'American Idol's Top 3 seventh-season finalists take to the stage
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/14/2008
American Idol's Top 3 seventh-season finalists took the stage during last night's live performance episode, as each performed three songs and had three phone numbers for viewers to call and vote to determine which two would compete in next week's finale.
Each finalist performed a song chosen by one of Idol's three judges; followed by a song each finalist personally selected; and then closed with a song chosen by the show's producers.
"It is a pivotal moment in the lives of our three finalists," said host Ryan Seacrest at the beginning of the broadcast. "The way they perform and the way you respond could truly affect the closest race this show has ever seen."
Both David Archuleta and David Cook became one step closer to making it a David vs. David finale, while Syesha Mercado faltered in trying to continue to improve upon the expectations she set for herself in recent weeks.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 3 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 2 finalists.
David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT
First Song: "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel (Paula's choice) Randy said: "You know what I'm really happy about for you with this one is that Paula chose a dope song for you. You can sing anything. The Billy Joel thing works well on you. I would have loved to see you playing the piano like him, singing it. It don't even matter dude. You are in the zone -- in it to win it baby!" Paula said: "I've got to tell you David, it was a pure and stunning performance. Tonight, I really felt that you were a storyteller. You really were. It was a beautiful performance." Simon said: "It was very good. There were no surprises. A bit predictable. (boos) That's not really a criticism. It was good. I didn't think it was outstanding. (boos) Good. Good." Additional Info: "Showcasing the amazing vocals that you have, it's a beautiful song that shows the level of difficulty in the melodies that of which I know you can handle," said Paula in explaining the selection... David said he was "excited" by Paula's song choice because it's a "really pretty song"... David was informed of Paula's song selection during his hometown visit by Murray City, UT Mayor Dan Snarr.
Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old from Sarasota, FL who currently resides in Miami, FL
First Song: "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys (Randy's choice) Randy said: "I thought that would work really well for you. You did an amazing job on it. I could see your heart beaming and smiling all the way down here. Syesha I've got to say one thing to you, I'm so happy you are peaking at the right time in this competition, that's why you're standing there at No. 3." Paula said: "I'm very proud that you are the last lady standing there. It's difficult to do a song that's so identifiable with a beautiful artist like Alicia. I applaud you for that, and aside from all of that, you look absolutely stunning." Simon said: "I have to say you sung that very well Syesha. I just wish Randy had chosen something for you where you weren't going to just try and sound like the original. ('Actually if you listen back, she changed quite a few notes,' interjected Randy.) Well not enough in my opinion. Overall, it was... And you look gorgeous by the way." Additional Info: "I know that she's really young, hot, unbelievably talented, in charge" said Randy in explaining the selection. "I have a feeling that she loved Alicia as much as I did, and I think this is the kind of record she could make and be very successful with."... Syesha was informed about her song choice during her hometown visit, however she received it via text message in a limousine... Syesha said Alicia Keys is her "favorite artist" and she "loves that song"... Following the judges comments, Ryan asked Syesha if she'd been holding back so she could "bring it on" during this part of the competition. "I've just been so nervous that I think I'm kind of over that now. I'm just trying to have more fun... be myself," she answered.
David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK
First Song: "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack (Simon's choice) Randy said: "I've been a David Cook fan since Day 1 -- I loved you since Day 1. You can sing the phonebook too. I loved the high note at the end, but I wish Simon would have picked something that wasn't as predictable as this older kind of song for you because I want you to rock, baby! You're a rocker! You're our rocker! I needed more rock from it. (boos) I love him!" Paula said: "It's so funny that it's about [Randy and Simon]. It's about you David, it's about you. (cheers) That is one of my favorite songs and now you're my second favorite person who sings it." Simon said: "Well David, this may sound a little bias but I actually thought it was one of your best performances to date. (cheers) This is what makes you brilliant. You take risks. It's original. Round 1 goes to Cook and Cowell." Additional Info: "First of all, it is one of the great songs of all time," said Simon in explaining the selection. "Unlike Randy, I wanted to do something different. David has a chance to show some originality. It's a very, very, very tough song. But I think you're going to do well...Like Syesha, David was informed of her song selection via a text message during his hometown visit, however he was on the set of Kansas City's local Fox affiliate, not in a limo... Simon joked that he "inspired the lyrics" of the song. "That's one of the reasons I chose it," he added with a laugh... After the judges comments, Cook wished his mom a "happy belated Mother's Day"... A sign in the audience read, "We Love the David's."
