It's the songs of Neil Diamond, kids! He's been around forevah, y'all. Each contestant will get two songs, and we will somehow cram it into one hour - a worse crush than the round of 24, actually. I wish they'd go to 90 minutes for the next three rounds: ten songs, eight songs, nine songs. That's enough time to actually perform.
Anyway, Jason first. "Forever in Blue Jeans." I like it. He just has a likeable voice and a pleasant manner. He was made to sing songs like this, instead of "Memory." Decent start to the evening.
David Cook has chosen two more obscure songs. The first is "I'm Alive." He's actually channeling Neil's patented "sliding vowel" technique: I'm al-i-aaaaave! High marks for this. He seems to be the only one of the final six or seven who bothered to raise his game.
Ladybug said she would have liked to hear the H.I.M. version of "Solitary Man." She has a total thing for Ville Valo and the band. I'm rather glad he didn't nick the thing, but H.I.M. is a good show - their "Wicked Game" is terrific and their stuff is decently rocking.
Brooke is taking her gee-tar on "I'm a Believer" and saving the piano for "I Am, I Said." I don't like this idea. Alas, it is so - she is doing the Smashmouth version and it is horrid. All I can see is Donkey singing with a gingerbread boy, only nobody likes it. Paula, a big Shrek fan apparently, is still dancing about.
Sign in the crowd: "My Husband Has a Man-Crush on Seacrest." HAHAHAHAHA!
David Archuleta is next - "Sweet Caroline" and "Comin' to America." My threat, however, remains active, depending on how this goes. Unless the rest of Caroline starts to improve, I'm catching a cab, Crown Prince. Finally, he reaches the chorus and picks a key, and sticks to it. What a mess. Still better than Brooke, but well in the rear of the other gents.
Syesha is toiling through "Hello Again." She did get a hug from Neil (awwwww), but crapola, she's Happy Facing. The crowd is doing to slow arm-wave again. Urge to kill.... rising.... Wow, that was over pretty quickly. They are galloping through these tunes. Go to 90 minutes, for pity's sake.
Judges' comments! Yay! Crazy time! Randy is quick, and Paula is completely bonkers. She complained about having no time to take notes. If you weren't doing Drunken Master tai chi during the songs you could do it, Pawler. Simon kills all the contestants, tells them to pick things up for the second song.
Castro, take two: "September Morn." (Two lovahs playin scenes from some romantic pleeeaaaaay!) He hits a couple of rough notes, and there's more stupid tweener arm waving. Regrettably, this is very sleepy. Bad news, Jason. You've got to GO FOR A NOTE, especially when it's Neil's stuff. Sep. Tem. Bah. MOOOOOOAAAAHN! Failing that, you have to make it utterly your own. Poor boy fell between two stools there. Maybe he's sad because Pawler stole all of his herb.
David Cook ("the rocker," according to Ryan) is already moving onto the stage. Gosh, this is like a relay race up there. "All I Really Need is You," and he's singing this awfully sedately for a rocker. Now it goes power ballad for the second half. Not as impressed this time, but still pretty good.
Paula: Stutter glig bibble blah blah I see the next American Idol.
Simon: brilliant, made it sound like it was written this year.
'fly: This year? Chicago and Journey did fifty power ballads each in the 70's and 80's.
Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer... as done by the Wachoski Brothers. OH NOES.
Brooke's second song. She Is, She Said. She's tinkering with the lyrics per Neil's advice by chaning "New York City born and raised" to "Arizona born and raised." That's fine and good - but then you have to actually change the other stuff to make sense. I mean, "lost between two shores"? Which shore is Arizona on? The Rockies? And "Arizona's home" didn't scan at all. (Besides, she should have changed "No one heard at all, not even the chair." Begging your pardon, Mr. Diamond, but that's one of the all-time "wha?" lyrics.) Folks, this is hella weak. Simon calls it a million times better than the first, but a million times zero is still a really small number. This is a disaster.
Crown Prince closes the show with one-fourth of "Comin' to America." (Got a dream to take'm theaaaaah!) Open your eyes, kid. And stop holding out your hand like you're offering me gum. I do not want gum.
Just expand these rounds to 90 minutes already! This is stupid. They can barely do anything. As it is, 75 seconds per tune is enough to remind me of a song rather than sing it. There's no flow to these at all. Ladybug says that this is atrocious in any case and she's sick of young Archuleta - hates the messages, hates the squinty earnestness, the whole shebang. She defended him to me in the early going, but she's off the reservation.
Oooh, Indy is back. Woo-hoo! It looks like they've got a big set piece in the huge warehouse where the Top. Men. stashed the Ark. Woot! (But I miss Denholm Elliot.)
Syesha thanks the Lord for the Nighttime. The hand claps are fun. I dig the R & B twist. She seemed to get more time up there than the Crown Prince, so it's all good all around.
OK - I am a doofus - I just noticed David Cook 's jacket can be read as an AC/DC reference.
Bottom pair - Brooke and Jason. I hope Jason doesn't go, but it's tough to lead off and his first, decent song was a long while ago. Simon says that Syesha may be in trouble - only five left and all, and he's playing a hunch. Who knows? Well - we do, because it's actually Wednesday night and I have a DVR. Huzzah!
