"American Idol": The Unfab Four

Rock-and-roll night on "American Idol" should be a slam-dunk for this year's token rocker, David Cook, right?

He starts off Round 1 of this week's competition with Duran Duran's "Hungry Like a Wolf" because, he notes, it came out the year he was born.


Contestant David Archuleta performs at the "Idol Gives Back" show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Reuters)

He promises to add David Cookian twists to the song but if he has, they're well hidden. Judge Randy Jackson calls it just "a'ight" while judge Paula Abdul begins to ramble about his hunger being her big appetite, which raises the "American Idol" Decency Police Alert Level to Orange. Paula also tries to explain to the Former Coroner Munchkin how his appetite and her hunger enable her to endure being the only girl in the boys' club, but he's too busy doing his slow eye blink for the Mosh Pit Sorority Sisters who are weeping and wailing about their love for him, to listen. Judge Simon Cowell calls David C.'s version a "little bit copycat," which is like calling Paula a little bit crazy last week when she critiqued Jason Castro's first and second performances after he'd sung only one tune.

"Paula's got the appetite tonight!" show host Ryan Seacrest smirks.

Syesha Mercado wastes no time getting all I'm Syesha Mercado! on us, telling Seacrest she's sooooo excited to be going on the "American Idol" Tour because it's all about "being able to meet all my fans!"

She sings "Proud Mary," though it's a trademark Tina Turner tune and has been covered by about 100 others, because she talked to herself in her mirror and told herself to "Just Do It." She then tries to do Beyonce doing Tina Turner doing "Proud Mary." We've seen Beyonce doing Tina Turner doing "Proud Mary" at the Kennedy Center, Syesha, and you are no Beyonce doing Tina Turner doing "Proud Mary."

Even so, she's got Randy fooled; he says she "showed up." Paula begins to babble about facing the fear is when magic happens. Simon, the only judge worth listening to, calls it a "bad impersonation of Tina Turner."

And, just when we thought we'd be Nanny Brooke-free for the rest of our lives, Syesha goes all Nanny Brooke on us and starts talking over Simon, telling him patronizingly that his criticism of her "is okay."

"I was trying to have fun," she explains to him.

"Good. I didn't," Simon snaps back.

Randy says Simon got it wrong because Simon's from England but he, Randy, is from Louisiana. Syesha tells Seacrest she's trying to show viewers she wants to have fun. "I think your hips got very comfortable this week," Seacrest responds, in re her bump-and-grind-lite performance.

Jason, who, after a promising start -- that's my story and I'm sticking to it -- has devolved into this year's Sanjaya Malakar, wants us to know he only recognized a few of the hundreds of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tunes from which he had to chose. Of those, he's picked Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" because, he says, he's never performed it before. If there's a god in Heaven, Jason will never perform it again. And should he, by some miracle, get crowned this year's Idol he will never ever be allowed to record it. If iTunes is smart, it will strike this one from its "American Idol" offerings. Even Jason's family looks subdued after his performance.

How bad was it? Randy calls it Karaoke Bob. Paula says she's never seen Jason perform more for the audience and that he's so real and so genuine his "artistry shines through."

"Stand back!" warns Simon, before calling Jason's performance "utterly atrocious" and "American Idol" Bad Auditions Episodes bad.

"I don't know what you were thinking!" Simon says, summing things up neatly.

"I was thinking Bob Marley -- yeah!" Jason explains helpfully/cluelessly.

"It almost feels like Randy and you, Simon, are ticked off," notes Seacrest, Master of Understatement. Simon, now on a tear, insists the only good thing about Jason's singing was his hair -- our favorite "Idol" putdown ever.

David Archuleta, the Artist Formerly Known as This Year's Winner, picks "Stand by Me" because, he says, he's only sung it to himself and his dog, to date. After weeks of robotic performances, it's Baby Elmo's first sign of life, and Randaula loves it. Simon notes Baby Elmo could have whistled the tune and sounded better than Jason, but instead went further and delivered the night's best performance so far.

In Round 2, David C. sings "Baba O'Riley" by the Who. He's much better than in Round 1, though he's no Baby Elmo. Randmon says this is the David C. they love. David begins doing the slow-motion eye-blink thing he does when simpering, as Paula starts shouting, "I just want more!" and how "humbled" she is to "watch your soul" while the "American Idol" Decency Police ready their hypodermic needles.

Rascal Flatts is sitting in the audience, dangerously close to Baby Elmo's Scary Stage Dad.

I'm Syesha Mercado! says she chose "A Change Is Gonna Come" for her second song because it was about the civil rights movement but is now, for her, an anthem to her own journey on "Idol." She's weak in parts but fine elsewhere in the song, and besides, she's dresses as one of the minor goddesses in Greek mythology in a gown that perfectly frames her ample shoes. Randy does not love it, but Paula gives her a standing ovation and gushes, "Welcome to Your Dream!" causing Syesha to start bawling and blathering about her journey on "Idol," which, we all know, has included many turns on the Stools of Loserdom. Simon, mysteriously, agrees with Paula and points out Randy got it all wrong in re Syesha. Seacrest thanks Randy "for the buzz kill" and what follows is loads of cross talk among the judges, which gets shut down only when Seacrest shouts, "We're running out of time! 'Hell's Kitchen' is going to start!"

Jason's back, threatening us with "another Bob." But, mercifully, he does not mean another Marley tune, he means Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." He forgets a goodish chunk of the lyrics but does not, like Nanny Brooke, stop the song, blush prettily and tell the house band to take it from the top. No, he plays ahead and improvises lyrics that go "um, um, um, um, um, umpity um."

Randy, having run out of thoughts of his own, asks Jason how he thought he did. Jason laughs and says he forgot some of the lyrics. Randy finally thinks of something to say -- that Jason is "not in the zone" -- duh. Paula tells Jason that while he did not blow us away, he blew her away. The AIDP get out their butterfly net.

"I'd pack your suitcase," Simon advises Jason.

And, finally, Baby Elmo pulls out all the stops and sings "Love Me Tender," which he says is his very first love song, while the "American Idol" Camera locks in on a close-up of his face and hangs on for dear life. Randy praises him for caressing every word. Paula says she felt his heart. "You didn't beat the competition -- you crushed the competition," Simon raves.

Has Baby Elmo reassumed the "Idol" crown? Seacrest turns to the camera and reminds viewers this is the week Chris Daughtry went home on an earlier edition of "Idol" because we thought he was safe and did not phone in enough votes.

After which Daughtry went on to launch his hugely successful career while that year's winner has flamed out -- which Seacrest neglects to mention.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  May 7, 2008; 7:47 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: "American Idol": "I Am," Nanny Brooke Said. "Nuh-uh," We Replied. | Next: "American Idol": Perfectly Dread-ful

Comments

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First!

Posted by: Joester | May 7, 2008 7:54 AM

I just hope the Daughtry plea didn't bring out the Castro fans in droves! He needs to go. I would like to see a Syesha/David C. final. I think David A. is too wooden and uncharismatic. He has a very nice voice and is always on pitch, which is a feat this year, but he has no stage presence at least for me. The tween/teen set obviously disagree.

Posted by: anon today | May 7, 2008 8:01 AM

Little David did very well, but I thought we were doing Rock & Roll this week. Sorry, but I didn't see any rock or roll in either of his performances. And something about him makes me very uncomfortable.

Yes, Cook was a bit of a letdown on the first number, but the second was really good, although way too short. It's interesting how, even though all the performances were 1:30, Cook's seemed like they ended too soon and the others seemed to go on for eternity.

Still, I'm kinda glad Cook faltered a tad. I think it's better that DA resume his frontrunner status and DC go back to being the underdog, because he really came out of nowhere with no pimping early on to take command of the season, in my opinion.

Posted by: trishrosenthall | May 7, 2008 8:03 AM

Thought judges went a tad overboard in pimping Baby Elmo, though he did have a strong night.

For first time, was driven to download an iTune: this to hear full version of DC's Baba O'Reilly. Live version last night was outstanding, but seemed way too short and just whetted appetite for whole song.

Of all four finalists, DC is only one right now for whom would I buy a CD or see a concert. (Maybe he will go the Daughtry route and win by losing...)

