AI season 7 episodes 14 and 15.
These early rounds are hard to blog. The men were better than the women this week, but there was only one standout performance: David Archuleta. Here are my reviews (in singing order).
1. Michael Johns – Likes to play tennis, which is appropriate for 70s week. He’s doing a Fleetwood Mac song “Go Your Own Way” from Rumours (aka the Best Album Ever). He sounds a little flat and very much seems to be reaching for the high notes. I wonder if he is sick. I am lukewarm about this performance but think that he’ll be safe for another week. Simon says it’s his weakest performance so far.
2. Jason Castro – Prefers singing to interviews. He is playing the guitar again. No band initially. He sings “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb. The band and background singers drop out at the end. It is very strong, very current, very well performed. Randy says, “meh.” Simon thought it was horrible. I think the judges completely missed this one. Not sure what they were listening to.
3. Luke Menard – He sings in an a capella group called Chapter Six. Let’s hope for no ballad this week. He is doing a Queen song “Killer Queen.” The vocals are thin and off key. He is missing the high notes. And the middle notes. And the low notes. Freddy Mercury he is not. Yuck. Randy thinks it is pretty good. Randy is crazy. Simon says it was a mistake to try to do Freddy and that he suffered by comparison, verging on whiny. Simon gets it right this time.
4. Robbie Carrico – He likes drag racing cars. Mmm-kay. At least this proves his “authenticity” as a rocker (I think). He is doing “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner. He’s a little flat at times. He was better last week. He sounds too much like the original, which will likely prompt “karaoke” comments from the judges. And then the song ends suddenly. It was OK. Randy says it was OK. Randy is wearing a gigantic watch. Simon tells him not to get defensive and that the vocal was OK. OK then. I think he’s safe.
5. Danny Noriega – He used to be in a punk rock band. He should not be in the top 24. He is doing a ballad that I don’t recognize. Now I recognize it. It’s “Superstar” by The Carpenters. I hated it in the 1970s, and I hate it now. It is marginally better than last week. Randy tells him not to think. Simon says it was better than last week and likes him because he’s interesting. I think he’s safe for another week, unfortunately.
6. David Hernandez – Used to do gymnastics. Barely survived last week. He’s doing a weird version of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone Lyrics” by The Temptations. It was much better than last week, although he’s relying on the big glory note at the end to get the crowd into it. Randy loved it, said it was hot. Simon says it was the best so far (which isn’t saying much). He also tells David that he takes criticism well and rises to the challenge.
7. Jason Yeager – He plays multiple instruments. What a surprise. An Idol singer likes music. He’s doing “Long Train Runnin'” by The Doobie Brothers and is doing a good job. Seems like the first singer of the night to be really having fun. Plus he looks like Ice Man from Top Gun. Randy says it’s not a singer’s song and was pitchy. Huh? Simon said it was awkward and ordinary. Said he looked like he was drunk at a party. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the judges said. If you close your eyes and listen to the music, it was pretty good. But I think he’s in trouble.
8. Chikezie – He has an odd name. It is Nigerian. He is doing “I Believe” by Donny Hathaway, which it takes me a long time to figure out because the words are hard to hear. But he sings his heart out in a soulful performance. He changes the words to reference himself. Randy said it was hot. Simon said it was a clever choice of song and a million times better than last week. He tells Simon that only Simon wears an outfit twice. I think he’s safe.
9. David Cook – He’s a word nerd, likes crossword puzzles and the like. He is playing an electric guitar. And he’s a lefty, which I didn’t notice before. He’s doing “All Right Now” by Bad Company and it’s a good performance but it’s a notch or two short of a really rockin’ performance. Very different from the rest of the crowd, which should make him safe for another week. Randy liked it, believed it. Simon said it was solid but said that drag racing is more charismatic than crossword puzzles and that his background story didn’t do him any favors. Awkward moment as David points our the rules to Simon, who gets annoyed because he knows the rules. It’s true he needs to work on his charisma. So does David.
10. David Archuleta – He got to meet the AI Season 1 finalists. Kelly Clarkson liked him. You can see it on YouTube. He is singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” and there’s not even any rollerskating going on. It is very slow. But this kid can really sing, and he is putting his own stamp on this song. It seems effortless and pitch is never an issue. Incredible. He is very safe. Randy said it was one of the best vocals on AI ever, brilliant. Paula is crying, said David is ridiculous. Said he is destined for super-stardom. Simon said it was risky to do John Lennon but that it worked and that David is the one to beat. It doesn’t hurt that he sang last.
