Divide and Conquer

So let's get Paula Abdul's  flub-a-dubs out of the way, first. Yes, we did hear her   tell  Jason Castro that she didn't like his first song but did like his second, after the guy had only sung one number. But the fault, dear Brutus, lies with the master of ceremonies.  The easily  confused Paula (and the less distracted other judges) had been thrown a curve by  Ryan Seacrest. Out of the blue, he   asked them to give a fast  judgment call about the final five's first Neil Diamond song performances of the night,  after he'd previously told them (and the viewing audience) he wouldn't call for  opinions  until each singer had done their second  tune of the hour.  This unexpected  change up pitch came, I'm guessing, as  the m.c.  was stretching to fill a couple of minutes, ironically just after he'd  said how "tight" the show was. Couldn't think of any other ad lib, could you Ryan?

Now, on to the horse race.  Didn't it seem  like the A.I. team was trying to boot off Jason Castro ? I'm thinking they were   feeling guilty and vengeful that he'd survived the prior week, when this J.C.  should have taken flight  instead of Carly Smithson.  (Letting Andrew Lloyd Webber coax  her into singing  "Jesus Christ Superstar" was definitely a bad idea, all around. Neither he nor the Irish immigrant lass  evidentally had  a clue its "sacrilegious" nature  could get America's religous fundamentalists in a tizzy.)

So this week,  for starters,, Jason  was put in the precarious opening slot. Already a count against him. And clearly,  Judge  Randy was  not giving up any love to the   dude,   declaring both "Forever In Blue Jeans" and "September Morn"  as "just okay" - a major slam in Jackson lingo.   Paula - once she got her notes straight and regained her composure, still liked his  second song better - maybe she really is prescient - or had heard them both in rehearsal? And Simon thought Jason had made no attempt to make either song his own. Yes he did!  He struggled through the low notes on "Forever" and blossomed on the high ones, in his very special sensitive  way.  Truth is, I actually liked his read of "September." But  whatever.  This guy's  not going the distance. So why not off him now?

Then at show's end, Simon also declared Syesha's two barefoot performances - "Hello Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime" - so forgettable  that she might be the one to get the hook. I hope not. I'm not ready for Ms. Mercado  to join the cast of "Rent" or "The Color Purple" all that fast - though you know that's where she's going, sooner or later.

If Jason's not going this week, it's Brooke White who should get the heave-ho. Her country-accented "I'm a Believer" was um, unbelievable stiff. Then she did redeem herself somewhat with the piano based "I Am, I Said,"  if you write off a few bad notes (especially her last) as healthy signs of "vulnerability."

As this horse race  heads in to the final turn, the two Davids are running neck and neck in the lead. Archuleta played to the red states with the flag waving warhorse  "Coming to America"  and karaoke fave "Sweet Caroline." But Cook, who kinda sounds like Neil Diamond did in his youth.  actually  took some chances and won this heat with lesser known Diamond songs - I'm Alive" and"All I Really Need Is You."    Respect, bro.