Posted by: MAlan | May 7, 2008 8:10 AM

I follow Idol by the internet and enjoy the "we watch so you don't have to articles." How has Castro stayed on so long?

Another question is how has Paula stayed on this long? She is the joke of the show causing the producers to explain her actions throughout the season. Please find a more respectable judge.

Posted by: Coach | May 7, 2008 8:15 AM

I should have known that they would have gone with the broad definition of Rock & Roll. The WASH-FM definition. Because some of those songs weren't rock and/or roll, IMHO.

I'd expect nothing less from DA. He wouldn't know rock if it was looped on his iPod 24x7.

I think I would be giving Jason too much credit to say he's actually trying to lose this thing to avoid the limelight. It's either that or the weed that he gets in LA is far stronger than what he's used to back home.

There are conspiracy theories about this show being rigged. If there is any tampering to be done this season, it's to make sure Jason goes just in case the teenies keep him over Syesha. Because if he stays, this show will lose all credibility. (I know, I know, you can make an argument that's already happened.)

If DC goes (like Daughtry), I'm done.

Posted by: mdg | May 7, 2008 8:16 AM

If I were a conspiracy theroist I would note that the sound mix for the first round was atrocious, and made Jason sound even worse than he must have in the house. On David C.'s song, likewise, the band and backups were almost inaudible.

David A. didn't sing the melody on Love me Tender at all. I am a little tired of Wind-up Baby Elmo, frankly.

Posted by: mark | May 7, 2008 8:16 AM

Like it or not, young Archuletta won't fold. This seems to bother de Moraes, among others, to no end. He's well prepared and comes to sing. Castro has sleep-walked through his "songs" week after week and somehow stays. He should fianlly get the well deserved hook tonight. Syesha should be close behind him. Her owerwrought singing has gone on long enough. Head to Broadway, Syesha. You may fare better there in some show or another. David C. did okay on his second song, but the first one was sort of like hearing someone shout. Not a good choice or performance.

Posted by: Jon | May 7, 2008 8:20 AM

So true about the audio mix. Conspiracies abound....the band was only audible for Archuleta. And the praise heaped on him by the judges? For what? For being completely unoriginal week after week. I expect to see a storyline and some contestant growth before I deem them the Idol. Cook has got it, Archie is just a pageant queen.

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2008 8:34 AM

I agree with the other poster about expecting Rock and Roll- not a song that a rock band performed that is actually a ballad.

Here's my problem with David A. All his songs are the same, he has no variety, and his voice puts me to sleep. He'd be a great star on Broadway- but that's all. I think he would go the path of Taylor Hicks. I fully expect him to win though too.

Posted by: Arlington | May 7, 2008 8:35 AM

-Jason Castro has to go tonight even he doesn't want to be there. What kind of musician is he? Didn't recognize most of the song from "Rock Roll Hall of Fame" List. Jason is a poseur.

-Syesha and Ryan make a cute couple. She looke beautiful last night.

Posted by: Brooklyn | May 7, 2008 8:39 AM

Yes indeed, Jason should back his bags. If he doesn't, I will. Agree with MDG, if he stays the show will lose what precious little credibility it has. By the way MDG, LMAO over " It's either that or the weed that he gets in LA is far stronger than what he's used to back home."

Very disappointed in David C's first song. Two growly, not enough singing. Not a good song either. Much better second time and also left me wanting to hear more.

I actually really liked Sayesha's Proud Mary. I like that she has a personality and is not afraid to show it. Her second song was ok for me. I'm not backing her as a winner but I definitely would like to see her in the final against David C.

Last night was the first night I actually enjoyed Baby Elmo (but only if I didn't watch!) I liked both songs. Mom and Dad still should go take him to the opthamologist. He is still squinting. So annoying!


Posted by: hodie | May 7, 2008 8:41 AM

DC definately rocked it on Teenage Wasteland, but was strained on Hungry Like the Wolf. He needs to work on his do-do's.

Sayesha has really turned around in my mind. Maybe it is the hair. Maybe it is the fact that she looks more like a woman than a cover for 17. I didn't think Proud Mary was that bad even though she might have been doing the Beyonce thing. Long time coming was well done.

Tickle me Elmo is wearing very thin. Loyd Weber said keep them eyes open but it was sleepy time on the Elvis tune as DA was way up past his bedtime. Yeah he can pump out the crappy sappy ballads I will never buy and sing them well enough to make Randy goo and gush, but really he needs to show some more range.

Jason Castro, Superstar, who in the hell do you think you are? This guy is the running joke on teenage taste...dumb as a post, slacker, and with dredlocks falling off in food. Both songs were horrible and you could see the Judges really going well out of their way to make sure the viewing audience was absolutely clear on just how bad he is. He should have been gone weeks ago.

Posted by: Wiggan | May 7, 2008 8:41 AM

Their song choices came from the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame's top 100 (or was it 500?) most influential Rock N Roll Songs of all time. It wasn't just a random list Idol threw together.

Posted by: Songlist | May 7, 2008 8:49 AM

I thought the sound mix was worse than atrocious for the entire live show. They're supposedly doing rock & roll, yet the band was practically inaudible--a zero on the Spinal Tap 1-11 scale. Interestingly, on the recap clips at the end of the show (which are taped at dress rehearsal), the mix was fine. And on Jason's recap clip, they included the "jingle jangle morning" lyric that he had forgotten during the live performance.

Posted by: vegas | May 7, 2008 8:52 AM

Idol took another credibility hit right off the bat when David C. sang a song by Duran Duran, which is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!!!

Baba O'Reilly had potential if it wasn't so strangely edited to the point that it wasn't an actual song. I don't think David A. didn't kill the competition. David C. is much better. Jason killed himself by forgetting the lyrics to Mr. Tambourine Man. The first song might have sounded slightly better if the band and backup singers were audible. They have helped cover up a lot of mediocre vocals in the past.

Posted by: Rob | May 7, 2008 8:52 AM

Hey Jason Tambourine Man, la la la la la. Yeah, hopefully you packed your bags last night before laying down your stoner eyes and nasty dreds for slumber because I don't know how you could seriously think you'll be safe after that painful performance.

Of course, his um-um-um-um'ing could be his twist of Bob Dylan's lyrics. Can't understand a damn thing that man says anyway.

Posted by: jpstang | May 7, 2008 8:53 AM

I thought Paula was remarkably lucid last night... I didn't catch any prolonged mumbling or mentioning that she'd like to squeeze off someone's head and dangle their body from her rearview mirror.

I am a David Cook fan, and although I wasn't particularly impressed with his "Hungry Like the Wolf," I thought it was a million times better than both of poor Jason Castro's songs. I think that Jason's just ready to be done with the show-- he hasn't been gushing about how happy and lucky he is to still be around, like all the other contestants.

I'm hoping there's a Daughtry-esque shocker this week or next week, involving David Archuleta. That kid is perfect for Disney, but not for today's airwaves unless another boy-band needs a lead singer. If AI is really trying to rig it so that they benefit from the winner [i.e. record sales], then certainly they should be "pimping" Cook, not Archuleta.

Posted by: Pittsburgher_in_DC | May 7, 2008 8:56 AM

Rob, Hungry Like The Wolf IS one of the Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock, as compiled by James Henke, chief curator for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. FWIW, Incubus did a cover of Hungry Like The Wolf that David would have really rocked.

My poor Jason is just way out of his league now.

Posted by: Tina | May 7, 2008 9:06 AM

you know I actually thought Jason was trying to do the Dylan mumble but then he admitted he forgot the lyrics. Was bad either way! But it was hilarious to see him actually try to move and dance to "I shot the Sheriff". Those dreds were flying, would have killed me to see one fly off.

You know, the only thing that would make up for Jason not being kicked off tonight would be a David A kick off shocker. Agree with you Pittsburger. (But as I said, last night was the only night I liked his songs---but all of you are right, they were NOT Rock'N'Roll--don't think the kid has a rock and roll bone in his body). Did you hear how David A had never heard "Love me Tender" before? Should I be impressed he heard of Elvis?

Posted by: hodie | May 7, 2008 9:06 AM

Totally agree w/Wiggan re Castro. It's a joke that guy is still on as it is! I liked David C's 2nd song better than his 1st song; Syesha's 2nd song was better than proud mary for sure but she does need to keep the screech level down. I do like her singing for the most part; David A has a very nice voice and a lot more range than the rest. That being said, I think I'd like maybe David C and Syesha in the final two!

