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As the final four American Idol contestants stood on the stage trembling with excitement and nerves, Ryan announced that “Nothing is Guaranteed, You HAVE to vote.”  Um… okay Ryan, whatever you say.  At this point, I would almost bet my entire life savings that it will be David and David at the Kodiak theater finals.  Almost.  He also said that three of the four finalists have been #1 in the votes at some point.  He didn’t say which three, but I am guessing Syesha has never been number 1, but she has definitely been getting better and better.

Two songs each tonight from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so song choice was probably a bit daunting this week.  So many amazing songs to choose from, but an amazing song doesn’t always translate into an amazing American Idol song, if you know what I mean.  If they want to impress the judges and of course, the voting public, they are each going to need something with a vocal wow factor.  You know, the kind that starts off slow or low and then builds and builds.  So, let’s see who delivers…

Round 1

David Cook “Hungry Like the Wolf”  Duran Duran                                                                                     

I am not sure that a song where the main lyrics are “Doo doo doo doo doo” is the best choice for a wow-factor type near-the-end song, but he did an okay job on his first song.  There wasn’t anything amazing about it or really that much different from the original version, but it was okay.  Randy said he didn’t have the amazing vocals that he’s looking for tonight (see).  Paula says he’s grown so much since the beginning.  She is actually very well spoken tonight, but almost sounds rehearsed.  Maybe she is more nervous about her own performance tonight than anyone else.  Simon said he was good enough to make it through to next week (duh), but it was a copycat performance.

Syesha Mercado “Proud Mary” TIna Turner

She started her video (I think they call it a “Package” which is strange to me, but anyway) saying that Proud Mary has been covered over 100 times.  However, after giving herself a little engine that could pep talk, she decided to just go for it and have fun.  I was honestly very nervous for her when she started, but soon I forgot my nerves and just enjoyed the music.  At first she was slow and sexy, but then she twirled gracefully and started dancing and singing her heart out.  I thought it was fantastic and that she was definitely ready to give her all to win this thing, maybe her best performance ever, and just in time.  Randy thought she did a “Nice” job.  Paula said she looks like a star, but Simon said it was a “Bad, shrieky impersonation of TIna Turner.”  Syesha retorted “I’m just having fun” and Simon snottily said back “Well, I didn’t”.  Ouch.  Why are they so hard on the women this year?  I thought she was great!

Jason Castro “I Shot the Sheriff”  BOb Marley

He looks great up on the stage and his guitar is truly beautiful, but he is just not a showstopper type of performer.  It’s really become obvious since the competition is building up to the final 2 that although he is unique and different and has something special, he is just not a wow, stand up and clap type performer.  I thought he did a good job tonight, but the song was not that wow for the AI stage.  Randy agreed, saying it was a Karaoke Bob MArley, Paula wasn’t crazy about the song, and Simon said it was “Utterly Atrocious”.  Wow, the judges really nailed him on this performance.  Ryan went so far as to say the judges looked pissed off, and they didn’t disagree.  Basically they said he isn’t proving that he’s good enough to be in the final four.  Ouch.  Well, that’s one way to make him super nervous about his second song.

David Archuleta  “Stand By Me”

Solidifying his role as easy-listening champion, DA once again has chosen a standard weepy type ballad that is bound to make your grandmother cry.  The version was a bit too drums-heavy for my taste, but he sang it well.  Honestly, though, if I had to close my eyes and listen, I would guess he was 37, not 17 years old.  THe judges, of course, loved it.  Randy said something curious, I thought.  “Here’s someone who every time he hits the stage is in it to win!”  Um… excuse me??  How quickly they forget that he botched lyrics not once, but TWICE this season.  They just want him to win so bad they can’t put him down.  It pisses me off.  Simon said that David was the best so far in the evening.  I think Syesha was better, but what do I know?

