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