Season 7 Top 4 Performance – Recap

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Well, THAT didn’t turn out like I thought it would!

I had such hopes for this week’s theme–songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. Finally, a theme broad enough that would allow the kids some breathing room to chose the perfect song. Maybe it’s like a kid in a candy store. Too many choices prove to be overwhelming. Whatever the case, it’s another disappointing week of ho-hum performances. At this stage of the game the kids should be stepping up their game. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be happening–particularly in the case of Jason Castro who was unable to make a big comeback this week after 2 weeks of listless performances. It didn’t help that the judges shamelessly piled on at the end of his performances.

Jason had an uphill battle to begin with. Never mind the odds makers and the pundits who predicted that Syesha Mercado was in danger this week. As the last African American/Girl/Belter left in the competition, she didn’t need to do much to stick around. All three boys would have needed spectacular performances to knock her completely out of the game, and since that didn’t happen, she’s good to go. Really, Syesha, all that pandering to your base with the civil rights blather, the tears, the tight dresses–pretty much unnecessary. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

And who would have thought David Archuleta would best David Cook on Rock night? There wasn’t a WOW performance from either contestant. but little Davie managed to stand out in a way Cookie didn’t this week. What a weird and disappointing night.

Out of all the songs–there were 500 on that Rock and Roll hall of fame list–that David could have picked, he chose an effing Duran Duran song? WTF???!!?? So many bands, so many great songs. I just don’t get it. Even if you narrow the choices to the 80’s there are so many worthier bands. All I can remember about Duran Duran from back in the day were the legions of tweeny-fans and the band member’s interesting hair-dos. They were a lame top 40 band at best. Sigh. Anyway. David’s performance of “Howling like the Wolf” is solid, but forgettable. He speeds through the song with his trademark growl, but never manages to put his own stamp on it. Cookie is in the tough position of having so many “moments” on the show so far, that he’s going to have a hard time topping himself at a time where it’s crucial that he does just that. The judges aren’t very impressed. Simon thought it was a “little bit copy cat” but good enough to get through to next week.

Since Broadway! Syehsa! is working for her, she’s decided to run with it. Not only does she sing “Proud Mary” but she busts out some dance moves. She had to do something, ’cause this song is one of those Idol songs that needs to be retired stat. It’s been done on the show ad nauseum, and if I never hear this song performed on the Idol stage again, I’ll be a happy Idol fan. Short sparkly dress? Check. High heels? Check. Straitened do? Check. All the necessary requirements to channel the great Tina Turner are in place. Except that this performance–it ain’t Tina Turner. The vocals are OK, but the dancing is totally cruise ship. Randy says “Syesha is in the zone…nice going!” Paula says Syesha looks like a star. Simon thinks it’s a bad, shrieky impersonation of Tina Turner. Check!

What the…?? Seriously. “I Shot the Sheriff” is not a horrible performance. In fact, Jason is the most animated I’ve seen him on stage all season. The song is funky, groovy, Jason connects to the lyrics, and he puts his own stamp on it. This is not a typical pop song with an accessible hooky verse-chorus-verse going for it. I’d say it’s a very difficult song to pull off on the Idol stage. Having said that, I think Jason’s performance here is solid. Listening to the judges, however, one would think that Jason left a giant dump on stage rather than a musical performance. Holy cow, the piling on from the judges is just ridiculous. Let me guess. They really really want Jason gone from the competition. Randy, who has hated nearly all of Jason’s performances calls it karaoke and says he doesn’t get it. Paula doesn’t like it, but says that he won her over with his artistry. Simon delivers the crushing blow, “That was utterly atrocious, ” and then he compares it to a first-round joke audition. That’s after he declares “I Shot the Sheriff” a song you don’t touch. Really, Simon, a big fan of the reggae are you? Then he finishes it off by calling it a “massacre”. Even Ryan seems alarmed by the vitriol when he steps in to ask the judges why they look so ticked off. Randy continues with more haterade, while Simon goes back in for the kill, “The only thing that’s the same is the hair.” Paula, who probably still feels bad about screwing Jason over last week, asks the boys to stop it. Geez.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but Archie’s performance of “Stand by Me” is easily the best performance so far. David chooses the right song, and performs it with just the right amount of heart. It’s the best song arrangement of the night. David says he’s never sung this song in public, but has sung it many times to himself in his room. I get the sense that the lyrics mean a lot to young David. I still have issues with the arbitrary runs, but for the most part, I like his phrasing and the way he brings the song to a nice payoff without over-singing. The performance seems effortless. Good job. Randy goes all nutty like he always does with David, but at least this week the praise is warranted. Simon takes another opportunity to take a swipe at Jason, “You could have whistled that song and you would have been better than the last song.” Ugh. He says, “Very good choice of song, I thought you struggled a little bit at the end of it…” Randy and Paula protest. Simon finishes, “I’m going to call that the best performance so far.”

