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American Idol: The Top 9 Perform

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I am a huge fan of Dolly Parton the person; I wish she'd be our next President. But I have only a rudimentary knowledge of her song catalog, so I was judging the wannabe Idols tonight by and large by their performances, and not their takes on Parton (so if David Cook pulled out yet another cuckoo-crazy cover, it was lost on me.)

Brooke: She sang "Jolene" and looked very pretty doing it, but she fails to stir much in me. She's a pleasant singer, but still I don't get more from her than that. I got picked on last week in the comments section for being too mean about her so I'll just quote Simon, who said that she seemed insincere. At least I think that's what he said, because she was so busy talking back to him in her soothing tones it was hard to make out.

David Cook: It seems like every few episodes David has to scramble to acknowledge that the arrangements he performs aren't always his own and tonight was one of those nights. Anyway, I'm not familiar with "Little Sparrow" but it sounded good. Simon, who has some sort of grudge against songs about birds, admitted that it was pretty good for a song about a sparrow, so that pretty much sums it up. But let us pay special attention to David's style choices tonight: he cut his hair in a way that doesn't scream "I'm denying my true hairline" and dressed in a non-ridiculous way (IE no vests or scarves over t-shirts.) So David came out clean for me tonight.

Ramiele: She sang "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind," another song I don't know that well. It sounded okay but she couldn't seem to raise her voice much above the backup singers and the slide guitar. "I'm not jumping up and down, but I'm not mad at you," Randy said, which seemed right on, until Simon compared it to a cruise ship performance and I realized that a cruise ship performance would probably be more fun.

Jason: Jason sang "Travelin' Through" tonight and for whatever reason, it became clear to me that this guy will probably have the best post-Idol career, picking up leftover Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson and John Mayer fans. I'm not saying he's the best singer or the most talented by far, and tonight wasn't really an exception, although he seemed to be trying a bit harder and more into it than usual.

Carly: Sang "Here You Come Again." Nice, simple arrangement. Good, not great. Simon noted that those of us at home wouldn't be amazed, which was true, but then he dropped the biggest truth bomb of the night—that Carly needs to have a word with wardrobe so that she can start dressing more like a star. Of course the dumbass audience booed and screamed but nothing could have corroborated Simon's statement more than the agonizing bottom-to-top pan of Carly in her unflattering rust colored pants. Girl, it's not you, it's the clothes—you can do better!

David Archuleta: Dolly loved Davey's "Smoky Mountain Memories," and it was a good performance, possibly the best vocal of the night. Yes, it was schmaltzy but for what David does (schmaltz), it was very nice.

Kristy Lee: "Pleasant but forgettable" is how Simon described her "Coat of Many Colors." By attacking it straight country, I thought she just demonstrated how far she is from Dolly. She's not a bad singer, but I think it's a good idea for her to keep wearing the dresses that show a little skin and to keep kissing up to Simon and Ryan.

Syesha: I took points off Syesha for picking "I Will Always Love You." Something about it seemed so obvious to me, plus, one of the top rules of Idol is never to cover Whitney (although the Tracy Morgan/Jack McBrayer version of this song from 30 Rock is the one that always sticks in my head). I predicted that Simon would pick on her song choice for this and he did but I wish he had also given her some shit for that loooooooooooooong indulgent note at the end. Also, bad hair.

Michael: I don't know "It's All Wrong, but It's All Right," but his gospel/blues take seemed good. I thought he sounded a bit like Elton John but Simon said that it was the best he'd heard him sing thus far so I'll take his word for it. I won't even say anything bad about his ascot.

Predictions for bottom three? Syesha, Kristy Lee and, hmm, I'll say Brooke. Dolly will be performing live tomorrow night, which means that it's the first time this season that I'm looking forward more to the results show than I did to the performance show.

Grade: B (extra credit for only being an hour long.)

Stray observations:

—I wish Chikezie were here tonight: I bet he could have belted something great (as long as he didn't get too country with it.)

—What was Kristy trying to accomplish with the bare feet? How country she is? She should have blacked out one of her teeth and carried a piglet while she was at it.

—"She's not Shy-esha…but she's a pretty girl and a good singer." Was I the only one who picked up that Dolly maybe didn't love Syesha?

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