Friday, May 2, 2008

Advantage: Cook. Will Castro Redeem Himself?

Before I get to my assessment of where we're at and what to expect on next Tuesday's "American Idol," here's why I think season 7 has taken a great turn: the final four could not be more diverse. Each brings something completely different to the game. There's the rocker who's already demonstrated he can cross over into just about any genre, the crooner who's already become a teen idol, the alternative guy who defies categorization, and the Broadway belter with that million dollar smile. Although the men dominate, we have Latinos, an African American and a white guy from the Midwest, and that's American diversity.


Next Tuesday the contestants get to choose from the material of artists who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wow. That's just about every great song out there, and they can pick what they want. This is where David Cook excels. His song choices - and execution of them - have been nearly flawless. His other advantage is what I call "cumulative voting," which just about all AI fans (including myself, I must admit) do at this point; you can't help but take into consideration an entire season's worth of performances. Even if Cook has an off night, or doesn't meet the huge expectations we have (he's set that bar so high), he'll get a pass from us. I think he'll rise to the challenge.


I think Mr. Castro has come to the end of the road, but don't count him out just yet. Again, he gets to pick the
music. He'll choose something he knows, understands, and perhaps feels passionate about. This could be another shining moment where he reinvents a song and brings back the Jason Castro we haven't seen in weeks. That could land him in the final three.


Like Jason Castro, David Archuleta's few stumbles came when he sang unfamiliar songs. He's a lot more knowledgeable than Castro, and certainly a lot more talented. If he pulls off another "Imagine" he will give Cook a run for his money. But if his performance comes across as just the same old croon tune, he's going to need those teenage girls more than ever.


Let me just say Syesha was an early favorite of mine.
But again, a key element this week will be song choice, and this is one area in which Ms. Mercado as not been too successful. She tends to let her diva dreams get the best of her. When she was forced to do Mariah, or seized the opportunity to sing Whitney and Fantasia, she landed in the bottom two. But when pushed into more "old fashioned" genres, like Andrew Lloyd Webber, Neil Diamond, and even The Beatles, she wowed us. "Old Fashioned" may not be a compliment when doled out by Simon, but it works for musical theater. That's why so many people (including me) think Broadway is where Syesha will ultimately succeed. She can, however, go out with a bang, or maybe buy another week, if she borrows from David Cook's playbook: choose something old fashioned, or just an "oldie," make it sound new and relevant, and in the process, make it her own. Syesha singing Crosby Stills Nash & Young - now that's entertainment!


The potential for a great show next Tuesday is enormous. Four gifted singers can chose from Frank Zappa to Frankie Valle. From Ray Charles to The Ramones.I can't wait.

Oh, one final word about David Cook. As masterful as his Idol performances have been, you haven't had the full "Cookie" experience until you've downloaded his studio recordings. Each and every one of them will knock your socks off. And in saying farewell to Brooke White, it's worth mentioning her studio recording of "Let It Be." It's a great cut that builds on her AI performance of that song, and offers a terrific glimpse into the wonderful recording artist she might become, if she sticks to doing what she does best.


Jane said...

Where are you getting all of these awesome pix for AI? Did they have these on their website? Very cool.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Scott! And the pictures are very cool.

Jane said...

This is one of the best AI posts yet, Scott. I can't wait for next Tuesday's episode. It will be very exciting to see what the contestants will pick across such a wide range. Please please let David Cook pick a Jim Morrison song or maybe Eddie Vedder. He has the perfect baritone for either. I'd like to hear Jason Castro sing Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin On?" He would also be great with any John Mayer song, but I think JM is too young to be in the Hall of Fame yet.

Wow, it is going to be awesome!