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POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 10:36 PM

If you want to separate the vocally muscular from the weak of throat, force them to sing Mariah Carey songs. The woman has an unbelievable range and  is  famous for  flaunting  it  to wretched excess - though she's toned down considerably on her new album  just out this Tuesday (what a coincidence!)

 Too bad for most of them,  the Idol gang all went with older M.C.  material on this mentor/tribute night,  from back in the days when the super woman always lept tall sonic buildings with a single bound. Is it any wonder that mere mortals Kristy Lee Cook and  Brooke White looked scared as s*** - with tears in their eyes and a visible tremor on the lips in Brooke's case?  Yeah, they tried to tame the beasts,  to turn those histrionic Mariahthons   into pedal steeled Nashville and organic, acoustic piano singer-songwriter fare, respectively. Still,  there were notes buried in those tunes that the girls  couldn't twist their pipes around, that only dogs can really appreciate. And for this dawg, it was painful to behold. 

Not that the guys were all that, either,  notwithstanding Simon's prediction and then (at show's end) ringing endorsement of it being "their night." Jason Castro's treatment of "I Want to Cry," very Jack Johnson-y and  true to this  "A.I. Year of the Acoustic," made for a nice closer.  But did he make you as "proud" as he did Paula?  Nah, me neither.

Jonathan Takiff @ 10:36 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 9:03 PM

Jason Castro chooses "I Don't Wanna Cry," causing Randy to wander into Simon simile territory, saying it made him feel as if he'd wandered into "a weird Hawaiian luau."

"I'd love to be at that luau, listening all night long," says Paula, a bit too fervently, and Simon -- somewhat ickily -- agrees.

And then he declares the guys the winners tonight. So much for them having trouble with Mariah Carey.

Ellen Gray @ 9:03 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 8:55 PM

David Cook sings "Always Be My Baby," surprising Mariah Carey by not sounding anything like her.

Randy stands up for the first time all season (or so he says), and Paula delivers her highest praise, "That song could be in a movie soundtrack right now."

"It was like coming out of karaoke hell into a breath of fresh air," says Simon, declaring this "the sign of a great potential artist -- someone who takes risks."

Ellen Gray @ 8:55 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 8:46 PM

Kristy Lee Cook picked "Forever," which is how long it feels she's been on this show. Funny thing is, she actually seems to be getting better.

Though the judges prefer to believe she's merely getting smarter.

Oh, and I thought at first she was crying, but no, it's apparently just the glitter eye makeup.

Ellen Gray @ 8:46 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 8:41 PM

Brooke White didn't get to go to her sister's wedding this past weekend, so she's almost as bummed as Carly was by the absence of Michael Johns.

I realize these kids are busy, busy, busy, what with the Ford commercials and the red-carpet appearances and all, but would it really have brought the "Idol" machine to a halt if the girl had been let off for a few hours? Especially if she promised not to sing?

Just a thought.

Ellen Gray @ 8:41 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 8:33 PM

Had to answer the phone so I'm not sure whether Syesha Mercado deserves the Doubting Simon act or not. When they sing something familiar, it's never as good as the original, and when they sing something unfamiliar, they're going to be punished. How does anyone ever win this thing? (Oh, right -- Simon doesn't actually get to vote.)

But if "David Archuleta has stolen the show," I do wish he'd give it back. Because so far, this is a snore.

Ellen Gray @ 8:33 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 8:21 PM

Turns out Carly Smithson agrees -- no one's laughing on "Idol" since the Aussie left.

Especially not the Irish girl, who's the last non-native standing on "American Idol."

Though I don't think "I Can't Live (If Living Without You") is really meant for Johns. 

Ellen Gray @ 8:21 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 8:14 PM

Little David Archuleta dips into the Mariah Carey catalog and finds "When You Believe," which sounds, I'm afraid, like almost every other song he's sung this season -- they're all no doubt going to be tracks on that future platinum CD, "David Archuleta Sings Songs of Inspiration."

"I would've bet a million dollars on you choosing that song," Simon tells him happily, then predicts there won't be a lot of laughs tonight.

 Which is too bad, because after what happened to Michael Johns last week, I think we could all use a laugh.

Ellen Gray @ 8:14 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
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Idol Chatter is a joint Inquirer and Daily News blog about American Idol, with analysis and gossip about what we liked -- and what we didn't -- from every show.

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