American Idol: Archuleta On His Way Home?

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Last night on American Idol we heard songs written in our top ten contestant?s respective birth years. Despite Paula?s festive sequined and satin gloved ensemble, the tone of the evening was more ?couldn?t care less? than ?party dress.? A cranky Randy was harder on the contestants than ever, matching Simon?s pessimism in response to a string of blas? performances. Thankfully, David Cook was able to save the snoozefest, giving a maybe-pregnant Carly Smithson and a maybe-not-as-talented-as-we-once-thought David Archuleta a run for their money.

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Two-year old Ramiele Malube would steal the microphone from her parents and relatives at karaoke parties. It?s so easy to imagine our Malaysian songstress waddling up to the stage and shouting, mostly because that?s what she did last night. Her screaming version of ?Heart? was embarrassingly out of tune, perhaps due to a strained voice and illness. She would be a sure bet for elimination tonight but, as Simon noted, her appalling performance from last week did little to convince America to stop voting.

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Jason Castro was given a toy guitar as a little boy and has been faking it ever since. His version of Sting?s ?How Fragile We Are? sounded like a subway performer with less the ambition. His laid back approach was a little too cool for our judges, who all questioned whether Jason was taking the competition seriously. His response? ?Yeah, I see where you?re coming from, I should practice more I guess, yeah, for sure.? Clearly, it?s time for Jason to focus a bit more on that guitar and less on grooming his dreadlocks.

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Syesha Mercado has been trying desperately to render herself likeable and ?goofy, ? sharing her bizarre baby cry for the second time during her pre-performance clip. While the footage of Syesha sticking her tongue out at the camera and ?getting zany,? seemed completely put on, her performance tonight was a genuine expression of her vocal prowess. She powered through her retro song choice, ?If I Were Your Woman,? without a single pitch problem, bringing new life to a potentially cheesy disaster. Paula said she was creating magic, and Simon and Randy noted it was her best performance to date.

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Despite his childhood soundtrack of Nigerian cultural music, Chekize has a weak spot for cheesy love ballads. Sadly, Chekize?s old school ?If Only For One Night,? did little to lift the ballad out of the past. Obviously still stuck on the leisure suits he abandoned a few episodes ago, his performance was completely corny, allowing little of his creativity and energy to shine through. Simon wondered out loud to whom Chekize might be dedicating all of his ballads, suggesting they were perhaps more for himself than his audience. Whoa. I see work cut out for the Idol Therapist (It?s true! They have one!) if our cuddly crooner lasts past eliminations tomorrow.

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According to Brooke White?s parents, Brooke taught herself how to play piano as a little girl. She just walked up to the keyboard and knew what to do. Not tonight. Our favorite blondie had to start her brave but ultimately sucky version of the Police?s ?Every Breath You Take.? Not to worry though, everything Brooke does is perfect, even her correction of her own mistakes, and the judges praised her professionalism. I?d love to see the classy Ms. White tackle something a bit more gawdy if only to ensure her a place higher up in our top ten.

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Michael Johns was a competitive, arrogant, aggressive little boy. Apparently, not much has changed. His version of Queen?s ?We Will Rock You? was sung with the fervor of a four-year-old on a sugar high, but shined in comparison to the rest of tonight?s mediocrity. Yet while our other contestants have at least made an effort to fake a likeable personality, Michael Johns has done little to complicate his studly a-hole persona. I?d love to see our resident frat boy try to scrap together some sincerity next week.

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Carly Smithson is pregnant, according to Fox News. I buy it — sort of. Her version of ?Total Eclipse of the Heart? was so-so (evening sickness?), and in her post performance talk with Ryan, she admitted that she went to the bathroom before her performance (pregnant women go the bathroom!). Plus, she?s married (married women have babies!), and looks a little chubby.

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David Archuleta is super bummed ?cause he?s missed a few school dances back home. He may even miss his own prom! Who will he take if he makes it back in time? David wouldn?t reveal his lucky date, but clearly has someone back home in mind. Don?t worry dear Patty, Stacey or Mark, if David doesn?t stage a comeback after tonight?s awful version of ?You?re the Voice,? it looks like you?ll be wearing his corsage. Simon aptly described his performance as something one might see at an amusement park, accompanied by anamotronic animals. David, snap out of it, will you?

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The truth about Kristy Lee Cook is she?s totally crafty and trashy. This week Wenn photography revealed photos of her with Britney Spears; apparently before the star went psycho she mentored Cook and signed her to her since-collapsed record label. Yay! Her country shtick is far more interesting now that she?s got a trashy past. To gild the lily, Cook made a transparently calculated song choice, ?God Bless The U.S.A.? obviously selected for its mass appeal, a move so tacky it would have made Britney proud.

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David Cook seems to be the only contestant getting progressively better every week. His tortured ballad version of Michael Jackson?s ?Billie Jean? was brave and, in Simon and Randy?s words, ?brilliant.? The version was a bit bizarre, but showcased David?s voice beautifully and proved his capabilities as an artist, not just an act. It would be great to see David in the competition until the very end, but unclear as to whether America is interested in such a low-gloss winner.

Tune in tonight to watched Ramile or Chekize get eliminated!

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