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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 7

'American Idol's Top 9 seventh-season finalists take to the stage


By Christopher Rocchio, 04/02/2008 

American Idol's Top 9 seventh-season finalists took the stage during last night's live performance episode broadcast, with each singing a song from country music legend Dolly Parton.

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A majority of the finalists delivered strong performances, with a few hoping to continue their run deep into the competition while others were merely trying to stave off elimination for another week.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 9 finalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and a cranky 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 9 finalists.  In addition, Dolly is also scheduled to perform during the broadcast.


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

Song:  "Jolene"
Randy said:  "I definitely think that this kind of music could definitely suit your voice.  You can make an album like this.  I don't know if that was a stellar performance for me.  There were some pitch problems and a little bit of... Sometimes you rushed the music a little bit.  It was alright.  It was alright.  It really was.  It was alright."
Paula said:  "Brooke, what's great about you is you're consistent.  You are who you are.  You put your heart and your soul into it.  You have an emotional connection with each song that you pick.  I think that's what record companies and executives want.  You are Brooke White. ['Yes she is,' retorted Simon.]  Excellent and wonderful."
Simon said:  "Actually I totally disagree with Paula because I think what was lacking on that song was any emotion.  You looked like you were busking your way through the song.  I thought all of you looked (boos)... I thought all of you looked very odd together as a group.  You know, the weird violin player.  It all looked a bit strange... It wasn't one of your better performances.  I wasn't that crazy about it."
Additional Info:  At the beginning of the broadcast, host Ryan Seacrest delivered a weak April Fool's Day joke.  "We've just been informed that due to industrial action by the League of American Vocal Coaches, tonight's episode has been preempted.  In its place, we're showing a special celebrity edition of The Moment of Truth, starring our very own Simon Cowell.  We'll see you next week.  April Fool's -- this is American Idol!"... Brooke played the guitar during her performance and was accompanied onstage by a small band... Dolly thought Brooke was "really good" and had a "sweet, warm way" about her... Brooke described Dolly as a "legend"... Dolly commented Brooke felt the song "from an honest place," so it was a "good choice."... Brooke complimented Paula's hair, and she gave the compliment right back.

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

Song:  "Little Sparrow"
Randy said:  "You know what I love that you've been doing the last couple weeks?  You're a rocker -- but you've been showing you've got this unbelievable range.  I like how you went into the [falsetto] there, you made your own arrangement, which was very cool.  Once again, another hot, consistent performance."
Paula said:  "I like your haircut!  I like it!  Let me tell you something, I've never heard a guy do that song.  It was fantastic.  Fantastic going into your [falsetto] -- and with strength.  It shows how well rounded you are."
Simon said:  "David, I'm not going to say it was as good as last week because it wasn't.  But look, if you can make a song about sparrows good -- which actually you did -- congratulations."
Additional Info:  Prior to his performance, Ryan asked David about how he's chosen the arrangements in past weeks.  "I've been actually really fortunate.  Throughout this whole process I've been able to find arrangements that fit me, and in most cases, I've been able to find online... I've been really, really fortunate.  A lot of the feedback's been great."... David did his own arrangement of "Little Sparrow"... Dolly said "Little Sparrow" is one of her "favorite songs" and thought his voice was "absolutely beautiful."  David called the compliment "awe inspiring."... Like Brooke before him, David also played the guitar during his performance.

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

Song:  "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind"
Randy said:  "I wasn't jumping up and down, but I wasn't mad at you either.  It was kind of alright.  You showed some signs of strength right there -- conviction.  I thought it was a pretty good performance.  I'm going to say a six-and-a-half out of 10. (boos)"
Paula said:  "Oh!  I'm proud of you Ramiele.  I'm very proud of you.  Because I was a little worried that you weren't going to connect.  But I think you really had a great minute-and-30-seconds and you really connected with the audience and you were having fun! (cheers)"
Simon said:  "Look, we're not going to remember this in 10-years time are we. (boos)  It was cute.  You sang it quite well.  Overall, I thought it was forgettable and I think it was very reminiscent of something you would see and hear on a cruise ship if you want my honest opinion."
Additional Info:  "Finally somebody my size!" commented Dolly when she met Ramiele, who said meeting the country star was the first moment in her life when she was "unbelievably star struck"... "The fact that she's little ain't gonna stop her from doing big things," commented Dolly on Ramiele.

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

Song:  "Travelin' Thru"
Randy said:  "I thought it started a little bit rough for me -- a little bit unsure -- but by the middle of the song I thought you picked it up.  I thought, 'Yeah, this is kind of cool.  It's a singer/songwriter kind of vibe.'  I started believing you man.  So it was pretty good.  You worked it out."
Paula said:  "To me, this was one of your strongest performances.  You seem so comfortable.  You let go.  Your voice sounded so strong and rich.  You were confident.  It was great.  I loved it."
Simon said:  "Well, this is the point where I lose my season pass to Dollywood because I didn't like that at all. (boos)  It sounded actually like the same song from before.  I didn't think you sang it particularly well.  I don't think this kind of music suits you particularly well.  If this had been the first time I'd seen you or heard you, I wouldn't get it.  That's my problem.  Sorry."
Additional Info:  Ryan said that Idol received several Colorado-themed postcards addressed to Jason that were all from the same female fan, gushing about how his voice is "as relaxing as the scene on the front of this card"... "I would dread to have to do those locks," joked Dolly upon meeting Jason... She said "Travelin' Thru" is a "natural, perfect little piece" for Jason, who played the guitar during the performance.

