American Idol – Top 4

Theme: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Top 500 Rock and Roll Songs.

Two song performances per contestant.

David Cook sang “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Baba O’Riley”. An okay vocal performance on Wolf, but he looked liked he didn’t care; like he was doing a sound check performance. Also, in his pre-song clip he talked about how he changed it (the song arrangement) up, but I didn’t see any evidence of that. While he was singing it, I was wishing he’d have taken the song and turned it into a torch ballad or something. That might have been interesting. This performance wasn’t. It was OK, but nothing more. His Baba O’Riley was much better, but again, there was an energy and excitement missing from behind his eyes. Also, I found the arrangement a bit off. It took too long to build through the first part, and then plateaued and spent too long at the same energy as he sang “teenage wasteland” over and over again. Maybe not the right song to try and interpret in the 2 minutes or whatever he has to sing.

Syesha Mercado sang “Proud Mary” and “A Change Is Gonna Come”. My problem with Syesha isn’t the way she looks. My problem is that when she sings, she never seems convincing enough in conveying the emotion she’s portraying. She plays the emotion instead of feeling the emotion. In other words, I think she’s not that good an actor. I felt that way with her Proud Mary performance. Good but somewhat dishonest. Her version of “Change” seemed honest and true, though, and while not the best vocal I’ve heard from her, it was her most powerful. Like Randy said, she did too much with the song, adding too much to it, and it would have been better if she remained truer to the original. Points off for that, but points on for emotions that appeared honest (during the song, I mean. The crying after the song was obviously an honest display.)

Jason Castro sang “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man”. Last night was the night when I became firmly convinced that Jason is a bit of a dim bulb. Previously, I’d been thinking it’s just his laid back ‘whatever comes’ attitude that would sometimes come across as dimwit. But I think dimwit is the predominant character trait now. Sheriff was a terrible performance. Terrible. An awful arrangement, a lazy performance. I just didn’t get it. Tambourine Man, despite the terrible faux pas of messing an entire verse of lyrics, was actually a pretty good Jason song. Like Syesha, I find he has trouble being “real” when he sings, and while he dipped in and out through the song, I thought he had some very good moments during the performance. It was just inconsistent, and when it wasn’t good, it was bad. Jason Castro, I’m SO over you!! Omigod, I can’t believe I liked you once! Squeal!! Gross!!

David Archuleta sang “Stand By Me” and “Love Me Tender”. After weeks of middling, boring performances, David nailed both songs tonight. I can’t decide if Stand By Me was the 2nd best performance of the night, or if Syesha’s “Change” was, but there’s no question that “Love Me Tender” was leaps and bounds better than anything else performed. Just when I was wondering whether David had entirely lost the spark he showed early on in the contest (before final 12), he came back big time this week. He’s absolutely the hands-on favourite to win.

Aw, who am I kidding. Vocal talent has little to do with it anymore. It’s personality and fan-base at this point. Great performances are important, but not as important as those cheek-dimples whenever Archuleta smiles.

Who leaves this week? I’d only be shocked if Archuleta gets booted. I’d be amazed if that happens. Castro deserves to leave, as I think he’s the weakest (mind) of the four. But I’m ready for any of them other than Archuleta to leave. Who can predict the Idiotic Masses of America ™?

I’ll say Castro leaves.

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