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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 7

'American Idol's Top 11 seventh-season finalists take to the stage


By Christopher Rocchio, 03/19/2008 

American Idol's Top 11 seventh-season finalists took the stage during last night's live performance episode broadcast, singing songs from the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook.

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Despite choosing tunes from the famed songbook for the second week in a row, the majority of the finalists couldn't recreate their memorable performances from last week -- however the seventh-season's early frontrunner did return to original form.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 11 finalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.    

On Wednesday night beginning at 9PM ET/PT, one finalist will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last night's broadcast, revealing the seventh-season's Top 11 finalists.  In addition, former Idol fifth-season finalist Kellie Pickler will perform her single "Red High Heels."


Amanda Overmyer, a 23-year-old from Mulberry, IN

Song:  "Back in the USSR"
Randy said:  "Alright Amanda.  Paula and I were sitting here, we were saying that was the perfect song choice for you.  I did have couple issues with it.  When you started it -- you've got that bluesy thing, it revolves around four or five notes all the time -- but it was just a little pitchy in the beginning.  By the middle of the song, I think you started feeling the crowd and the energy and you picked it up and it was really cool at the end.  But just watch the pitches.  So for me, I've got to give you a seven out of 10 for that one.  But it was good!"
Paula said:  "It was a little sketchy at first because I also felt besides the pitch that you weren't hearing the timing... You were just a little ahead of the beat.  But when you connect you are quintessential, authentic, who you are.  That is something that we look for in this competition -- being unique.  You don't have to be different from who you are.  I'd love to see you do a vulnerable ballad at one point, but I love you and I think that you're going to continue keep going up."
Simon said:  "Amanda it was what it was.  It was predictable.  It was a bit of a mess in parts. (boos)  It's just the same thing week after week after week, and I think Paula -- to a point -- is right, I think you've got at least one week do what [David Cook] did a couple weeks ago with the Lionel Richie song and actually do something which is a bit of a surprise.  Otherwise, you are in danger of becoming actually a bit boring."
Additional Info:  Randy was caught yawning as host Ryan Seacrest introduced him at the beginning of the broadcast... A sign in the studio audience read, "Simon is Sexy," which prompted Ryan to comment, "I see you're holding sign-making class at your house again," to Simon... All of the contestants discussed their most memorable moment so far, and Amanda said it was performing on the "big stage."  "It's a hell of a lot better than the flatbed trucks I used to play on," she said... Amanda said she chose the song because it's "very upbeat" and will "put my little Southern rock kick on it"...  After Simon's comments, Amanda said she thinks "ballads are boring" and further defended herself.  "I figure I have a minute-and-a-half to show America what they would see if they came to my show ands bought a ticket to see me.  I've got a minute-and-a-half a week, so that's what I'm doing.  I want people to come and say, "Hey, that chick looks like fun, I want to go see that show."  The studio audience cheered, and Simon countered.  "Amanda, your tickets aren't on sale yet.  So we might be jumping the gun a little bit here."

