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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 7

'American Idol's Top 7 seventh-season finalists take to the stage


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/16/2008 

American Idol's Top 7 seventh-season finalists took the stage during last night's live performance episode broadcast, with each singing a Mariah Carey song.

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It was a good night for the guys -- especially for the two that the judges had previously predicted would face-off in the finale.  Meanwhile the girls struggled to escape comparisons with Mariah.

"I've got tell you, the guys completely won the night," commented Simon Cowell at the broadcast's conclusion.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 7 finalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon -- 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 6 finalists. In addition, Mariah is also scheduled to perform.


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

Song: "When You Believe"
Randy said:  "I was a little worried about tonight because boys singing girls' songs and all that kind of stuff -- and you probably picked one of the toughest ones because that was a great duet with Mariah and [Whitney Houston].  But dude, I've got to tell you something -- I say it every time -- if you can sing, you can sing anything.  You can sing anything.  That was the bomb baby!" (cheers)
Paula said:  "It must feel great for Mariah to be able to hear your interpretation of the song.  I know she was beaming because you made her proud -- very proud."
Simon said:  "I have to agree.  I would have bet $1 million on you choosing that song in advance.  I just knew that was the one from the opening line.  I thought it was very, very good.  I don't think we're in for a lot of laughs tonight though... At least you're smiling.  Look, you set the benchmark.  I think the guys are going to have an easier time tonight -- funny enough -- than the girls.  Because there's not the comparison.  But you sang it very well... I don know the song very well, and I have to tell you, you performed that very well."
Additional Info:  Prior to David's performance, Idol host Ryan Seacrest commented fans were "still feeling the shockwaves" from Michael Johns elimination and reiterated the importance of viewers voting for their favorites... David said meeting Mariah was "really scary" because he's "not worthy to be in her presence"... Mariah said David's rendition of the song was "really moving" and suggested he go into a falsetto for a few seconds... She added she's "really proud of him" and his "singing is just beautiful"... Following the judges' comments, Ryan said David gets so nervous before performing he "doesn't even eat."  "I ate today.  I managed to eat," replied David.

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

Song: "Without You"
Randy said:  "I like that you challenge yourself with this big song because I think you've got those big old vocals and I say this each week.  The only thing is -- and I think once you hit the middle of the song and the power parts it was cool -- the only thing is you've got to believe and trust in yourself that you've got that lower range too.  Just support it.  The lull, the beginning was a little not quite loosy-goosy for me.  But it was pretty good.  It was pretty good."
Paula said:  "I actually like that you showed some vocal restraint at the beginning of the chorus and then swelled and soared.  That's what I love about your voice.  It's choosing different parts and making it your own -- especially from a great artist like Mariah Carey."
Simon said: "Carly, I really wanted to hear you sing this song even before Mariah week.  So the difficult part now because we now have a direct comparison.  Could you pull it off on the night?  I don't think you did. (boos)  Wow!  What a surprise to hear you booing!  Sorry Carly, because I think you're capable of it!  I think you're over thinking everything.  I still think you're wound-up.  I think that you were holding yourself back at the end too much.  I thought it was an okay version."
Additional Info:  Prior to her performance, Carly told Ryan that losing Michael last week was "such a sad moment."  "We all weren't expecting it at all.  He was fantastic," she said, adding it's been "boring" without him because he was "a big goofball"... Mariah said Carly rendition of "Without You" was "more than doing it justice"... Carly compared Mariah to a "big sunshine ray"... Mariah thought Carly's note selection "complimented her range"... Paula seemed to agree with Simon's comments and encouraged Carly to "trust" herself... "I enjoyed myself.  I had a good time," said Carly after the judges' comments.

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

Song: "Vanishing"
Randy said: "So for the last couple weeks I've been saying you always pick the toughest songs -- that's probably the toughest song of the night vocally as well.  I like that you're bold and that you really go for it every week.  I was really afraid when I heard you were going to sing that song, but I've got to tell you something, you did a good job with it all things considered. (cheers)  It is really hard to sing.  There were a couple pitchy moments, but good job all things considered."
Paula said:  "This week, I think you've been extremely smart.  When you're singing songs of someone who is so unbelievably brilliant like Mariah... You're smart because you picked a song that not many people know and that you're not compared to because people haven't really heard that song.  You're easing... You're knowing how to change-up your voice.  Not always power, and using the beautiful, soft part of your voice.  I just think overall, tonight was unbelievably magical for you.  And you look great."
Simon said:  "I think once again technically it was very, very good indeed.  Having said that, I'm not sure at this stage in the competition I would have chosen a song which not many people know about.  So you run a risk."
Additional Info:  Mariah thought that Syesha "made a really excellent choice" with her song selection... Mariah said she wrote the song as a teenager, and she provided Syesha "little pointers" on performing it... Syesha said Mariah taught her to "make the song my own," which in turn made her "really confident"... After three performances, Simon said he felt "somewhere in the middle."  "I think so far David Archuleta has stolen the show and he's the one to beat," he added.

