American Idol 7: Ranking the Top 12 Performances
Beatles Night on American Idol was not a disaster.  Great.  This marks a victory for this crop of American Idol contestants.  I only counted four performances that I would deem “poor” tonight, which was less than I expected.  Speaking as a Beatles super-fan, I never understood the uproar regarding American Idol contestants performing songs from the beloved Lennon/McCartney song book.  Being allowed to sing great songs is never a bad thing.  Sure, there was the possibility that they would butcher these incredible songs, but doesn't that happen all the time with Beatles songs?  Regardless, I was more or less pleased with tonight's two-hour episode of American Idol.  I'm sure you readers will have some serious qualms with parts of my rankings below – feel free to comment and tell me where I'm wrong.  Remember, these rankings are only about my favorites of the night – they aren't about who I think will be going home. 

1. Chikezie Eze - “She's a Woman”

I'm as surprised as you are.  I picked Chikezie to go home last week, and ever since his performance in the Top 24 I thought Chikezie's time would be short on Idol.  But now, I don't know.  He absolutely owned the stage tonight, and gave the most energetic performance of the season.  His previously weak voice was strong tonight, and he sang “She's a Woman” flawlessly.  The arrangement was great as well, showing that Eze is capable of being creative with the songs he chooses.

2. Brooke White - “Let it Be”

I'm a sucker for a girl at a piano.  I listen to Fiona Apple and Carole King.  Sorry.  Maybe Brooke's shtick will eventually get tired, but it hasn't yet for me.  Her voice is sneaky strong and I thought her “Let it Be” was beautifully performed.  An iconic song like that doesn't need an overhaul of an arrangement and, even though the degree of difficulty wasn't too high, it worked.  I even bought her tears at the end. 

3. Amanda Overmyer - “You Can't Do That”

Amanda has really turned it on over the past two weeks, and it's all because of song choice.  I correctly predicted this song for her, remarkably, and it was perfect for her voice.  Because she's so much different than anyone else on Idol this season, Amanda will remain on the show until she totally botches a song.  Given her shrewd choices the last two weeks, I don't see that happening any time soon. 

4. Michael Johns - “Across the Universe”

Johns continues to be underrated.  He hasn't yet lived up to his potential, but that's OK – he's got a lot of time to improve.  Until he reaches the top 6 or so (and he will) he can stick to these safe song choices.  I understand Simon's frustration, but that doesn't mean Michael's been disappointing.  He's just being smart. 

5. Jason Castro - “If I Fell”

Like Brooke, I dig Castro's act.  Maybe it's just the gimmick of having instruments on stage for the first time on Idol, but whenever Jason performs it feels authentic.  It wasn't his best performance, and I think he needs to vastly improve to have a chance to advance far in the competition, but for now it's enough.  There were some pitch problems, though I liked the falsetto stuff that others seem to be hating on.  It's not a strong falsetto, but it worked for me.

6. David Cook - “Eleanor Rigby”

I had problems with the arrangement.  In and of itself, it was a good performance – strong vocal from David and the song built well.  But, being so familiar with the original, I had trouble getting over how far removed Cook's arrangement was from the one on Revolver.  The original is very depressing, dominated by the ingenious string quartet.  Tonight, it was a completely different song, and while it wasn't bad, it was far worse than the original.

7. Carly Smithson - “Come Together”

See: David Cook.  This didn't work for me.  It wasn't as far off the original as “Eleanor Rigby” was, but as the opening track of Abbey Road, “Come Together” is as iconic Beatles as it gets for me, with its minimalist drums and bass.  It's hard to sing anything by John Lennon, because he had such a unique voice.  Chances are that I wouldn't enjoy any cover of this song, so maybe I'm not being fair. 

8. Ramiele Malubay - “In My Life”

The judges were right on – this was boring.  But, sometimes it's OK to be boring.  Unlike the performances below, at least it was sung well.  Ramiele should be safe this week, but she needs to step it up considerably in the coming weeks. 

9. Syesha Mercado - “Got to Get You Into My Life”

This performance made me scared for the rest of the night.  Thankfully, as the first performer, Syesha's performance wasn't indicative of the quality of the rest of the night.  The main problem is that the choral refrain of “Got to Get You Into My Life” requires some serious rock and roll yelling, and Syesha just doesn't have that in her repertoire. 

10. David Hernandez - “I Saw Her Standing There”

Not good, my friend.  His voice doesn't mesh well with The Beatles, and he didn't pick a song that was able to mask this fact.  It was all a little uncomfortable for me, but I have to give him props for taking the criticism well.  I have a feeling that Hernandez was well aware that this wasn't going to be the week for him to shine and he was hoping to just survive.  I think he'll barely squeak by into next week.

11. David Archuleta - “We Can Work it Out”

A significant chink in the Archuleta armor was revealed tonight.  He looked downright terrified on stage.  Messing up the words twice would be a fatal error for anyone but season 7's golden boy, but it should be enough to plant some seeds of doubt within the Archuleta faithful.  The arrangement and performance, outside of the forgotten words, was a disaster in its own right.  And, by the way, it is simply irresponsible for a wannabe pop star to not be familiar with The Beatles. 

12. Kristy Lee Cook - “Eight Days a Week”

We all knew Kristy Lee would continue to add a country twist to her songs, but not to this extent.  This old-school, hillbilly rendition of “Eight Days a Week” was my least performance of the season.  It was appallingly bad – I actually physically cringed the whole time.  She deserves to go home after tonight, though I don't think she will.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)