Posted by: WI | May 7, 2008 9:08 AM

Davis A was great..but I was a bit distracted by the caterpillars fighting for supremacy on his forehead!

Posted by: Brian | May 7, 2008 9:29 AM

It was clear to me that Paula's comments were rehearsed and likely written for her. She went from being unable to form a cognitive sentence all season to... well, what we got last night. You can bet your ass that the producers couldn't afford to have another replay of last week and all the negative attention that brought to the show.

Posted by: Paula hater | May 7, 2008 9:38 AM

Imagine, if you will, that you're not familiar with "Love Me Tender," and hear it for the first time coming from DavidA's mouth. Now listen to the Elvis version. You'll say to yourself that you don't recognize the song, because it sounded nothing like David's. It was pretty, but it wasn't "Love Me Tender." He made it sound as if he never sang a ballad before, when in fact he could easily have picked his numbers from the Treacle Hall of Fame, many of whose songs also happen to be in the Rock hall.

David C. was on autopilot on "Hungry." I had high hopes for "Baba O'Riley," but it sounded weird, as if it were played at a different speed.

Didn't anybody tell Jason that ganja affects your short-term memory? When he started "Tambourine," I said, "Gee, this song is actually up his alley and he could pull it off... Oh, no, he's stoned again and he's mumbling!"

Syesha raided the Grammy costume closet on "Proud Mary," but wisely because she knows where her assets lie. She seemed hurt that a black man would diss her "Change," which really didn't sound bad at all.

Posted by: JD | May 7, 2008 9:44 AM

This is getting down to the tough part....awaiting the 12 yr. olds to again crown another winner. Here's the real deal...David Cook has a shot at some success making "records" (as we used to say) and Syeesha will have a career, but probably not a hit song/radio one. As good looking as she is and comfortable with show tunes, theater, cruise ships, casino's and if she can act, hello Hollywood. David A has little chance of surviving in the music business. Speak to any producer today and they'll tell you that their job is to seperate good from great. While David is good, he is not great, nor does he possess an unforgettable voice or manner. He is, in the words of Randy, "aigh't" and that just ain't good enough anymore. A career on You Tube and Facebook does not an artist make. Oh wait, I forgot Jason....

Posted by: Alan | May 7, 2008 9:48 AM

OK, I'm going to be the contrarian here, but I find it interesting that while Syesha is told she falls short when she takes on a diva, David C. was not told he fell short when he took on an iconic voice of rock. His "Baba O'Reilly" was OK, but he did not approach the beauty and power of Roger Daltry's voice. And he didn't change the song up enough to distinguish it from The Who (in contrast to what he did with Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson).

Posted by: the anti-Celine | May 7, 2008 10:06 AM

I always tend to get bored at this stage of the game; the show has been at its best in previous seasons when there are between 6-8 performers in the competition because then the viewers get the most variety.

However, there's something different about this season. The last 2 episodes have been downright disappointments for me - and I don't think it's from lack of variety. Last week, it was clear the producers had bitten off more than they could chew and tried to cram WAAAY to much into one episode. I was not entertained in the slightest. In fact, their awareness of the time pressure was so palpable it made watching the show nearly unbearable (not to mention Paula's uncomfortable scene).

Last night, the production timing was better, but the sound was terrible. It never improved during the course of the show, either. I thought the sound really exposed David C's weaknesses the most, given the songs he selected - and this on a night where he really could have rocked it. It also contributed to Syesha sounding "shreaky" on Proud Mary. I think the contestants felt compelled to sing over the band, but we couldn't hear the band, so it sounded too forced to us.

The irony is that the sound problem really could have served to help Jason Castro because he doesn't use a lot of accompaniment. I thought his first 5 notes of Mr. Tambourine Man showed a lot of promise, but then he went and forgot the words to a whole verse. Castro's toast.

Posted by: Jumped the Shark | May 7, 2008 10:13 AM

Paula hater - I agree "producers couldn't afford to have another replay of last week". Ryan said slowly -- for Paula's benefit, and ours -- that each performer would be judged after each song, not after both songs like last week.

Jason "The Clueless" is just pathetic anymore. He is indeed WAY out of this league. I didn't think his ignorance of Broadway could be superceded by his ignorance of Rock. Pathetic!

Jon - I agree w/ you only re: David C. I had the same thought -- he was just phoning in the first song last night. Where was the rock "bop and weave"? Where were the gyrations? This is ROCK! Sell it!

Speaking of which, Syesha DID sell it. I don't understand those who post that Syesha is overwrought or similar. That is the female R&B voice -- Beyonce, Tina, and others who belt it! Proud Mary deserves that treatment. Anything less would be "not" singing! The other female voice of today is the Mariah/Britney/Rhianna method of invoking orgasm while singing -- the breath-behind-the-note. Syesha was terrific in both songs, belting out #1 and showing range and sensitivity in #2. Randy was way off in his review of #2. BTW, she cried not because of Randy's comments (although they didn't HELP the situation!) but because of Paula & (finally!) Simon's endorsement of her, and the weight of the emotions of the event.

Smiley Gator? -- just can't take him. I only see him as a Disney soundtrack voice. I can't stand to watch his squinting or listen to his "gee I'm shy" giggly conversation style.

Give me a Syesha / David C final, and tell David to let go and not be so subdued. I'm betting we're seeing his "TV camera" personna, but with his band, in clubs and arenas, I bet he cuts loose. Let's see it!

Posted by: RedRocket | May 7, 2008 10:19 AM

I religiously have watched every other season of AI, bu tnot this one. Last night, I caved and watched. Holy cow. This is the top four? Really?!?

Of them all, David C. musical taste is more my type. I loved that he did The Who! Syeesha was pretty good-she won't go home tonight mainly because Randy made her bawl and so now everone feels sorry for her. Jason was a hoot! Now this David "Baby Elmo" kid. Eek. How awful!! I mean, of all the songs to pick he does Elvis and Ben E King. Can you get any more unoriginal? Listening to the little interview segments w/him made me want to go through the tv and smack him. If he wins, the record industry will eat him alive.

Posted by: beaker | May 7, 2008 10:35 AM

RedRocket wrote: The other female voice of today is the Mariah/Britney/Rhianna method of invoking orgasm while singing -- the breath-behind-the-note.

Why I do declare, me thinks this is the first time we've had a Big-O mention on this blog! Woo hoo, made my morning.

Posted by: giggle, tee hee ... | May 7, 2008 10:45 AM

If we could just focus on THIS WEEK'S performances, rather than the locus. Thank you.

David C had a bad night. I didn't like his "Hungry Like the Wolf" at all, and while he was vocally OK on "Baba O'Riley", the arrangement was, for lack of a better word, stupid and repetitive.

Syesha had a typical Syesha night. She was OK. The good qualities of her voice shone through, she looked fantastic, and I even enjoyed her choreography in her first song. However, the bad qualities of her voice also shone through. She doesn't have as big a voice as she thinks she does, and she also has problems with her lower register. There's a lack of consistency across her range. And that hurt both performances.

Jason was a complete disaster all night. Nothing more to be said about that. Personally I think it was his form of seppuku. He knows he doesn't belong, so he gave a half-assed attempt. Yes, on purpose.

David A on the other hand seemed to be the only performer on his game last night. Both performances were very very good. He has a great voice, picked two perfect songs arranged to suit that voice. He really was leagues ahead of the others.

So Jason will go tonight. I don't think VFTW or even his normal fan base will be able to forgive last night's performances.

David C had something going on. Nerves, sick, whatever -- he definitely wasn't at the top of his game. And he'll have to return to form in a big way next week to fend off Syesha.

But right now, it's David A's competition to lose.

Posted by: Duodenum | May 7, 2008 10:53 AM

Who cares about the Idols - bravo to another week of laughs by Lisa!! You nailed it just right once again! Great job!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2008 10:56 AM

I agree w/ you Red Rocket.

Had hoped for more from D.C., but still prefer him.

