I'm a little late getting started because of a speaking engagement. But will post as I replay the show, albeit with some skipping over chatter. ...
Blah blah blah, Ramiele Malubay performs first. (Theme of the week: Songs from the year you were born.) Video reminiscing about how she became a singer. Song: "Alone" by Heart. Didn't we get this already this season? PLEASE STOP THE PHONY AUDIENCE ARM-WAVING. Low voice, then big on the chorus. Big and screechy. C minus. Randy says she's under the weather as he is, but it wasn't a good song choice. Recalls that Carly did it before. Paula also brings up the illness defense and says she's brave to try it anyway. Paula also sounds raspy. Simon didn't think it was as bad as Randy said; he thought it was OK at first but got shrieky, but says that if she got through based on last week's performance, she'll get through this week. Ryan gets Randy and Simon to bicker. Break.
Jason Castro. Song: "Fragile" by Sting. He's back with his guitar. It's amazing how he gets through the song without ever appearing complete awake. Drone drone drone -- high note -- drone drone drone -- squinchy face -- drone. C minus. Randy liked the little Spanish touch and thought it was all right (this coming after Ryan wondered if Randy was too mean about Ramiele). Paula didn't see anything different and thought it was safe but somehow tries to make that sound complimentary. Simon thinks he has had two bad weeks and it's time for him to start taking this more seriously. Compares it to a singer outside a subway station. Ryan asks Jason if he is taking it seriously. "Yeah," he says, smiling, and millions of Americans remind themselves to rent "Half Baked."
Syesha Mercado. "If I Were Your Woman." Gladys, of course, although there's a Bonnie Bramlett version you should find. Too slow, and even when she's intense she sounds a little thin. Best performance so far, but I'd still say no more than a C plus. And the Bonnie Bramlett version is on iTunes. Randy calls it a good moment for her, and declares it the best he's heard her sing. "We've got another competitor in the competition!" Paula calls it the moment where Syesha flipped it and became the dark horse and sailed on through. Simon calls it the best so far but didn't consider the end as good as Randy claimed, and thought she was stretching her vocal limits.
Chikezie. "If Only For One Night." Oh, going into Luther's world. Starting off creamy, but he doesn't have Luther's range. Gets shaky in spots. Gets better when he testifies, but that's not for very long. C plus. I want the crazy Chikezie back. Randy says Syesha made her cut younger-feeling while Chikezie was too old school, wasn't hip and cool. Paula disagrees, calling it "a good throwback." Cites Brenda Russell as well as Luther. Simon thought he sang it well but the performance was cheesy, such as the reaching into the trained seals -- I mean, the audience. Chikezie says he's singing for the trained seals -- I mean, the audience. Simon wanted originality.
Brooke White. "Every Breath You Take." Ah, the stalker song. She's at the piano. False start on the first line, has to start over. Well, the way Brooke sings, she's a very polite stalker. Good voice, too -- still, this is supposed to be a little scary. C. Randy liked that she started over but did not love the arrangement, and was waiting for something different to happen. It was just OK. Paula enjoyed it more than last week's then goes into her fragmented way of talking. Simon agrees with Randy, particularly about staying on piano without the band, but considers it good enough to keep it another week.
Halfway mark. Michael Johns. Cutdown medley of "We Will Rock You" -- oh, hey, are the Cavs playing tonight -- and "We Are the Champions." He's authoritative, I suppose, but so are 20 guys singing this in the nosebleed seats of the Q. And he screeches. C minus. Randy loved it. Paula calls it MJ's shining moment. Simon says it's the first time he has seen star potential in MJ, and it's the only memorable performance of the night so far. No one mentions Jock Jams. so I am.
Carly Smithson. "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Epic cheese alert! She brings the cheese, with a metal-guitar backing that doesn't quite work. And she pronounces everything very clearly. But she knows her cheese. C plus. Ryan thought it wasn't quite the right song for her. Paula defends her song choice. Randy didn't like "the whole rock thing" on it. Paula says Carly could make her buy every song she doesn't like. Randy continues to argue. Simon says something didn't quite work, that she was tense.
David Archuleta. "You're the Voice." Did I say Carly knew her cheese? Aside from a certain lack of plausibility in an "ooh," Archuleta proves once again that he is the definitive "American Idol" winner -- I mean, contestant. He will make sense of any drivel they throw at him as the first single. I don't like this song but I am still giving him an A.
Randy says he can sing "whatever" but he doesn't know the song. Apparently no one on the panel quite knows it. (John Farnham, it appears?) Simon has reservations. Doesn't matter. Remember Blake Lewis dropping the ball on the cheeseball single last year? DA has no such worry.
Kristy Lee Cook pauses for a visit on her way to the bottom three. "God Bless the USA." Oh, mercy. Well, you know, if we vote her off now, the terrorists will have won. Although she doesn't sing it all that badly. But this is such a ploy, I can't help but think of the movie "American Dreamz." C. Randy thought it was a very nice performance. Because if he criticizes her, then the terrorists will have won, too. Paula called it very poignant and respectful, but says she has seen better performances from her. Simon calls it her best performance and a great song choice that will keep her in the competition.
David Cook to close. "Billie Jean," Chris Cornell verson. Slow, ponderous, but he sells it. I don't like this guy, and I don't know the arrangement he has borrowed, but he has managed to make me not hate him this week. Maybe if I knew what he was covering.* B overall, B plus for the latter half. Randy calls it "blazing molten hot." Paula is standing, won't sit, and calls him smart and brave and willing to stretch the boundaries. Simon says it could have been either insane or amazing, and it was amazing.
*I just listened to a bit of Cornell, which was more acoustic than Cook's thundering, so I have to give a little more homage to Cook. I still think DA tore it up more, but Cook's a very competitive second.
And I'm out of here.