I hope you voted before checking in here. Running account after the jump ...
This is "American Idol," yada yada. Introduction of the judges. Theme, as we knew, is the '80s. Contestants asked about most embarrassing moments.
Luke Menard. Sister dressed him as a ballerina. Song: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." He has a nice voice but it lacks character. Not that he picked a song that called for much of that. And he likes to go for high notes, but can't reach them all. And he's kind of dull. C. Randy says it started out a little rough but "you kind of got it together in the end." Also called it corny. Paula was surprised by the song choice; she choreographed George Michael's tour. She rambles to the point that Simon demands that she say whether she liked it. She loved it. Simon says it was weak and girly and there is no chance he will make it through, possibly not even to the top 12. Paula gets argumentative about this being a singing competition. Puh-leez.
David Archuleta. Most embarrassing: Went to Honduras, voice went out during a song and his mom went onstage to finish it for him. Song (with DA on piano): "Another Day in Paradise." Interesting. Big ballad music, protest-song lyric. He's fine but it's not the goosebumps of last week. B. Randy says it's like watching a DA concert. "It was nice," but pitch problems here and there. Paula loved that there were off notes because it proved "you're not this make-believe person, hologram." Simon says it wasn't as good as last week, he should have stayed at the piano and he's getting too gloomy. But says he's probably going to be in the final two. Break.
Denise Richards in the house. And looking bored.
Danny Noriega. Embarrassment: A friend tripped him at the movies and he fell in front of one of his crushes. Song: "Tainted Love." Oh, this is scary, and I don't mean the purple hair. Creepy to the max. F. Randy says it started rough but he liked the day DN did it at the end. Paula calls him a bright light in the competition, with a sensitive side and a "spicy side." And she wants the purple out of his hair. Simon thought it was horrible. "Absolutely useless." DN makes a mocking gesture to Simon, with a "Whatever!" Randy and Paula imitate the gesture. Paula insists DN is fantastic and again says this is a singing competition.
David Hernandez pauses to take a few dollar bills out of his g-string. (I'm KIDDING.) Embarrassment involves a booger in pictures. Song: "It's All Coming Back to Me." He is a good singer. B plus. Randy says it's a nice song choice and really good but "sometimes you just overshoot the notes." Paula feels he is getting into his groove and finding his niche. Simon says it wasn't as good as last week "but you've 100 percent secured a place in the finals." No mention of DH's little scandal this week.
Ryan with Michael Johns. Asked about his game plan. MJ says to show what kind of artist he would be. Moment: Worked as mascot at rugby match and got beaten up. Or something like that. Song: "Don't You Forget About Me." Trying to make it big (sounds INXS-ish, in a way). Mike stand dance. But more shouting than singing. C plus. Randy brings up the Michael Hutchence thing, too, and says it was nicely done. Paula is glad he is the type of artist who is defining who he is, and rambles. (The sane Paula has obviously left us again.) Simon liked it but didn't love it, and prefers him as a soul singer than a rock singer. But he really really likes Michael and thinks he will do well in the competition.
(A little Wednesday-morning quarterbacking: I've been reading other blogs where people think Randy believed "Don't You" was an INXS song instead of Simple Minds. If that's what he said, I missed it while typing; I did hear the reference to Hutchence. Just so you don't think I'm an idiot, too, I should note that I remember the Simple Minds original but thought this version sounded "INXS-ish," as I said in my post last night. And am now realizing I sound terribly defensive.)
David Cook, with guitar. Moment: Forget the second verse of a song during a show. Song: "Hello." Took me awhile to recognize it. B plus. Randy likes the emo approach to Lionel Richie. Paula praises his perfect choices and believes he will be a great shining star. Simon calls it a very brave thing to do and says he loved it. He really hopes to see DC next week. Simon saw Lionel Richie in the grocery store recently. What, is he having some kind of Paula moment here?
Jason Castro. One of his dreads fell off during a dinner date, but they went out again. Song: "Hallelujah." Also known as "that song shows keep using when they can't think of a better way to make a touching dramatic point." He's OK to start with but this is one of those songs where you'd better kill -- since people have heard so many killer versions. And he's keeping it low-key. Too low key. C. Randy knows it's a Leonard Cohen song! He says it's a tall order but gives him props. Paula likes the way he made it sound effortless and his vulnerability and then devolves into sentence fragments. Simon says the Jeff Buckley version is one of his all time favorites and Castro's is "absolutely brilliant."
Chikezie. In high school he went to the same bathroom all the time, only to realize it was a women's room. Song: "All the Woman I Need." Not great, especially chasing Luther, but some good parts. B minus. Randy says he did a good job. Paula was waiting for upbeat but his vocals sounded really good and the guys "are rockin'." Simon notes it was a Whitney song; Chikezie recaps who did it and which year, but Simon seizes on the Whitney thing and says it didn't work. Back and forth with the audience about booing.
(Chikezie, by the way, did the song in the audition round -- even more intensely than tonight. Simon called him interesting but wasn't sure his voice was that interesting and "I know all about you now.")
If I were king of the forest, I keep Archuleta, Hernandez, Cook, Chikezie, Castro and Johns. Out go Noriega and, because he's so bland, Menard.
Ryan asks Paula to sum up the night in one word. She insists on two, then offers a stumbling "phe-nomenal."