Just 'cause you got the dreads, don't mean you got the goods to do Bob Marley, let alone a hippy dippy version of Bob Dylan. But Jason Castro didn't just do himself in last night with those aggregious song choices. I think he had help. The guy running the sound board had the band and backup singers mixed ridiculously low during "I Shot the Sheriff" - throwing the balance of the production way off and causing Simon to criticize the arrangement as well as the vocal. (The tech team fixed the mix for the brief replay at show's end, but it was too late by then. The singer had already been counted out by lots of viewers, not to mention Mr. Cowell.)
Then after getting chastized for his chutzpah with the first tune, how could Jason possibly pull off Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" without messing up the "jingle jangle morning" chorus line? Actually, that's the easiest part to remember of that convoluted, poetically impressionistic song, which I used to sing in my college "folk singer" daze. In sum, Castro had a disaster of a night. He will be missed, though not by Simon, who ordered him to "pack your bags," and not by me.
David Cook was also poorly served, I think, by someone within the A.I. organization. Who talked him into singing Duran Duran's "Hungry Like a Wolf"? Cook himself allowed he didn't really like the song, first time (?!??) he heard it, but that it eventually grew on him. I've noted in the past that Cook's voice has a flat-liner tone, but this sultry, baying wolf's cry needs a voice (like original singer Simon Le Bon's) even more monochromatic than the Cook-ster's. So this time, the popular contestant couldn't take the ditty anywhere, not even out on a date. His second choice of the night, "Baba O'Riley" was better alligned with his voice and image. However, his airing was so truncated that any Who couldn't help but be pissed off. With a little less between song banter, maybe Cook could have done the whole song? What a "teenage wasteland," indeed.
Syesha Mercado really has come into her own, as Paula reminded us in one of her several, clearly scripted cheer leader comments. (No one was going to blind-side Abdul this week by changing the game plan mid-course and exposing her prep-work. Except the over-flowery tone of her remarks was still a dead give-away that Miss Atta Lossforwords wasn't ad-libbing.)
I didn't have the problem with Syesha's "Proud Mary" that Simon did (and what a nice plug that one was for Tina Turner, who's soon to go out on another "farewell" tour, I hear.) But I agreed with Randy that Ms. Mercado way overplayed her second performance, Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come" - especially with that super exaggerated, oh so A.I.-ish final note. Syesha turned a subtle prayer into a strident emancipation proclamation and Broadway show stopper. Were the viewers buying it? I'm thinking many were. And the geniune tears shed by the drama queen afterwards didn't hurt. So she's a keeper, at least for another week.
David Archuleta is 100 percent ham, too. At least he knows how to prepare the dish. His first course, Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," was just perfect for his range, and the guy had the good sense to draw the connection to Sean Kingston's Summer of 2007 smash "Beautiful Girl" which lifted a lot of melody (especially the bass line) from that original, 1960 soul pop classic. Then waving the Elvis flag at the end with "Love Me Tender" was also a stroke of genius by David A. - almost as good as singing a song with "God" or "America" in the title for this TV audience. While also not exactly a ROCK song for this night themed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, (the melody is actually derived from an old folk tune), "Love Me Tender" was at least an early Presley hit that this mushy balladeer could do with justice, that would please all the fans of "The King."
After Archuleta finished off that dessert, it was sure looking like another coronation was in order.