3. Luke Menard
5. Danny Noriega
7. Jason Yeager
3. Luke Menard
5. Danny Noriega
1. Carly Smithson – Carly works in an Irish bar. Yawn. She is singing “Crazy On You” by Heart and it is not bad. But – and it’s a big but – it sounds too much like the original, and she appears to struggle with the high notes. So it was OK. Randy says it was alright (in a good way). Simon says it was better than last week, which shouldn’t be hard since she was sick last week. Says she’s “an incredible singer” but hasn’t chosen the right song yet for her “moment.” She should be safe.
2. Syesha Mercado – She has done commercials and can cry (disturbingly) like a baby. I don’t recognize the song at first. “Me and Mister Jones” is the song. The beginning is warbly and way off key in parts. Perhaps her ear piece is not working? Did she just forget the lyrics? Simon did not think it was a clever choice. I think she is in trouble.
3. Brooke White – Brook went to (but dropped out of) beauty school and will do your hair after she’s done singing. She is playing the guitar again. This is a Carly Simon song “You’re So Vain.” It’s not a clapping song, yet the boys are clapping. The low notes are a note or two too low for her. It’s a good performance. Simon said “she was looking at me when she sang the song,” which is funny. Randy picks up on it. Simon loved it, said it was the perfect song for her. She is safe. Plus very likable.
4. Ramiele Malubay – She used to do hula dancing. Three notes in and it’s already very good. She’s doing “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by one-hit wonder Thelma Houston. I like the slow beginning part more than the middle, but overall it was strong. Randy said it was OK (in a bad way), questioned the song choice. Simon said he’d heard the song too many times at weddings but said that he would not remember this. He did say she was one of the top three girls. Ramiele admitted that she changed songs four times. Oops. I think she’s in trouble.
5. Kristy Lee Cook – She’s a tomboy, likes fishing and getting dirty. She chose “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt. I think I know what the judges are going to say. (Hint: the title of the song.) It seems too slow. It is uninteresting. She growled strangely in the middle of the song. Randy thought it was better than last week. Simon said it was a huge improvement over last week. Simon suggests that she should go down the country route and has potential. Ryan reminds us that she was sick last week. She should be safe. Why do the judges like this girl so much?
6. Amanda Overmyer – She is a bookworm. She is singing “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas. The low notes sound strange. This is not a singer’s song, and I’m puzzled by the choice. The background singers drown her out at times. Very shouty at the end. I don’t think she did herself any favors. Randy said it was the wrong song choice. Simon said the video clip was genuine, but the performance felt contrived. Said he couldn’t wait for it to finish. She is in trouble big time. Oddly, the performances have been alternating safe-trouble-safe-trouble.
7. Alaina Whitaker – She is OCD about food. Hmm, that didn’t work for Melinda Doolittle last year. Now she is singing “Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton-John, and it is painfully bad. Off key at parts, shouty, karaoke. Yuck. Randy said it wasn’t his favorite, was pitchy. Paula reminds us that she is young. Simon likes her but thought her grandmother prepared her for this performance. Said she looked and sounded old-fashioned. Called her a dark horse who needed to sort herself out and become relevant. I say she’s in trouble.
8. Alexandréa Lushington – She was the poster child for the local fire department where her dad worked. She is singing “If You Leave Me Now” and it seems too slow, like she is forcing the words. Last week was better. Strange modulation before the ending. Randy said it was safe (which is bad) and boring. Simon thinks she is struggling, thought the song was boring. Two borings equals trouble. She takes the criticism well and plays the underdog card. I think that will save her.
9. Kady Malloy – She reminds us that she can sing like Britney Spears (who is annoying) but also does opera (also annoying). She annoys me. She is trying to sing “Magic Man” by Heart. She glosses over (read: misses) the low notes. Totally missed the ending high notes. Randy said it was the wrong choice. Picking the bottom three will be hard this week because of all the poor performances. Simon said the video was very good but that the performance looked like an impersonation, that it’s not working at all on the stage. She looks pouty taking advice. Ryan gives her a chance to do her Britney imitation again. She does it and really really annoys me.
10. Asia’h Epperson – She was a cheerleader. She is doing the Eric (cool name) Carmen classic “All By Myself.” The beginning is rough. She under-sings the first pass at the chorus and then over-sings the modulation. It was OK but certainly not great. Randy reminds us she is sick and said she did a good job. Simon said that the song was too big for her and was a silly decision. Split decision from the judges. She should be safe.
Bottom four (too many to choose from):
2. Syesha Mercado
6. Amanda Overmyer
7. Alaina Whitaker
9. Kady Malloy
7. Alaina Whitaker
9. Kady Malloy