Paula Abdul told David Archuleta that she wanted to smush him and squeeze him and dangle him from her rearview mirror and for once I totally got what she said and was right with her. The kid is hands-down the best of the boys, and maybe of the whole competition, and this season is a bore unless some of the other contestants can compete. Tonight, only a few guys seemed to really step it up, and interestingly, they were two of last week's duds: Chikezie (the Cher of Idol) and David Hernandez. Unfortunately, Chikezie squandered his good will by giving Simon unnecessary lip--Simon was criticizing last week's horrible burnt-sienna suit while complimenting his improvement this week, but Chikezie had to prove what a smartass he is, even making his mother cringe. Some of the contestants seem still to think that giving Simon attitude is the same as having a backbone or being a rebel, but it just makes them look like jerks. Most of us have caught up to the fact that Simon is typically the most correct judge. Sure, he's a salty bastard sometimes but making fun of the way he dresses or pointing out that his opinion doesn't matter as much as the public's isn't going to make him go "Oh, you know what, you're right. You made me want to be a better person and convinced me of your talent and wit at the same time." Simon, incidentally, was right to indicate that David Cook has a lame personality. Admitting that you're a "word nerd" is not interesting, and it just makes you look like an ass when you try to impress the country with a middle of the road SAT word like "juxtapose". Then again, I did get an 800 on the verbal section of the SAT's (yes, that was over ten years ago and on my second try but I still mention it as often as possible).
Otherwise, the rest of the guys were fairly middling. I liked Michael Johns' choice of song, but like Simon said, there was no "moment." Jason Castro's performance wasn't much different than last week's, and like Simon (again) pointed out, was not even as good. Robbie Carrico and Danny Noriega were fine but didn't really pull out anything special, although Danny's personality does seem to tickle Simon. Now he's a legitimate colorful smartass, and he seems like he'd be exactly the same off-camera as on. Jason Yaeger I think sang OK but I was so irritated by his Ricky Martin-esque grinning and bopping that I frankly don't even remember his performance. He did seem like he was about to cry though, addressing Simon's pretty-harsh comments. And then Simon basically told him to shut up. I love you, Simon.
The exception to the mediocrity was Luke Menard--I was surprised that Simon didn't lay into him more. The dude ruined my favorite Queen song and seemed to know he was screwing up as early as the first bar. "Killer Queen" is a hard song for anyone to sing, with its falsetto notes and wordy lyrics, but like Simon said, it's for someone to sing with a Freddy Mercury style personality. It would be interesting, for instance, to see Danny to give it a shot, since he seems like he could handle a difficult song with a little flash but also a bit of a nod and wink.
The best was saved for last. You could say that David Archuleta's humility is phony if at 11 years old he already had the temerity to belt "And I am telling you" to Kelly Clarkson but I don't care, he thus far still seems genuine, and just happy to be there. It's super easy to go treacly on "Imagine" but he sang it with control, not like he was trying to really impart a Very Important Message to us. Simon's right: all the other contestants should hate him, even the girls. Ryan sure seems to, for some reason.
--So Jason Castro hates doing/stinks at interviews and anything that distracts from your music. Wow dude, you're such a rebel. Or maybe you're just kind of difficult. Or maybe it's something else.
--What is it about guys in a cappella groups having such a misplaced sense of their own cool? I thought it was such a great touch that Andy on The Office was in one.
--Let's all chip in and buy David Cook a sweater so he can stop wearing scarves and vests with t-shirts.
--Speaking of which, I liked that while Randy was trying to tell David what an authentic rocker he was, he actually said it was "like a real rock show" and that "I really kind of believe you."
--So Simon still doesn't get thanked at the end of the show. Hilarious, Ryan. How much longer are we going to do this?