Tonight, the remaining finalists will once again slaughter -- um, I mean perform songs from -- the Lennon-McCartney songbook.
You know, because last week was just awesome from start to finish? Yeah, not so much, but regardless, here we are again. We can only hope that the Top 11 handle it better this week. Let's see, shall we?
Host Ryan Seacrest claims that this is "by popular demand," but I guess they aren't listening to me (or most of the commenters from last week).
Ryan clarifies that this week's theme is actually the songs of the Beatles, though that's not what he said on Wednesday. And then we get another history lesson, reminding us who the Beatles are. (Of course, one of our aforementioned commenters claimed to have not known the Beatles' music until seeing some of it on last week's Idol, so perhaps I am being judgmental?)
Amanda Overmyer says her most memorable moment thus far was performing on the big stage last week. She's taking on "Back in the U.S.S.R." this fine evening. Her goal is to give it a bluesy, Southern rock feel, and while she clearly has a blast on stage, it still doesn't feel like she does anything new with it. (But I have a feeling this is going to continue to be an issue for most of the contestants tonight.) Randy Jackson says this was the perfect song choice for her, though a little pitchy at the beginning. Paula Abdul agrees that "it was sketchy at first," but when she connects, she is "quintessential." Simon Cowell says it was "predictable, it was a bit of a mess in parts, it's just the same thing week after week after week." Amanda tells Ryan that she thinks she has a minute and a half a week to show the audience what it would look like if they came to see one of her shows, so she's trying to show them a good time. Simon seems to think she means Idol tour tickets or something, but she clarifies that even if it's "some bar in Lafayette," it's all good.
Kristy Lee Cook talks to Ryan about how every night she looks through her photo albums every night to stay connected with home. Aww. She's singing "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," which she says she picked based on the title even though she didn't really know the song. She's turned it into a cheesy power ballad, which is an interesting choice. She brings some decent big notes, but I predict the judges are going to use the word "pitchy," too. Randy says this is one of his favorite Beatles songs, and the arrangement was "interesting" (we're on the same page), but kind of boring. Paula picks up on something else he says about messing with the melody and that sometimes it works better if you stick with the original arrangement. But it's OK, Kristy Lee, because "this is the best you have ever looked." (Does she ever say this to the men? "Oh, that was a weird choice, but gosh, you look so good in those pants, so don't worry your pretty little head about it?" Sorry about the eye-rolling digression here; I'll get back to the show now.) She adds that it was a little safe but good. Simon says she needs "something like hypnosis because the problem is you are not a good a performer. ... It's like musical wallpaper in that you notice it, but you can't remember. You're making no impact, apart from last week, when you were terrible."
David Archuleta says he has had a ton of memorable moments, good ones like singing "Imagine," and bad ones like forgetting his lyrics last week in front of millions of people. His choice is "The Long and Winding Road." He's back to his usual form, remembering his lyrics and hitting all of his notes. The audience goes cuh-razy. Randy says, "David Archuleta has brought the hotness back." He says he could take some liberties and add some runs if he wanted to. Paula says the purity of his sound is indentifiable (or something like that) and also, he can "rise above adversity." Simon says last week was a complete mess; "this week, I thought you were amazing. You absolutely made my point." He adds that you have to sell a song and make it memorable. "That was a master class," Simon says. Wow!
Ryan then is forced to do an "impromptu" iPhone commercial. Nice.
Michael Johns says his memorable moment is his performance of "Bohemian Rhapsody" during Hollywood Week. I agree that that is the best he's been so far and that he needs to try to capture that again. His song this week is "A Day in the Life," though he says condensing it to 90 seconds is definitely a challenge. For me, it's kind of a mixed bag. Parts are good, parts are pitchy, parts he's dancing around kind of goofily (and killing his stage presence), parts are OK. All that in a minute and a half. Randy says it wasn't his best performance, and that he hasn't yet found the right song to show off his big voice. Paula says that during a dress rehearsal she heard, he was better, and that maybe the big stage or the ear monitors or something are throwing him off. Simon says it was a mess. "You didn't hit the right notes, the song went all over the place." He tells Michael he needs to sort himself out. Then Ryan brings up the ear monitors again, but it turns out Michael isn't. Then Michael adds that he chose the song to honor a friend of his who recently passed away.
Brooke White tells Ryan says she got to go home this weekend and visit with family. In the interview, she says her "Let It Be" performance is probably one of her most memorable moments of her entire life. Her song this evening is "Here Comes the Sun." So, hmmm. Her voice sounds good, as usual, but her performance is a little weird. She has no guitar and no piano, and she kind of dances around the stage, which ends up being pretty awkward. Randy says the performance "was really awkward for me," which hey, same page again. He says her little "woo" was really weird, and she totally agrees and says she didn't mean to do that, and wishes she hadn't. He adds that she really wasn't ever connected with the song and it "never quite gelled." Paula says it's good that you can't help but smile when she performs and that she showed off her low tones, which was nice. Simon says, "I thought the performance was terrible ... from the horrible dancing to the lack of conviction." She starts talking over him to tell the audience that it is OK that they can say these things since they have been so nice to her. Brooke, who needs to stop talking, says that, "This week was inevitable after last week."
