American Idol‘s top three contenders–Davids Archuleta and Cook, and Syesha Mercado–hold their last sing-off before next week’s big sing-off tonight, and we’re coming atcha live, as a band that will probably never get its Ryan Seacrest due would say! Dan Fogelberg, Switchfoot, Billy Joel, Roberta Flack, and a song from Happy Feet that maybe 0.5% of the ever-shrinking Idol audience will know after… the jump.
8:00 p.m. The three remaining contestants are being introduced as a high school student, an actress, and a bartender–not a reality show winner, a failed reality show contestant, and a bartender.
8:01 p.m. This is also the order that the three contestants will sing in tonight. It’s “a pivotal moment in the lives of our three finalists”! And “the closest race our show has ever seen”!
8:02 p.m. The judges are all in black, as if this is Idol‘s funeral. Randy is in paisley that looks like it’s a star map; Paula is in glitter; Simon is in a crewneck.
8:02 p.m. Syesha is in a long glittery dress again–a floor-length version of her Beyonce song?–while the two guys are wearing jeans.
8:03 p.m. David A. is up first, singing “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, who should probably be on the show next season.
8:04 p.m. Paula just let loose a bunch of gibberish about why this is a good pick for David. David, of course, is excited.
8:04 p.m. String intro leads into… David singing acappella. With not many runs at all! Do you think he understands the words now that his dad isn’t telling him to melisma it up?
8:05 p.m. And he’s not smiling, either. Could it have been his father who was making him all cheesed out?
8:06 p.m. Randy: “You are in it to win it, baby.”
8:06 p.m. Paula: “It was a pure and stunning performance.”
8:07 p.m. He still looks like he’s going to cry. Ooh, Simon lets loose with the “predictable”! I wonder if he’s trying to beat David down. “Good… I don’t think it was outstanding.” This is like the teacher’s pet getting a B plus.
8:08 p.m. Commercial break No. 1: A Vitamin Water ad that does not feature Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, but LeBron James. As a defense attorney. With a plot that is completely lifted from that episode of The Brady Bunch where the guy fakes whiplash.
8:10 p.m. I always like figuring out how the songs that are used as jingles, and their singers, would do on American Idol. Oh, shit, I just remembered I have to sign up for my audition slot!
8:11 p.m. It’s chaos. Ryan is impersonating Randy. Syesha is in the back of a limo. Paula’s mic is off.
8:12 p.m. “Why’d you choose [Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You"] for Syesha?” “Well, I saw her perform it on that abomination that tried to compete with Idol a few years back…”
8:12 p.m. Unlike her last televised performance of this song, she is not sitting on a piano. Also, her hair is straightened, which makes her look Serious, I guess.
8:13 p.m. Noticeably Flat Note No. 1.
8:14 p.m. Randy: “That’s why you’re standing there No. 3.” OMG HINT AT ELIMINATIONS TO COME!! MUST CREDIT IDOLATOR!!
8:15 p.m. Syesha just gave a sassy “thanks gurl!!!” to Paula’s compliment on her album.
8:15 p.m. Ah, now she’s playing up the Southern accent. Girl has been watching Hillary Clinton’s blue-collar-region stumping for sure.
8:16 p.m. David Cook and Syesha got their song choices via iPhone text messages, while David Archuleta had his handed to him by a weirdly moustached Utahan mayor.
8:18 p.m. Simon wanted David C. to stretch himself with “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.” It’s working well so far, in a “I would change this if it came on in the car, but I can see people melting over it” sort of way.
8:18 p.m. Are they cutting to his mom? Kind of weird.
8:18 p.m. Ah, the big power-ballad finish. Some tropes of rock and roll never die.
8:19 p.m. House brought down.
8:19 p.m. Randy: “You can sing the phone book too…. but I want you to rock, baby. You’re a rocker.”
8:20 p.m. Paula tries to deflate Randy and Simon’s collective-ego… and tells David he’s the second-favorite person who’s ever sung it. Uh, thanks?
8:20 p.m. Simon proclaims that he’s won this round. OH GOD DAVID JUST GAVE HIS MOM A MOTHER’S DAY SHOUTOUT. Because, like the other contestants, he can’t be in touch with his parents all the time, ahem.
8:22 p.m. Unless Archuleta faints onstage and Syesha finds another cleavage-baring dress, I think we’re seeing the all-David finale that everyone’s predicted for the past six weeks. I don’t think that’s premature.
8:25 p.m. The girls are going wild for David’s Chris Brown pick. And he said it was a tough song to practice.
8:26 p.m. Ryan is telling David to move over to the stage, and David’s confused. “Wait, what?”
8:26 p.m. Has anyone ever used the word “boo” more awkwardly?
8:27 p.m. Some obvious struggles with the lyrics–a near-muff at one point. He only really gets confident when he’s deviating from the melody, which probably says something about his stage fright and its paralyzing nature. He really didn’t seem confident at all on the lyrics, although I bet the judges won’t say a damn thing.
8:28 p.m. Randy also didn’t get the “my boo” thing, marking I think the first time we’ve agreed on David all season.
