Since, as I mentioned below, I've been at the movies, I'm going to do some speed-watching tonight. But notes such as they are, including Paula losing track of who had sung, after the jump.
Intro, Neil Diamond career video, Ryan says the contestants will be judged after their second song. But I can judge as I go!
Jason Castro starts. "Forever in Blue Jeans"/"September Morn." JC admits that when working with ND, he tried singing the lyrics to one song to the tune of the other. Then he sings. "Blue Jeans" first. Not the worst I've heard him (that was last week), but he continually demonstrates that he has no vocal range. C minus.
David Cook. "I'm Alive"/"All I Really Need Is You." ND notes these are songs that most people have not heard before. "I'm Alive" first. It's got that early-Neil rocker feel, and Cook actually smiles some. But I'm not overwhelmed. C plus.
Brooke "What are the words again?" White. "I'm a Believer"/"I Am I Said." Neil suggests she replace "New York City" with "Arizona" to make the song more about her. But so far ND is mostly reminding me how very good Andrew Lloyd Webber was as a mentor. "I'm a Believer" first. What on earth is she doing with her beginning vocal? Starting low, and not able to get out of there. Also seems to be gasping for breath. Paula is up and dancing, but that's Paula. BW gets better in the latter stages of the song, but another eh performance. C/C minus.
David Archuleta. "Sweet Caroline"/"America." Hey, Carly was working on a "Sweet Caroline" before she got bounced. She planned to make it more of a ballad; DA's going for the big peppy pop thing. Which is fine, though less interesting than what Carly had in mind. And I prefer several other versions, including Frank Sinatra's (yes, Frank Sinatra) and the guys in the cast singing it in "Beautiful Girls." But it's the best vocal so far tonight. B.
Syesha Mercado. "Hello Again"/"Thank the Lord for the Night Time." "Hello Again" first. And the trained seals' waving hands are obscuring Syesha so any attempt to play to the camera is thwarted. They eventually go to a different angle. She's sounding good, though. B plus.
Even though the judges are supposed to wait until after the second song, Ryan goes to them for comments. Randy liked DA and SM. Paula starts talking about JC's second song, when he's only done one. Randy points out that he only did one song. "Oh my God, I thought you sang twice," she says. Did she sit in on dress rehearsal? Then she says she was looking at DC's note as if they were JC's. Simon rips everyone.
Second song. JC with "September Morn." Even blander and more tuneless than the first song. Same problems he always has, which his fans always forgive. D. Judges: Randy thought it was "just OK, whatever." Paula thought it was safe and he needs to get out of his comfort zone. JC says he started choking just before he sang. Simon says this is not the JC the judges put in the competition.
DC. "All I Really Need Is You." He's back to old DC. But I'm not sold on it. Could be the song's so-so. C plus. Randy says he rocked the house. Paula is so proud of him and says she feels as if she is already looking at the American Idol. Simon calls it brilliant. Brilliant?
BW. chats with Ryan. He lets her defend herself against Simon calling her first performance "a nightmare." Also brings up the difficulty of the lyrics in "I Am I Said." Talk about preventive damage control. I really don't like this song, but BW's performance is better than her first. Just not great. C. Randy is pleased, especially because he thinks the song is relatively difficult. Paula rambles her way toward praise. Simon says he really really hated the first song but the second "is the Brooke we like." Still, "it wasn't incredible."
DA. "America." Would seem like a perfect song for him but he doesn't quite have the authority for it. Still, good. And this is the most blatant pitch to the audience's political sensibilities since KLC's "God Bless the USA." B. Randy says he is definitely in the zone. Paula calls it the perfect song for him, and she loves him, and he's brilliant. Simon calls it a clever choice of song.
Syesha to close. "Thank the Lord for the Night Time." Now, this is a perfect fit of song and singer. There are still iimitations to her vocals, and she doesn't transcend the way a Fantasia might, but she's more than capable. B/B plus. Randy says she's finally realizing who she is, and she's in the zone. Paula goes back to talk about how she liked Syesha's first song, and that she liked the second one, and then the Martians come down and drag her back to the mothership. All right, I'm kidding, but Simon calls it the strangest show they've ever done. Then says Syesha is a good actress/singer but that she may be in trouble tonight. He says she didn't have a really memorable second song.
Simon's not completely off base, since Syesha has been on the verge of elimination for a long time, and it's clear that DA, DC and JC all have rabid fan bases, so it's reasonable to think that tomorrow will come down to Brooke and Syesha. But if I had to judge based on performances tonight, I would send JC promptly home. (Yeah, yeah, call me a hater. He's still bad.)