David Cook says last Tuesday is his most memorable moment because of the rock concert feel. He says he is going to do "Day Tripper," based on a Whitesnake performance from back in the 1970s. That description kind of scares me, but this peformance I liked much better than last week's Nickelback-esque generic rock yawner (except for the part with the vocoder or talkbox or whatever it was; that was a little self-indulgent). Still, I will be glad when we get out of Beatles territory. Randy laughs and says he keeps it interesting and that even though it might not have been his best performance, it was solid. Paula says he is ready to go sell records. "I want to," he says. Simon says, "I don't think that was as good as you thought it was, actually. You looked smug throughout, and I thought the vocoder in the middle was just stupid." He says this was predictable.
Carly Smithson also says her most memorable moment was last week's performance. Her song for the night is "Blackbird," which her brother used to sing to her when she was a child and which she thinks will show off a softer side. And it does -- this sounds more like a performance than her much-praised take on "Come Together" last week, which felt like karaoke to me. Randy says it was another great performance, "very controlled, very emotive, very cool." Paula says she has amazing tone and that the arrangement was beautiful. Simon says it wasn't a very smart choice because it was "indulgent." I don't agree until she explains that the lyrics mean so much to her and the others who have been trying to break into the industry for so long (though she admits that is pretty corny). Simon says now he's very uncomfortable, but she clarifies that she means that now she feels like she is free and thankful for that.
Jason Castro says his most memorable moment thus far was singing "Hallelujah" -- particularly that his last note was bad and no one cared. He says he's singing "Michelle," and hoping he does OK with the French. He does (at least as far as I can tell), and the performance is typically sweet and heartfelt but very him. Randy says it was a good choice, thought a little subdued. Jason agrees that the week came very fast. Paula says he has a lot of charm, but that this was a little awkward. Simon says this is a weird show tonight -- "and I'm not sure it was such a good idea doing Beatles again because we had such a good memory of last week." But, he goes on, "Your face sold that. ... Your goofiness makes it work. ... But on the radio, it would be 'off.'"
Is it just me, or is this the longest episode EVER?
Syesha Mercado tells Ryan that this is a special week because her parents are here for the first time. She says her memorable moment was being in the bottom three last week, which gave her a kick that she needed. Her song this week is "Yesterday." I feel like maybe she starts too high or something -- her voice is really thin at the beginning, and except for a couple of power notes (and even those aren't exactly where they should be), it's boring. Randy says she took some liberties, and "in my estimation, very, very, very good performance tonight." Paula says she allowed herself to be very vulnerable, and that sets her apart. Paula adds that she should connect with the audience with her eyes more. Simon, "I thought that was probably your best performance so far. It wasn't incredible, but you chose the best song. ... That song and that performance should keep you in the competition."
Chikezie's most memorable moment was the first round in Hollywood Week. His song is "I've Just Seen a Face," and he plans to play an instrument even though he doesn't know how to play it yet. Say what? Said instrument is the harmonica, and after he plays a short riff, he speeds up the song and somehow seems to be singing it with a rock vibe, even though some of the instrumentation is very country. It's strange, and in stark contrast to the first part, which is slow and traditional, and not as interesting. Randy says there were good or bad parts -- he says he didn't get the slow parts, and the harmonica was weird, but the fast part was good. Paula says it is pure and on pitch when he sings a ballad and that he shows the whole scope of who he is by speeding it up. Simon: "It started off OK, and then you played the harmonica, which was literally atrocious, and it turns into 'Achy Breaky Heart' at the end." Randy says he was about five artists up there last night. "It was gimmicky," Simon closes.
Ramiele Malubay is the last singer of the night. She says her most memorable moment is making so many friends who are going through something that no one else can understand. Her song choice is "I Should Have Known Better" in an attempt to make the judges smile again since she bored them last week. She busts out some big notes at the end, but I think she would have been better served coming up with some of those at the beginning, too. Randy said it was "happy-go-lucky" and she showed off her confidence. Paula says ballads show off her range and she wants to see her back in the zone like when she sang Dusty Springfield. Simon says he likes her a lot, but "the track sounded terrible." He says she chose a mediocre song that didn't show off her abilities.
Somehow this wasn't quite as tragic as last week, but I will still be thrilled once we get these kids away from the Fab Four.
Who do you think is out? And who wowed you?