paula thinks he’s cute and says she likes that he’s vulnerable, and Simon said it was horrible, out of sorts, and schmaltzy and he’s right. In a weird way, Jason is getting to be like Sanjaya from last year, meaning that he’s Ok to stick around, but eventually people have to wake up and note that he’s not right for this competition.
Luke Menard - Luke ruined his chances by showing his cheesy a cappella group’s photo and videos. He says he went to Hong Kong and Africa with his group, and it’s too bad they let them all come back. He digs a deeper hole with me by singing “Killer Queen.” He’s singing like he learned this song in the last ten minutes. His tone is all over the place, he almost mumbles during the bridge, and he takes a song that requires a big voice and sings it through his nose. He is far too bland to take on a song of this magnitude. Randy says he was better this week, Paula said she fights for people like Luke and Simon thinks the song choice was a mistake and bordered on whiny. Usually I wait to the end to pick a loser, but I’m not waiting: This guy has to go. Ryan calls Luke “Dawson’s Creek” which only makes me want to see Luke’s cereal-box head hang in shame when he’s sent home.
Robbie Carrico - The “focker” (fake rocker) finally got rid of the head wrap this week, although now he kinda looks like if Sawyer fronted Driveshaft on Lost instead of Charlie. He says he likes drag racing, which I’m sure it designed to increase his “bad-boy” image. I sure the truth about Robbie is that he sings in a church choir and is a total goody-goody. The last time I heard “Hot Blooded” performed this way on a Tuesday night, it was at a local battle of the band, and nowhere near national television. Robbie doesn’t distinguish himself from the other guys at all. Randy breaks the news to Robbie that rock might not be his thing, but Paula tries to defend him against the non-authentic tag, but calls him “safe.” Simon says Robbie is getting too defensive, and thought it was OK, but says OK with a little bit of a shrug. Right now we’re almost half way though and not a single guy has done a decent job
Danny Noriega - I’m totally getting a “Christian on Project Runway” vibe from Danny, which will only increase if he keeps doing well. Sometimes I wish the show would go back to the 1st season of Idol when everyone lives in a house together, so we can see the behind-the-scenes, bitchy Danny that I’m sure exists. His little fact is that, for one night, he was in a punk band in 9th grade. This is a good set up for his performance, which is The Carpenters’ “Superstar.” Really, I think The Carpenters are terrible enough on their own, so you can imagine what I think of what Danny is doing to this song. His rendition is sappy with a side of crappy. Randy thinks there were some problems with the vocals, Paula thinks he has vocal skills but he over-thought it tonight. Simon said it was better but not fantastic, but he does look terrific, which is the kiss of death for any appearance on the show.
David Hernandez - When he comes on-screen, I had to remember who he actually is. And why am I not surprised that someone on American Idol did gymnastics? That should come in handy when Idol starts doing those Brady Bunch numbers in the later weeks. He does “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” in a pretty cool arrangement. Maybe I like it because it’s the first performance of the night that wasn’t the same old sound, and shows that his voice has personality. He hits a big final note that alone that’s better than half the songs tonight. Randy says it was nice and very hot, Paula calls his voice pure, and Simon anoints him the best of the night and that he rose to a challenge. Ryan asks why the 70s were such a great time for music, and I’m not only still looking for an answer, and why Ryan thinks anything besides David’s song so far would prove him with one.
Jason Yeager - OK- I got it wrong last week when I thought he would be packing. In his video, he says he can play multiple instruments, but then comes out to perform without one. This shows how smart of a contestant this guy is. He sings “Long Train Runnin’” and again, like Robbie’s shot tonight, it’s not anything you wouldn’t hear at an average cover band at the Jersey Shore. It’s not good, not bad, just OK, and you never want to be just OK on this show. Randy says it sounded karaoke and the chouice was wrong, Paula thinks he was better this week, but it didn’t show his range, and Simon snipes that Jason was awkward and ordinary. I might pick Jason again to go this round because instead of making me forget “Moon River,” it reminded me that this is the second week he didn’t perform well.
Chikeze - Chikeze explains his name (it’s Nigerian) finally, although Simon’s “Jacuzzi” will live in my heart forever. He sings “I Believe To My Soul” and he even puts his own name in the song, which will help with votes later on. His command of the stage is great, and made a smart move by dumping the orange suit. He’s done better than this before, but on such a mediocre night, he stands out as one of the best. Randy says Chikeze is back and having fun, Paula seconds the fun vibe, and Simon, who almost fell into the Jacuzzi trap again, thinks he was a million times better. Chikeze takes a shot at Simon’s wardrobe this week after they argue about the infamous orange suit, which should make him a lock to make it back next week
David Cook David has a terrible scarf on in his interview, which I hope is because he has the flu the girls’ caught last week. He breaks out the electric guitar tonight and sings “All Right Now.” While it’s not a good performance, it’s more authentically rock that Robbie’s song before (I know, I’m taking a lot of at Robbie shots tonight). It sometimes veers into backyard BBQ band territory, but it’s not bad. I have to give him credit, because busting out the ax was a smart move because without it, he would have looked a little phony. Randy calls David the real rocker on the show, Paula says he’s got it tonight, and Simon notes that David lacks charisma, but did a solid job. But when David points out he doesn’t have to win over Simon but the voters in the charisma department, things get a little tense. Simon is going to regret that, earlier in the season, he said he likes contestants who fight with him, because he’s going to have his hands full this season.
David Archuleta - It’s Achuletamania on the American Idol set tonight! Girls are shrieking as the mere mention of his name! In his video, he shows when he met and sang for Kelly Clarkson when he was 9 years old. It’s funny to hear his pre-puberty voice, which makes him sound like one of the orphans in Oliver!. He sings “Imagine,” which is arranged like it was for the finals on Star Search. This is one of those examples where the contestant has to overcome the arrangement because it SUCKS. David would have almost been better off singing it a cappella. Randy said it was one of the best vocals ever, Paula called it was moving, and Simon thought it was risky but it worked. Simon now says he’s the one to beat. Again, on a lackluster night, it’s hard for him not to have the best of the night, and the girls screaming can’t hurt either.
The Best: David A, Danny and Chikeze
See Ya: Luke Menard, Jason Yeager (who sealed his vote after a friend told me she thinks he looks like Scott Peterson)