ROUND 2

David Cook  “Baba O’Riley”  The Who

I guess he did okay on this song, but I honestly don’t recognize the song.  Maybe I am just not musically literate enough, because being in the hall of fame, this is probably a very well known song.  I just didn’t completely dig it, honestly.  He didn’t seem to be much better than the first performance, and he is missing that sparkle and newness that he used to have for me.  The judges, like robots trained on an all-David finale, went wild for it.  Paula said “I just want more David Cook.”  SImon just had four words to say “Welcome Back David Cook.”  Wha??  I don’t get where their critiques are coming from this year, to be honest.  I didn’t think this was up to the calibar of performance we have loved out of DC earlier this season.

Syesha Mercado  “A Change is Gonna Come”  Sam Cook

I’m usually the kind of person who cringes at people using the american flag or civil rights movement for sympathy votes, but I genuinely don’t think that Syesha was doing that with this song choice.  I think it was just a song that she connected with, and connect she did.  Not only was she by far the most personable and likable in her “video packages” tonight, she was the very best on the stage.  She started out holding a sultry, perfectly in tune pitch and I was in love with her performance right then and there.  For a girl who had trouble connecting with the audience and singing on pitch for the majority of her early performances, she has really come a hell of a long way.  Randy had me almost throwing things at the screen when he said he didn’t like her performance and that she was “trying to be something she wasn’t”.  He’s crazy!!  How could you cheer for David and David and then not like Syesha??  Paula redeemed the night by standing up and saying “Welcome to your Dreams Syesha, you’re a superstar.”  Of course, nowhere in her dreams did Randy say she wasn’t good, I”m sure.  But at least Simon agreed with Paula and said that Randy got it wrong.  Syesha let the tears flow on stage, saying she was overcome by what the song means to her.  I think her tears probably had more to do with  how hard she has tried to win over the judges and that no matter how much better she gets, she is still going to take crap from someone while lesser performances are getting praise.

Jason Castro  “Mr. Tambourine Man”  Bob Dylan

Oh crap, he just completely flubbed the lyrics.  The saddest thing about that is that this is actually a good song choice for him.  To forget the words at this point is just suicide.  He looks so great and I love that black shirt he’s wearing.  None of the judges had anything great to say, with SImon even going so far as to say “Pack your suitcase.”  I have been a huge fan of Jason from the start, but he just wasn’t on his best game tonight.  I think he’s definitely in trouble tonight.  The only thing that could possibly save him tonight is if the tweenie voters who are wild for his charm vote to keep him in.  If people vote based on pure vocals for the evening, he should be gone, though.

David Archuleta  “Love Me Tender”  Elvis Presley

Another ballad for Little David as the 40+ female crowd swoons.  DId he just say in his “Package” that he had to research the song cause he didn’t know it?  Wow, he’s so young.  To not know Elvis?  He certainly made the arrangement his own also.  I have a feeling he swiped it from someone on iTunes, but it was most definitely not Elvis’s version.  I’ve said all along that David probably has the best voice of everyone, but honestly, for me, he has no sparkle.  Randy thought it was amazing, “Hottest vocals of the night.”  Paula loved it, of course.  Simon said “You didn’t just beat the competition tonight, you crushed the competition.”  I almost can’t believe they are saying that.  Sure, he was good, but I feel like I’ve heard that type of performance at my local church every Sunday since I was 10 years old.  He’s sweet and he’s talented, but where’s the wow factor?  I don’t get it, but apparently he’s slated to win and there’s no holding him back now.

About a month ago, I was calling for Syesha’s departure, crying that she could not stay on pitch, and that was the truth.  But somehow, like a miracle, she has really pulled herself together and is fighting to stay alive in this competition.  The past few weeks, she has been on fire, pulling out all the stops and showing everyone that she deserves to be up there.  Regardless of her progress, the judges keeps telling her that she belongs on Broadway and that she is not good enough.  IN fact, the judges don’t have nice words for anyone besides the precious twin Davids.  I am so tired of those two getting praise reports no matter if they forget the lyrics or what.  Syesha out-performed everyone tonight and I can only hope that the voters recognize it en masses.  I would honestly love nothing more than a DAvid / Syesha finale at this point.  And by David, I mean Cook.  What do you think?  Will Jason go home tonight?  Or will it be Syesha?

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