Saturday, May 03, 2008
Brooke White Rides into the Sunset, Paula Sees the Future
I think Brooke knew she was going home. There was a certain resignation on her face as she took the stage for her final cheesy group number, the five remaining Idols paying homage to their mentor-of-the-week Neil Diamond (who coincidentally has a new album coming out, imagine that!) An undeniably talented performer who perhaps understood the entire time that her Carly Simon vibe wouldn't ever earn her the title of top vote-getter among the under-14 demographic that drives this competition, White went as far as she could, and turned out perhaps one of her best performances in her final week with Diamond's classic "I am, I Said."
But in true Idol fashion, it wasn't Brooke's ouster that grabbed headlines this week. Everyone's favorite space case Paula Abdul must have popped a double dose of those pharmies this week, sending herself into some alternate universe where Jason Castro had sung two songs when he had only sung one at that point. Awkward!
We've now reached a final four consisting of a precocious balladeer, a commerical rocker, a dreadlocked coffeehouse refugee, and a Broadway-bound soul singer. Otis has proven to be dead-on in his assessment that Jason Castro was one helluva value bet at the 35-1 odds he was going at three weeks ago to win, and his ultimate pick to win, Syesha, is finally finding her groove after spending most of the competition just under the radar. I still believe, though, that the finale will be a battle of the Davids, unfortunately with Boy Wonder Archuleta becoming our eighth American Idol. Tragic, I know, but mark my words.
Here's how our final five fared this week:
Jason Castro “Forever in Blue Jeans”, “September Morn”: The first verse of "Forever in Blue Jeans" sat way too low in his voice. There were no fireworks at all! This was something you might hear some wookie playing on Venice Beach for tips inside his guitar case. Wake up, Jason! You're in the final five!
Then Paula thinks Castro has sung twice. Dude... what kind of pharmacy is she holding in that bag?
When he does actually get to his second song, it’s completely static and boring, filled with a lot of pitchy passages and flat notes. Castro wasn't playing in the big leagues with this effort. He’s back to acting like he doesn’t care. Maybe he doesn't. He pretty much shot himself in the foot with his performance tonight, but there's no doubt his rapid fan base will buoy him for another week.
David Cook “I’m Alive”, “All I Really Need is You” I didn't recognize these songs at all-- evidently they're a couple of lesser known Diamond B-sides. Cook gave "I’m Alive" a nice, if unspectacular treatment that was redeemed with a catchy hook on the choruses. The second song was much better-- a focused, radio-ready professional effort. Cook took on great arrangements that made both songs relevant to modern pop music and showed us two sides of his personality while maintaining a consistent aesthetic. At this point he's punched his ticket to the finals and I'm excited about what he'll turn out.
Brooke White “I’m a Believer”, “I Am, I Said” Brooke seemed overwhelmed by the melody on "I’m a Believer." It really was one of her weakest vocals and I had no clue why she chose to play her acoustic guitar behind such a heavily electric arrangement. Ooh, looks like Paula’s pharmies kicked in again... she’s up and dancing. I don't know, I just wasn’t into it... and it didn't look like she was either. "I Am I Said" though was more of the old Brooke that has the talent to get this far. She really connected to the song, and handled the difficult melody with the skill we all know she has. A fitting send-off for Ms. White and a nice note for America to remember her on.
David Archuleta “Sweet Caroline”, “America” "Sweet Caroline" actually made me smile. This is maybe the first thing I’ve kind of liked from him– in the way that I like schticky karaoke shit. I mean, how can anyone NOT like "Sweet Caroline", even when the drunk sweaty fat dude in the bar stands up and sings it with a mic in one hand and a Bud Light in the other. Then, the Disney kid returns on a song so outdated in its optimism and an American flag waves on the screen behind him and suddenly I’m more immersed in discerning the different ingredients in the tropical salsa I’m eating, rather than his performance (mango, papaya, cilantro, red onion, is that jalapeno?). Yeah, his audience will come in their pants. Yeah, he'll win. But will anyone over the age of 15 care?
Syesha Mercado “Hello Again”, “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime” Syesha’s general audition for the 2008-2009 Broadway season continues with her decidedly old-fashioned renditions of both Neil Diamond songs. Barefoot at the foot of the stage like the legit balladeer she’s destined to become, Syesha delivered a sweet, consistent vocal. There were not many highs and lows, it was just, as Simon Cowell is so fond of saying, “pleasant.” The girl really does have an excellent voice though. The judges “like her in this”sort of genre too, but unfortunately, it's not one that sits at the top of the pop charts. Unless Jason Castro pulls out something spectacular next week, I think Syesha is on course for a third place finish.
Order in which I believe the contestants will finish:
4. Jason Castro
3. Syesha Mercado
2. David Cook
1. David Archuleta
Current Bodog odds on the final four:
David Archuleta 20-21
Jason Castro 25-1
David Cook 20-21
Syesha Mercado 50-1