American Idol is down to its Top 3 contenders and the contest should be heating up, but the competition tonight was uninspired and predictable. With three songs a piece, did any of the contestants really stand out?
Tonight each contestant got to sing one song chosen for them by one of the judges, one song of their choice, and one song chosen by the producers. Let’s just say that the producers should stick to producing and not selecting song (as if the themes from this season are proof enough).
The sole bright spot tonight was David Cook, but even his performances weren’t top shelf.
Simons’s choice of a Roberta Flack song for Cook seemed off the wall at first. But I have to give Simon credit for picking something outside of the box and let’s just say that once again Cook rose to that challenge with a tear-jerking performance of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” I had no idea how was going to pull of such an old-fashioned song, but he not only did, he made it sound current and hip.
Next was Cook’s song choice. The fact that he picked a Switchfoot tune didn’t surprise me, but it did disappoint me. His rendition of “Dare You to Move” sounded exactly like something I’d expect to hear from Cook. But I was hoping for more – more originality, more extraordinary – another “Hello” or “Billie Jean.” And I didn’t get it.
And as for the producer’s choice, Cook definitely served up the best performance in this category. I’m pretty sure that an Aerosmith tune wouldn’t have been what I would have picked for Cook, but he nailed the performance of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and did songwriter Diane Warren (who was in the audience) proud.
Syesha Mercado, on the other hand, didn’t fare as well.
I can see why Randy picked an Alicia Keys balled for her. Syesha definitely has the voice to carry off a powerful song like “If I Ain’t Got You.” And Syesha even gave the number a little pizzazz. But just like the Whitney Houston and Celine Dion songs that she gravitates to, it’s hard for Syesha to stand out against the originals.
Now Syesha made an excellent song choice for herself. Tunes like Peggy Lee’s “Fever” are a perfect fit for her. Not only does she get a chance to showcase that nice bluesy-soul sound with her voice, but she gets to flaunt her stage skills. I know the judges didn’t like this performance, but I think it played to her strengths.
Now the song that the producers picked for Syesha did just the opposite. The tune from the movie Happy Feet was a nice dance number. But when you get up and dance it’s easy to forget who’s performing and unfortunately that’s exactly what happened with Syesha’s rendition of “Hit Me Up.” It was fun while it lasted, but it was easily forgotten.
And finally, David Archuleta showed us all the same moves he’s been using all season.
Archuleta was right about one thing – the Billy Joel song Paula chose for him is a pretty song. And Archuleta’s rendition of “And So it Goes” wasn’t bad. But the performance wasn’t really any different that every other song he’s every performed on the show – nice, but forgettable.
Picking a Chris Brown song was a smart choice for Archuleta if he was trying to appeal to his teenage fans. But unfortunately Archuleta is not Chris Brown. He lacks Brown’s smooth moves and performance skills, leaving his version of “With You” looking and sounding like bad karaoke.
Archuleta concluded his set with another uninspired choice – the producers chose yet another ballad for the 17-year-old – “Longer” by Dan Fogelberg. As expected, Archuleta performed the song in exactly the same format that he’s performed all the rest of his ballads – no surprises and no wow factor.
I thought Archuleta was the least impressive tonight. It’s not that he doesn’t have a nice voice; it’s just that every song sounds the same with him. But since he’s a favorite of the judges, I’m going against my better judgment and predict that Syesha will be going home on Wednesday.
Who do you think had the better night? Who should go home?