Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Idol: The Top 11 Perform

Illustration for article titled American Idol: The Top 11 Perform

Due to popular demand, the Beatles theme was extended another week, a first for Idol. Simon, however, didn't think it was such a great idea, and as usual he was right. Other than David Archuleta's semi-redemptive performance, everyone else's was equal to or worse than last week, which made Paula's constant praise of everyone's various colors, textures and spirits particularly tough to take. "Just shut up and let Simon speak," was what I thought as she went on after nearly every contestant.

Amanda: On the plus side, "Back in the USSR" was a good, if not very surprising song choice for her, she seemed like she was having a lot of fun and for once she didn't include the word "child." On the other hand, it's not an awfully good song for showing off one's voice, and it was one of the first of several instances during the night where it sounded to me like lyrics got garbled. Additionally, as Amanda talked about how much fun she is, despite even some uncharacteristically real feedback from both Randy and Paula, she set the precedent for some cocky backtalk that went on during the show.

Kristy Lee: "Hey, check out my photo album! Doesn't my cute dog make you want to vote for me?" Well, no, not after another baffling performance. We shouldn't have expected much after Kristy told us that she picked "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" based on the title. Look, I don't want to be an old fart but these kids look kind of stupid when they admit that they've never heard of this "Fab Four" of which we speak. Like last week, the arrangement was completely out of whack with the song itself, something strangely dramatic and Celine Dion-esque in comparison to the original, simple arrangement. Out of tune, boring, repetitive. Paula gave her the kiss of death when she started her comments with "you look gorgeous." But, according to Kristy, she can actually blow our socks off, and we KNOW it, so we better not mess with her.

David Archuleta: Poor baby Archie was never going to live last week down unless he pulled it out this week. "The Long and Winding Road" was perfect for him—sweet, not very fast, slightly syrupy, but the kid redeemed himself. It was a rather safe choice, nothing truly remarkable but he sounded great. So we can all put his picture back up in our lockers now.

Michael: I get the impression that the Aussie tends to pick songs that he thinks are very "important"—big ballads, soulful messages, things to make the girls swoon and the guys think he's deep. Not surprisingly, boiling down "A Day in the Life" to a minute and a half was not a great idea. I'm sure the song made absolutely no sense to those who have never heard it before (plus, once again, I'm convinced he flubbed some lyrics towards the end.) The only good part of the song was the wordless bridge that John Lennon covered in the original. Paula tried to give him an out by blaming it on some earpiece that apparently they all wear that I've never heard about until this moment, until it was deliciously revealed that he was wearing no such earpiece and thus had no excuse. However, the song was dedicated to a dead friend of his, so, you know…be cool.

Brooke: Sorry boys, but her husband was in the audience. Not surprisingly, both Simon and I loathed (and Paula loved) her ultra-literal visual interpretation of "Here Comes the Sun"—a happy yellow dress, a happy yellow sun on the set behind her. The song choice felt predictable and yet, as Randy pointed out, she didn't connect with it. I don't know what was going through her hair when she tried to rock out to the tune: I certainly hope that misplaced "Whoo!" makes it onto Best Week Ever this week. Paula instructed us that we "have to love" Brooke but I disagree, especially as Brooke kept interrupting the judges to tell her fans that no, guys, seriously, it's OK, she'll be fine.

David Cook: Perhaps to avoid any controversy this week, David attributed his rendition of "Day Tripper" to Whitesnake. The vocals and the arrangement suited him, but as Simon pointed out, he seemed a little too happy with himself, especially since the performance wasn't really anything new under the sun from the last few weeks. There was no element of surprise, also as Simon pointed out, and the talk box effect was unnecessary. Personally, I found his guitar to be little more than a prop too—he wasn't playing the song's famous riff, so what was the point of having the guitar at all?

Carly: Here is where Simon and I differed in opinion. I thought Carly's decision to take on "Blackbird" was a nice one, since she rarely covers softer songs. The arrangement was pretty and she sounded good, despite what I thought was a near-lyrical hiccup towards the end. She lost me though at the end defending her choice about how she and all the other contestants are all wounded blackbirds, blah blah blah. I'd rather have her explain why she is the eggman.

Jason: Even Jason admitted that this week "snuck up on him" which amounted to him agreeing that he kind of phoned in this performance of "Michelle," which is something of a throwaway tune anyway, if you ask me. Even Paula admitted that it was "singsongy," despite his "very distinct charm."

Syesha: The other singer over whom I disagreed with Simon. I thought her rendition of "Yesterday" was pretty awful, really—too slow, soft and hesitant in the beginning, and then her riffs, runs and blasts just tore the song apart. I liked, as Simon said, imagining Brooke covering this song, as long as she inserted a "Whoo!"

Chikezie: Like other performers tonight, he rehashed a bit of what he did last week and also included an unnecessary prop. He started off "I've Just Seen a Face" in a slow, southern way and then warmed it up into a country hoedown, y'all, with a harmonica and a goofy Southern twang. Like Jason, it seemed like he didn't have the time to put in a lot of focus on tonight's performance.

Ramiele: I have to admit I totally forgot about Ramiele. I was wracking my brain to remember who the last performer would be and I couldn't remember her, and tonight's performance won't help. Her performance of "I Should Have Known Better" was singsongy, unimpressive and not memorable.

There wasn't really a single performance tonight that raised the bar for the Idol contestants. I bet they're very ready to get onto their next theme—it must be very hard to come up with noteworthy takes on the Beatles, plus the tunes really aren't great for showing off one's singing talents. Of course that's no excuse for mediocre performances. On the flip side, they'll all look brilliant tomorrow, night, both literally and talent-wise, as Kellie Pickler, the world's most adorable cretin, makes an appearance on the results show.

Grade: C-

Stray observations:

—I found it impressive that in the "Beatles for Idiots" intro to the show, the producers managed to avoid showing any clips of them smoking.

—Those of you who enjoy tracking Ryan's instances of gay panic can discuss his extreme reluctance to put his mouth on David's talk box.

—Randy gave Ringo no love tonight. That's OK, we all know Ringo will have the last laugh.

—That is, if Heather Mills has anything to say about it. At least we know that if anything ruined Sir Paul's week, it wasn't Idol.