Kristy Lee Cook, a 24-year-old from Selma, OR

Song:  "Hey You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
Randy said:  "That was one of my favorite Beatles songs right there, I love that song.  It was an interesting arrangement.  At the end when you hit the high note, I was like, 'Yeah!'  The whole song should have been a little more emotional from you, and you could have gone there quicker and sooner, because it felt a little boring and really safe.  I'm not even sure the melody and the chorus you were singing right."
Paula said:  "You did some choices on the melody, and sometimes with songs it's safer to just stick to the melody.  I've got to tell you though, this is the best you've ever looked.  You look gorgeous tonight. (cheers)  It was a little safe.  It was good.  I agree with Randy on the high notes.  If you could just take those liberties a little more, it will be a little more interesting."
Simon said:  "Kristy I think you need something like hypnosis or something.  The problem is you're not a good performer.  The last two seconds were okay (boos)... Oh be quiet!  It's like musical wallpaper so much as you notice it, but you can't remember it.  That's what you're doing week after week.  You're making no impact, apart from when you were terrible last week.  You were better this week, I will grant you that."
Additional Info:  Kristy keeps a couple of small photos albums with her and flips through them at night, and one of the pictures includes a horse making a funny face.  Kristy explained she had just sprayed it with vinegar to keep the flies off.  "Paula that's the trick -- vinegar," said Ryan, referring to Simon... Kristy said she's always "the last man standing" during results shows.  "That's a lot of stress... It's really scary," she said... Kristy said she heard the song for the first time this week and basically picked it because of its title.  "I'm just going to stand up there and sing with my heart and hopefully America will like it."... Kristy said the Beatles are new to her so she just tried to "have fun with it."  "Hopefully I'm here next week because I can blow you out of your socks and you know it!" she said, a comment that brought laughter from the judges and Ryan.  "It's hot, turn on the air," said Ryan.  "It is hot!" agreed Kristy.

David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT

Song:  "The Long and Winding Road"
Randy said:  "They're right to clap because David Archuleta's brought the hotness back to his game tonight with that right there! (cheers)  One thing, let me give you one piece of advice... That's the kind of song where you could have sung a couple runs and gotten by with it.  So you played it a little safe -- it was still brilliant -- but I'm saying, take the liberties on joints like that.  Very nice though man, very nice."
Paula said:  "This probably for me is the most exciting and wonderful performance because the purity of who you are and what your sound is is very identifiable, and the fact that you can rise above adversity, come back strong -- that challenge doesn't build character, it reveals your character.  You're wonderful."
Simon said:  "David, last week was a complete mess.  This week I thought you were amazing. (cheers)  Absolutely you made my point -- what I was trying to say on the previous contestant, which is that it's so important that you sell a song and that you remember a performance.  That was a master class."
Additional Info:  David said he's had "amazing" moments like singing "Imagine," and "not so good moments," like forgetting his lyrics last week.  "You just have to concentrate on the positive side of everything," he said in moving past his flub.  "Hopefully I'll remember all my words tonight.  It doesn't look to good when you don't."... David's dad was in the audience applauding his son following the performance... After the judges comments, a group of girls in the front of the audience yelled, "We love you David!"... David said a song like "The Long and Winding Road" is the kind that people can "connect" with him the most.

Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA

Song:  "A Day in the Life"
Randy said:  "Michael, you know what's cool?  You just looked at me, you know already what I'm kind of going to say right?  It wasn't one of your best performances, and I'll tell you there were a bunch of things with it.  I still don't think you've chosen the right song.  These Beatles songs are amazing -- I don't know if that was the right Beatles song for you.  The thing is, you've got to remember dude you've got that big old voice -- we saw it when we first auditioned you.  You of anybody up here can just sing and let your voice do its thing, but you haven't found that vehicle to do that yet.  So wasn't one of your good ones baby."
Paula said:  "I was able to catch a little sound from the dress rehearsal and you were pretty phenomenal then.  I don't know if it's because you guys are working with monitors in your ears right now and a lot of you may not be used to it.  It's something that takes a lot getting used to, and I know you're just experiencing that.  You lose a connection a little bit with the audience because you're worried about how you're sounding too.   So it's a balance.  I don't know.  It's a big stage."
Simon said:  "I don't think that makes any difference whatsoever because the long and short of it was that it was a mess. (boos)  It was.  It was.  You didn't hit the right notes, the song went all over the place, it was a very complicated song.  It doesn't work as a minute-and-a-half Michael.  I've got to tell you, you have got to start sorting yourself out now.  If you want to do well in this competition, you have got to nail the song like David did before you.  That was not good enough.  Sorry."
Additional Info:  Michael said his most memorable moment so far was singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" during the Hollywood Round because it was a "pretty risky thing" but he was "proud" of the rendition... Like last week, Michael once again gushed about the Beatles.  He said "A Day in the Life" is one of his favorite Beatles songs, but difficult for Idol since it's such a long song and needed to be compressed... After the judges comments, Ryan revealed Michael wasn't wearing ear monitors.  "This is very embarrassing," said Simon.  Paula tried to defend herself.  "Now there's no excuse and you are a phenomenal performer and you've got to raise your game."... Michael said he dedicated the song to a friend who passed away last year.

