American Idol: Carly Booted From Great White Way

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After Tuesday?s train wreck, how would the six Idol hopefuls fare? The musical theater songs of Sir Andrew Lord Webber, as the judges rightly noted, are more complex than most of the pop hits the contestants have so far taken on; the bigger voices carried the night, and the more musically adept performers seemed closest to making it to the next round. But how would America vote?

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To begin, the six Idols gave a pneumatic performance of ?All I Ask of You,? the famous love duet from Phantom of the Opera. It?s a giant, emotional song, and unsurprisingly, was not particularly convincing from the sextet of nervous singers. But they plunged through it credibly enough. The evening?s other new performance, ?Bleeding Heart? by Simon prot?g?e Leona Lewis, dwarfed it easily?not that there was much competition.

A montage of scenes from the night before reminded viewers of the performances: the good, the bad, and the worse. Syesha surprised with an excellent rendition of ?One Rock ?N? Roll Too Many,? the evening?s best; Carly did well with ?Superstar,? a song suited to her enormous voice; the Davids did fine, as usual; and Brooke and Jason were poor. Sad Brooke took the majority of criticism on Tuesday, which was unkindly reprised last night: she forgot the lyrics to ?You Must Love Me? less than a minute in, paused, composed herself, then began anew and sang the song straight through. It?s the kind of gaffe that any rational mortal would pardon and ignore?the pause was literally seconds in, and barely disturbed the performance at all. But Idol, including the usually merciful Paula, was aghast. Brooke, looking shell-shocked and terrified, clearly thought tonight was her night to go.

But, as it turned out, it wasn?t. On the contrary, Brooke was not?to her clear surprise?even in the bottom two. Neither were the Davids (of course). Syesha found herself once again in the hot seat: while discussing her performance with Ryan, she looked blissfully at ease and confident in her performance. But once again she found herself at the bottom, and off she trotted to the perilous chairs.

The other obvious candidate for the bottom two was Jason, who spent last night butchering ?Memory? from Cats. The performance was, all admitted, abysmal, and Jason looked haunted as he waited to hear his fate. But his teen girl fan base had spoken, and Jason was safe. Instead it was Carly, Tuesday?s other strongest performer, who found herself in the bottom two.

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In the end, Carly was sent home. As one of the strongest, most consistent voices in the competition this season, Carly seemed destined for a place at the top, and her removal this week feels unjust, a vote based more on popularity than on talent. It may be inevitable that after watching the contestants for so many weeks, personalities (or physical attributes) assert themselves more strongly than singing voices. But it?s a low week for American Idol when a genuinely talented performer is sent home while at least three less qualified contestants carry on to sing next week with Neil Diamond.

–Matthew Schneier

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