Randy Salas here to serve as your guide and critic for tonight’s American Idol broadcast. Let’s go:
ROUND 1 – Judges’ choices
David Archuleta is up first with Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes,” chosen by Paula Abdul. Once again, he changes up the melody too much for my taste, but this was a great song choice for him. His voice is just perfect for a song that should be more widely known. One problem is that the original song gains more weight and meaning over its duration, but this version was too short to capitalize on that. But I’m sure the average viewer is really concerned with meaning and development in the songs.
Syesha Mercado is up with Alicia Keys “If I Got You.” Randy Jackson picked it. He had “a feeling” she was into Keys? All he had to do was look on YouTube to see Syesha singing the same song on the ABC reality show “The One.” She sounds just like Keys, except more shrill and with half the emotion. It’s serviceable but nothing spectacular — and actually not as good as her previous televised version. The judges love it much more than I do.
David Cook gets nailed with Roberta Flack’s version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” a wicked curve ball from Simon Cowell. It’s not his style at all, and rather slow. But, man, does he wail on a song that no one would ever expect him to pick himself. This could work on the radio now with a more developed arrangement.
First round goes to Cook.
ROUND 2 – Singers’ choices
David Archuleta picks Chris Brown’s “With You,” a refreshingly contemporary choice for the little fella. Unfortunately, diction isn’t Archie’s strongest suit and he stumbles early over a few words and gets behind the beat. “Little mama”? That just ain’t right. It’s OK, but doing a current song can often be the death knell for an Idol singer because all of the young viewers actually know the song. And that was just aw-ight.
Syesha does “Fever” as her choice. She’s a working actress, as she has reminded us several times this season, so she should be able to vamp it up — with or without a prop chair. But I’m actually surprised at how straightforward a version she delivers, considering that. It’s “Fever” without the steam.
David Cook goes with Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” as his pick (not the previously leaked choice of Collective Soul’s “The World I Know”). I’m not wild about the choice, but let’s see how he does. The opening verse is shaky, but he delivers on the powered-up chorus. It’s just too short — man, the producers are killing the singers with the time limit tonight. Nothing special.
Second round goes to no one. They all just treaded water.
Round 3 – Producers’ choices
David A. does Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer.” Eh. I love the song, but it was not what I had hoped for from Archie. It comes across as pretty but insincere.
Syesha is back with Gia Farrell’s “Hit Me Up” from “Happy Feet.” Oh, man, she looks uncomfortable and she went out of tune toward the end. Ultimately, it wasn’t horrible, but what a sad way to go out for her. Each song she did tonight was weaker than the previous one. She clearly has lost her momentum.
David C. ends the night with Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” That arrangement was a bit of a mess, but Cook pulls through. Even when things seem off, he never loses control. That’s the mark of a winner.
Third round goes to David Cook.
Overall, Cook takes the night, but I was underwhelmed. I was hoping for a killer performance, but it didn’t materialize. It has to be David vs. David in next week’s finals. It won’t be worth watching if not.