Top 6: Why Not?

So Syesha Mercado opens the show with “One Rock ‘N Roll Too Many,” and she herself is rocking a gorgeously elaborate Rome-style hairdo. It even has little snake tendrils on the sides and everything. She’s wearing a skintight red dress that reveals just how disproportionally she’s actually built — from the waist up she’s all woman, but from the waist down she’s all chicken legs. But seriously, she’s a beautiful girl. Naturally, she can’t resist getting all divalicious with this week’s mentor, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Even when she’s supposed to be singing to him, she sings to the camera, because this is Her Moment, and she’s still peeved that you, the viewing audience, didn’t get that it was Her Moment during Dolly Parton week, and c’mon — didn’t she make it perfectly clear? She even darted her eyes coyly at you and smiled a wan little smile that said Here it comes! My moment! The glory note! I’m going to act like it’s a big surprise, even though every single person in this country and probably quite a few people in the developing world could have predicted that I would sing the song in exactly this fashion, and only passably well at that!

Sigh. Can you tell that my patience with Syesha is wearing a bit thin? She comes out, snapping her fingers, and I spot an engagement ring on her finger, which reminds me that the girl actually has a life outside of this show…and kind of a sad backstory, actually; she basically raised her younger siblings while her father battled addiction. But then I remember how her father really didn’t want to talk about his addiction to Idol during auditions, but how Syesha was more than happy to babble on about it, and that tiny arrhythmia of sympathy blips right off the screen. Oh, Syesha. It’s so complicated between you and me.

So she starts singing, and she’s completely off the beat, and there’s some awkwardness as she misses a word or two. But she’s having the time of her life, I’ll give you that, because this is Broadway week and she finally gets to display all her acting!, only this week she gets to call it “personality.” And judging from this performance, Syesha’s “personality” consists of pretending that Rickey Minor is a stage pole at Thee Dollhouse. Unfortunately, while Syesha is channeling the ghost of Kat McPhee‘s late-season desperation, she is neglecting the actual notes of the song. Half of it is off-pitch, her voice isn’t actually all that powerful, and her last glory note is particularly painful. I’m telling you. Go listen to it again, as opposed to watching it. The judges lick it up, telling Syesha that this is her forte and that she is far more comfortable fully embracing this kind of completely rehearsed, affected air than trying to pretend she’s someone else. Syesha is elated.

Jason Castro will be singing “Memory.” What, no “Jellicle Cats?” Incidentally, the first time I heard that song, I thought I heard “Jellico Cats,” and because I am a big ol’ Star Trek geek, my mind immediately conjured up a very strange image of Ronny Cox skulking across the 1707-D bridge in a tie-dyed leotard. Dude, don’t look at me like that, okay? Anyway, Lord Webber has about zero patience for Jason, as he makes clear when he snits to the camera about how he won’t be surprised if Jason walks right out of the rehearsal and ignores everything that Webber told him. It’s a very The Man versus Free Love vibe; you can almost hear the silent “ya damned hippie!” that Webber wants to tack onto the end of every sentence. I love it. Anyway, either Jason did completely disregard everything Lord Webby had to say to him, or Webber gave him some awful advice, because this performance is just not good. Many of the verses are simply too low for him, and the higher notes are so wispy that they make Jack Johnson sound like Pavarotti in comparison. Eh, whatever. The judges are not impressed, and in his usual way, Jason seems not to care one ounce. Which is kind of what makes him cool.

Next up is Brooke White, whose very in-style maxi dress I greatly admire until I notice that the pattern is not an abstract black-and-white motif, but butterflies. Butterflies. Because Brooke is sweetness and sunshine and light, have you not noticed? I hope that if she makes it to next week, she comes out dressed in a Rainbow Brite costume. Just in case the viewers at home haven’t gotten it yet. Then she can whimper another performance, and Murky, Lurky, and Paula can all tiptoe around how brittle she seems, and Brooke’s lower lip will quiver as her sprites flock onto the stage to comfort her, and then she can mount her magical unicorn and ride off the stage. Sigh. I really like Brooke, I do. Of all the singers left, she’s probably the one whose album I’m most likely to buy. And I doubt that she’s really as emotionally fragile as she comes off; honestly, I think her thinness and her frazzled hair magnify that perception.

So anyway, she’s singing “You Must Love Me,” and during rehearsals with Webber it’s obvious that she’s completely missing the point of the song. So he takes her hand in his and explains to her that this song is basically a dying woman’s last plea for love, which when you think about it, pretty accurately describes Brooke’s position in this competition right now. Brooke knows that, of course, and it overcomes her to the point that she can’t get more than three lines into the song without stopping abruptly. She did this once before, but this time it’s extra weird, possibly because now she has the entire band stopping with her, too. She whispers “I’m sorry” so dramatically that for a moment I actually thought she was going to run off the stage. She eventually picks it up again. but she’s lost whatever magic she might have had, and while the performance is certainly better than the last few she’s laid down, it’s not phenomenal. The judges concur.

