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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 7

'American Idol' Top 12 seventh-season finalists take to the stage


By Christopher Rocchio, 03/12/2008 

American Idol's Top 12 seventh-season finalists took the stage for the first time during last night's live performance episode broadcast, singing songs from the famed John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook.

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The seventh-season's early frontrunner delivered his worst performance of the competition so far, a couple finalists performed boring renditions of their songs, while others were finally able to come into their own.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 12 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.
 

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

Song: "Got to Get You Into My Life"
Randy said:  "Nice arrangement of that Beatles' song -- kind of the Earth, Wind & Fire arrangement, yes?  It started a little rough for me at first because there were some little pitch problems, but by the middle of it you kind of got into it and started having fun with it.  Because it's a big old fun song -- I mean you've got to just loosen up and fly with it.  Sometimes I feel you're thinking vocally, like right before you hit that big note at the end, you hit a note that was a little pitchy and I was like, 'Ahhh...'  Keeping it real, but it was alright for me.  It was alright."
Paula said:  "Syesha, you know you're a good singer.  In fact, you're a very, very good singer.  It started off pitch, but midway through you found your zone and then it's like there's Syesha -- this big voice and you look fantastic.  You sounded great from the midway through to the end."
Simon said:  "I thought it was better than alright Randy.  I thought it was a great choice of song. (cheers)  I just think you looked very, very nervous.  You've got to get past that.  But I thought you were much better than you were last week."
Additional Info:  Idol's new set was unveiled at the beginning of the broadcast, and it included Ricky Minor and the band situated on a balcony above the stage as well as a "mosh pit" in front of the judges table... Syesha said she's currently a student and actress... She was "always surrounded by music" as a youth... Syesha said she chose "Got to Get You Into My Life" because she "loves the song" and thought could show a little more of her personality on... Syesha had family members and friends in the studio audience... After her performance, Syesha said she just tried to "feed off of everybody else's energy."

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

Song:  "She's a Woman"
Randy said:  "Dawg let me tell you something man.  I was thoroughly entertained.  Who knew?!  First of all, let me just say this to you.  I loved the arrangement, it was dope starting it with the whole kind of down south -- like almost I was looking for the jug. Who knew you had the falsetto?!  Chikezie smashed it!"
Paula said:  "Chikezie, when [host Ryan Seacrest] asked me the question, 'What should they do?' and I said, 'Those who take a risk, the greater the reward if they can change it up.'  You started with an Oh Broth Where Art Thou-type of vibe (laughs), then you turned it into this rock vibe, and that's the Chikezie I knew... I knew once you hit the Top 12 this was probably what was going to happen!  I've been waiting for this.  The reward paid off."
Simon said:  "I'm really surprised that I actually agree with these two. (cheers)  What I loved about it --  other than the fact that you looked like you were completely drunk halfway through the performance -- is that unlike the first singer, you actually have changed within a week.  You kind of took control over the stage, the stage didn't control you.  It was certainly a unique version of the song, but I thought you were terrific."
Additional Info:  Chikezie said prior to Idol, he worked as a T.S.A. (Transportation Security Administration) screener and a cashier at LAX... He said Paula is always "very good at the airport" whenever she's at LAX... During last Thursday night's results show, Chikezie said he thought he was going home.  "Honestly I did.... When it came down to it, I was like [Danny Noriega's] such a lovable guy.  I could see a lot of people would want him to keep going.  I made my peace with the situation.  I was ready to go home."... Chikezie said he'd be "putting my own funk" on "She's a Woman"... Chikezie performed the song with banjo, fiddle and tambourine players onstage with him... His family and friends were in the studio audience... Ryan and Chikezie jumped around the stage following the judges' comments.  "You got us all fired up now baby!" said an out-of-breathe Ryan.

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

Song:  "In My Life"
Randy said:  "It was kind of pretty, but it was also kind of pretty boring for me.  I kept waiting for you to do something special and interesting to it -- because it sounded like that's where you were kind of going -- but it just kind of laid there for me.  It didn't move any earth for me.  I'm sorry."
Paula said:  "Ramiele you look lovely tonight.  You look really pretty.  It was pretty safe.  I want you to know that you are an amazing singer and your voice allows you to go many different places and you need to take advantage of that.  Even thought it's a very simple, beautiful song you could have really gone more melodic.  I feel like you're holding back.  The whole world needs to see what we hear in your voice."
Simon said:  "The whole world needs to see what we hear?  Okay, right.  Ramiele, I was bored to tears throughout the entire song. (boos)  From the awful standing on the stairs to the walking in the middle with the dreary song choice -- which did absolutely nothing for you -- it was forgettable, boring and I expect a lot better from you because you're better than that."
Additional Info:  Prior to Idol, Ramiele said she was working at a sushi restaurant and smelled like soy sauce when her shift is over... She said she also comes from a musical family and has a sister who plays the drums... Ramiele said she chose "In My Life" for her "close friends who have the left show already"...  Her family and best friend were in the audience... Simon hammered home his point.  "She sang it in a very boring way, it was a boring arrangement and it was a boring song."  Ryan asked Randy if Ramiele did enough to make the Top 11.  "I don't know man.  That was pretty boring right there."  Paula said Ramiele "should go through."