I was all prepared for a moment here. What went wrong? A poor arrangement of “Baba O’Riley”, a classic Who tune, stopped just short of the pay off. David starts the song off slowly, he begins to up the ante as he sings “It’s only teenage wasteland…” Here we go! When he screams “We’re all wasted!!!” it feels like the band is going to kick it up another notch, and then it. just. STOPS. In the Who version, the synthesizers kick in here and the song goes crazy. On the Idol stage things come to an abrupt end. Huh? Uh. OK. I’m looking for something –another verse–a big finish–SOMETHING. While Cookie has some great vocals here, the overall effect is underwhelming. Damn. Randy says there’s something a little different going on with David tonight, but that it’s more like the David he’s come to know and love. Paula says, “I want more David Cook.” Simon, who is surely trying to preserve that David/David finale he so desperately wants, says, “Welcome back David Cook!”

Syesha Mercado totally lost me tonight. In her video package she has the temerity to liken her own struggle on American effing Idol to the Civil Rights struggle. Self-absorbed much? Then, after she badly oversings the iconic Sam Cooke tune “A Change is Gonna Come” and is called on it by Randy, (in a rare moment of lucidity) she turns on the waterworks. I can’t say that Syesha’s sobbing is a calculated move, but I will say it reeked of desperation. I understand that she really really wants to make it to the Final 3. But, like I said above, all she needed to do was show up and out sing one of the boys. The antics tonight are just a bit over the top. And the vocal antics threaten to overshadow the simple, moving message of this beautiful song. Less would have definitely been more. The Screechy McScreechfest last note was particularly painful. When Syesha bursts into tears after Randy’s critique, she babbles on about how much the song means to her, and then Paula and even Simon step in to defend her. Simon says, “Randy is completely wrong…I thought you sang that song really really well.” And then, “You made her cry, Randy.” Welcome to the Final 3, Syesha!

EEP! Jason’s performance starts out well enough. His rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man” is heading towards a pleasant, if a bit derivative conclusion, until he forgets an entire line of lyrics. Oh noes. Hey, he’s not the first contestant to botch some lyrics, now is he? At least he keeps going, yes? A crime against humanity this certainly is not. He finishes the song, and beyond the muckup, it’s another solid performance from Jason. It’s no “Hallelujah” or “Somewhere over the Rainbow” but it’s not a trainwreck. But hell, Jason has just handed the judges another opportunity to rev up that bus. Randy says, “Jason’s not in the zone tonight, I don’t know what’s going on.” Paula says, “Obviously, it didn’t blow us away, but you blow me away.” Simon says, “Jason, I’d pack your suitcase.” I was rooting for Jason to rally tonight. If only he could have bucked up to the stress. But, it is this point of the competition that separates those who willing to do whatever it takes for the win, and those who can’t or won’t. For that reason, I think it’s time for Jason to head home.

David gets the last spot tonight. “Love Me Tender” is one of my favorite Elvis Presley songs. Here, unlike David’s first song, I don’t like the arrangement nor David’s rather adenoidal phrasing. Listen to Presley’s version, it’s simple, intimate and powerful. The vocal runs and the way David chooses to play with the melody do not improve the song. A simple, strong vocal performance would have been better, I think. Also, I’m really noticing David’s weird breathing here. On such a quiet song, it’s extremely distracting listening to David take an asthmatic breath after every line. But, overall, the performance is decent, and a good choice of song for the pimp spot. Randy says, “The hot vocals of the night, right there!” Paul says, “that was one of my favorite performances from you.” “David, ” says Simon, “You didn’t beat the competition tonight, you crushed the competition.”

Sigh. I’m not digging these last few weeks of Season 7.

About mj santilli 34830 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!