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Uninspiring American Idol Top 8 Review April 9, 2008

Uninspiring American Idol top 8 Review

By Erika Blake

Pictures courtesy of WireImage

Talk about a weird night on AI. Last night’s Top 8 theme was Inspirational songs and I think what best can be shown about last night’s overall competition is what the show would be like if our forerunners were not on it…the show would just fall flat. All of the top leaders bombed or didn’t quite hit that perfect mark leaving the weight on the shoulders of the less qualified to really pick up the slack.

I honestly can’t rank the performances last night, in the words of Gordon Ramsey – we’ll examine the worst and work our way up to “the best of the worst.”

My choices for the bottom 3 are – Syesha, Carley, and Brook.

Syesha Mercado

Syesha made a HUGE song choice blunder in picking Fantasia’sI Believe” to sing. Why she chose one of AI’s winning songs is beyond me, but it bordered on desperate. She started off shaky and although her voice was pleasant, like Randy said it was impossible not to miss Fantasia’s unique gravel in the song.

That aside, I personally hate the diva comparisons that Randy and Simon are constantly harping on, especially considering in the weeks ahead Mariah Carey – the ULTIMATE Diva – will be on as a mentor and everyone will have to sing one of her songs.

Syesha’s take on the song was solid, but she just didn’t do the song justice and unlike last week where her performance dripped w/ emotion, this week she fell flat.

Carley Smithson

I really hate putting Carley in the bottom 3 this week, but her performance put her here. I’ve never been a huge Carley fan but last night as she belted out Queen’sThe Show Must Go On” (an ODD choice for the theme btw) I started seeing glimmers of the artist that expect to see whenever she takes the stage. Simon commented that she sounded angry in the song – frankly, it was that raw anger that appealed to me the most in her performance. After weeks and weeks of her doing one sappy torch song after another, I realized what I’ve been wanting from her – I want her to be the next Alanis. Carley looked fantastic last night, she got up there and for once could’ve had all of the makings of a killer performance – I was actually awake and grooving with her rendition of the song, then ½ way through she fell completely flat and didn’t even end the song on a long high note.

Carley’s been really inconsistent, she’s got a great voice, but she’s done nothing to define herself throughout this competition. She should’ve come out as the hard rocker chick like Alanis from the outset, if she’d done that she’d be unstoppable. Unfortunately, I think it’s possible that the show WILL not go on for her after this week.

Brook White

Brook probably had one of the overall best vocals of the night with James Taylor’s You’ve got

a Friend, her voice was magically pure and 100% Brook White, however, the performance was rather blah. Rather like the crooning songs that Chikezie insisted on singing that eventually got him booted off, this performance came off as very old fashioned and could’ve been on the radio in the 70’s but certainly wouldn’t be on pop charts today. Brook seems to have lost her confidence some and if she stays in another round needs to get back to just enjoying herself by being true to her voice and style, her fans love her, but she’s slowly losing her sparkle and needs to get it back quickly to make it to the top 5.

For the “top 5” I really didn’t really hear a single, standout winner last night so I’ll just run down the rest of them in no particular order.

David Cook

David’s had a hard week and last night it showed. Our leader who is the king at taking risks took a huge one this week and bombed. He picked a band, Our Lady Peace, who isn’t a household name and chose their song Innocent for the night. David picked a song that meant a lot to him and that he obviously loved. In theory I didn’t mind him picking a song that I’d never heard before, Chizekie did that in the top 20 week and scored big time by making the song his own. David on the other hand failed to grab that magic.

The first run of the song he held the mic way too close to his mouth and it sounded like he was about to swallow the darned thing making it was near impossible to hear the lyrics. The chorus parts were better and the last ½ of the song improved dramatically. Overall, though the performance was a mess. He should still be safe on the strength of his previous performances, calling in on his line last night it was the most busy out of the 4 I called in for, so I doubt he’ll be heading home. He just needs to pick another good song next week. All contestants are usually allowed one bad week, he just can’t afford to do another one after this to stay on top.