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

Song:  "Here You Come Again"
Randy said:  "I do believe that will probably be one of the better performances of the night.  Nice job."
Paula said:  "Carly that was glorious.  You are such an amazing talent.  You are beautiful -- that voice of yours!  Oh my God!  And you look great!"
Simon said:  "I thought it was good, I didn't think it was great. (boos) Sorry.  It's one of those nights.  I also think Carly that you have to have a word with whoever is dressing you at the moment.  (boos)  I think at this stage -- without being rude -- you've got to start looking like a star, and I'm not seeing that progression at the moment."
Additional Info:  Dolly said "Here You Come Again" is the "perfect song" for Carly's voice... Dolly didn't write the tune and explained, "When I heard Carly singing it, I thought, 'Now that's the type of voice this song was really written for!'  So it was a good choice on her part."... Paula told Randy he was "hard" on Carly last week, and he reiterated he still thought her performance was pitchy at the end.  "I watched the tape back and she was on pitch!" answered Paula... After the judges' comments, Ryan asked Simon what his issue was and if he didn't like country music.  "No I love country music.  I'm just saying what I think other people at home are thinking.  The people who tune in expect fantastic performances.  I'm not going to lie if I don't think they're great.  Everyone's capable -- with the right song -- of being great.  I just didn't think that was a blow-you-out-of-your-seat performance."

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

Song:  "Smoky Mountain Memories"
Randy said:  "David Archuleta is back tonight!  I stand corrected -- that was the best performance of the night right there!"
Paula said:  "Amazing tone in your voice -- you're strong -- you have a beautiful aura about you.  You're just glorious.  You really are."
Simon said:  "David, you know I had issues with your choice of song last week.  This week, absolutely on the money."
Additional Info:  Ryan introduced David from Idol's seventh-season pit... David said listening to the song "totally gave me chills" and Dolly added it's a tune that's "so dear to my heart"... Dolly said she could feel that David was "so into it."  "I really think he has the voice to really become a great, great singer."... As was the case following one of his previous performances, a group of girls in the pit yelled, "We love you!" at David as Ryan was delivering his phone number.

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

Song:  "Coat of Many Colors"
Randy said:  "Country music is definitely your wheelhouse and I think you give it very nice performances.  This is definitely your wheelhouse though -- so this is kind of the Kristy Lee week.  Country music, you know what I'm saying?"
Paula said: "Kristy, you look stunning tonight.  You really do.  You look beautiful.  You just gave a real good performance.  I think this is your best performance.  I do."
Simon said:  "I totally disagree.  I thought last week was your best performance and I thought this was pleasant but forgettable."
Additional Info:  Dolly explained "Coat of Many Colors" is a "true story from her own childhood" about her mother and thought "Kristy made it her own.".... "I'd rather impress her than my mom at this moment, so that's hopefully what I did," commented Kristy... Kristy performed in her bare feet, and Ryan commented he "loved the French pedicure," which -- presumably because the broadcast was tight on time -- didn't receive a snarky remark from Simon.... "Thank you Simon, love you!" said Kristy after the comments, giving the Idol judge a wink.

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

Song:  "I Will Always Love You"
Randy said:  "You decided -- however it happened -- you took on the biggest tiger of the night, and I think you did pretty good.  It's still hard for me to hear anybody else sing that song.  But it was alright.  It was alright. (boos)"
Paula said:  "Syesha you look beautiful.  That color is gorgeous on you.  Let's talk about your voice -- your voice has... It's like a velvety tone to your voice.  That's it for you.  I just think you're growing and growing and growing and you're connecting with the audience so much more.  I love it."
Simon said:  "You forget what a brilliant songwriter Dolly Parton is because this is one of the best pop songs ever written.  I almost wish you hadn't got it in a strange way because the first part was good.  The second part -- as I had a feeling -- unfortunately paled by comparison to the Whitney version.  So therefore, I don't even know if it really helped you that much.  It was a good -- it wasn't a fantastic version of the song."
Additional Info:  Wheel of Fortune star Vanna White was in the Idol audience during last night's broadcast... Dolly thought "I Will Always Love You" was a "real good choice" for Syesha, who combined Dolly's rendition with Whitney Houston's version... Syesha said she was able to find an "emotional connection" with the song... Dolly described Syesha as a "pretty girl and a good singer.

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

Song:  "It's All Wrong But It's All Right"
Randy said:  "You keep on bringing it up every week a notch dude.  That was a blazing hot performance.  Nice job."
Paula said:  "I just want to say one thing, it's interesting tonight.  All of you... Some of these people don't even know the songs.  I'm going to talk really fast.  But because they're great melodies, great hooks, Dolly Parton is amazing.  You're a star -- a rock star!  A blues star!  And you look gorgeous."
Simon said:  "It's an interesting night tonight Michael, but I have to say something to you.  I think this is the best I have heard you sing throughout the whole competition. (cheers)"
Additional Info:  Michael revealed Dolly was the first connect he attended in 1986... He added words couldn't describe what it was like to sing to Dolly... "I do like his voice.  He would make some great records, and I think that I could probably write some good songs for him so I'm hoping he does become a star," commented Dolly.


(Photo credit Fox)


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