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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Idol: The Top 10 Perform

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I realized tonight that our top ten is most dull: is it possible to eliminate five people tomorrow night instead of just one? I would like to toss Jason and Brooke for doing the same damn thing every week, Ramiele for consistently underperforming, Kristy Lee Cook for either singing or saying something dumb each week, and maybe Syesha, too, for doing that hideous baby cry. That's not to say that the remaining performers would necessarily be that fascinating but at least we wouldn't have to sit through the fluff.

Tonight was "Songs from the Year You Were Born," AKA "Jesus Christ I'm Old" night. It's kind of an interesting concept until you realize that it would be more fun to have the performers sing songs from, say, their eighth grade year, songs that they had emotionally connected to at some time (which is not to say that I wouldn't have a delightful time singing Amii Stewart's "Knock On Wood," which was #1 on the charts when I was born.) We also got to see what the singers were like as adorable children as their parents, a disturbing number which were D/MILF's, talked about how eerily talented and precocious they were at a young age. But let's get to the actual singing:

Ramiele: Born in 1987, she sang Heart's "Alone," which maybe conceptually was a good idea for her to show off her big voice, except that Carly had already covered it better than her. She was out of tune on the big notes and the arrangement was too slow. Randy didn't dig it, although Paula, the excuse-maker, told us all that she was sick. Simon gave her the ringing endorsement that she was "not as a bad as Randy said," which was greeted with applause.

Jason: In case you were wondering what kind of parents delivered a dreadlocked Jesus freak, actually, the Castros seem like they're pretty cool people. Born also in '87, he covered Sting's "Fragile," and it was the same Jason that we usually get, except with a slightly Latin flair. It would be interesting to see him go an Enrique Iglesias route but it probably won't happen. Even Paula, after praising him for "staying true to himself," admitted that he didn't do anything new. Simon chided Jason, telling him that he needs to take himself more seriously, which is probably true—the kid could be more of a breakout if he seemed to care more. Even Jason admitted that he didn't practice that hard. Just imagine what David Archuleta's dad would do to him.

Syesha: "Don't do that baby cry thing. Don't do it. Don't—" and yet she did it. Another '87 baby, she sang "If I Were Your Woman," a song I'm not familiar with. It definitely seemed like one of her strongest performances thus far, but it didn't stir me. Paula all but called it a legendary performance, but she was wearing pleather fingerless elbow-length gloves covered with numerous bangle bracelets, so what the hell does she know about anything?

Chikezie: I will say this about Chikezie: when he doesn't sing well, he usually does something obnoxious enough to be interesting. He sang 1985's "If Only For One Night" (another song I don't know. I'm not up on my '80's R&B;, and I apologize). Randy didn't think that he did enough with the tune, that it was too "throwback." Simon said that Chikezie's performance, including him holding his hand out to the audience, was cheesy. Chikezie pointed out though that that was who he was singing to, though, which did not help him with anyone except maybe a few of the people in the audience.

Brooke: Born in '83, Brooke covered "Every Breath You Take," another Sting/Police tune. After a false start, she delivered a very Brooke performance—she sounded nice. But nothing else. The song is fairly impotent without a trace of creepiness or malice in it and Brooke couldn't deliver that in a million years. The judges weren't terribly impressed either.

Michael: In his childhood montage, Michael revealed that he was incredibly competitive and a bit of a brat when he was a kid, which somehow doesn't seem surprising. Also, he was born in '78, which makes him even older than ME. He sang "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" and while it was a solid performance, I don't think it was the "star material" performance the judges saw. The crowd was shrieking as if Freddie Mercury himself stood before them, but Michael Johns, even though he seems to think he's quite the rock star, is no Freddie Mercury.

Carly: Dang, Carly's mom is pretty (so is Brooke's.) She sang "Total Eclipse of the Heart" from '83, a song that was probably TOO good a choice for her. It seems sometimes like she chooses from the Female Power Ballad Song Book, and in this case, the arrangement was a little awkward as the backups had to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Simon wasn't in love with the performance although Paula of course ran all over him.

David Archuleta: David needs a date to the prom! David used to dance with his sister when he was a kid! Aaaw! The audience was so thrilled that it forgot to be confused by his song choice, 1990's "You're the Voice" by Canadian songwriter David Foster. He sang it well, but the kid needs to stop picking songs that are so damn uplifting. Simon said that it was like a creepy theme park performance. Even Paula gave him crap for choosing an obscure, non-American songwriter. David needs to right his cute little ship.

Kristy: Did you ever see the Simpsons where, in order to make up for her lack of talent in comparison to the other contestant (played by Fantasia, coincidentally), Lisa sings treacly, patriotic songs to win a talent show? Well, picture the real life version, with Kristy singing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" (from 1984), complete with triumphant horns and cymbals. The only thing missing were the red, white and blue balloons coming down from the ceiling at the end. Simon found the song choice "clever"; I thought it was nauseating.

David Cook: Another hot mom! I wish they had a spinoff competition for the parents of the Idol contestants. David, born in '82, did his (Daughtry-esque) thing and took "Billie Jean" and slowed it down to an emo waltz. I don't know if, as Randy said, he's the boldest, most original contestant ever on Idol, but it was definitely the strongest performance of the night.

Okay, here is what needs to happen for Idol to get a little more interesting: the contestants need to be forced to sing songs from the last decade or so. That would show the mettle of many of the contestants on the show: David A., Carly, Michael, Brooke and Jason have all been chilling very comfortably in the classic rock section. Obviously, it would behoove the show to produce a winner who has some relevance to the year 2008, but additionally, if I have to hear another damn Queen or Heart song I'm going to shoot myself.

Grade: C

Stray observations:

—I'm not sure what annoys me more, Paula's touchy-feely "staying true to yourself" comments or the way she interrupts Simon every time he says something she doesn't like.

—Can Chikezie be interesting if he's not injecting country into his performance?

—Whose fans are the most annoying? Jason's? Michael's? Or David Archuleta's?

—I feel better about being so crabby because Jon Peter Lewis seems to be feeling the same way, and he was ON the show.

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