Tonight Neil Diamond offered the Top 5 American Idol contestants variety with songs from some 25 albums to choose from. In fact, the contenders each got to select two Diamond songs, but did they make the right selection?
Out of all the mentors, I was looking forward to Diamond the most because of the number of great songs that he had to offer the Top 5. However, I think the results were a mixed bag. Only one competitor stood out with both songs. And the other four made one performance better than the other – for two it was the first song and for two it was the second song.
Leading the pack tonight was David Cook with two of Diamond’s lesser known songs.
Picking the more obscure “I’m Alive” was a smart choice for Cook. It allowed him more flexibility with the song and less comparison with the original. As always, I was impressed with his performance. However, I’m wondering if there was any significance in this song choice for him?
Cook steps up to the plate again outdoing his first outing of the night with a version of “All I Really Need is You” that not only rocked but showcased his ability to truly own a song. I’d never heard this song before, but I’d buy Cook’s single.
The girls didn’t do too shabby this week either although I think their second songs were much better matches for them.
“I’m a Believer” wasn’t a bad song choice for Brooke White. I think she started out a little tentative, but picked it up towards the end, looking like she truly was enjoying the performances. Unfortunately, I can’t help but compare her to the Monkees’ version and she didn’t quite measure up.
However, “I Am … I Said” was a much better song choice for Brooke. It seemed to fit her personality and her voice much better. I think it was one of her better performances and reminded me of what I like about Brooke. I understand that she wrote a critical lyric on her hand to prevent a reoccurrence of last week’s mishap, but I have to wonder how she planned to read it while she was planning the piano.
At first I was afraid we’d seen the last of the personable Syesha Mercado from last week. For her first song, we had Syesha barefoot again (does she not like shoes?) singing yet another ballad. But in actuality I don’t think she did a bad job with “Hello Again.” While it was pleasant, it did nothing to stand out from the rest.
But Syesha rebounded the second time around with “I Thank the Lord for the Night Time.” This type of song suited her much better than the ballad. It gave her a chance to showcase her personality, not just her voice. I like this upbeat Syesha better that the crooner.
Also splitting his song choices tonight was David Archuleta. I’m not surprised that Archuleta chose “Sweet Caroline.” Not only did the song seem to fit his tastes, but he handled it very well. My only complaint is that the ending didn’t seem natural (I understand that’s an artificiality of the time restraint). All in all, I thought this was one of Archuleta’s better performances.
As much as I liked his first performance, I disliked the second. I know I’m in the minority, but I didn’t like his versions of “America” at all. I think it lacked the power that Diamond brought to the song. I’m not sure if it’s because of Archuleta’s voice or because he seemed to slow the song down. Either way, I didn’t care for it.
And then there’s Jason Castro, slacker extraordinaire. “Forever in Blue Jeans” was a nice safe choice for him – a song that didn’t require him to put forth much effort (and obviously that’s his mantra – anyone else would have been mortified to forget the lyrics in front of the song writer). The performance itself was forgettable.
But his first song was nothing compared to the train wreck that was to come. Jason’s second song “September Morn'” did absolutely nothing for me. I can’t even find a silver lining here. I was just left wondering – did he try at all?
My pick to go home is definitely Jason (let’s see if I’m right this week). I would like to see Archuleta join him in the bottom two, but even if Archuleta wasn’t a favorite, he’d earn points with his patriot song choice.
It’ll be one of the girls joining Jason. My guess is Syesha, after all forgetting the words didn’t earn Brooke a bottom slot last week and she performed better this week.
Who did you think performed the best? Who’s your pick to go home?