As American Idol starts tonight, Ryan Seacrest says that three of the top four have had the largest number of votes at one point or another. That's just his way of saying: VOOOOOTE.
The theme this evening is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which leads into a history lesson on rock.
David Cook is up first, and he'll be singing Duran Duran's "Hungry Like a Wolf," and he plans to turn it on its head. The audio seems a little odd -- his vocals are loud, but the band and the background singers are kind of muted. Thankfully, he's got a good voice, though I think the discrepancy in volume between the band and his vocals made him come off a little bit shouty. Also, I'm not sure how much he changed up the song -- seemed pretty straight-forward to me. Randy Jackson says it was an OK choice and a solid performance, but that was "just OK." Paula Abdul says his "Hungry Like a Wolf" left her with a healthy appetite. Simon Cowell says it was "a little bit copycat" and he didn't really make it his own like he has in other weeks, but it was good enough to get him through to next week, no problem.
Syesha Mercado tells Ryan she's so excited about the Top 10 tour and getting to meet her fans. Her first song is "Proud Mary," which she says has been covered more than 100 times. She admits she was nervous, but she told herself to just do it and have fun with it. She's definitely not trying to avoid that "copycat" line -- she's gone on a Tina-esque silver dress, and she replicates some of Ms. Turner's choreography, too. Did she have fun with it and entertain the crowd? Absolutely, but vocally it wasn't insanely awesome, and this is the final four. Randy says this is the third week she's shown up and been "in the zone. ... Very nice, very nice, very nice." Paula says she looks like a star and that she's turned into this woman with a magnetic voice and presence. Simon says he's sorry to put a slight damper on things, and that he thought it was "a bad impersonation of Tina Turner." She says she was just trying to have fun. He says, "Good. I didn't."
Jason Castro says "there were a few songs on the list that I knew." Well, that's good. He's going to sing Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff." And yikes, he seems really nervous and awkward. Randy: "For me, that was a really karaoke Bob Marley. ... There was nothing special about it. ... That just wasn't good for me." Paula says he performed more to the audience than ever (really?), but she wasn't crazy about the performance. Simon: "Jason, stand back. That was utterly atrocious. Sorry, that was a song you do not touch. ... This was like a first-round audition massacre. I don't know what you're thinking." Jason: "I was thinking, 'Bob Marley! Yeah!'"
David Archuleta says he's going to sing "Stand By Me," and that he's sung it many times at home, in his room, "to my dog or whatever," but he's never performed it, and he's very excited about it. Is it just me, or is he getting even more nervous in his interview segments? On stage, though, he does right by the song even though he changes it up just a little. Of the first round of songs, I'd say it was probably the strongest. The audience goes insane. Randy: "At least there's one guy who, every time he hits the stage, he's trying to win the whole thing. ... That was hot." Paula says it's hard being 17 in this competition, but she is especially impressed that he took Andrew Lloyd Webber's advice and communicated with the audience. Simon: "The truth is, you could have whistled the song, and it would have sounded better than the last song." He says David struggled a little bit, but, "In the grand scheme of things, I'm going to call that the best performance of the night."
David Cook says he set the bar really high with his previous weeks' performances and that he really thinks the judges were right about round one, that he could have done a lot more. He's taking on the Who's "Baba O'Reilly" for this round. Taking on the Who sounds like a scary proposition to me, but he does pretty well (though it doesn't hurt that it's an exceptionally great song). Afterward, he looks so excited to have gotten to perform that song. Randy says something is a little bit off tonight, but that this was more the David Cook they are used to. Paula: "I want more, I want more, I want more David Cook." Simon: "Welcome back, David Cook."
Syesha is back with Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." She makes a bizarre comparison to the song coming out during a pivotal time in American history and that this is a pivotal time in her life. Yes, comparing the civil rights movement to the making final four on Idol. But hey, she is definitely inspired. Randy says he didn't love the arrangement and that she was pushing herself hard, and that "it was trying to be something that it wasn't." Paula gives her a standing O and says she just wants to hug her. "You turned this into a superstar performance. ... Welcome to your dream, Syesha, this is it for you." Syesha cries, and so does Paula. Simon: "I have to be fair. And I have to agree -- with Paula." She cries some more and explains how much the song means to her.
Jason is "sticking with the Bobs" and singing "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan. This is better than the first round, but still. Could have been some dude at a party, not final four. Randy asks him how it was, and Jason says he lost some lines. Randy says he isn't in the zone. Paula says he's solidified his niche even if the song didn't blow them away. Simon: "Jason, I'd pack your suitcase." Um, yeah.
David Archuleta has chosen Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender" for his second song, which he has chosen because it's such a "romantic love song." His vocals are sweet and lovely, as usual, but he strips every little bit of Elvis edge that ever was in that song right out and makes it sound like a generic "romantic love song." Randy says it was another great performance, and he has the "hot vocals of the night right there." Paula says it was one of her favorite performances ever of his. Simon says, "You didn't beat the competition tonight, you crushed the competition."
So ... it's going to be over for Jason, right? Right?
Before the votes are cast, Ryan reminds viewers that this was the week Tamyra Gray and Chris Daughtry got kicked off, possibly because people assumed they were safe.