Tonight’s American Idol was more about preparing the audience for “Idol Gives Back” with each of the Elite 8 singing their favorite inspirational song. But will the performances inspire voters?
Honestly, I was expecting a droll night of one ballad after another, but I was actually surprised by a few of the performances.
Michael Johns is on a roll. He picked another fitting song for his inspirational number with Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” While I don’t really see him as a rocker, I think he turned a pretty good performance. And in a night bound to be plagued with lots of boring ballads, Michael stood out.
Also cashing in on a good song choice was Jason Castro, who finally stepped up and took a risk with an unusual rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I’m not entirely sure if I liked Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version, because I always picture the Wizard of Oz when I hear this song. And with the ukulele, I saw a beach scene with a little hut in the background. The song was just different, but it was well done. And for that Jason should get kudos.
Likewise, Kristy Lee Cook is getting wiser with her song choices. Not only did Martina McBride’s “Anyway” give her a country tune to showcase her voice, but her personal connection (and it was fitting) to the words of the song gave her an avenue to bring out the emotion of the song as well. It’s scary that I’m going to agree with Paula again, but this song definitely was one of her best performances.
On the other hand, song choice might not have worked in David Cook’s favor. He stepped out again by choosing a pretty unique song – “Innocent” by Our Lady Peace. While I liked the beat of the song, I wasn’t blown away by his performance which ended with a message on his hand to “Give Back.” Although this wasn’t my favorite number, Cook still puts in a solid performance that should keep him in the running.
The other half of the Top 8 had good song choices, but still the performances didn’t inspire.
I was happy to see Brooke White without an instrument as she performed Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and her performance was enjoyable. But, if I’m truthful, I think she made the song feel sad instead of inspirational and in doing so took out the thunder behind an otherwise pleasant performance.
Another performance that didn’t quite go the extra mile was Syesha Mercado. As expected, Syesha picked another big ballad with “I Believe” by former Idol winner Fantasia. And while she sang it beautifully, her performance didn’t move me. I have to agree with Randy and Simon that Syesha might have the voice to take on these big songs but she’s missing the emotional bond that makes the ballad so powerful.
Similarly, I really wanted to like Carly Smithson’s performance of “The Show Must Go On” because I’m a big fan of Queen. And the song started off with potential with the whole orchestra in the background, but in the end I just didn’t get it. Not only did I not connect with the song, I’m still wondering where she was trying to go with it.
Finally, David Archuleta sang “Angels.” I’m probably in the minority here, but I was not enthusiastic about this performance. I can’t say that he performed it badly. It just didn’t leave an impression on me. Tomorrow I will have forgotten all about the song. And in this stage of the game, the performances need to be memorable.
My picks for the bottom three come down to emotion, or lack of it, in the case of my predictions. In the bottom tier I nominate Archuleta, Carly and Syesha. And I know that it’s not likely to happen, but my pick to go home is Archuleta.
Click here to tell us which inspirational song you would have chosen.