I barely even notice David Archuleta anymore. Not because he’s a bad singer, although I do think he receives more praise than he deserves. But it’s just always the same with him. He’s never going to sing something that doesn’t sound like the backing music for one of those Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA commercials. But actually, his take on “Think of Me” isn’t awful, and the judges are back to pegging him as the one to beat. Sweet kid, but yawn.

Carly Smithson was going to do “All I Ask of You” until Andrew Lloyd Webber slapped some sense into her and handed her “Jesus Christ Superstar” as he waxed poetic about her “big chest voice.” Hmphf. Also, I never though I’d use the words “Andrew Lloyd Webber,” “waxed,” and “chest” in the same sentence. This is a fun performance; Carly has taken the judges’ advice to heart and has reprogrammed herself, replacing her fatal seriousness with more lightheartedness. And the lightheartedness works, because she really does have a strong voice, and the balance between the two prevents everything from getting too campy (take notes, Mercado). She’s wearing a pretty paisley tee-shirt dress; I would have belted it, myself, because she does have a nice figure that for some reason she’s always draping in maternity clothes and empire waists. The dress she wore at last week’s results show was a step in the right direction, even if it did come from Forever 21. No, it did. I saw it there last week.

But the dress is only half the story, because…what is wrong with Carly’s legs? I mean, I’m only assuming that something is wrong with them, because I don’t think we’ve ever seen them. Have we? She’s always wearing long pants or opaque tights from what I can remember. What’s she trying to hide? More ugly tattoos? Varicose veins? A wooden peg? She has decent legs; she should show them off. If LaKisha can come onstage and wear a denim miniskirt and look great (and get Simon to tell her that she looks great), then so can Carly.

The singing. Again, I like the performance. Fun Carly is definitely more enjoyable to watch than This Is My Last Chance and It’s All Too Palpable Carly. She does get a little strident and shouty at times, but she avoids going way out of her range on the chorus by improvising a little counterpoint, and it works very well, at least in the parts where the backup singers aren’t overpowering her. The judges are happy, if not thrilled, and Fun Carly is giddy; she runs off to the side of the stage and comes back holding a camp-counselor-blue tee-shirt bearing the words “SIMON LIKES ME (this week).” Well, okay, maybe she hasn’t gotten all the desperation out of her system.

David Cook wraps up the show, and I honestly can’t remember anything about his Webber rehearsal. He sings “Music of the Night,” and it’s pretty good, I guess. I’m torn on him. I do think he’s the most creative of the contestants this season, but a good half of that has just been the result of some very astute iTunes browsing (to which he freely admits), so I’m not sure how much credit I can give him for that. The only song he’s done that I’ve flat-out adored was “Little Sparrow”; everything else has been just too Nickelback for my tastes, and we all know how I feel about that. I do think he’s stepped further out of that box than Daughtry, though, so that’s another check in the “pro” column. But then there was the “give back” nonsense on his palm a few weeks ago, which was just silly. But then I’m completely impressed by the way he’s handled the situation with his brother, whom he’s steadfastly refused to pimp out for sympathy votes. So to summarize, when it comes to David Cook, my pendulum is still swinging. And please don’t run any further with that metaphor than the context of this blog entry. I guess the judges are pleased; Simon says something about liking David’s grittier side, which I’m not sure he has in the first place, but eh, what are you gonna do. Also, doesn’t it seem like David Cook sings last just about every other show? He’s never gone first, at least not since the Top 12. That’s very kind of TPTB, making sure that Cook never gets the death spot. How thoughtful of them.

Recap: Syesha relying on at least two of the three gifts that God gave her; Jason punching the clock so he can go back to his dorm room and watch old Jay and Silent Bob skits; Brooke demolecularizing before our very eyes; David A. disproving the Heisenberg uncertainty principle by allowing us to gauge exactly both how technically proficient and how snore-inducing he is at any given moment; Carly beating us senseless with how much fun she likes to have now, but at least doing it while singing really well; and David C. doing something different, kind of. We’ll be saying goodbye to either Jason or Brooke tomorrow, and even though I’d rather it be Syesha, I must say I relish the thought of her vamping through a Neil Diamond song. Muahahahaha.


1 Response to “Top 6: Why Not?”

  1. 1 You know who April 23, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    And I totally posted in the wrong spot somehow. I think it was your website. This is deserving on wine.

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April 2008
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What the kids are sayin’

"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."

"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."

"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "

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