Brooke White, a 24-year-old from Mesa, AZ who currently resides in Van Nuys, CA

Song:  "Here Comes the Sun"
Randy said:  "That performance was really awkward for me for the first time for you.  Even when you came over and did the, 'Woo!' I don't know. ('I shouldn't of done that, I agree with you,' answered Brooke.)  You know what, you made a great point right there.  You know what it was for me, that's what the whole meaning of the thing was -- you were never really connected to that song for me.  You were kind of moving awkward, dancing... It never quite gelled together for me.  It was not hot for me."
Paula said:  "What was hot for me was you can't help but smile when you watch you and when you look at you sing. (cheers)  I love the yellow for the sun.  What it did show is that you have really good low tone to your voice.  Those low notes showed a different side to you and a different color other than yellow.  I think that it could have been a little more challenging and you could have not played it as safe.  But Brooke, you're a lovable girl."
Simon said:  "I just knew Brooke when you were choosing that song that you'd be dressed in yellow and the lighting would be yellow.  I thought the performance was terrible. (boos)  From the horrible dancing to the absolutely lack of conviction, it was wet, it was forgettable... But Brooke, that's what it's all about, song choice.  There's a vast difference between 'Let It Be' and 'Here Comes the Sun.'"
Additional Info:  Brooke visited her family at home this weekend because relatives from Nova Scotia were in town, including her 5-week-old niece...Brooke's husband was in the studio audience... Brooke was "a little overwhelmed" about doing the Beatles again because she did so well with "Let It Be" last week.  "The moment was bigger than me," she said of the performance... She chose "Here Comes the Sun" because it's "very well written" and the melody is "incredible."... "You guys have been really nice to me, so it's okay," said Brooke after the harsh comments from Simon, calling the criticism "inevitable."  "I tried something," she added.  "If I get to remain, I'm returning to what I feel I do better.  I have a plan."

David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK

Song:  "Day Tripper"
Randy said:  "You know what this is like?  You know why I love seeing you every week?  You keep it interesting.  It's like going to another sing at a David Cook concert.  You've got your Eddie Van Halen amp, you've got your Les Paul [guitar], you're throwing picks out into the crowd, you've got the voice-box solo.  I don't know if it's your best performance but it's another solid look for David Cook.  I loved it."
Paula said:  "There's really not much else anyone can say because you're ready to go sell records.  You chose using the voice box in a very cool way.  I think you probably could have... You could probably get a Geico commercial now.  Geico commercials are next."
Simon said:  "David I don't think that was as good as you thought it was actually. (laughing)  Seriously, you looked a bit smug throughout and I thought [voice box] in the middle was just stupid. (boos)  Just an opinion!  You've lost your element of surprise a little bit.  I think last week you were terrific, you know I was a big fan of you when you did the Lionel Richie song.  This again was a bit predicable and I didn't like that version."
Additional Info:  David said his most memorable moment so far came last Tuesday when he sand "Eleanor Rigby" because it was the "epitome of what he wanted to do" as a rock performer, plus the judges liked it... David performed "Day Tripper" with a guitar and voice box, using the White Snake version of the song with a "rock/funk vibe"... After his performance, David said he only learned how to use the voice box this week... Paula's Geico comments were a reference to a commercial for the insurance company in which Peter Frampton uses a voice box... Ryan almost knocked David to the ground with the microphone after the judges comments. David then gave Ryan a demonstration on the voice box, and the crowd implored the Idol host to try it.  "We don't have time for that," he said.