8:28 p.m. Paula thinks he did a great job, of course. Because he didn’t pass out on stage.
8:29 p.m. Simon: “It was a little bit like a chihuahua trying to be a tiger”–Audience: BOOOO!!–”insomuch as it’s not really you. I thought it was really awkward.” Well, yeah. He’s trying to act his age for the first time in, what, ten years or so?
8:30 p.m. Syesha is in another glittery dress. Singing “Fever.” Apparently she’s going to use a chair somehow.
8:31 p.m. Man, she is really playing up the Southern accent. Syesha. YOU’RE FROM FLORIDA.
8:31 p.m. Her syncopation is off. As is the lighting. Will she wind up humping the chair? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.
8:32 p.m. My friend Bryan, a diehard Idol watcher who just arrived: “She’s kind of breasting it up.”
8:33 p.m. Randy called her song choice “very interesting.” But he likes it! And Paula, once again, is saying that she looks lovely. But she’s surprised by her song choice, because it doesn’t show her “who Syesha is as an artist.”
8:33 p.m. Simon thinks that she’ll regret her decision tomorrow, because she did “quite a lame cabaret performance.” Well, when your version isn’t even as good as Madonna‘s…
8:34 p.m. I’m replaying “With You” for Bryan, who got stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. This is the first time he’s ever seen Idol live, because he usually works night!
8:36 p.m. The dancing comes off even more kid-at-a-wedding-forced-by-his-parents on the second viewing.
8:37 p.m. “That was the worst decision ever,” Bryan just told me.
8:39 p.m. Ryan is sitting spread-eagled on Syesha’s chair! He looks even shorter than usual compared to David Cook on the stool.
8:40 p.m. David Cook singing Switchfoot’s “Dare You To Move”–and once he kicks into the chorus I totally remember it. I wonder if this guy still buys Puddle of Mudd records?
8:41 p.m. Paula and Randy don’t like it! Paula thinks his version was too short. Simon isn’t crazy about the lack of melody that the track has, which, surprise, is my problem with most songs of that ilk too.
8:43 p.m. David Archuleta goes right into Dan Fogelberg. Yawn, yawn, another boring ballad.
8:44 p.m. This is the milkiest piece of white bread ever. Does America really want bad floral wallpaper as its Idol? Really, America?
8:44 p.m. Randy once again trots out the “you can sing the phone book” line. Ah, autopilot. Paula can only muster up the word “lovely.” Simon, however, thinks the song is terrible, that the lyrics were so gooey and that they were more appropriate for a 90-year-old and that the producers should all fire themselves–OK I made that last part up–but that he’s going to get through to the finals anyway.
8:50 p.m. Lloyd from Entourage and Justin Guarini are both in the audience. And Jeff Archuleta will be on the tour!
8:50 p.m. And now Syesha is in Happy Feet, singing one of those Beyonce-like percussive-run-filled songs that are pretty much impossible to pull off unless you’re a) Beyonce and b) backed by her band.
8:51 p.m. This is not good. I feel like she’s just sticking long notes in for the purposes of filler.
8:52 p.m. Well, that was fast-sexy as opposed to “Fever”‘s slow-sexy, and neither of them worked.
8:52 p.m. Simon: “So it’s a song about penguins.”
8:53 p.m. And Paula drops the “not good enough for the finals” bomb! This is the test of Syesha’s fanbase.
8:53 p.m. And Simon thinks that she peaked last week. She’s done.
8:53 p.m. Bryan: “Is it really a song about penguins?” Me: “I think it’s a song about filling space on a high-budget movie’s soundtrack.”
8:54 p.m. Bryan thinks that the week Syesha was the best was the week that she lost her voice. Oh burn! How many of us miss Carly, though? Hands?
8:57 p.m. The final performance! The guy standing next to Ryan is making a stupid “I’m totally going to be famous on YouTube” face!
8:58 p.m. I guess this is the Apocalyptica version of “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.”
8:58 p.m. This whole episode is making me miss Josiah Leming.
8:59 p.m. Strobe lights! Big notes! Ah, Syesha, it was fun while it lasted.
8:59 p.m. Whenever Randy starts a critique with “For me…” you know he’s going to say he didn’t like it.
9:00 p.m. Simon thinks that “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” is one of the greatest songs of all time–and that David won the night. Well, one kind of correct statement and one HORRIBLY WRONG OH MY GOD DO YOU HAVE EARS COWELL statement isn’t all bad.
9:01 p.m. Nothing says “rocker,” Bryan notes, like a tuxedo with a T-shirt, as opposed to a tuxedo t-shirt.
9:01 p.m. Cutting back to David Archuleta’s version of “With You” is making Bryan crack up.
9:02 p.m. Oh man, and as if to underscore that they want Syesha out, they cut a montage with all flat notes. Mean producers! Not that I even want her to stick around, but come on.
9:03 p.m. Bryan and I agree that an opportunity was lost by not having David Cook sing “Dude Looks Like A Lady”–dedicated to Simon and/or Ryan.
9:07 p.m. Bobby V time. I mean, we all know what’s going to happen tomorrow, right? I’m going to put a poll up but come on.