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Second Song: "With You" by Chris Brown (David's choice) Randy said: "Alright so, I applaud the fact that you're trying something new and young because I think that's really kind of the record you should make. But I'm not sure that was the right song. Seeing you sing, 'My boo'... (boos) I couldn't believe it." Paula said: "David I think this is perfect -- right in the right tone of your voice. (cheers) I think that you should be singing songs like this. I think you're so used to singing ballads, but this is another part of who you are. I would just work on not extending the phrases and shortening it up a little bit. I think you did a great job." Simon said: "David, I applaud you that you didn't do a ballad -- which I would have expected. However it was a little like a Chihuahua trying to be a tiger. (boos) In so much as it's not really you. I thought it was all a bit awkward, the dancing." Additional Info: David explained why he chose the song, but it was tough for viewers to understand what he was saying due to all the screaming females in the audience... Ryan asked David if it was easy for him to learn. "It wasn't actually. With all the older sounding stuff [I've been performing], I thought I'd give something new a shot."
Second Song: "Fever" by Peggy Lee (Syesha's choice) Randy said: "A very interesting song choice at this point, but your highlight to me is that you sang it amazingly well. Again, a great performance." Paula said: "You look lovely tonight Syesha. Out of all the songs you could have chosen to sing, I'm surprised you picked this song. I just feel like it's an interesting choice, but I'm not sure that it shows me who Syesha is as an artist." (boos) Simon said: "Syesha, I think you will probably regret that decision tomorrow, because you had a chance to prove you are a contemporary recording artist with your own choice of song. Instead, you did quite a lame cabaret performance." (boos) Additional Info: Syesha worked a chair during her performance. "I like the vibe of the song, and I wanted to use the chair," she said in explaining her selection. "I just want to walk around it a little bit. Just kind of work it a little bit."
Second Song: "Dare You to Move" by Switchfoot (David's choice) Randy said: "Great, great song choice. Produced by my friend John Fields. I love that band from San Diego, Switchfoot. (cheers) Performance-wise, let me just say, it wasn't your best tonight. A little pitchy baby." (boos) Paula said: "As an artist, I know how hard it is to get a three-and-a-half minute song into like a minute-thirty. The challenge is to get the audience to feel like they got the beginning, middle and end. And I feel like you just got to the beginning when it hit the end of the song. I wanted more." Simon said: "You know what David, there's not much I can add to that. It was pretty much what I would have expected. I don't think it's the best melodic song in the world. I think all three of you had an okay middle round. We've got one more round to go." Additional Info: "Lyrically, it just kind of wrapped up this whole experience for me," said David in explaining his song choice. "Coming from being a bartender, it seemed like the appropriate song for the appropriate moment."... David played the guitar during his performance... Ryan introduced David while sitting in the chair Syesha used during her performance. "I think it's more comfortable than that stool," he said... A sign in the audience read, "Cougars 4 Cook."
Third Song: "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg (Producer's pick) Randy said: "Once again, an interesting song choice for me for you. But listen dude, you can sing the phonebook. It doesn't matter. You were in the zone vocally. It was another hot one for you!" Paula said: "It was a lovely performance David. I expect nothing more. It was just lovely." Simon said: "David, I'm not going to criticize you because I thought you sang the song very well. (cheers) However, I thought the song and the lyrics were absolutely horrible. It was so gooey. (boos) It is gooey. It's something you choose for a 90-year-old, and you're 17-years-old. Having said that, I do think you've done enough to get into the finals next week." Additional Info: A sign in the audience read, "Simon, You're My 3rd Favorite Judge"... Paula presumably meant she expects nothing LESS from David, not "nothing more."
Third Song: "Hit Me Up" by Gia Farrell (Producer's pick) Randy said: "You know... Yeah, I could kind of seeing you doing a song like that -- kind of Rihanna-esque. It was just okay for me. It was just alright for me." Paula said: "It's from the Happy Feet soundtrack. ('It's a song about penguins,' interjected Simon.) No, it's a movie about penguins. The song is in it. He's trying to tell me it's about penguins. Syesha, you did the song very well. Again, as much as I liked it, I don't know if it's the type of song that defines you -- Syesha the artist. I don't know if it's going to be good enough to get into the finals ofAmerican Idol." (boos) Simon said: "Syesha, look it was better than the second song. That's for sure. If I'm being honest with you, you had your best moment last week with the Sam Cooke song. I don't think anything this week has topped that. I think the problem with that song is -- because it is a song about penguins -- is it's a little bit forgettable. It's fun, it's young. But it didn't give you the defining moment I would have liked at the end of this show."
Third Song: "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith (Producer's pick) Randy said: "For me, I loved the song. It was okay for me. (boos) Very predictable. Very predictable for me." Paula said: "Excuse me?! Songs like this -- this is where the beginning, the middle and the end is. David, see you in the finals. That's what I predict." Simon said: "David, one of the great songs of all time. I have to tell you, David Cook wins the night." Additional Info: Paula gave David a standing ovation. Diane Warren -- who wrote "'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for the Armageddon soundtrack -- was in Idol's studio audience.