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March 19, 2008
Idol Chatter: A Beatles bust


I had mixed feelings about another week of Beatles songs on "American Idol." The song list seems endless on paper, but the opportunities for individual hits - especially 11 of them - is not as easy as it might sound.

That's why I'm going to keep this wrap-up short and sweet.

David Archuleta, 17, who wasn't even a blip on the screen when his Beatles hit came out, sang the group's last No. 1 song, "The Long and Winding Road", and blew the rest of the competition away. Done deal.

And I'm sure he was the only performer who got any sleep afterward.

David A. rebounded after last week's misstep with "We Can Work It Out," missing the lyrics and opting for a bad arrangement.

This week, the "road" to the "Idol" title is his to take - and I predict he'll be accompanied by throngs of giddy teen girls (and the "granny" vote) to the finale.

As for the other 10 contestants, the judges (even Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul) didn't mince words. We heard a lot of "not your best performance, predictable, just good." And, of course, the inevitable fashion death knell: "You look gorgeous."

Simon Cowell thought the whole evening was weird and that maybe doing another week of the Beatles was a bad idea. I'm officially giving him the green light to use "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano's phrase, "Hot mess!," because that's what Tuesday was.

I think we'll see a bottom three that includes a regular, Kristy Lee Cook, and two possible surprises: Chikezie and Ramiele Malubay.

Kristy Lee's "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" featured another bad arrangement. Simon said she's just not a good performer. "It's like musical wallpaper; you notice it, but you can't remember it."

Several of the Final 11, including the bossy Amanda Overmyer, with a jarring "Back in the U.S.S.R", and the meek Brooke White (pictured), with a lackluster "Here Comes the Sun," had too much to say after their performances.

Amanda barked about selling out a future show that Simon quipped didn't have any tickets available - yet. Brooke got one of her first all-judge negative reviews, maybe not so much for her singing but her truly awkward, gangly dancing. She definitely needs her piano/guitar so she has something to do besides sway and wave.

Rocker David Cook's "Daytripper" was gritty but not as great as last week's "Eleanor Rigby." He incorporated a "voice box" and guitar into the performance, but I agree with Simon. David C. needs to lose the smug stuff, especially the creepy sideways glances. "It was not as good as you thought it was," Simon said.

Randy and Paula, who rarely pounce on any of the contestants too hard, were accurately critical with guys like Michael Johns. He took on the daunting task of turning "A Day in the Life" from a five-minute song into a minute-and-a-half that was like a musical jigsaw puzzle.

And Jason Castro, who is safe because he's got major camera appeal, had to learn French and more goofy hand gestures to get by with "Michelle." Randy actually liked the song choice but was subdued by the performance. Paula thought he was disconnected without his beloved guitar.

Syesha Mercado redeemed herself and probably avoided another trip to the bottom three with a soulful - albeit incredibly sad - version of "Yesterday."

And I'm not sure why Simon has issues with the Beatles' "Blackbird," a song he kept telling Paula orginally was called "Sparrow." Irish crooner Carly Smithson, dressed in what looked like a rose-infested lingerie top, gave us a very unique interpretation of the song, but she and Simon got into it over "broken wings" and the meaning of life, blah, blah, blah.

(Carly found time this week to get a No. "7" tattooed on her right finger - for the season, not her ranking.)

Baffling was Chikezie's "I've Just Seen a Face,", which started at a dead snail's pace and then accelerated to hoe-down tempo - with Chikezie blowing on a harmonica. And, finally, Ramiele's "I Should Have Known Better". She should have known better. Didn't like the fedora, didn't like the bad pants. And I think Ramiele needs to quit playing the role of "little sister" who needs protecting. It's grating. And heaven help us if she goes tonight. She'll need counseling.

OK, so maybe this wasn't so short and sweet, but I think the live results show (at 9 tonight on Channel 40) will be very interesting. Season 5 contestant Kellie Pickler will perform in yet another attempt to keep "Idol" viewers in tune with past contestants.

Guess we won't be seeing former finalist Jessica Sierra on the show - ever. According to, she's sitting in a jail cell in Florida - pregnant and with no hope of getting out anytime soon.

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