AMERICAN IDOL 7: TOP 11 ANALYSIS

Top 12? Nah! This is the big night, because whoever gets into the Top 10 gets to go on the “American Idol” summer tour, giving each performer valuable exposure and quite a payday. And don’t think the contestants don’t know it…

As always, Simon got it right about tonight. He said maybe they shouldn’t have gone back to the well and done The Beatles again (well, last week they did Lennon/McCartney, but as only one person chose a George Harrison tune, that’s a quibble).  During the show, a quote from one of my album review books echoed in my head. Critic Robert Christgau once wrote this about Ringo Starr’s album, “Ringo”: “(Producer) Richard Perry cannot transmute questionable material into magic. And don’t kid yourself… the Beatles could.”

I mean really, is “Michelle” all that exciting a song? I don’t think so, and given that not all the contestants have even heard the Beatles’ biggest hits before, let alone some of the good but obscure stuff, it created a problem tonight.

On with the show…

AMANDA OVERMYER – “Back In The U.S.S.R.”

I liked the way she played with the melody, but was it really that special? I mean, if you had her voice, couldn’t you do the same thing? I thought she did herself some good during the post-song segment, and seeing her in the highlights at the end of the show made it clear that this performance towered over most of the others.

KRISTY LEE COOK – “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”

Kudos to the arrangement. I could see Celine Dion doing the song on one of her albums. Still, it’s hard to do a great job when the verses are more interesting than the chorus, and it’s even harder when you don’t bring any emotion to the song. Kristy needed to bring the pain, and she didn’t. She’s the performer who deserves to go home tomorrow night.

DAVID ARCHULETA – “The Long And Winding Road”

Yes, David was right… this was the Beatles’ final number one in America (Ryan said “Let It Be” had that distinction, but only in the U.K.). Unlike Kristy, David automatically brings emotion to any song he touches. I think just the fact that people will want to see him break down and cry in the finals will lead him to the “Idol” crown. I do think it would be a shame if he stops doing fast songs just because he forgot the words to one.

MICHAEL JOHNS – “A Day In The Life”

Although a bit psychedelic like last week’s “Across The Universe,” at least there’s a story in these lyrics for Michael to dig into. But having to edit a classic kept him from being amazing, and I think his voice broke a few times. Also, couldn’t they have included the dedication to his late friend in his opening montage? Not only was it a downer, but it made it seem like Michael was using the death to garner votes.

I think Michael needs to sing something gritty like “Drift Away.” Essentially Chikezie is showing the creativity and the folk rock feel Michael should have.

BROOKE WHITE – “Here Comes The Sun”

I really like the version of this song Sheryl Crow did for “Bee Movie,” so I was looking forward to Brooke’s version. I thought her vocal was good, but was hurt by the fact she slowed the song down a bit. As the judges remarked, she sure wasn’t helped by her horrible dress and bad dancing.

DAVID COOK – “Day Tripper”

I see he gave Whitesnake a shoutout after last week’s ruckus when a band accused David of lifting their arrangement of “Eleanor Rigby” without any acknowledgement.

Compare this performance to David’s “All Right Now” a few weeks back. You can see how confident he’s gotten. This was even a bit over the top, but still fun. I really loved the use of the vocorder. Can we expect a duet between Peter Frampton and David Cook come the final?

CARLY SMITHSON – “Blackbird”

Doing a ballad tonight, Carly seems like a totally different performer. I thought the arrangement was a bit boring, but really, what could she do with it? I liked her explanation for why she did the song. It showed she actually studied the lyric. And just what she needs, more tattoos!

JASON CASTRO – “Michelle”

A boring song with a very teen idol type performance.  Still, he got the French words right and brought some warmth to it. A bit of popping on the mike shows that he’s had less stage experience, than many of the rest, but he’s still fun to watch.

SYESHA MERCADO – “Yesterday”

Her best performance, complete with a new, improved hair style. I might not have added the vocal showing off, but she certainly brought the right emotion to it (sadness). This is the way Carly’s “Blackbird” should have been.

CHIKEZIE – “I’ve Just Seen A Face”

Started out slow with an R&B flavor, which was very smart. I would have lost the harmonica and cut back on the country guitar licks, but vocally this was excellent. Two great songs in one.

RAMIELE MALUBAY – “I Should Have Known Better”

Ramiele is lucky she’s last tonight, because that should be enough to keep her in. Maybe she should have Britneyed it up even more, but she brought some R&B power to the song. Unfortunately, she’s obviously limited creatively compared to some of the other contestants.

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