Golly, they got 45 million votes. Group sing is "Cracklin' Rosie." Jason hit his low note - wish that he'd sang this well yesterday. Holy CROW it's David Archuleta between Brooke and Syesha, both fruging. Eeeeek cooties! Poor kid literally has no idea what to do. David Cook's easily the best though. They all do an awkward segue into "Song Sung Blue" (lousy) and then finish with the song I would have done myself, "Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show." They give DC the narration, but cut it short, the evildoers. He would have rocked that out. I wancha to reach out that hand to the person next ta ya.... cause that's what it's there foah!
Ryan's in the audience. It's the Glock! And Constantine! They're doing some sort of AI Extra deal on a channel I've never heard of. Ryan asks him to pout at the camera, but he says he's forgotten how. That's OK, Ace is sitting in front of him. Jeepers. Has a camera ever gotten a restraining order against someone before?
Ladybug: Is Constantine still on The Bold and the Beautiful?
'fly: The who to the what now?
Ladybug: It's a soap. He played a rocker named Constantine.
Ryan is rehabbing Paula's rep and says she won't be fired. Apparently someone's reading the blogs, I KNOW I read somebody earlier this evening who said that she should be replaced. I think that the show needs her, it's nonstop entertainment, and when she buckles down to it, she's actually observant and makes useful comments.
Well, Jason's first, usually a good omen. He has good insight into his struggles: "All the times I've done well, it's a song I really knew or a song I really changed." And he is safe to take his own advice next week. Cool.
Crown Prince next. Safe, of course. This is not sitting well with Ladybug. "His 'America' sucked," she says. And that's why we don't let 13 year olds vote for reals. If David Cook goes home, I will buy that ticket for my wife and let her borrow my stick.
Randy is showing us his Coke Cup - but hiding the bottom completely. Nice. Way to demonstrate the product.
David Cook is out next. Brooke said something just as he went out, and looked really pissy. Sarah's right, she's cracking. Dave thinks about Carly last week and the "kiss of death" since Simon said he was brilliant - but he's safe. Sorry, Orbitz.
So, one of the ladies is Out! I was actually right about something - the guys were stronger than the ladies this time. But I only got one of my four finalists right from my initial prediction: Jason Castro. (Though I took the two Davids as dark horses, I don't consider that a true prediction, taking six cracks at the four spots. That's cheating, y'all, sort of like Peter King's MMQB columns for SI.com. His "Ten Things" lists are always like 38 items because he splits a couple of them into parts A-L or some nonsense.) Lost Mike Johns and Carly back to back, and that was just teh suq - but for them more than me, it's not like I got kicked off the Internet.
Brooke's smile would crack if she pulled her face any tighter. She says she finally kicked back and relaxed this week - UH OH Carly said the same thing about nine seconds before they dropped the anvil on her. And it doesn't show. She seemed much happier during the first five weeks than now. Syesha says that she has trouble picking the songs, but again, it doesn't really show. There are times she may sound overmatched by a song, but she never looks lost out there.
Guest performers - Natasha Beddington, "the lady from the UK taking the US by storm." They zoom in on the guitarist first.
Ladybug: that looks like a dude.
'fly: so does Natasha.
Ladybug: whoa! It's Dominique!
(I love my wife.)
This isn't my preferred form of song but she is really good. David Cook is the only finalist who maybe could hang with her for two or three minutes. It's just a different class altogether. She runs over and hugs David Archuleta (more cooties!), earning death threats from ten million middle schoolers.
Ryan: David wants to take you to the prom.
Natasha: I have a dress - and also a boyfriend.
'fly: So does Ryan! ZING!
Gosh, this is long. Sowry. Good questions though. Mike from Lancaster PA wants to know why Paula is so nice to the contestants. (Even kids notice!) Well, she says someone has to, and that Randy would make a good animated cat. Mike, next time my hockey guys play the Lancaster tournament, show up and we'll toss you a jersey or something. Then Simon's very first beau calls in to ask if she kisses better than Paula. He remembers her name right off the bat - that is very sweet - and then says "It was, what? About 17 years ago?" I don't care what anyone says, Simon is a good-hearted guy. Of course everyone else is mean about it - a rabies shot comment, Paula? What happened to nice? Omarosa called, she wants to meet for lunch. Simon doesn't shoot back, just says, "This was my first crush." Paula, ur pwnd.
The Ford spot is Donovan's "Catch the Wind." Good singing, malarky message deal. Everything is blooming in the finger-snapping magical wake of the Five Idols. GAG. LAdybug says it's like watching a bizarre suburban version of Rent. (I think this is what the hardcore greenies see in their head as actually happening, if only we pass enough laws.)
Now Neil himself is out to sing a new song: "Pretty Amazing Grace." (Look for the B-side - "Our God is a Halfway-Decent God.") Yeah, well, he's still rilly awesome. It's a good song, I'm sorry I snarked the title before listening. Aw, it's his mom! Go Brooklyn! She's adorable.
OK - so finally - who's the goner? Brooke is pre-emptively crying. So is Kristy Lee in the audience. And they're right, Brooke is done. That "Love is a Battlefield" girl is long gone, she even botched her farewell sing-off. And don't ever admit you're "just enjoying yourself now." Kiss of death.