American Idol – Top Ten Live Analysis, w/Video Clips

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OK boys and girls…everyone line up and buy your tix for the AI 2008 tour now, because this is your TOP 10. That’s right…these are the guys and gals that will help lighten your bank account by $100 or so (which is cheap by Hannah Montana standards). But that’s just the fringe benies for these guys. They are all still fighting each other to wear the championship belt a couple of months from now. We better hope that everyone is over all the sickness that was everywhere in the early rounds since we are missing one rockin’ nurse. AO missed out on the tour by the width of a hypo needle and I, for one, will miss her melodic screaming. But hey…we still have the country-fried goodness of KLC. So, let’s get this round started and see who can survive another round and who will hit the mat.

  • Malubay Barbie – First up tonight is the short stack of power. Singing a Heart song is always either a big payoff or a big booboo. It just depends on the delivery. So far, she’s off to the best start she’s had, but the power portion of the song is taking some serious damage. When you swing for the fence, you leave a lot exposed, and she took some tough shots against her. The judges are acknowleging her illness (where’s a rock n roll nurse when you need one?) and how it affected her. Simon is right about her getting through. The voting ring-side fans that love her will keep her alive to fight another day.

  • Jason Castro “JC” – Have felt for a while now that JC needs to up the maleness of his performance. He’s got high likeability, but low testosterone. I have him rated at the bottom of my power rankings because of those things. Watching him tonight, I am reminded of what Simon said last week, “It’s a good thing there’s a camera involved”, because if it was simply radio, he’d be in big trouble. The camera is friendly to him and plays to his strength, which is his overall likeability. But his music is still too lame. Simon is actually saying it’s “too laid back”, which is what I’ve been saying for weeks now…there’s no OOOMPH in what he’s doing.

  • Syesha Mercado – She has yet to stand out in the competition. She just sort of fades into the background each week and needs to deliver a “Cheezit” style performance from a couple of weeks ago. That broke the mold for him and finally helped him to stand out from everyone else. She needs the same thing. Singing “If I Was Your Woman” she is delivering for the first time what I think she is actually capable of. Her potential has been there from the beginning but the execution has been way off. Tonight….SHE BRUNG IT! There is no way she should have to worry about the bottom after that. It was a major step forward for her.
  • Cheezit – The spicy box of cheezits showed up for the first time two weeks ago and it rocked the house. It was so good, people voted for extra helpings. Last week, it was a mixed box, half-spicy and half-stale. A little too schizoid for me. I think he has to pick his style and stick with it. His most promising style is the spicy brand, but he has chosen to go back to the stale box of the Luther Van Dross vibe. Even if he does it well, he stands a high likelihood of standing in the bottom three. His delivery is far superior to JCs, but he doesn’t have the same “dreamy” look at the camera. I’d pick him everyday against JC in overall talent. But this is a voting competition and he did himself no favors with going back to the old box. Bad choice for him. May be fatal.

  • Brooke White “I dare you” – Brooke remains my favorite and atop my power rankings. That may be influenced by my fondness for her, but I really believe she has been the most appealing female competitor so far. Last week was a bit of stumble, but it was her first, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She has to reassert herself tonight, which she is fully capable of doing. She comes out sporting a new look and singing a Police song. Her vocals are not as strong this week, but I would pay for tickets to see her in concert any day of the week before Smithson. She may take a hit in the rankings but she will remain my favorite regardless. One more note…my wife thinks, and I agree, that she has an Alicia Keys sort of potential. Early career on a small scale and behind a piano while gaining experience and confidence. Where Keys is today, White could be in 3-5 years.

  • Double D “Michael Johns” – The Dingo Dude has been slipping in my rankings. His performance has not lived up to his promise since Hollywood. So, tonight, he decides to re-visit his best days by returning to “Queen-Land”. He must have a particular affinity for Queen and their music. This is not up to the standard of Rhapsody, but at least it sounds like he has woken up. He’s been sort of sleep-walking through the first two rounds, but tonight, he’s been pumped up by large quantities of Starbucks. I’m not as excited by it as Randy and Paula, but it is where he needs to stay. The “quiet” songs don’t do him justice. I think he’s decided to fight from now to the finish.

  • Carly “Take 2” Smithson – She is still fighting for her second chance at a record contract, and while she has the vocal skills to do it, she hasn’t found a way to connect to the ring-side audience yet, which is her weakness. Singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” it’s a great song choice for her vocal abilities. She is a powerhouse in the ring and can knock it out with the best of them. I think she is still the best overall singer, but can’t quite find the right stride to take it all the way to the bank. I’m in agreement with Randy and Simon that there’s still something a bit amiss. Time will tell.
  • David Archuleta – The boy with the charm of “Aw Shucks” took a step back toward contention last week. He will be a strong fighter all the way to the wire because he has both good fighting skills and a unique fighting style (not to mention girls and more than a few grown women that love him). However, his style may limit his ability to finish this thing off. He hasn’t shown yet that he can fight a “quick tempo” style. As long as everything is measured and slow, he can work it. This one may not be at Sugar Ray Leanord speed, but it is faster than anything he has pulled off yet. There is enough variety and challenge in this one to give him some needed punching power.

  • KLC “Kristy Lee Cook” – KLC has ruined a bucket or two of country-fried chicken already but somehow is still fighting to find the right recipe. I’m amazed that she is still in it, but that’s what ring-side judges can do for you. I’m still not convinced that she is convinced that country is her best chance. Neither of her last two servings were very appetizing, but she’s still here. So either there are country fans out there that are diggin’ it, or it’s her “All American” appeal that is keeping her in it. Regardless, I think she has to find another cookbook to stick around much longer. Since she has picked “God Bless the USA”, she has obviously decided to stick with the whole country thing. There still a bit of extra fat in this recipe, but it’s easily her best performance so far, and she actually had a little personality shine through. She’s been in trouble every week, but the “All American Girl” singing the “All American Song” may keep her around for another round.

  • David Cook – The future president of The Hair Club for Men is my top-rated guy. He’s had stronger vocals, more variety, and wider appeal than any of the other dudes so far. If he can figure out how to make himself more appealing (ala JC or DA) he’ll be in the final two. He hasn’t really had a misstep so far, so that has kept him riding strong momentum. His “Super Villain” comment made him a bit more real and lot more fun. that can only help him. One thing I do have to respect about him is that so far he has shown the courage to completely change a song to his own preference which takes a lot of confidence. This is an absolute HOME RUN -KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK performance. This was so unique, it absolutely bore no resemblance whatsoever to the original, and was still GREAT! He is the man to beat at this point.


  • Good
    • David Cook – Yet again, he has stretched the limits of what is the norm on AI and delivered a completely original and well-done performance.
    • Mercado – Best by a mile for her, and was actually one of the better performances of the night.
  • Bad
    • JC – Just not raising his game at all
    • Cheezit – Not so much for the quality but for the decision to go back to a less-than-beneficial style.
  • Most Enjoyable (a tie)
    • David Cook – Another stellar week
    • KLC – I’m a sucker for the song she picked, plus, she did it surprisingly well for her.

Final First Round Scoring Analysis

  • Bottom three will most likely include JC, Cheezit and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smithson there again. Since I think JC has more appeal than Cheezit, and Smithson has better vocals than Cheezit, I think he may be in the most trouble making it into Round 4.

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