I used to be underwhelmed by Syesha, but I think she keeps improving and deserved more praise last night. Sometimes Randy's comments leave me thinking "WTF!" And the tears were a reaction to Paula's praise. Syesha is not a crybaby, and I appreciated her genuine emotion last night.

I cringed through all of Castro's efforts. And what was with the guitar on Bob Marley that he seemed to barely use? A prop? The song would have been better if he had a joint in one hand. His 2 choices were perfect though for solidifying his stereotype.

I was completely underwhelmed by D.A. I was shocked that Simon gave him the praise that he did - maybe he is smoking Jason's weed.
I thought they were actually poor song choices in that they really are mature love songs. While David's voice is mature for his age, his presentation and style don't ring true. Love Me Tender creeped me out and SORRY, as Simon says, it simply wasn't amazing singing. Phil the Sailor from (last season)has the right voice/style for those songs, as does the truly talented Elliot Yamin.

Although David A. may win this, I have doubts about his success because his performing style and personality are so awkward. Maybe with professional
coaching...

According to DialIdol, Jason is out. If he's not, I don't think I can bear to watch this show anymore.

Posted by: Idle fan | May 7, 2008 11:08 AM

Who is worse. Sanjaya Malakar or Jason Castro. I think Jason is much worse. How far along did Sanjaya come last year. I forgot. Was he in the top 4. I still can't believe Jason is in top 4. Yuck.

Posted by: Rose | May 7, 2008 11:09 AM

I'm actually kinda curious- are bloggers actually sincere when they discuss authentic rockers, great potential artists, and high quality American Idol seasons? I guess my enjoyment for the show varies greatly from the demographs of this blog but to me the entire production is more of a circus than an opportunity to discover new artists. Really how much of a chance can America (or for that matter earnest record executives) have in discovering the true talents of singers when they are forced week in and week out to perform songs in wildly divergent styles ("make neil diamond current") not to mention the amount of songs they must learn (and change to make it their own) in addition to the never ending publicity train that they must endure.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the show and its ridiculous conventions. But these people are singing songs that they will likely never revisit in their career (and if they are revisiting them it says something to who they are as an artist and who the fans are as fans). I'm sure David Cook can one day actually fancy himself a rocker and that Syesha will be able to legitimately vamp up stages and etc- but right now they are taking part in the biggest reality show on television. It is silly to expect something different.

Anyway, I really like this blog and think that the hyperdermic needles/butterfly net might have been the funniest thing Lisa wrote this season but I think that those out there that suggest even a modicum of offense over any of the contestants (be it David A's insufferable blandness, Cook's smugness, Castro's Look At His Hair I Bet He's Smoked Potness, or Syesha's Syeshaness) need to take a breath, watch the real world news for a bit, and then go back to smiling ironically at one of the more amusing shows on network television.

Posted by: repricer | May 7, 2008 11:13 AM

I have two compatible theories about Jason Castro:

1. Having impressed upon him the "seriousness" of this popularity contest, er competition, Jason actually tried to perform straight last night.

He was so earnestly trying to be earnest with "I Shot the Sheriff" that he forgot folksie "lite" isn't reggae.

He reminded me of the old UNCF TV ad "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." He could be their poster boy.

2. Re self-styled "soccer Moms who love Jason" - these ladies must be "soccer Moms" like Mary Louise Parker's character in "Weeds" is a "soccer Mom".

The only reason I can think of they'd be happy if their daughter brought home Jason is so that he could become a Lieutenant in the Family Cartel.

Otherwise, we learned nothing we didn't already know watching last night's show.

David A is no Elvis - and when Elvis sang "Love Me Tender" he had a different kind of "whole lotta love" on his mind.

David C is no Roger Daltry - and when Daltry sang "Baba" we had a different kind of "whole lotta love" on our minds.

Syesha is no Tina Turner - for that matter - she's not even Beyonce - and Lisa is dead on with those comments.

I've actually seen Tina Turner in performance - twice - at her peak. Nobody is Tina Turner except Anna Mae Bullock. Heck I had Ike & Tina Turner on 8 track.

They had an X-rated "whole lotta love" on their minds - not PG-13.

Jason is no Bob - no Bob, nowhere, no how, no siree, Bob.

What I actually think might happen is that if the people who really vote are tweener girls - Syesha may be this week's casualty - unless all that tweener vote is so split among the three boys that she's saved and one of them goes home. And in their infinite wisdom, somehow, in the pit of my stomach, I think it won't be that Bob wannabe - because this show's already jumped the shark.

Posted by: Jean | May 7, 2008 11:16 AM

A question for those of you who know more about the logistics of the show than I do:

I didn't see the whole show yet -- I taped it and fast-forwarded just to watch the performances late last night.

Lisa mentions that Rascal Flatts was in the audience. I believe that Rascal Flatts also performed on "Dancing with the Stars" last night -- which was on the air live at 9:00 p.m.

So ... if both shows are live (and I believe are taped in the same general studio area???), would RF have dropped in to watch "American Idol" at 8:00 p.m.and then have run to wherever in time to be ready to go on live with DWTS shortly after 9:00 p.m.?

Posted by: abigail | May 7, 2008 11:26 AM

Sticking bamboo shoots under my fingernails would have been less painful than listening to Jason last night. I didn't think he could get any worse, but he surpassed his previous bad, stoner, mumbling, no-talent performances.

BTW - "...the weed that he gets in LA is far stronger than what he's used to back home." I also LMAO.

I think Syesha did well and looked great. She stepped up to the plate and hit a triple. Also think her tears started after Randy unjustifiably panned her. She probably thought that if yo - dawg was negative, Paula (of the 'no original thought tribe') and, especially, Simon would follow suit. The flood of tears had to be of relief.

DC just hasn't had "it" the past couple of weeks like in previous performances. He seems to be elsewhere.

DA, in spite of the pi$$ing and moaning about him on this blog, was the best last night.

In another vein - What is it with Fox and its selection of women judges? Paula is in outer space on a good day, and that woman on So You Think You Can Dance is a nightmare. I tried watching SYTYCD its first season and finally had to give up because of her voice. The screeching is unbearable. It's like 150 decibels of fingernails on a chalkboard.

There have to be other qualified, talented women who can replace those two.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | May 7, 2008 11:31 AM

Jean - LMAO! over the "... these ladies must be "soccer Moms" like Mary Louise Parker's character in "Weeds" is a "soccer Mom" comment. If only the housewives on my own cul-de-sac (trust me - these women ain't no Wisteria Lane/Real Housewives of Orange County/NYC) were more like a MLP soccer mom, the world would be a happier place for you and me!

Is it just me or does anyone else notice a lack in their own productivity on Wednesdays and Thursdays? LOL

Posted by: jpstang | May 7, 2008 11:32 AM

Abigail - you are right about Rascal Flatts. They were shown briefly in the AI audience (early on in the program) and then performing on DWTS right afterwards. A question of logistics also crossed my mind.

Posted by: Jean | May 7, 2008 11:34 AM

Although Jason is giving us great pain lately, Rose, I don't think you remember how bad Sanjaya actually was. He was Danny Orteiga bad. Maybe it was the teeth. Maybe it was the fauxhawk, but the singing was very very bad. I don't think he made it as far as Jason. But Jason, honey, time is up! You've outlived your 15min of fame.

Posted by: hodie | May 7, 2008 11:35 AM

I didn't like Syesha at all at the beginning of the show. I used to send a vibe to have her voted off early on. But these last 4 weeks or so have impressed me. I have actually voted for her. WI, you're right; she does have a screech in her voice. I thought I was the only one who heard it and was bothered by it. Red Rocket, you're wrong. Syesha cannot sell R&B. She simply doesn't have it. She can Vanessa Williams-type music. And I always thought Jason Castro had a weak voice, but his stage presence often lead me to vote for him in the past. Last night,though, I felt really embarrassed for him.

Posted by: dcp | May 7, 2008 11:38 AM

I've seen through Jason Castro from the beginning, and have been bewildered by a few bloggers here who actually considered him talented. To me his only high point was "Halleleujah" from Shrek. All downhill after that ...

Last nights offerings from Jason wer self-indulgent trip - at best. I almost think he botched it on purpose, as a slight to "Idol".

Gotta laugh at him forgetting an entire chunk of Tambourine Man (and early in the soneg, to boot).