Jason Castro

Yeah the judges went bezerk for his Israel Kamakawiwo’ole‘s Somewhere Over the Rainbow. His voice was lovely as usual and seeing him up there playing that tiny ukulele was rather amusing and impressive at the same time. It’s always nice seeing that the singers can play more than one instrument. Jason was very sweet and did a pleasant performance, but knowing that rendition quite well, I didn’t hear anything original to his take on it, take this in sharp comparison to season 2 when Kimberly Locke sang the same song and her bluesy rendition of Judy Garland’s classic made it an AI classic performance.

My problem with the song choice was that for all that the judges seemed to think the version was fresh and original…try telling that to us night owls who watch lots of late night commercials. I can’t place for the life of me who’s hawking what, but I think there’s a cruise line that’s currently using that song in their promotions. So when I heard him start to sing it, it just made me think that it was between breaks and time to go into the kitchen and get a drink. Again though with everyone else falling flat last night, at least Jason was vocally consistent and pleasant to listen to, he was better than many of the others, but considering how poorly most did, that’s not really a ringing endorsement.

David Archuletta

I’m in a minority here, but I just don’t see why the judges keep crowing on about David. I keep waiting to connect to him again like I did when he sang Imagine – it hasn’t happened.

His version of Robbie WilliamsAngels was alright last night. I found it to be incredibly annoying that the judges didn’t rip the performance apart the way that they did when Brook did Every Breath you Take – his performance had the EXACT same problem as hers did that week. The second ½ of the song the band came in and overtook the performance, you couldn’t hear him playing the piano any more and in many ways I felt like the piano was a prop more than an extension of his performance, unlike whenever Brook plays it.

My main problem is that it seems like every week David choses the same song week after week but just puts a different spin on it. He routinely selects the sappiest song out of the bunch and for me ends up being completely forgettable. Agreed, his vocals in the second ½ of the song were better than the first, but overall I just didn’t connect to the performance and can’t for the life of me remember it.

Michael Johns

So Mr. Sex on Legs came out and belted out Dream On by Aerosmith last night. Frankly I think the judges were too hard on him, he did a great job, his own sound brought a little uniqueness to the song as Steven Tyler usually screams them, Michael added some crooning to it.

Women get Michael even on his “off weeks” where the men do not. The man just oozes charisma and the fact that he usually picks some of the sexiest male singers in rock to emulate and use for his song choices does not hurt him in the voting arena.

Surprisingly Michael nailed the giant notes at the end of the song without cracking, that surprised me…a lot. What rather pisses me off is that the judges constantly harp on Syesha & Carley for tackling the divas of pop/rock because they just pale in comparison to the originals – last night Michael took on one of the hardest male singers (who could almost be viewed as a male diva) in Rock and nailed the vocals and instead of praising him, they were blah about it.

That all being said, Simon was right about one thing, when Michael does take on the big rock standards even though his voice is usually dead on and he rarely cracks, his versions of the songs are not original. If anything the fact that he didn’t try to truly mix up the song in any way held him back from being the lead singer of the night. In the end though – I’d happily listen to his song over and over again.

Kristie Lee Cook

So Kristie Lee came out last night and sang Martina McBride’s Anyway. If I had to go over the entire list of performances last night, shockingly, I think Kristie Lee might’ve had the best performance of the night. Vocally she didn’t crack, she started the song w/ her arms flat at her side and I was expecting her to perform like a robot again, instead she started swaying to the music and moved her arms and actually performed.

The song itself vocally didn’t seem overly challenging, but considering Kristie’s no Wynonna Judd in the power lungs capacity, she did alright. The performance was even, it climaxed nicely, she didn’t kill my ears unlike other weeks, or conversely I wasn’t bored out of my mind by her singing (unlike last week.) Was the performance memorable? No, she still has a big problem of infusing any real personality into her performances. But the fact that Kristie Lee who needs A LOT more vocal training to ever be considered to be a top rate country singer won the night last night only proves how poorly everyone else performed.

Remember Tonight is American Idol Gives Back at 7:30 tonight on FOX – guest stars include Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Robin Williams, Snoop Dog, and many, many more.