Carly Smithson, a 24-year-old from San Diego, CA

Song:  "Blackbird"
Randy said:  "Yo, another great performance for Carly Smithson.  Very nice, very controlled, very emotive.  I love that. Very heavy cooliosis factor Paula, cooliosis right there."
Paula said:  "Is that a new word?  You have an amazing tone to your voice.  The inflections that you do throughout the song, the choices that you make, the arrangement was beautiful.  I love this season so much because all of you are challenging each other to be greater at what you do... You stand right in there with a capital 'F' for 'fantastic.'"
Simon said:  "So Beatles songs -- Week 2 -- and you choose a song about a blackbird.  I don't think that was a very smart thing to do.  I thought the song was indulgent, I didn't like the song at all."
Additional Info:  Paula said Simon had whispered in her ear that "Blackbird" originated as a song called "Sparrow" and "the sparrow fell from the tree into a pile of oil."  "I don't know what she's talking about," said Simon... Carly said her most memorable moment was last Tuesday when Simon compared her to Kelly Clarkson's Top 12 performance, a similar comment to the one he made during her first Idol audition during Season 5... Carly said her brother used to sing "Blackbird" growing up, so it was one of the first songs she tried to learn. "I haven't done that kind of soft, ballad song yet, so hopefully 'Blackbird' will be a good choice," she said... After Simon's comments, Carly explained the song choice.  "Blackbird, fly, broken wing -- I just like we've all been trying to break into this industry for so long.  You get beaten down so hard that you feel broken, for me, it's like blackbird fly.  I know that's corny, but I was very afraid to come audition for this show.  Now I'm here and I'm so happy."  Simon said the comment made him feel "uncomfortable."  "I now think that you're all broken birds.  That's what you're saying to me.  Well you're now free."... As Ryan was saying Carly's call-in number, she showed that she had the number "7" tattooed on her knuckle.  "It's permanent and I got it this week," she said.  "It's Season 7.  The biggest things for me are my marriage and American Idol right now."

Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX

Song:  "Michelle"
Randy said:  "Alright, good choice 'Michelle.'  I mean I love the song, it was a little interesting for me for you because it was very subdued by you this time.  I don't know.  I don't know.  I don't know if I really, really got it.  It was just all right for me man.  I didn't feel like you were really connected with it that much either."
Paula said:  "Jason you have a very distinct charm about you and that's why a lot of these girls are falling in love with you. (cheers)  I feel like you get a little disconnected when you're away from your guitar, and I feel that gets a little uncomfortable for me.  It's an intimate song that became more like a polka almost -- it was very sing-song.  It was a little awkward for me.  I think that you've got to work a little bit on that.  It just didn't connect with the audience."
Simon said:  "This is a very weird show tonight.  I'm not sure it was such a good idea doing Beatles again because we have such a great memory from last week and this is all getting  a bit strange.  Where you're lucky is that this is a TV show and not a radio show.  You're face sold that. (cheers)  As Paula said, what you have Jason -- and I like you a lot -- is that you're very charming.  You're not obnoxious. (cheers) There's a whole kind of goofiness that makes it work, because if I was just listening to that  French/English version of the song on the radio, it would be off."
Additional Info:  Jason said his most memorable moment came when he sang "Hallelujah" but remembers it most for flubbing the final note.  However the performance was praised by the judges... Jason said "Michelle" is "dynamic" but added the song is a "challenge" because he's never spoken French before... "This week just kind of came really fast.  I didn't have a lot of time," said Jason after Randy's comments... "It could be Beatles night every night.  They just need to sing these songs like there's no tomorrow!" said Randy after Simon's comments.

Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old from Sarasota, FL who currently resides in Miami, FL

Song:  "Yesterday"
Randy said:  "So you took some liberties, you worked on the melody, changed some things around a little bit.  In my estimation, very, very, very good performance tonight."  (cheers)
Paula said:  "It's great to see how you change and how you let yourself be very vulnerable... I have to tell you, that vulnerability is really where you need to be because that sets you apart from everyone else.  The only thing I would work on is connecting more with your eyes and looking at the audience.  Other than that, you've got a beautiful voice."
Simon said:  "Syesha I thought that was probably your best performance so far. (cheers)  It wasn't incredible, but you chose the best song.  You chose the song actually Brooke should have sung. But I like the kind of Eva Cassidy-type arrangement.  Actually I thought you sold the song very, very well.  I think that song and that performance should keep you in the competition."
Additional Info:  Last night's performance episode was the first time Syesha's parents were in the Idol studio audience... Syesha said being in the bottom three for the Top 12 was memorable, but said it "happened for a good reason" because it provided her "inspiration" and a "kick in the butt"... Syesha performed a Beatles medley in middle school, and "Yesterday" was one of the songs that touched her... Syesha was accompanied on stage by an acoustic guitar.

Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA

Song: "I've Just Seen a Face"
Randy said:  "So there were some good parts for me and some bad parts for me.  It sounded like it could make a good country song, I liked it when it went to the fast part.  The slow part I didn't quite get.  But the fast part, you need that up tempo stuff to use all that energy you've got.  So I like that.  Harmonica was a very weird, strange arrangement, but hey it could be a good country song.  I don't know.  It was strange for me."
Paula said:  "You know Randy I disagree.  I think that you're showing who you are and the depth and the scope of your vocals.  I think that when you sing a ballad, it is so pure, on pitch, beautiful.  Then you show a whole different side of you in a minute and 30 seconds.  I get a whole scope of who you are, and I love it. (cheers)  You did it again!  Two weeks in a row, I love it."
Simon said:  "I thought it started off okay, and then you played the harmonica, which was literally atrocious. (boos)  Then it turns into 'Achy Breaky Heart' at the end... All this nonsense with Paula saying, 'This is the artist you should be.'... It was like a lot of different artists, I don't know what that was all about, it wasn't as good as last week.  I actually thought it was gimmicky."
Additional Info:  Prior to Chikezie's performance, Ryan shamelessly used an elderly man in the studio audience to plug Idol's Apple sponsorship... Chikezie said his most memorable moment came the first night of the Hollywood Round when he received compliments from all three judges... Chikezie was excited to revisit the Beatles and said John Lennon was his favorite since he's an "imaginative" songwriter... Chikezie played the harmonica during his performance. "I know a lot of people have been playing instruments this season and I haven't done it myself," he said.  "So I figure I'll go out and pick one up -- I have no idea how to play it yet -- so don't harp on me for it."

Ramiele Malubay, a 20-year-old from Miramar, FL

Song:  "I Should Have Known Better"
Randy said:  "Alright so I wasn't jumping up and down, but I liked it.  What I loved about this performance for you is you showed that confidence that I know is in there.  It was kind of a happy-go-lucky kind of a joint, but it was alright.  You did your thing.  It was alright.  it was alright."
Paula said:  "Definitely better than last week, and even though last week you don't feel was good and you thought you bored us, there's something about your voice when you sing ballads that allows you to really show your range.  I want very much for you to get back into that zone when you sing the... and show what you got.  Now's the time to just pick the right song."
Simon said:  "It sounded like Chikezie was on harmonica. (boos)  Honestly, the problem was that I like you a lot.  I think you've got a fantastic personality, you're lots of fun.  The track sounded terrible.  It sounded very amateurish, the whole thing.  But you are in a boat along with a lot of other people tonight, which was you chose really mediocre songs that didn't show the best of your ability.  So it is what it is."
Additional Info:  Ramiele said one of the best things about Idol is making a bunch of new friends who are going through the same experience as her... She called Brooke "the mom of the apartment" and David Cook the "big brother."  "It's like a really big family," she said.  "It's nice to have people that kind of take care of you away from home."... Since she bored the judges last week, Ramiele said she chose an up tempo song this week... Ramiele said she tries to pick the right song, it just didn't work.


(Photo credit Fox)


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