He should have nailed those songs. It would be like Carrie Underwood botching a country song.

Cook was really off last night. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought the sound mixing was atrocious at the top of the show. It was like Cook was singing with faint music in another room; it really revealed how much the backing sound hides a lot of out of tune singing, etc.

Posted by: Leave Marley in Peace | May 7, 2008 11:42 AM

I believe Syesah started getting teary DURING her song, if you look back. She started getting watery-eyed maybe 2/3 of the way through (i.e., I do think the sentiment of the song "got to her").

Paula's praise just tripped the flood-gates.

Posted by: Leave Marley in Peace | May 7, 2008 11:44 AM

I would like to see a David A. and Syesha final. I agree David A. has less stage presence but he is the best for every song.
Even he is very young but when he sings he has his soul in his song, very mature (with his age) and very professional. David A. makes you a little more presence in the stage!!! David A. deserve to "American Idol" this Year.
David cook is good as well(but not as good as David A. Baby Elmo is the best)another but anytime I look at him I want to tell him go home take a shower or bath before come to the stage. His dirty hair is very bothering me.
I agree 100% with Simon "Jason should go home".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2008 12:02 PM

If they chose from the RnR's HoF "500 Songs...", what would you choose for them?

Cook should have gone with "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division. He might have pulled it off if he didn't scream.

I think Archuleta should have sung Dr. Dre's "Nothin but a G Thang."

Posted by: Xopher | May 7, 2008 12:03 PM

DWTS is taped across the hall from AI. Same studio lot.

Posted by: JEN | May 7, 2008 12:04 PM

jpstang - you know, I think there are really only two "neighborhoods" in all of America. The one is Agrestic, the other is Stepford.

It's not for nothing that EW's Sleazak calls the Mosh Pit Sorority Sisters "swaybots". I keep waiting for one of them to violently malfunction - sort of like a CMT Awards audience member who climbed up on the stage with Alan Jackson and totally shook her booty until some stage director person dragged her off.

Anyway, I know in which neighborhood I live - at least on Wednesdays and Thursdays - and yes - if you are anywhere near the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor - that was me totally rocking Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" all the way to the Orange Line this AM.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are rockers (despite the latter's foray into CMTland with Alison Krauss). I tend to agree with another poster that Idolettes are, mostly at best, poseurs. It is what it is - and sex/drugs/rock & roll, it's not.

Posted by: Jean | May 7, 2008 12:06 PM

Jean, Jean, Jean...you kill me:). Weeds, soccer mom, LMAO!!!
Ok so Syesha didn't do Aretha as I predicted; she went for TINA. She gave good Tina-lite so hopefully she'll be safe. David C oh what a disappointment. I really thought he would bring it. This should have been his night. Maybe he wants to go home now so he doesn't have to ruin his career with the crappy Idol cd. David A although I can't stand him he really was the most consistent last night. I just wish he stop with the sap & sugar. Poor Jason. I kinda feel sorry for the guy but its time for him to say GOOD NIGHT RALPH! nuf said. leave marley in peace--great name.

Posted by: ldjackson58 | May 7, 2008 12:09 PM

OK - so I must address some of your comments about Jason. He is not a stoner. He is a really good guy. He is unbelievably laid back -- which has been misinterpreted as stoned. He just turned 21, has been thrust into the limelight and all of the contestants are probably living an out of body experience with all that they have to do and all that they are exposed to. It's got to be tough. I totally agree that Jason blew it big time last night and I was disappointed with how he handled it, but again, he is only 21 and this has got to be a wild road for all of them. I read people's critiques and wonder what would you be like in their shoes. Seriously. Some of you need to get a grip. I love how we have all become music critics after so many years of Idol. The reality is that for the most part these are inexperienced young people who are thrust into the limelight in a couple of weeks who are asked to do impossible things -- like learn 3 or 4 songs they sometimes have never heard of, pick out wardrobes, do interviews, be in a music video and who knows what else. Give these guys a break.

I'd love to know what people would say about you if they were observing your every move on the job and in private.

Posted by: jasonfan | May 7, 2008 12:14 PM

I've always liked Castro's voice IF I close my eyes when he's singing. It's obviously not a strong voice, much more folksy, but when you're not looking at the dreds, it's okay.

DC seems to be off -- maybe it's because things might not be going too well with his brother who's dying from cancer??? I don't know how he voluntarily lasted this long with such a tragedy hanging over his and his family's head. Kudos to him for even trying. And I hope he loses so he can also do the Daughtry thing.

Please, God, don't let Archie win. Please please please. 'Cause then I wouldn't be able to ever watch AI again, and sometimes it really is a lot of fun. But there are lines, and that's one I just couldn't cross over, if a kid who doesn't have a clue about stage presence, or hall-of-fame greatness, or keeping his eyes open (have any shrinks looked into this -- maybe he closes his eyes because he's really just being forced into this by his wacko dad? and he closes his eyes to escape from it for just a few moments?). Why DO the judges think he's so wonderful? Good lord, he's boring and he's not that cute.

Oh well. I think it's been a great season. Only DC has the chops, but at least we won't end up with another Taylor Hicks. Oh, wait. Oops. Maybe we will with ElmArch.

Posted by: Lane | May 7, 2008 12:14 PM

Lisa! How could you let Syesha off so easily for her whole bit about how surviving the tractor seats of doom on American Idol is like getting attacked by dogs and hosed down by cops in the name of racial equality? (She also told us the Civil Rights movement was very important. Yeah, thanks for the history lesson.) The little peak-a-shoes window she was wearing didn't exactly lend gravitas to her performance either, not to mention her unconvincing attempt to sing with emotion. I can't decide if that performance was worse than Taylor singing "in the ghet-tohh." Hmmm. Wait a minute...Okay, it was worse.

Posted by: SyeshaMustGo | May 7, 2008 12:20 PM

Agrestic (now Majestic, wtf??)vs Stepford. Now that the Dems might make it back to 1600 Penn I'm looking forward to leaving Stepford behind and returning to the sun & fun of Agrestic. Especially since us ole farts are becoming empty nesters and can stop pretending to be so prim & proper...but I digress :)

Posted by: ldjackson58 | May 7, 2008 12:22 PM

Jasonfan - I'm not the one having an "out of body experience" - presently, that is.

No one "thrusts" anybody onto national TV. They thrust themselves - and sign waivers; unless they are under 18, in which case I assume their stage parents sign the waivers.

My performance at work is continually observed and is recorded for posterity on an annual performance review. It becomes part of my permanent personnel file. Get a job in my HR dept. and all will be revealed.

As for my private life, I am quite sure I am as surveilled as much any other person in the US - and I think that's a rather considerable amount thanks to CC TV, among other technological developments.

Maybe you're simply one of the people who never saw the clouds of smoke come out of the "Mystery Machine" (a/k/a van) every time Daphne, Shaggy, Velma, Fred and Scooby Doo opened the door - but the show was created in 1969 and reflected the pop culture of the day.

In the same way, I think many of us posting here reflect the pop culture in which we grew up and know firsthand. And that pop culture not only includes walking a mile in those Dr. Scholls - it also includes reading between the lines of code-talk euphemisms like "unbelievably laid back".

Oh - I believe it all right. If only he hailed from California, Sappho is right, I might well think of him as a "surfer dude". As it is, I see plenty of signs that he's riding a totally different kind of wave - and I'm simply "reading" them.

Posted by: Jean | May 7, 2008 12:42 PM

Thing is, "jasonfan" - the guy can't sing. Period. He has a weak, girly voice, half the time can't even carry a tune. But, hey, if that's the kind of music you like, you can buy his cd should anyone ever allow him to record . . .

Posted by: WI | May 7, 2008 1:01 PM

jasonfan, my 13 and 15yo have more maturity than Jason and would be able to come up with coherent responses unlike our favorite "laidback" dude. And they would not wilt and blather like our other young friend, Baby Elmo, whenever an adult looks at them. Anyone pick up on the comment that David said "you scare me when you look at me" to the judges? He has been sheltered too long to have that reaction to adults and he is supposed to go into show business?? Maybe its good he has a scary stage Dad....

