Ok, I am officially over the Beatles.
Yes, they are the best band ever, and yes, their songs are amazing, blah blah BLAH. Two weeks in a row?!? Not cool!
And while all of the contestants claimed to be excited to have another shot at the Fab Four, I'd be hard pressed to name one of tonight's performance that could qualify as a true Idol show-stopper. It's a shame that the producers took up the first two weeks of the finals with the same theme -- how are we to get a sense of who these people are as performers if they are required to sing the same type of songs two weeks running?
Ok, enough griping. On to my rankings...
1. David Cook
Yes, every song is starting to sound a little similar from Season 7's resident rocker, but who cares when they sound as good as David did tonight? Of course, by sticking closely to his (admittedly rockin') comfort zone he's risking getting ousted early (a la Daughtry, his Idol rock predecessor), but until that happens, I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy the music.
2. Carly Smithson
I don't think I've done an especially good job of hiding the fact that Carly is my favorite this year, but tonight's performance solidified her standing at the top of the pack for me. I mean, is there anything this girl can't sing? She's also insanely likable (how about that little smile at the end of the song), and I believe her when she says she identified with the sentiment of "Blackbird" -- we know she's had a rough go of it in this industry, and I buy that she views this as her last shot at stardom. I say, you go girl!
3. Michael Johns
I'm gonna have to disagree with the judges on this one -- I quite liked this performance. Sure, it was a bit of a hot mess, and the arrangement was all over the place, but in addition to looking mighty fine in his black shirt/black tie ensemble, I thought Michael showed a connection to the lyrics that's been missing the past few weeks. After last week's snoozefest I had written him off as a contender, but now...well, I'm not so sure that wasn't a premature conclusion.
4. David Archuleta
This was a totally competent performance from mushy Archuleta, and his voice was as pure as ever, but you could practically see the thought "Don't forget your lyrics!" running through his head as he performed. Slipping back into his safe zone may have spared him a disaster of last week's proportions, but it's not going to propel him to the title. Here's hoping he steps it up next week.
He had a lot riding on this week, and though he attempted to follow up last week's revelatory performance with another showstopper, I'm not sure he quite pulled it off. Though he was more inspired, and sounded better, than most of his competitors, I'm not sure he did enough to sustain that momentum. And I gotta say --why, oh why, did he feel like he needed to play an instrument? Just because you are allowed doesn't mean you have to do it, especially if it's gonna sound like that!
6. Syesha Mercado
Syesha definitely gets the "most improved" award for the week, but I'm still having difficulty connecting with her as an artist. She sounded great, and she did reveal a heretofore unseen vulnerable side, but when is she going to show she's not just a pretty girl who can sing? Someone like Vonzell Solomon or Trenyce brought either infectiousness or uniqueness to the table -- so far, Syesha hasn't been able to bring either of those things. Unless she does, and soon, she's gonna be headed for the door.
7. Amanda Overmyer
I'd call this a B-grade Amanda performance -- not the best the rocker can do, but far from the trainwrecks we've seen from her in the past. The problem is, as Simon pointed out, it was exactly what we've come to expect from her, and on Idol you've got to constantly defy expectations to stay in the hunt for the title. Add in the fact that she had the dreaded first performance spot, and she could be in serious trouble.
8. Jason Castro
Ok, maybe I just don't get it, but Jason did absolutely nothing for me tonight. Yes, he's sweet, and he sings just fine, but when he's not strummin' on his guitar and singing a folk song, he seems like a C-grade coffee house performer. And though he wasn't as painfully boring as, say, Kristy Lee or Ramiele, I still didn't find much redeeming in this bilingual performance. Is it the dreadlocks that are making people swoon? Someone please explain!
9. Brooke White
This song didn't have to be a bad choice for Brooke -- she just didn't sell it like she has the past several weeks running. Instead of taking unexpected routes, like she did with her stripped down Love Is a Battlefield and her emotional Let It Be, she went straight up the middle with this one, and the cheesiness just didn't fly. And her response to the judges' criticism? Just plain annoying. Girl, you gotta learn when to keep your mouth shut!
10. Kristy Lee Cook
While she remains one of the most boring performers ever to make it to the Top 12 on Idol, this was definitely a big step up from last week. (Keep in mind, that's a relative comment). Will it be enough to buy her another week?
11. Ramiele Malubay
This girl is adorable, but sooooo uninspiring! Every song is exactly the same -- she stands in the middle of the stage, she gives her sideways smile, she sounds totally mediocre, and I'm left wanting more. A lot more. She's lucky this week, though -- if she had been the first or second performer of the evening, she'd almost definitely be going home. As is, performing last will likely earn her the extra couple of votes necessary to keep her in the competition.
So, there it is. Check back tomorrow for my prediction of who will be in the Bottom 3and who will be going home. And in the meantime, make sure to vote for who you think gave the best performance, and who will be going home.
POLL: Which of the Top 11 was your favorite performance? Who's going home?