Some of the finalists were able to take the tough task of singing theatrical numbers and turn it into an opportunity to shine, while a few others struggled in the genre and had their weaknesses highlighted.
"Simon [Cowell] and I were saying last week that this is probably going to be the toughest night of the season," said Randy Jackson before the performances started. "These are tough songs."
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 6 finalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy, Simon, and Paula Abdul -- 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 5 finalists.
Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old from Sarasota, FL who currently resides in Miami, FL
Song: "One Rock & Roll Too Many" (Starlight Express) Randy said: "This may surprise you, but I feel tonight, not only is this your element, I think you could be a huge Broadway star. I thought that was your best performance to date right there." (cheers) Paula said: "I actually think it isn't surprising for you to hear because this is truly a big part of your love -- this is your happy place. You're real good at it. I think Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is right -- you brought the house down right at the very beginning." Simon said: "Syesha that was very sexy. (cheers) The whole kind of Michelle Pfeiffer riding the piano. I actually agree with Randy. I thought this was one of your strongest performances so far. (cheers) I thought you showed lots of personality, which we hadn't seen before. I don't know if you're going to take this as a compliment or not, but Randy's right, you definitely are more comfortable in this area. ('That's okay with me!' responded Syesha.) Okay. Then I'll end it there." Additional Info: Yesterday was Earth Day, and prior to Syesha's performance, Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed the seventh-season finale will use "green power"... Ricky Minor conducted the Idol band -- which had a few additional members this week -- from the show's main stage... Syesha said when she learned it was Andrew Lloyd Webber week, she was excited it was "finally something where I can show some personality and just be theatrical"... Andrew asked for Syesha to perform both the "unanimated" and "excited" versions of the song, and he preferred the latter... "I think she kind of will bring the house down," said Andrew... Last night was the first week each of the finalists had two phone numbers for viewers to call to vote... Syesha danced with Ricky during her performance. "You're conducting, not a member of the Pussycat Dolls tonight," Ryan reminded him.
Song: "Memory" (Cats) Randy said: "I do like one factor. I thought musically -- vocally -- for me, it was a little bit of a train wreck. (boos) But I do like the fact you with the dreads singing that kind of song. It's just not the kind of song for you. It's just not your thing. I could see you singing a Jack Johnson song with a guitar, but this is too much melody for me for you. It's too big of a song." Paula said: "I'm going to try to say this. I think everyone's so use to hearing this song by a female power balladeer. That's not who you are. But I feel it was a very wise choice for you to do this song, because once again it allows you to put your influence into it. (cheers) It further identifies your unique being as an artist. I think that in many ways it sounds like a pop ballad. Like Joe Cocker, 'You Are So Beautiful.' This is how I felt this song came off as." Simon said: "Jason it felt to me -- and I'm sure to you -- probably the longest two minutes of your life, right? The reality was it came over as a young guy being forced by your mom and dad to sing a song at a wedding you didn't want to sing. (boos) It did. It did. You were miserable throughout. I was partly miserable throughout. It's not your style of music. It was a struggle." Additional Info: Prior to his performance, Ryan asked Jason what his reaction was when he learned they'd be doing Andrew Lloyd Webber songs. "Well, I saw the list of all the work, and I recognized it all. I'm embarrassed to say, I've never seen any of the musicals. So I got kind of nervous."... Andrew said "it was a little bit of a jolt" to see a dreadlocked man singing "Memory"... He suggested Jason really let himself go when performing the song... "I think Jason's made a very brave choice in taking this song, and I'm not sure I would have done it," added Andrew... Jason commented he was "nervous"... After the judges comments, Ryan asked Simon how he would vote this week due to the type of music. "For that, you don't [vote]," replied Simon. "Everyone's got a choice. It's a democracy. It's America. You can vote for whoever you like."