Posted by: hodie | May 7, 2008 1:22 PM

Jasonfan: Any musician who wears dreads and can't sing Bob Marley in a decent manner (not good or great, just decent) is a 100% poseur. Considering Jason went UT-Austin, oh please, there Marley wannabes there just like at most large uiversities. Wyclef Jean (the Ultimate Marley Wannabe) would whip Jason's a#@ for that terrible performance.

Posted by: Brooklyn | May 7, 2008 1:32 PM

ldjackson - You know Agrestic (aggressively majestic) became merely Majestic only when it became TOTALLY STONED and saw God. I rest my case.

Hodie - I understand completely why Idle Fan said David A's version of "Love me Tender" creeped her out. When he squints his eyes at me and sings about love, it scares me, too!

And then he gets all breathless as if merely THINKING about the possibility of a cougar in his "audience" has wrung it all out of him.

The business of show business will eat this poor kid alive. And based on what I know about it first hand, if his stage parents are too "scary", really good agents won't want to fool with them because ultimately it just won't be worth it. So I pity him all the more if he can't fall into the clutches of really good professional management.

Posted by: Jean | May 7, 2008 1:38 PM

Given the poor audio of last night's show it's hard to tell who did well and who didn't. It's the sound guys who need to be sent home.

Posted by: SoCal | May 7, 2008 1:38 PM

"Proud Mary" is a CCR song. John Fogerty wrote it, the band had a huge hit with it, it epitomizes their sound, and it's still a staple of classic rock radio. Tina Turner covered it. The cover was well done and a hit, but calling it a Tina Turner song makes one seem ignorant.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2008 1:40 PM

Two Quick things about Syesha:

1) She did fine last night, but She's got a problem when she belts. She goes off-key, every time. She always has, and she hasn't fixed it. She does much better when she doesn't try and belt. If you can't hear it, that's cool, I've noticed that people often confuse vocal volume for vocal quality because the ability to belt at all is impressive. The ability to belt *on-key* is outstanding. I think Syesha lacks this ability.

2) Someone pointed it out earlier, but I also found Syesha's comparison between the trials of the Civil Rights Movement and the trials of her being on a sining-related reality show to be ignorant at best, and in poor taste at worst.

I lied, 3 comments...

3) She said "Proud Mary" is a difficult song to sing, which couldn't be further from the truth. We have the Karaoke Revolution American Idol edition, and actually had to ban anyone from singing Proud Mary because it was so easy to get a ridiculously high score.

Posted by: Duffman | May 7, 2008 1:56 PM

Posted by - you are technically correct. But Syesha wasn't doing CCR - she was doing "We never do anything nice . . . and easy" Tina Turner.

For that matter, on the same album (I think) as CCR's "Proud Mary" they covered Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly".

In both cases, however, I think, when we hear the song title, we probably think of Tina Turner and Little Richard respectively - not CCR.

CCR makes me think more of "Bayou" or "Susie Q" or "Bad Moon Rising." (which will now be stuck in my head on 24/7 mind loop until next week)

Ultimately, there's no right or wrong answer - it's a bit of an aural Rorschach test. But the Syesha visual put us squarely in the Tina Turner camp revival tent.

Posted by: Jean | May 7, 2008 2:00 PM

hodie - good commnent re: David A "scared of the judges." I caught that too and thought WTF -- he can't stand the heat? or was that comment supposed to make us feel sorry for him?

jasonfan - you are one lonely fish swimming against a strong current. If I were Jason "The Clueless One" I would 1) not admit my ignorance of music each week on a nationally televised music show! 2) remember the words, above all else when it is my job to remember the words. 3) consult a fashion expert 4) at least try to expand beyond a coffehouse performance EVERY TIME when different genres are presented for exactly that purpose.

SyeshaMustGo -- (I can't believe I was just trapped into typing that) you are by far the greatest Syesha hater on this blog, second only to LdeM herself, who shows her cattiness every time she reviews my girl. Duff, you're possibly third, my man. I don't hear the off-key belting, nor do I think that (her) volume is a way of covering for quality. Plenty of divas belt and no one accuses them of covering for lack of tone.

All -- the current vibe on the post is strongly in favor of seeing Syesha blossom in the past 4 weeks to the point of many agreeing that she and one of the Davids should be top 2. Like in earlier weeks, don't ding her for not being Tina Turner (Mariah, Whitney, whomever) but rather judge her for delivering what is at core, just a song. Beyonce blatently imitates TT yet you and others don't slight HER for it. SyMustGo wrote of Sy's "unconvincing attempt to sing with emotion". ??!!@?! What? you didn't see the emotion come out following the 2nd song?! Her fragility was a reaction/relief to the backstory/context of the song merging with Paula and Simon's endorsement! Many seemed to relish that genuine moment -- some saying it was high time Syesha showed some genuine emotion. I will agree with Duff that comparisons to the Civil Rights movement and Sy's situation were a bit uncomfortable. But she has only a few seconds to introduce each song or gab with Ryan. I won't begrudge her for an off-the-cuff remark, especially when 1) she was emotionally fragile at the time, and 2) it is evident that she at least did some research to try and understand the context of "Change". Heaven forbid anyone ask Jason what HIS songs mean to HIM!

WI - I agree. If jasonfan wants to stand alone in line for Castro's CD, so be it! If Jason ever -- EVER -- writes and records his own CD, that somehow becomes a hit (the World will end) I will eat these words. He can no longer even copycat others -- how in the world is that twit going to pen a hit tune on his own accord? What's he gonna write about? "Um, er, I don't know. (Laughs) How about that tie you're wearing? (Laughs again)"

Posted by: RedRocket | May 7, 2008 2:27 PM

LOL - My morning cup of coffee on Wed/Thurs. MUST be accompanied by Lisa's column. First the print version, followed by the fuller on-line version. And after lunch coffee with all you bloggers. Jean- I practically spit up laughing at your comments. LMAO.

Okay, yeah Bob Dylan wrote and recorded Tam. Man, but it was the Byrd's version which everyone knows best (if you know it at all). I still love the Byrd's version. Jason's cover was ignorant of the musical possibilities. He didn't have to do Byrds Lite, esp. since he is solo, BUT, it could have been musically pleasing - it doesn't demand great voice range or resonance - just in tune and with soul. It was an easy song, and his weaknesses were further exposed by his complete failure.

Also, I don't buy this, "gee they're just kids under all this pressure" defense. I look at my kids' friends, many of them with bands, and they are VERY professional and talented. They laugh AT this show. Because?

The auditions are very rigged. Hundreds of talented singers never get the chance to perform before the "judges." Think about it: the scenes of 10,000 people in a stadium. Come on folks, R,P,& S don't audition them all. Fox producers triage it to send forth some tv-interesting talent and sideshow freaks.

My 16yr. old son's high school music dept. had its annual spring concert this past weekend. AT LEAST 6 of the senior solo vocal performers from the choirs alone could outperform David A. and J.C. at any time: incredible voices, musicality, stage presence, and interpersonal savvy/maturity. Though performing more classical works, I have seen/heard some of them in the school musicals, fundraisers doing pop/rock, etc. Every school in America probably has at least one student with the musical chops to be competitive on AI. It's with that perspective, that I am critical of the idolettes.

And now that we are all scratching our heads saying, "how could the final 4 be so unimpressive," which they really are, well, we really didn't get most talented. We got some talent in various musical, demographic niches to cover all the market bases.

I think the self-congratulatory tone of AI and Seabiscuit is finally getting to me. This IS NOT a talent competition. It is money-making entertainment, plain and simple. AI never had much credibility as a talent contest, and the longer it is on air, the more apparent that is. Laughing at it is the real entertainment which is what makes Lisa's column such a breath of fresh air.

If it were not for Lisa's column, this blog, and Simon, I'd stop watching.

Posted by: Idle fan | May 7, 2008 2:46 PM

Mr. & Mrs. Mom & Dad Mercado cordially invite you to the wedding of their daughter, Syesha, to her biggest fan, RedRocket.

Posted by: But, I love her... | May 7, 2008 2:47 PM

RedRocket - I agree with you, and as a previous Syesha doubter, think/feel as you do. Most successful singers are not the VERY BEST, always on-key performers, as we all should know by suffering through too many mentors' performances. But, Syesha has overall talent, professionalism, and marketability. From a business perspective, she is absolutely worth the risk, because in addition, she seems to be a very smart, mature performer. My biggest complaint before was that she lacked authenticity; was a pageant princess-type. In last few weeks and last night, she persuaded me that she was more. I now look forward to seeing what she can do.

