Well, this promises to be a fun night. The celebrity coach is Andrew Lloyd Webber, who ranks right up there with Billy Joel in the ranks of people who almost completely ruined pop music forever, and who, in addition, is not a singer. In a true Morton’s Fork scenario, there are only two things that can happen tonight: the final six will sing songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, in which case I will hate them for ruining the songs, or they will sing songs from anything else Webber did ever, in which case I will hate them for singing horribly shitty tunes. But what can you do? There’s really not a lot you can do.
Ryan Toothpaste says of Sir Andy: “He has composed most of the important musicals of our time.” Gaaaaah, fuck you a thousand times, Ryan Toothpaste.
SYESHA ‘HILARY BANKS’ MERCADO (“One Rock ‘n’ Roll Too Many”): This is exactly the kind of bullshit half-assed yawn-boogie that ALW always writes when he is called upon to write something that sounds like rock music. That said, this is the first time I have ever seen Syesha do anything that in any way justifies the confidence some people have in her. She wasn’t great, but this was a really solid soul-belter type performance, charismatic and confident. I’m impressed with her for the first time. It can’t be heartening that the judges all say she’s got a great future ahead of her in Broadway musicals, but still: pretty good stuff from Syesha.
JASON ‘SCREECH POWERS’ CASTRO (“Memories”): Jason, the AI singer who can’t sing, picks a song that’s really hard to sing. And also that sucks the muck out from under your refrigerator. He doesn’t really do much to make it his own, and as a result, he sounds pretty bad: the deficiencies in his voice are pretty glaring, and he sounds like he’s off of the tempo half the song. This is definitely not his week, and I’d be worried about him if he wasn’t so pretty. Even Randy hated this one, and never before has Paula’s “vote with your vagina” agenda been more transparent.
BROOKE ‘SIMONE FOSTER’ WHITE (“You Must Love Me”): Get ready for more forced Brooke-tears! There’s a hilarious coaching moment where ALW gets on Brooke’s case for not understanding the profound depths of meaning contained in his crappy little vaudeville songs. She’s so emotionally overwhelmed by it that she forgets how the song goes, forcing me to sit through another 15 agonizing seconds of it. I don’t know why I liked Brooke at first; she’s a lot less like Tori Amos than she is Celine Dion crossed with Chan Marshall, and boy oh boy do I not mean that as a compliment. Also, NO, RANDY, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR A SINGER IS NOT TO LISTEN TO ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER. We also got a fun reversal where Simon is the voice of forgiveness, contrasted to Merciless Paula.
DAVID ‘LUKE BROWER’ ARCHULETA (“Think of Me”): ALW just can’t figure out how men can sing lady songs! It’s craaaaaaazy! Archuleta gets a pretty nice arrangement, and he sings it really well, just like he usually does; I’m not sure what I think of him, actually – he never gets any worse, but never really gets any better, either. The judges don’t like good singers who don’t improve, but the Idol viewership loves cute young boys, so I fear he’s just gonna keep coming in every week delivering these predictably competent performances until he wins. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now: I have no problem with his voice, and he plays the gosh-whillikers routine to the hilt, but I just wish he weren’t so boring. Simon, under the be-nice edict, says what we’re all thinking if by all you mean me: David is pleasant but forgettable and should have been booted weeks ago.
CARLY ‘JO POLNIACZEK‘ SMITHSON (“Jesus Christ Superstar“): Wow, I hate to admit it, but Andrew Lloyd Webber was right about this – it’s a much, much, much better choice for her than “All I Ask of You”. Also, it’s the only Idol contestant I like, singing a song from the only ALW show I can tolerate. The thrift store clothes are really wearing thin, but she blows me away with the vocal performance – her usual loud style is more rock-oriented, but she went for a sort of R&B shouter effect here and it worked quite well, I thought. I’ve been pretty hard on Carly the last few weeks, because she’s been boring and generally lax, but I think she really scored here – this is why I liked Carly in the first place. Even Paula has something insightful to say, pointed out that she really nailed the choruses with that halting little stutter-step hesitation before she started belting. Well done!
DAVID ‘JOEY RUSSO‘ COOK (“Music of the Night”): Okay, I know I hate David Cook and am thus predisposed to not cut him any slack, but is it just me, or did this really suck? It just seemed like he was all over the place, missing cues, flattening notes, and, not to get all Randy Jacksonian, but he seemed really pitchy. He’s got a cocky stride by now, and the girls love him, and inexplicably, so do the judges, so my fear of Taylor Hicks II is just four episodes from coming true, but I’m trying to be as objective as I can, because I liked him at first – I just thought this was a terrible performance. Oh and also I hate that song like I hate cancer. Cancer in me, not in other people. Finally, nice shirt, Andrew Lloyd Webber, you ridiculous dink.
Prediction: The bottom three will be Brooke, Carly and Syesha, and I think we’ve probably seen all we’re gonna see of Brooke White.
AND NOW A SPECIAL LIVEJOURNAL BONUS: WHAT ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER SONGS THE CONTESTANTS SHOULD HAVE SUNG INSTEAD
Syesha Mercado: "The Rap"
Jason Castro: "The Journey to the Heaviside Layer"
Brooke White: "Call Me Rusty"
David Archuleta: "This Jesus Must Die"
Carly Smithson: "You Suck, Andrew Lloyd Webber (And I Hate You)"
David Cook: "Eternal Youth is Worth a Little Suffering"