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

Song:  "If I Fell"
Randy said:  "Listen, I liked it.  I didn't love it, and the reason I didn't love it is that's one of my favorite songs of all, and sometimes with a melody that classic and a song that great, you just need to sing it with more of a heartfelt thing.  I liked you going into the [falsetto], but the switches in the melody just kind of threw me a little bit.  I found myself kind of tuning out.  But it was alright.  It was alright."
Paula said:  "I disagree with Randy.  I disagree. (cheers)  What is so special and unique about you is I do feel your heart.  I feel your heart.  I feel like the audience feels your heart, and that is such a special connection that makes you truly unique. (cheers)  You don't do all the riffs and the runs, and you don't have to because you have an emotional connection with the songs that you pick.  That's what I think America connects to."
Simon said:  "How do you know there was an emotional connection?  Jason last week you were incredible.  Tonight -- if I'm being honest with you -- it was all a little bit student in a bedroom at midnight... I thought the song actually was quite boring.  Very unique, very different -- big, big fan of Jason -- but is he going to make the same impact this week as he did last week?  No, because it was the song that made it so special last week.  You can't keep doing this week after week.  You've got to choose brilliant songs that suit your style.  Good enough to stay another week definitely, but not as good as last week."
Additional Info:  Jason is in his second year at Texas A&M University, where he recently declared a music minor.  It was the only class he failed... On making the Top 12, Jason said, "It's been pretty cool."...  Jason revealed his family's from Colombia... He said he chose "If I Fell" because "it's a pretty song" and one he can "really relate to"... Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Kim Kardashian was in the studio audience... Jason played the guitar during his performance... Ryan and Simon shared some banter after the performance about Simon's bedroom comment... "Do you want the dreads back for more?" Ryan asked before giving Jason's voting information.

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

Song:  "Come Together"
Randy said:  "You know what I loved about that?  You were strong, you were confident, you were having a good time up there.  You sounded amazing -- there wasn't a note out of tune.  Stellar performance.  Stellar!"
Paula said:  "Carly it was really strange watching you up there.  I felt like I was already watching a star. (cheers)  You know what?  I couldn't wait until you got into the Top 12 so you could really shine who you are as a performer.  You're a great performer."
Simon said:  "Okay Carly.  Week after week so far, I think that you have chosen the wrong song -- until now. (cheers)  Carly I've got to tell you something, this reminds me of six years ago -- exactly the same week -- Kelly Clarkson."
Additional Info:  Carly said the Top 12 finalists moved into their new apartments last on Monday night and she's sharing a room with Amanda Overmyer.  Carly added her "must haves" on the shopping list were orange juice, eggs, celery, ranch dressing and -- of course -- potatoes... She described San Diego as a "really chill, laid-back city" but misses her family and friends back in Ireland... Carly said "Come Together" is a regular part of the Saturday night set she performs at a local club... Her friend and husband were in the studio audience... "This is so amazing!" said Carly after the studio audience went absolutely wild after her performance... Following Simon's comments, Ryan stated the obvious.  "Not that we need to connect the dots, but she did okay that Kelly Clarkson."

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

Song:  "Eleanor Rigby"
Randy said:  "You can definitely rock out on Idol, see, that proves it right there.  You can rock out on Idol, you can rock out on the Beatles.  You're doing your thing.  It started a little kind of unsafe for me.  You had a little pitch problem in the first part.  But dude, once you hit that chorus it was rocking!  Let go.  You got this!"
Paula said:  "I've been telling everyone you're the dark horse.  This is proving there's more than one horse in this race.  You're a thoroughbred.  I think you're fantastic each week you come out.  I love seeing you as the frontman -- we all know you're the frontman with your band -- but you are the frontman here on American Idol."
Simon said:  "David I thought it was brilliant.  Paula's right, if this show remains a talent competition rather than a popularity competition, you actually could win this entire show."
Additional Info:  Ryan was sitting in Randy's chair to introduce David... David said he had a "pretty standard upbringing" and prior to Idol worked as a "drink slinger" (aka bartender)... David decided against performing with a guitar because he thought it might be "overkill"... Prior to David's performance, Ryan was whispering something in Simon's ear.  "No I would not!  No!" answered Simon to whatever Ryan said... David's family was in the studio audience.