Posted by: Idle fan | May 7, 2008 2:58 PM

Given the number of regular, devoted bloggers to this column, I think you all should organize a gathering at some sports bar type place (Ballston-Rosslyn corridor for Jean)for the final unveiling of this season's AI. ;-)

Posted by: Amused by it all | May 7, 2008 3:01 PM

Idlefan ... I can speak first-hand to your comments about the auditions and the fact that so many talented young people never make it through the first round. One of my students auditioned last summer, in two different cities, and didn't get past the first round either time. In the first round, there are a line of tables in the area or wherever, with two or three staff people at each table. In my student's case, they were going up to the tables in groups of five, I think. They were told that they would have between 15 and 30 seconds to say their name, say what they were going to sing, and sing.

In Charleston, Chris (my student) said that two of the staff people wanted to put him through to the next round/step, but one did not, and only the unanimous picks got sent through.

At the Pittsburgh auditions, they asked him to sing a second song, which he did. Then they told him them didn't think he was ready this year.

Chris was 16 at the time (he's 17 now), is personable and cute, and has a beautiful tenor voice. He's in a special music program at his high school and performs regularly. He's also done some professional theatre. He sings pop, Broadway, top-40, and classical music. If they were looking for a Josh Groban type, that's Chris.

He and his mother said that at the auditions, they couldn't figure out just how the decisions were made on who went to the next round and who didn't. He said they heard some people who they didn't think were especially good who were sent to the next round. They also heard people they thought were wonderful who never made it past the first round.

I'm probably not sharing anything that the readers of this blog don't already know, but it was interesting to me to hear all this directly from people who were there -- at two different auditions -- especially because Chris is indeed so talented, yet didn't even have a chance to get to Round Two.

Posted by: Abigail | May 7, 2008 3:22 PM

I was SO disappointed overall by last night's program, which could have been great given the range of choices after weeks of insufferable mentoring by over the hill/comeback stars (except ALW who gave great advice and really didn't fit the typical mentor niche, but rather surpassed it.)

Despite that, it made me look forward even more this a.m. to Lisa's column and this blog. It's a relief to know that people don't accept the silliness presented on AI.

You didn't disappoint. Great discussion. I agree with: Dreadlocks is a goner; Syesha gaining momentum; Baby Elmo is insufferable; and David C. was off his game. Of those remaining, he still is my favorite.

I rewatched D. Cook's performances last night and concluded that he has hard time with 1.5 minutes because he is kind of a slow builder into a song, and the songs he tends to choose have that approach, which makes it worse when they are edited. He wasn't bad, he just wasn't as good as we have come to expect. But I think if those songs had been 3minutes, we'd all be singing differently today.

I also think that David C.'s voice is more satisfyingly resonant than Elmo's , but because he doesn't choose to croon ballads, it's less obvious. But when he does follow a lengthy melody line, it's satisfying in a way that I don't find David A.

Posted by: Holly | May 7, 2008 3:23 PM

Abigail, thank you for your story, and it's not surprising. I'm just surprised no one has yet done an expose of this whole process on AI. I think it is important for people such as you who work directly as a teacher/coach/mentor to students in performing arts to inform them of the capriciousness of these kinds of auditions/shows, so that they are not personally discouraged.

My familiarity with this comes from family connections to acting/theater (stage and film). I have heard plenty of stories about a playwright or director wanting one person and the producer vetoing it for someone else they deemed perfect for "market".

This is exactly why AI is a complete joke as a talent competition. It is not. It's strictly entertainment offering a false illusion of honest opportunity to the masses. Consistent with all reality tv programming - not reality.

Posted by: Idle fan | May 7, 2008 3:40 PM

Hmm. Speaking of absurdity in reality tv programming, if any of you have ever caught an episode of 'The Bachelor", you'd know how farfetched these kinds of shows are.

I swear, at my university, I could have found 2 dozen women, with far more smarts, personality, character, and "HOT" looks than any of the women I happened to see on an early episode of the current Bachelor (while channel surfing). Felt sorry for the dude, thinking he was getting the cream of the crop. NOT.

None of these competition shows give you more than average ability, etc. I think that is why people watch them, they aren't threatened by who they see. They can watch and feel superior, because they usually are.

Just sayin.Anyway, keep having fun at the expense of AI. It really is lame.

Posted by: Amused by it all | May 7, 2008 3:53 PM

I see that as we near the final, we get more popular here on the divine Ms. deM's snarkfest.

First, I have to say that I am really surprised at the judges and the general view of David A's performances. To me, his "Stand By Me" was the most karaoke song of the night. I have sung karaoke probably a dozen times or so and have heard that song done many times. And I have to say that I would place Baby Elmo's version about middle of the pack. I've heard those same melismatic runs many times, they are far from original. And he has the stage presence of a dead fish. He stands there with slumped shoulders and bad posture and sings. He has the coordination and movement of a bag of old cement. And it sounded like his last 12 songs. I thought it was completely boring. And his "Love Me Tender" was creepy. A prepubescent boy singing an Elvis love song is like having an androgynous woman in dickey coveralls do a robotic striptease. Please. The king was the epitome of masculinity and he made women's knees weak singing that song. And some kid still waiting for his first burst of testerone doing a ready-for-muzak version is supposed to impress?

But, it was still leagues better than Jason. As I wrote elsewhere, so this is what Jason Castro's nightmares look like. The only thing missing was that he didn't have to perform naked (*shudder*). It's been beaten to death how bad he was...and that was both songs. It would be a travesty if anyone but Jason went home tonight.

Last, I agree that Syesha thinks that her voice is much bigger than it is. She continually tries to do the big diva bit and she really isn't quite up to it. Even last year, there were three divas (Melinda, Lakeisha and Jordin) that could outsing Syesha in that category. However, she does do the R&B thang well. When she goes for style over belt/volume, she really sells well and competes. That aside, I think that the last 4 weeks she has definitely improved. For the first several weeks, I thought she was lucky to be in the top-10. Now she has shown that she's a top-5 contender. However, it may be too late for her to compete well since the others have all had their fans set for some time.

We'll see.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | May 7, 2008 4:12 PM

About the AI auditions. I've read several field reports of people auditioning. From what I can tell, the teams of asst producers that do the first round cuts are looking for people who can sell entertainment in 30 seconds for whatever reason. Let's face it, good singers are a dime a dozen. You only have to go to an Actor's Equity cattle call audition and you'll see hundreds or thousands of which half or more are really good singers. You have to cull for more than just singing ability. Since this is a reality TV show, they cull based on entertainment value on TV. Some are good singers with presence, some are picturesque (think Sanjaya, Amanda O and Danny N). And remember that once they get to the finals, ostensibly, they go for the marketability of the contestants. Hence, they have a lot of reason to go with the popular vote. In theory, the ones who get more votes, in whatever way, will help them sell Idol tour tickets, Idol final-12 CD's and ultimately, bolster the market value of AI in general. They are trying to build popularity rather than actually rate singing skill. A pure talent competition does not bring in the cash.

And just for reference, Sanjaya finished seventh last year.

And it's funny how everyone seems to remember the Tina Turner version of "Proud Mary". I first heard the CCR version and that's the version that comes to mind when I hear it. I know that I've seen a ton of Tina-wannabes singing this in Karaoke, but it always seems strange to me as I always hear that rough male voice singing it and having a belting female sing it sounds weird.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | May 7, 2008 4:25 PM

Amused - a sports bar? Mais non! It would absolutely have to be a karaoke bar - preferably an Australian one, so that when we spit out our beer, no one would mind.

If I would sing karaoke in Japan in Japanese (and I did), I would sing karaoke anywhere - including the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor. I do a reasonable cover of "Crazy" (no - not the Gnarls Barkley tune - the Patsy Cline one).

Idle Fan - thanks for the shout out - but I really think today's Geezer Gotcha Award has to go to Idjackson for "GOOD NIGHT RALPH". I'm still chuckling over that one.