Brooke White, a 24-year-old from Mesa, AZ who currently resides in Van Nuys, CA
Song: "You Must Love Me" (Evita) Randy said: "For me, this wasn't great. There were parts of it that were good once you got started. The one thing that I did like that you did is at least you listened to Andrew Lloyd Webber because the most important thing I think you guys can all take from this night is you need to believe what you're singing. I kind of got that, the vulnerability and everything for you. But vocally, it was just a little tough." Paula said: "Umm... You must never start and stop. Having said that, this is the biggest show and the biggest platform. No matter what, you're strong enough and you're great enough as an artist to pick up the pieces. What I did love about this performance Brooke is you didn't over-act. You just were you and you did sing the song. Anything that became part and parcel or broken a little bit vocally was an emotional strength of yours." (cheers) Simon said: "This is why I love live TV! It was so dramatic, the beginning! The trouble is Brooke, it completely threw you because at that point you were so tense trying to remember the song, your voice was straining in the middle a bit, that it actually became quite uncomfortable. So this is a tricky one. I think you're going to be very disappointed when you watch this back." Additional Info: Andrew didn't think Brooke "had a clue about what she was singing," so he explained the song's background to her. "He looked into my eyes, and I got it," she said... Andrew said he was "quite pleased" with how it turned out, and added it was "terrific"... Brooke forgot the song's lyrics almost immediately after she started singing it. "I'm sorry," she said and the song started over again. After the judges comments, Ryan asked Brooke why she started over. "I lost the lyric. First time I've done that on the show." Simon said he would have done exactly what Brooke did. "I thought it was actually a very brave thing to do," he said. "It's your opportunity. Why not?" Randy agreed with Simon that Brooke made the right decision.
Song: "Think of Me" (Phantom of the Opera) Randy said: "What is really cool is you're exactly what this show is about -- if you can sing, you can sing anything. I knew this would be a big night for you. You even put your own personality into it with the little [Stevie Wonder] riffs here and there. Dude, it was the bomb! This boy's the one to beat!" (cheers) Paula said: "I think it was absolutely perfect David. The reason I think it was perfect is you took risk on a known theatrical song and were quite able to turn it into a pop ballad. I think that's perfect." Simon said: "David I thought it was pleasant. One of your weaker performances over the... (boos) It's just not one of those performances you're ever really going to remember. It's absolutely going to get you through to next week. But it was all a bit forgettable for me. Sorry." Additional Info: Prior to David's performance, Ryan called his "sisters" onstage to give him hugs... Like "Memory," Andrew said "Think of Me" was written for a diva so he was interested to see how David would sing it... David said it was "a little nerve-wracking" to sing the song to Andrew... Andrew thought David should be applauded for doing his own version of the song, and suggested he open his eyes during his performance. "It's been a thing I've thought about working on because I tend to close my eyes when I sing and kind of get lost in the song I guess," said David.
Song: "Superstar" (Jesus Christ Superstar) Randy said: "It's no surprise to me that the bigger voices in the show this year are doing better tonight because these songs are hard songs to sing and they're very rangy. I don't know if this was your best performance, (boos) but it was definitely good. It was definitely good. It was definitely good. And I like the outfit -- the outfit's kind of fly." (cheers) Paula said: "I love so much that it was so unexpected. I thought at first it might be too high of a range for you, but I love what you did in the chorus." Simon said: "Other than the fact that it got a little bit shouty in the middle, it was actually one of my favorite performances of the night." Additional Info: Carly was initially going to sing "All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera, but Andrew cut her off. "That's not the song for a girl with a great big chest voice," he said. "She's a big, big singer that girl." He suggested her second choice, "Superstar," and she "just came alive." "It was definitely just more my vibe, more my personality," said Carly... "A girl with this on her arm," said Andrew, referring to Carly's tattoos, "has got to do 'Superstar' and is not going to go all girly and do 'All I Ask of You.'"... After the judges comments, Carly grabbed a T-shirt from Ricky, which read, "Simon Loves Me (This Week)."
David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK
Song: "Music of the Night" (Phantom of the Opera) Randy said: "I said it before, I'll say it again -- in fact, I said it earlier tonight -- if you can really sing, you can sing anything. Dude, that was an amazing vocal performance. (cheers) Unbelievable! Another molten hot lava ball tonight right there!" Paula said: "This song just proved more and more that you are so well-rounded as a performer and you have a beautiful instrument. I thought it was fantastic." Simon said: "David I think you made the most of the song. This is not the side of you I like. I much prefer the grittier, more raw [side]. It was too rounded off, but you made the most of the song you were given." Additional Info: David said he grew up doing musical theater... Andrew said "Music of the Night" is "probably the most sensual, the most sexy song" he's ever written... "You're supposed to be singing to the most gorgeous girl that you've ever seen in your life," Andrew told David. "Regrettably, I am not the person." Still, Andrew had David look directly into his eyes when he rehearsed the song. "It was a little strange," said David... Andrew said if David could get both "raw" and "sophisticated" passion, he'd be able to pull it off.