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

Song:  "Let it Be"
Randy said:  "So listen, I don't know if it's your strongest performance, but I'll tell you what I like about you.  I was sitting here, imagining you at home practicing this as kid growing up thinking, 'Man, one day I'm going to make it.  I'm going to get on some show.'  This is kind of like a dream come true for you right?  I love the fact that you have all of this conviction.  You come out, you take this big song -- people have sung all these kind of runs and riffs on it -- and you gave a very heartfelt performance.  I love that!  I'm a fan!  The dawg's a fan!"
Paula said:  "This is your niche, this is your niche Brooke.  Picking songs where we can feel your heart -- America can feel your heart -- and it's having that connection, an emotional connection, that makes people fall in love with you."
Simon said:  "I thought Brooke it was -- again -- one of the best performances of the night. (cheers)  I thought it was a brilliant choice of song.  I think you've done it three weeks running now.  Actually, it's believable.  There's a difference between karaoke -- which we've seen tonight -- and actually making it believable and showcasing your talent.  Three weeks running, great."
Additional Info:  Brooke moved to Los Angeles from Mesa to work on music and is also employed as a nanny for twin girls, which she called a "wonderful job"...  Brooke said she chose "Let it Be" because she "really connected with the story" of the song... She played the piano during her performance... Brooke's husband and family were in the audience holding a sign that read, "We [love] Brooke (But we miss our nanny)"... After her performance, Ryan gave Brooke a tissue to wipe her tears and commented she was "literally shaking"... Brooke also performed barefoot, and Ryan fetched her shoes once she was done.  "Ryan, they're hers," Simon reminded the Idol host.

David Hernandez, a 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ

Song:  "I Saw Her Standing There"
Randy said:  "You know you've got a big voice.  You can really sing.  But here's the deal.  On a song like this that's really simple, for me it was a little too overdone.  You were trying to do too much with it, so I kind of was lost from the jump. (boos)  I was a little lost because there was just too much going on with it."
Paula said:  "David, you know I love your voice. ['I love you too,' David replied.]  I feel like you kind of overdid it a little bit.  I think you needed to scale back... You're a brilliant singer and I just felt not too many runs."
Simon said:  "David no, no, no.  I thought it was corny verging on desperate to be honest with you. (boos)  It's true.  It was all a little bit rabbit in the headlights.  It just wasn't very cool... I didn't think it was a particularly strong performance.  Sorry."
Additional Info:  Prior to Idol, David said he "got fired" from his job at a pizza bistro -- not surprisingly, making no mention of his male stripper past... David is also a broadcast journalism major at Arizona State University, where he said he took a class on the Beatles.  He said he chose "I Saw Her Standing There" because it's "fun" and "upbeat" and he planned to "work the stage"... David's best friends were in the studio audience... Randy corrected Simon that the expression is deer in the headlights, not rabbit... Ryan said he knows David had a "stressful week" and asked if he overanalyzed.  "I did the best I could," answered David.  "You can't go back in time.  It's easier to pull back than to give more.  So the next time I'm up here -- which I hope I'm up here next time -- I'll just turn it down a notch."

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

Song:  "You Can't Do That"
Randy said:  "I'm telling you man, that is the true mark of great songs -- because these are some of the greatest songs in history as I said before -- and guess what?  You took a Beatles song and you brought it to like a Southern club, a Southern bar, and you rocked it out in a Southern bar sort of way.  I've got to give you props for that.  Good looking out.  I loved it.  I thought it was cool, very cool."
Paula said:  "First of all Amanda, you're smiling, you're having fun, you look fantastic.  You are a star up there.  This is like the best competition -- the best season -- of talent.  I'm blown away -- blown away by you."
Simon said:  "I didn't think it was as good as last week actually Amanda.  I understood about 30% of what you sang.  It was like you were slurring a lot of the words and it got a little bit shouty.  Having said that, I think it's a very good thing that you're here... I think it's a good thing you're in this competition because I think you're a breathe of fresh air when you come on.  But, if I'm comparing week on week, it wasn't as good as last week."
Additional Info:  Prior to Amanda's performance, Ryan plugged tonight's live results show broadcast.  "It's a full hour of one result!" said Ryan with a laugh... Amanda said everyone in her family rides a Harley Davidson, so it's a good way for them to get together... The first time Amanda heard "You Can't Do That" was this week when she chose it as her song, so she was "hoping and praying" Simon liked it with her own "Amanda spin on it"... During his comments, Paula interrupted Simon and he told her to "shut up."  "Don't be disrespectful," she said.  "Well than don't be disrespectful to me Paula," he replied.