You are quite right to observe that this is a big (somewhat inside) joke - and that we must entertain ourselves by "getting" it. It ceases to become fun when - like on DWTS - some poor snook starts taking all the sequins, glitter and fringe a bit too seriously.

I also agree with several of you that Syesha has certainly improved - but that her talent and voice are not as big as she thinks they are. I also hear her go off-key as she tries to reach the money note.

When she said "I looked in the mirror" - I fully expected her to say next "and I told myself I'm just as good as Tina Turner or Beyonce" because I think she believes it. But I don't.

My own mother says of David A. "Well he's a very YOUNG 17" which is as polite as I think you can be. Biz sharks are just going to view him as chum.

American Idol is particularly funny in juxtaposition with HBO's recent "John Adams". I watched all the episodes carefully, and I'm quite sure I never heard one person say "Give me glitter, or give me death!"

But it's the thought I'll leave you with today.

Posted by: Jean | May 7, 2008 4:25 PM

Am I the only one that heard someone from the crowd yell "Jason Castro you are pathetic!" when the judges were crushing him after the second song? I had to rewind my TiVo to be sure, and yep, someone did. Probably the best AI moment I've seen during this crappy season I'm sorry, Ryan Seacrest just reminded me that this is "the best season ever!" I hope Jason Castro makes it through purely for the comedic relief. But dude, just because you have dreads gives you no reason to kill The Man's (Bob Marley) masterpieces. You're white and you're from Texas, not Jamaica.

If anyone is a poser, it's David C. A rocker? Really?! He rips song arrangments from other bands and acts like he made them up. I mean, he even admitted to being in a broadway group in high school. Rock on dude! Rob Zombie has nothing on David C.

David A. is annoying and his gooey, "hug me I'm cute" thing makes me want to hit him. When his b_l_s drop will someone let me know, please?

I hope Syesha wins. She's hot. Nothing else to say about that.

Basically, this season is the death-knell for AI. They hit their high-water mark a couple years ago and the countdown is on til the time the producers want to "save face" and end its run.

Posted by: The Dude | May 7, 2008 4:26 PM

Well, hate to remind y'all, but AI is still the number 1 show on television, so prepare to snark on. The show may change, but I doubt it will improve - it can't much. So enjoy.
But I do want to do what Lisa says and take a weedwhacker to the Mosh Pit chicks. Easily the most annoying thing about the show.

Posted by: Amused by it all | May 7, 2008 5:03 PM


gotta come to jasonfan's defense, just to get yous all riled again! even I said oh no after those performances... he is what he is however, he doesn't overreach. He's disarmingly charming, in a 21-year-old uncontrived laid-back stoner kinda way. He may be safe! I am not going to bet on it tho. Sadly. Who ya gonna hate next week?

Posted by: Ellen705 | May 7, 2008 5:14 PM

whoooa DadWanabe, first time I've read venom from you! Agree 100% re David A.

As far as the audition process goes, why do you think so many people come dressed up, or are intentionally ridiculous (if not genuinely crazy). A large portion of contestants are put through not because they are good, but because they will get ratings. A lot of good contestants in the beginning would make for a boring audition show. Unfortunately, Randula and Simon show us time and again they are not infallible and put some of these marginally talented singers through. I wonder if sometimes it is intentional then as well. All for the ratings and maybe one or two will be good enough to make $$$ with record sales.

Posted by: hodie | May 7, 2008 5:48 PM

Does anyone know the full background of the judges? Simon, I get and appreciate.

But Paula? She is a "pop" has been and I don't recall exhibiting any great talent in the what, 80's? I was too busy starting my career and later marriage to notice or care who hot performers were then. I stuck with my college favorites and genres. As a judge, she is useless except as laugh.

What's with Randy? I can't believe he is the success he makes himself out to be. After watching this show for last 3 seasons, I keep thinking, "huh"? I find it hard to believe that a real mover in the music industry would be so inarticulate and shallow, week after week.

I think the biggest improvement to show would be to replace Paula and Randy, in that order. But then it wouldn't be so fun to snark about. I don't know how Simon sits there and tolerates them, but he is in his own zone and doesn't give a s**t. Good for him. Sanity-saving.

Posted by: Holly | May 7, 2008 6:34 PM

I loved I stirred the pot with my Jason comments. I don't get the Scooby Doo reference that one of you bloggers made. So, we'll see what happens in a couple of hours. The bottom line is many of you are watching a show that you find disdainful. Maybe you should switch the channel and find something else to criticize. Or look in the mirror and give yourself a good critique. Really, this is reality TV and millions are watching it, which probably the saddest commentary of all.

Posted by: jasonfan | May 7, 2008 7:28 PM

I'm watching the results show right now...LMAO at Jason Castro -- "You gonna tell us right now?". As if he hasn't been around and doesn't know that pronouncement isn't made until 9:59. Sheesh. He was unbelievably poor last night, but there is something about him...disarming charm, I think someone said. I think he's done, but the ability of the tweeners to vote improbably is never lost on me.

This is a small thing, but a big thing, and might be because I'm not a Syesha fan (though I concur she's been improving over the last month). The line of the song is "It's been a long time coming, BUT I know a change is gonna come". That tiny preposition makes a HUGE difference in the meaning of that song and as a huge Sam Cooke fan, it bugged me.

If Jason goes home, the weed business in LA is going to have a HUGE recession.

Also...Paula was stunningly lucid (for her) last night...and she had no cup. Coincidence? I think not.

Posted by: tyeinmd | May 7, 2008 9:29 PM

And Syesha hits the top 3. Is this where I get to say "told you so!" to all you Sy snarkers?


Posted by: RedRocket | May 7, 2008 11:21 PM

Sorry hodie...the judges drooling over Baby Elmo finally got to me. I admit that his cover of Bryan Adams' "Heaven" in Hollywood week impressed me. Since then, he's been good but not great and then to have them wet their pants over mediocre karaoke was a little much.

I personally think that the final should be the Cookie Monster vs the DivaWannaBe (a girl after my own nickname).

Regarding the audition process...the shame is that there is room for some 200 performers to go to Hollywood from 6 cities; 40-50 per city. The judges see about 200-300 performers in two days. One would think that more good singers could make it through to the judges. We already know from this year that of the top 24, about 5-6 of them had absolutely no air time. So we know that decent singers can run the gauntlet without getting on air. So it's a shame that more decent singers don't make it to Hollywood week.

Well, I think that Captain Dreadlocks lasted three to four weeks longer than he should have, but I think that this is a reasonable top three.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | May 7, 2008 11:37 PM

I am so glad you watch this show and I do not have to watch it. I do not care who makes it as the final contestant standing, because I don't think the professional music world will really hear anything of them once the show is over (can you say Clay Aikens?).

Also all the hype is sickening from the Paula drama over whether she has enrolled in the Anne Heche school of reality, to the pompous self important Simon.

I only wish we had more educational/news programs to watch, sans violent content.

Hollywood has just hit another pothole in the road down.

P.S. The only reason I know about this stuff is because I also read the LA Times.

Posted by: Big Sam | May 8, 2008 3:17 AM

I am so glad you watch this show and I do not have to watch it. I do not care who makes it as the final contestant standing, because I don't think the professional music world will really hear anything of them once the show is over (can you say Clay Aikens?).

Also all the hype is sickening from the Paula drama over whether she has enrolled in the Anne Heche school of reality, to the pompous self important Simon.

I only wish we had more educational/news programs to watch, sans violent content.

Hollywood has just hit another pothole in the road down.

Posted by: Big Sam | May 8, 2008 3:17 AM

I am so glad you watch this show and I do not have to watch it. I do not care who makes it as the final contestant standing, because I don't think the professional music world will really hear anything of them once the show is over (can you say Clay Aikens?).

Also all the hype is sickening from the Paula drama over whether she has enrolled in the Anne Heche school of reality, to the pompous self important Simon.

I only wish we had more educational/news programs to watch, sans violent content.

Hollywood has just hit another pothole in the road down.

P.S. The only reason I know about this stuff is because I also read the LA Times.

Posted by: Big Sam | May 8, 2008 3:17 AM

to big Sam,

Well aren't you special!?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2008 9:00 AM

He just wanted to prove that he hadn't forgotten his words...so he repeated them three times.

Posted by: Who me? | May 8, 2008 12:16 PM

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