Wednesday, April 16, 2008

'American Idol' guys turn up the 'wow factor'

Now that the Sarasota Film Festival is over — leaving me in a haze from the whirlwind of celebs, parties and films that lit up Sarasota for 10 days — it's time to get back to the matter at hand: "American Idol."

Sarasota's Syesha Mercado is still in the mix, performing as one of the top seven in the competition (though I still feel she won't be able to break into the top five). Last night she sang "Vanishing" for Mariah Carey week. I agreed with Paula that she was wise in picking a song that the audience wouldn't be as familiar with. I thought she did good with it — maybe good enough to keep her safe another week — but the performance didn't wow me.

But the guys had their wow-factor turned up high last night. I was blown away by David Archuleta's rendition of "When You Believe." During David Cook's "Always Be My Baby," I was a little worried because I wasn't sure where he was going with it at first, but then his creativity with the song won me over in the end. He'll reap extra votes by his tearing up on stage after the judges praised his performance.

Jason Castro's "I Don't Want to Cry" was good — it really showed off his great and unique vocal tone.

In the women's realm, I was disappointed by Brooke White's performance of "There's a Hero." It felt rushed and she ventured off-key too many times to overlook.

As for Carly Smithson, cheers to her for finally wearing sleeves! I was beginning to get sick of seeing those tattoos literally EVERY week. Not that I'm against tattoos, but if she were more of a rock 'n' roll darling like former Idol Amanda Overmyer, the look would work better for her. I'm starting to agree with Simon though about her performances, she doesn't really seem to let herself go when she sings. It's like she's always holding something back. She was a little better last night with "Without You," but not by much.

When it comes to Kristy Lee Cook, I honestly didn't pay attention to how she performed. But I remember thinking briefly that she sounded good. Don't know if it was good enough to stay another week.

Based on this week's performances, I think tonight's bottom three may be Brooke, who's never made bottom three (hopefully that won't send her suddenly packing like Michael Johns last week), Carly and, for good measure, Kristy.

- January Holmes

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