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

Song: "Hero"
Randy said:  "Brooke White in the house... I like the fact that you brought the whole singer/songwriter to the thing.  I thought that was kind of cool.  I was like really digging it and really down until the bridge -- and then the bridge kind of threw me a little bit just because vocally, it's hard... And at the very end I could feel you starting to lose a little confidence.  But you know what?  I appreciate the singer/songwriter look.  I thought it was pretty good."
Paula said:  "Every once of you is totally authentic to who you are.  That's a beautiful thing.  You're identifiable and I think that this unplugged version was a very brave thing to do.  I think that you sounded really good, with the exception of a few off notes.  But don't ever let that speed you up.  That's the only thing I felt like it was getting a little faster. ('I'd like to speed you up,' quipped Simon, which brought a laugh from the audience.)  I just thought it must be challenging, but for you it didn't seem so."
Simon said:  "Brooke, I don't think you had much choice other than to do what you did.  Having said that, it was a bit like ordering a hamburger and only getting the bun. (boos)  In other words the vital ingredient -- the bit in the middle -- was missing.  I don't think your voice is strong enough to carry thought song."
Additional Info:  Brooke missed her sister's wedding over the weekend because Idol was taping the Mariah-mentor package.  "I was really bummed about it," said Brooke.  "It was great.  She was very understanding."... Mariah said she initially wrote "Hero" for Gloria Estefan... Mariah described Brooke as "genuine as a person" and said "Hero" was a "good choice for her"... Brooke said Mariah taught her to "be in the moment and be real"... Brooke played the piano during her performance... Randy disagreed and said "the meat was in the bun."  Simon answered by adding it was missing condiments, such as "the tomato, the onion and the relish."

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

Song:  "Forever"
Randy said:  "I've got to tell you, I didn't think that was amazing but there were a couple of pitchy notes in the first part (boos)... But I've got to tell you, you definitely started stepping up towards the end.  You hit that note at the end, I was like, 'Whoa! Everybody's starting to step up tonight!'"
Paula said:  "You know what?  It wasn't just the end.  I think you are a very smart girl because you have this all worked out in your plans, it's like, 'I'm going to step it up.  I'm going to choose the right songs.'  Kristy Lee Cook... Oh my God.  I'm like blown away.  You know what I love most?  How the arrangement was done, you'd have a hit with it in the country-western world.  Also, it shows Mariah what a legacy she leaves.  If she can leave it on the younger generation and still have fans... I'm so proud of you.  That's what I'm trying to say."
Simon said:  "Well you probably weren't jumping for joy when you heard it was Mariah Carey week. ('I was just happy I gave her chills,' answered Kristy.)  Okay, well you didn't give me chills. (boos)  I think you managed with what you could.  It was a little bit whiny at times.  It wasn't ever going to be an advantage for you.  So I think you were quite smart.  It just wasn't great." (boos)
Additional Info:  Mariah said she "really enjoyed" Kristy's rendition because "a lot of people don't know that song and she really delivered it well"... Mariah said it gave her goose bumps, which Kristy thought was "amazing"... Kristy said she "definitely wants to connect to the song" emotionally.

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

Song: "Always Be My Baby"
Randy said:  "I think more than almost anyone on this show right now that you're ready to make an album.  You're a hot recording artist. (cheers)  I never stood up once yet this season -- that was the most brilliant performance yet!" (cheers)
Paula said:  "Wow!  That's pretty awesome.  That song could be in a movie soundtrack right now.  It really could.  And who knows, maybe it just will.  You're it.  You're it."
Simon said:  "David it was like sort of coming out of karaoke hell into a breathe of fresh air. (cheers)  That was original, it was daring, it stood out by a mile.  This is the sign of a great potential artist -- someone who takes risks.  Congratulations."
Additional Info:  Prior to David's performance, Ryan plugged Idol's Apple sponsorship while seated next to previously-ousted finalist Ramiele Malubay... David said he thought he was "taking another step outside the box" with his song selection since it's a "huge pop hit"... Mariah thought it was "really different" and it made her "proud as a songwriter"... She described his rendition as "pretty and haunting"... David was visibly emotional after the judges comments, wiping tears from his eyes as his cancer-stricken older brother Adam cheered from the studio audience.

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

Song: "I Don't Want to Cry"
Randy said:  "For me, I didn't really love that. (boos)  I felt like I was at a weird beach luau and somebody was playing some music in the distance.  It was weird for me.  I didn't get it."
Paula said:  "Jason, I'd love to be at that luau dancing all night long. (cheers)  I'm not kidding.  You're getting so confident and so in that zone.  It's just lovely to hear you.  Again, I'm so proud of everyone tonight.  They've done a great job."
Simon said:  "Jason, I'm going to have to agree with Paula.  I thought that wasn't the best vocal of the night.  Having said that, it was identified with you.  It was a cool version."
Additional Info:  Prior to Jason's performance, Ryan ran into the studio audience and tore-up a sign that read, "Simon for President"... Mariah called Jason's rendition "interesting and different" and stressed the importance of "expressing the song and singing to get that song to people's hearts"... Jason appreciated the melody Mariah provided him... Mariah said she was "really looking forward" to Jason's performance because he's "unique"...  Simon laughed at Randy's luau comment before confessing he didn't know what a luau is.  Jason also laughed at the luau comment.

(Photo credit Frank Micelotta/FOX)


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