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April 30, 2008
Idol Chatter: Diamonds in the rough


Well, there's an hour I'll never get back, though I did get a couple loads of laundry done. Tuesday night's "American Idol" competition featured the Final 5 singing the Neil Diamond songbook.


With the exception of a couple of croonings, I would have preferred another week of Andrew Lloyd Webber. And no one warned viewers ahead of time that the five contestants would sing two songs.

In fact, even judge Paula Abdul was so befuddled by the format - sing two songs, with a quick critique in between, before being judged - that she gave feedback on poor Jason Castro's two songs when he had only performed one.

In case you've been in a cave somewhere and haven't heard or seen all the other blogs, Paula said she was confused with her stack of notes and that changes to the judging process had been made at the last moment. After muttering something about having to "write things down so fast," Paula still went on to talk about Jason's two songs, saying "you're not fighting hard enough to get into the top four."

That's when judge Randy Jackson leaned over and whispered only one song had been song so far by the five contestants. It was basically an on-air bungle that left judge Simon Cowell uttering - at the hour's end - "This was officially the strangest show we've ever done!"

Anyway, back to the show: Diamond, who just so happens to have an album coming out next Tuesday, said "for me, to turn my music over to someone else, I like it."

Wonder if he feels the same after Tuesday night's performances?

* Jason Castro: He sang "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn," both of which sounded exactly the same. No change in tempo - or temperament. Yes, he looks good on camera, but it's almost like he wants to go home and take a nap.

Simon was, as usual, the harshest, saying: "We don't recognize you. There was no intent to make the arrangements your own. You'll look back at tonight and say 'I don't know who this person is.' "

* David Cook: He sang "I'm Alive" and "All I Really Need is You," two Diamond songs that probably were the least recognizable. No matter. David did his own thing - again - with the arrangements and his vocals.

Paula said he pulled it off. "I feel like I'm looking at the 'American Idol.' " Simon called the second song "brilliant," adding that it felt like it could have been written this year.

* Brooke White: She sang "I'm a Believer" (with guitar) and "I Am, I Said" (with piano). I'm sure everyone, especially me, loathed the first song. I would have rather heard the version from "Shrek" - or even the one by the Monkees.

Randy thought Brooke was vulnerable - not as in being eliminated, but he definitely prefered the second song. Simon really "hated" "I'm a Believer," calling it girls' night out at karaoke. "Your second song is the Brooke we like, at the piano."

* David Archuleta (pictured): He sang "Sweet Caroline" (which Carly Smithson said she would have sung had she not been eliminated last week) and "America" (which I assumed would have been the group offering tonight). Sorry fans, I was a little bored, but the judges can't get enough of this teen heartthrob.

Paula thought the second song was the perfect choice. Simon said it was a clever choice. "You ticked all the right boxes - check, check, check!"

* Syesha Mercado: She sang "Hello Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Night Time." With each week that Syesha survives, it's more evident this finalist is definitely Broadway bound.

Randy agrees with me about the play/theater thing. And Simon added she had the actress/singer thing down. However, he didn't think she had a memorable second song. "You may be in trouble tonight," he uttered.

I know I sound like a big David Cook fan. But, hey, I am! In fact, when all is said and done, I plan to download all his songs and put them on a CD.

Anyway, predictions: disagrees with Simon, with Syesha and David C. safe and Brooke and Jason in the bottom two, with David A. in the middle. Most viewers I talk to - every week - say Jason will go and yet he's safe. Can you say strong fan base?

The live results show is at 9 tonight (on Fox40).

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