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

Song:  "Across the Universe"
Randy said:  "I don't know if it was your best performance.  I thought it was good.  I was waiting for something big to happen once again -- it's a great song -- I thought you would have... You could have taken a little liberty and changed a couple notes around.  But it was okay for me -- a little sleepy -- but it was alright. (boos)  A little sleepy."
Paula said:  "Wow.  I disagree with you again (cheers)  It takes an inner strength and an inner, quiet confidence to be able to stand center stage with a microphone and do nothing but sing brilliantly.  Just your quiet confidence and the way you connected, I thought that was a brilliant performance."
Simon said:  "I've got to agree with randy. (boos)  He's absolutely right, you should have done -- what's the Irish girl's name?  Carly!  Carly did something brilliant with the song, and that's what you should have done.  It was a little bit monotonous.  It was solid -- it was good -- but now is the point where you've got to let yourself go a little bit.  I'm still a big fan of yours, and I'm frustrated still that we haven't heard what you're capable of doing.  It was all a little bit like that."
Additional Info:  Michael's wife and friends were in the studio audience... As a musician, Michael said he's "done everything you can think of" for employment, including some tennis coaching on the side... Michael said he chose "Across the Universe" because it really helped him through a "painful" family experience... "You're not a real musician in my opinion if you haven't been affected by the Beatles," said Michael... Paula defended her comments.  "We've seen other sides of Michael.  It's about showing us all the textures of performance.  I thought it was brilliant."

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

Song:  "Eight Days a Week"
Randy said:  "Alright look.  This is kind of wild for me.  There were some parts about it that I liked -- I actually liked the arrangement and the idea of the song.  Just vocally, I just felt like you were trying to force some runs into it.  You could of left it just like a country jig, it would have been cool.  I don't know.  I'm kind of torn with this one.  Half of me likes it, half of me didn't like it."
Paula said:  "Um... Kristy I didn't enjoy it and I'll tell you why.  I know you did like the [country singer] Lorrie Morgan type... I just feel like you can't take what we say -- like go for the country thing -- too much to heart.  You've got to be able to make it your own.  I just didn't get it.  I didn't get it.  I'm sorry."
Simon said:  "Kristy I thought it was horrendous actually.  You sounded like Dolly Parton on helium. (boos)  It was. Sorry... Kristy, it was a very brave but probably foolish thing to do.  That song just doesn't work in that style.  It was like being at some ghastly country fair or something, you know, a couple of banjo players and you.  I didn't like it.  Sorry."
Additional Info:  Kristy said she's for a community of roughly 500 people, so Los Angeles is "totally the opposite" for her... She's from a "big music family" and listened to the Beatles growing up... Taking Simon's advice, she changed "Eight Days a Week" to a country song.  "I know Simon said he likes taking risks. So I'm going to take this big risk and I'm just hoping and praying he likes it and I'm able to impress him."... Simon said the "arrangement of the song was hideous."  "To change that song like that was just wrong," he added... Ryan asked Paula if he thought Simon gave Kristy bad advice.  Simon thought the comment was "obnoxious" and asked him to go back to the contestant.  "I'll tell you what.  I'll build you the old set and you can play host in your backyard," Ryan told Simon... Paula said Kristy's "huge" fan base might save her from elimination.

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

Song:  "We Can Work It Out"
Randy said:  "You know I like your voice, you know I'm a fan of yours.   This week dawg it was not on point. (boos)  This kind of vibe is not your vibe for me.  It felt very forced and it really didn't quite work.  All I'm hearing in my head is that Stevie version and ain't nobody going to do that better.  It just didn't work for me quite."
Paula said:  "You know what this wasn't your best week.  But David you are a frontrunner.  You're a strong person in this competition.  Just forgetting the lyrics, it gets a little tough.  You can never let it show on your face... It's okay thought.  We love you."
Simon said:  "David we've got 12 people here all in the same position -- all want to win the competition -- so I'm going to treat everybody fairly.  That was a mess. (boos)  You stumbled over the lyrics at the beginning.  Randy's quite right, you shouldn't have done the Stevie Wonder version.  It was just all over the place and at this point of the competition, I expect incredible performances.  It wasn't.  It was your weakest performance so far."
Additional Info:  "David revealed his mom's from Honduras and is into salsa music while his dad is a jazz musician... David said he actually "wasn't too familiar" with the Beatles so he was a "little nervous"... He instead performed Steve Wonder's version of the song because he's familiar with it.  "This is the most nervous I've ever been just because I'm a little scared doing this song. It's a pretty difficult song for me.  I'm just kind of getting a little stressed thinking about it."... David stumbled over the lyrics at the beginning of the song... After his performance, David said he "wasn't really too sure" about the song choice, but did his best and had fun with it.


(Photo credit Fox)


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