The final five contestants on "American Idol
" gracefully welcomed the legendary Neil Diamond
to the stage Tuesday night. One of the music industry's most enduring singer/songwriters of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Neil Diamond is noted for popular singles such "Cherry, Cherry," "Red, Red Wine," "Sweet Caroline" and many others. The remaining handful of contestants stepped out of the mainstream contemporary bubble for a temporary flashback to the past. While some were able to transform two songs into their own, others fell victim to the songs' time period, bringing forth a wave of criticism from particular judges.
David Archuleta has been my personal favorite from the very beginning. While I do enjoy his song choices and admire his wide vocal range, there does need to be a bit more of an edge seen in his performances. David's song choices of "Sweet Caroline" and "America" were sweet and nothing short of amazing. Alright, so maybe they were a bit lame, but then again, they were smart. There's no better way to appeal to voters than to sing the most familiar songs. Yet, couldn't he incorporate more of the piano in his performances or completely step of his comfort zone? By doing so, he may be rewarded with more than he can imagine. On the hand, this is David Archuleta. He's been a fan favorite and "the one to beat" since day one. Maybe the key for little Archie is to simply continue what he does best.
Jason Castro - I'm going to be blunt about this. I am not a fan. If it were up to me, Jason would have been off the show weeks ago. While there have been a few performances that were decent, the majority were unable to hold a candle to performances by other contestants. His duel renditions of "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn" were dull and boring. Come on - even the biggest Castro fan has to admit the latter song was a complete headache. People continue to emphasize that he is the next John Mayer
, but at least John Mayer has versatility! Jason's voice is very limited, similar to that of Amanda Overmyer's. While both possess some sort of distinctive style, it may not be enough to carry Jason through to the top spot. In all honesty, is he really the best out of thousands?
What else is left to say about David Cook? His rock n' roll style seems to please the judges and America combined. Tuesday night included Cook's own take of "I'm Alive" and "All I Really Need Is You." While the first performance lacked excitement mainly since it relied on the lower register too much, Cook turned the tables for the second and as Simon stated it "was brilliant." His performance with the acoustic guitar and musical rearrangement once again, stole the show. I'm calling it here - David Cook will be in the final two, safe from a Chris Daughtry
Syesha Mercado is officially the dark horse in the competition. Like Kristy Lee Cook, she has slowly transformed into a veteran of the bottom two. After unique performances last night of "Hello Again and "I Thank the Lord for the Night Time," Simon confessed that her song choices continue to be a problem. While they may be enough to keep her out of the elimination seat, Syesha continues to shine on stage, pushing her closer to the title of "American Idol." My question remains in the next couple rounds. Should Syesha make it to the final three, could the votes between the two remaining men split the votes and ultimately earn her a spot in the final two, if not make her the winner?
I had an odd feeling that this round would not be sympathetic to Brooke White. As diverse and skilled as she is on both the guitar and piano, her selections of the Shrek
favorite "I'm a Believer" and "I Am … I Said" did not contain the zest America was looking for to keep her in the competition. Unfortunately, "I'm a Believer" mirrored her cheesy performance of the Beatles' "Herc Comes the Sun" earlier in the competition.
As I mentioned in past reviews, Brook was one of the most intriguing performers on "American Idol." Her voice, her style and her personality all combined to feature a wonderful artist and person. Watch out America, we haven't seen the last of our favorite nanny.
Wednesday night included performances from Natasha Bedingfield
and Tuesday's man of the hour, Neil Diamond singing his new single "Pretty Amazing Grace." Probably the most interesting aspect of last night's elimination show occurred when Simon's
first crush Tara, called in and reminisced about their first kiss at age nine.
I guess I could mention Paula Abdul's
meaningless, incoherent rambling of comments seen each week. Her slip-up Tuesday night while critiquing Jason's apparent second performance left both Simon and Randy
scratching their heads. After proclaiming her confusion and the difficulty in the show's new format for the night, Ryan Seacrest
eased her pain with a few jokes. So what does this prove? Either Paula really is drunk the majority of the time or she seriously needs to slow down and concentrate! While I love her to death, it may be time for a vacation.
The contestants get fewer and the competition gets tougher. The final four standing are David Archuleta, David Cook, Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado. "American Idol" is rounding the corner! Next week, our final three will be chosen and the race gets even tighter! Who's your pick America?
-Huge "American Idol" photo gallery here
Story by Kathryn Sparks
Starpulse contributing writer