'American Idol''s Final 12 Compete
For the first time since the competition began, the guys and the gals performed on the same night on a newly designed "American Idol" stage.
The long awaited night arrived when the "American Idol" contestants were able to open up the LENNON-McCARTNEY songbook and perform tunes made famous by the BEATLES.
The Final 12 also had another treat. They were performing for the first time on a newly designed "American Idol" stage, with lots of bells and whistles.
Judges kudos for the night were given to CHIKEZIE EZE, CARLY SMITHSON, DAVID COOK and BROOKE WHITE.
Kicking off the night was SYESHA MERCADO with "Got to Get You into My Life." For judge RANDY JACKSON it was just okay. He said, "Nice arrangement -- kind of an EARTH, WIND AND FIRE arrangement. It started rough, but by the middle you got into it and had fun with it." Paula agreed, saying, "You sounded good from the midway through to the end." For once, SIMON COWELL rated someone higher than his fellow judges: "I thought it was better than all right. I thought it was a great choice of song. You looked nervous, and you have to get past that. I thought you were much better than you were last week."
Chikezie Eze put the funk into "She's a Woman." Randy commended him, saying, "Dogg, let me tell you something. I was thoroughly entertained. Who knew? I loved the arrangement. It was dope with the whole down south [vibe]. Chiekezie smashed it." Paula felt that the song had a 'Brother Where Art Thou' vibe, then added, "The greater the risk, the reward paid off. I have been waiting for this." Simon said, "I am really surprised that I actually agree with these two. What I loved about it -- other than you looked completely drunk -- you actually have changed within a week. You took control of the stage. It was a unique version of the song. I thought you were terrific."
RAMIELE MALUBAY dedicated her performance of "In My Life" to all her friends who have already left the show. Randy thought it was a pretty song, but "also pretty boring." Paula commented, "It was pretty safe. You are an amazing singer. Your voice allows you to go many places. You need to take advantage of that. I feel like you are holding back." Simon lambasted her saying, "I was bored to tears throughout the entire song. A dreary song choice, which did nothing for you. Forgettable. I expect a lot better from you. You are better than that."
JASON CASTRO strummed his guitar for his performance of "If I Fell." Randy liked it, but didn't love it. "That is one of my favorite songs," he says. "You need to sing it with more of a heartfelt thing. The switches in the melody had me tuning out." Paula disagreed pointing out, "What is so special and unique about you, I do feel your heart. That is such a special connection. You don't do all the riffs and runs and you don't have to because you have an emotional connection with the songs." Simon said, "Last week you were incredible. Tonight it was 'student-in-a-bedroom-at-midnight.' I thought the song was actually quite boring. [I am a] big, big fan of Jason. Is he going to make the same big impact as last week? No. Is he good enough to stay another week? Definitely."
Carly Smithson rocked the audience -- and the judges -- with "Come Together." Randy praised, "What I loved about that -- you were strong, you were confident, you were having a good time, and there wasn't a note out of tune." Paula told her, "It was really strange, I felt like I was already watching a star." Then Simon, who up to now hasn't liked Carly's song choices, agreed, saying, "Week after week so far, I think you have chosen the wrong song -- until now. I have to tell you, this reminds me of six years ago on exactly the same week -- KELLY CLARKSON.
"Eleanor Rigby" was David Cook's choice, as was his decision to not play the guitar, but to just sing. Randy enthused, "You can definitely rock out on 'Idol.' You can rock out on the Beatles. [There was a] pitch problem in the beginning, but when you hit the chorus, you were rocking. You got this." Paula complimented, "I have been telling everyone you are the dark horse. There is more than one horse in this race. You are a thoroughbred. You are the front man on 'Idol.' Simon simply said, "David, I thought it was brilliant. Paula is right. If this show remains a talent competition, rather than a popularity competition, you could win this show."
Brooke White's Beatles' pick was "Let It Be." Randy thought, "I don't know if it is your strongest performance, but I imagined you practicing as a kid. I love the fact that you have all of this conviction. You took this big song, and you gave a heart-felt performance. I am a fan." Paula agreed, saying, "This is your niche. It is picking songs where America can feel your heart. It is having an emotional connection that makes people fall in love with you." Simon congratulated by saying, "I thought it was again one of the better performances of the night. I thought it was a brilliant choice of song. It is believable. You have done it three weeks running."
DAVID HERNANDEZ, who once took a class in the Beatles' music, sang "I Saw Her Standing There." Randy commented, "You've got a big voice, but on a song like this that is simple, it is overdone. I was lost from the jump. There was just too much going on with it." Paula added, "You know I love your voice. You need to scale back." Simon was more harsh, saying, "No, no. It was corny verging on desperate. It was a little bit rabbit-in-the-headlights. It wasn't very cool. I didn't think it was a particularly strong performance."
AMANDA OVERMYER put her own rock spin on "You Can't Do That." Randy explained, "I am telling you that is the true mark of great songs. Guess what? You took a Beatle song and took it to a Southern club and rocked it out. I loved it. I have to give you props for that." Paula was blown away, but Simon didn't think it was quite as good as last week, pointing out: "I only understood about 30 percent of what you said. I think it is a very good thing that you are here. You are a very fresh breath of air when you come on."
MICHAEL JOHNS chose "Across the Universe" for the meaning it has in his personal life. Randy told him, "I don't know if it was your best performance, but it was good. I was waiting for something big. It was okay for me -- a little sleepy." Paula again disagreed, pointing out, "It takes an inner strength and a quiet confidence to stand center stage with the microphone, and sing brilliantly. I thought it was a brilliant performance." Simon agreed with Randy" "He is absolutely right. It was solid. It was good, but now is the point where you have to let yourself go. I am a big fan of yours. I am frustrated that we haven't heard what you can do."
KRISTY LEE COOK took a big chance and went country with "Eight Days a Week." Did it pay off? Randy liked the arrangement, but "vocally, I felt you were trying to force some runs into it. I am torn with this one. It is a half and half-er. Half of me liked it; half didn't like it." Paula didn't enjoy it, saying, "I just feel you can't take what we say too much to heart. You have to infuse your own thing. I didn't get it." For Simon, it was horrendous. "You sounded like DOLLY PARTON on helium," he told her. "It was a very brave but foolish thing to do. [The song] didn't work in that style."
Because he was familiar with the STEVIE WONDER version of the song, DAVID ARCHULETA chose "We Can Work It Out." Randy didn't love it. He said, "You know I like your voice and I am a fan of yours, this week it was not on point. This wasn't your vibe. It felt forced and it didn't work. All I heard was the Stevie version and nobody is going to do it better." Paula, too, felt it wasn't David's week, and she advised him when you forget the lyrics, "Never let it show n your face." Simon prefaced his criticism saying, "We have 12 people all in the same position who want to win the competition. I am going to treat you all equal. That was a mess. You stumbled over the lyrics, you shouldn't have done the Stevie version. At this point, I expect incredible performances. It was your weakest yet.
Wednesday night "American Idol"'s results show will air at 9 p.m. on FOX, KATHARINE McPHEE will perform, the mentors for this year will be announced -- and someone will go home.