American Idol 7: Top 12 Performances, Live Thoughts
It's here: Beatles Night on American Idol.  I've been waiting with both excited anticipation and sheer dread for the Top 12 to perform tunes from the legendary Lennon/McCartney songbook (I doubt anyone will do a George Harrison song – maybe “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” or “Taxman”).  I have no doubt that at least a couple of The Beatles songs will be butchered tonight, but I also am optimistic that we'll hear a handful or worthy covers.  The simple truth is that almost every Beatles song is a great song, which makes it that much easier for the American Idol hopefuls to concoct a good arrangement.  Word on the street is that EMI/Capitol/Michael Jackson/Apple/whatever only released 25 Beatles songs for the Idols to choose from tonight.  This bothered me at first, but let's be honest – they're all exceptional pieces of music and 25 is more than enough to choose from.  I'm not going to let “limited song choice” become a legitimate excuse for a poor performance tonight.

I'll be here throughout the two hour telecast, giving my thoughts and updating the action live, so don't forget to refresh the page and comment below with your own personal musings. 

It's the new opening graphics!  They'!  I'm indifferent.  There's also a new set.  It looks pretty much the same.  Lots of futuristic stuff, metallic.  The lights are intense.  It all looks like a video game.  The band is elevated above the action, which is pretty cool.  The audience is bigger, and in front of the judges is a mosh pit area.  Simon is showing some man cleavage - Ryan tells him to button his shirt. 

The Top 12 is introduced and struts on stage.  Then they leave.  That was pointless. 

We are introduced to the Liverpudlians, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  I'm sorry, but you can't sum up Paul and John in a five minute segment.  Just know this - they are the two most important people in the history of pop music, and it's not close. 

If you couldn't tell, I'm a gigantic Beatles fan.  Keep that in mind.

Syesha Mercado is up first and will be singing "Got to Get You Into My Life" from the album Revolver.  She starts off rough.  It's a tough one to sing, but the horns and upbeat tempo would suit Syesha well, if she, you know, sang it well.  She improves a little as the song goes along, but Syesha doesn't have a big enough voice.  She can't compete with the original and McCartney's awesome yelling.  Randy thought it was a ight, a little pitchy.  Paula thinks she found her zone halfway through.  Simon thought it was "better than all right," but that she looked very nervous. 

Chikezie Eze is up next and he's wearing a Charlie Brown sweater.  Eze used to work security at LAX.  He was raised on Nigerian cultural music.  He's going to sing "She's a Woman" which is as obscure as you get for The Beatles.  It's a down-home, fiddle-funky arrangement of the song and I'm digging it. I really don't remember Chikezie having this good of a voice.  For the second two thirds of the song, he just owns the stage and gives one of the best performances of the season so far.  Really.  I'm amazed, actually.  Randy says he "smashed it."  In a good way.  Simon is surprised to agree with Paula and Randy - he loved it.

Ramiele Malubay, unfortunately, has to follow Chikezie.  Back in Florida, she works at a sushi shop.  She'll be singing "In My Life."  Great song, could be a disaster.  She starts on the stairs, facing away from the audience. 
Her version is much slower than the original, and it's super cheesy.  Ramiele is singing it OK, but I kind of hate the arrangement - no piano, all classical guitars and orchestral strings.  The problem with singing this song as a slow-as-molasses ballad is that, vocally, it doesn't really go anywhere.  She kind of butchers a manufactured big note at the end.  Randy says it was "kind of pretty, but kind of boring."  Paula says she look pretty.  Simon was "bored to tears throughout the entire song."  Agreed, sir.

Jason Castro hits the stage next.  I have high hopes for this performance.  For the last two years, he's been going to college in Texas.  I blacked out for a second, and didn't catch which university.  He's going to be singing "If I Fell," which is a great early Beatles song.  Castro sits on a stool in the middle of the stage with his guitar.  It's a pretty by-the-numbers cover, nothing much new with arrangement.  I'm liking it.  He drops a lot of falsetto, and it's effective.  Nothing special, but a solid performance of a very pretty song.  Randy says he "liked it, didn't love it."  He wished Jason would've stayed truer to the melody.  Paula "feels his heart."  Creepy.  Simon says it was "very student in a dorm room at midnight."  He thought it was a little boring.

Seacrest is very excitable tonight.  After Chikezie's performance, he ran around the stage like a goon.  Don;t know what to make of it. 

Carly Smithson, our tatted-up Irish friend, is next.  She moved to Ireland to San Diego about three years ago.  She's singing "Come Together."  I don't know about this.  She starts it off OK, but she kicks it into gear for the second verse. Still, I just don't think this is a song anyone should try to cover.  The original is distinct.  Well-performed by Carly, but I didn't like it.   Randy calls it "stellar."  I can't disagree with anything he said - every note was on, she owned the stage, etc.  Simon loves it as well. 

David Cook is going to sing "Eleanor Rigby."  Lot of ballsy song choices tonight.  He used to be a bartender.  He's not going to be playing guitar tonight, which is probably a good choice.  This is an extreme arrangement - piano instead of the string quartet of the original.  The strings come later - I want to like this, but I'm afraid it's a bit of a mess.  Cook is an awesome rock singer, and he showed off his voice at the end of the song, so it ends up being a very solid performance.  I'd say last week's was better, though.  Randy thought it was rocking once he hit the chorus.  I'd agree.  Paula talks about horses.  Simon thought it was brilliant.  Maybe I'm being a bit harsh - that song was pretty cool. 

Brooke White takes the stage next.  She's the singer I look forward to the most every week.  She might be the one contestant whose album I'd purchase.  She worked as a nanny prior to Idol - she loved it.  Brooke's going to sing "Let it Be," The Beatles last single ever.  It's just Brooke and a piano.  For the record, this is one of my favorite songs ever.  Brooke is rocking it.  It's a straight forward rendition, but Brooke kicks its ass.   I love this girl.  Randy doesn't think it was her best performance - I'd disagree.  "The Dawg is a fan," though.  Paula uses the phrase "feel your heart" again.  Simon says "again, it was one of the best performances of the night."  Simon has loved her last three performances.  Brooke cries on stage afterwards, but holds it together.

Cancel The Moment of Truth now.  The promo FOX is showing right now is downright disgusting.

David Hernandez is next, and he says he recently got fired from his job at a pizza bistro.  He fails to mention the whole stripping thing.  He sings "I Saw Her Standing There."  The song has one of my favorite opening lines ever - "She was just 17, you know what I mean."  I don't like this at all, but I didn't think Hernandez matched up well with any Beatles tune.  David shows off his good voice, but it was too pop-y a version for me.  Randy calls it "over-done."  Totally agree.  Paula didn't like it much, and agrees with Randy.  Too much.  Simon calls it "corny, verging on desperate."  He says it just wasn't cool. 

Amanda Overmyer and her hair is up next.  Seacrest announces that Katharine McPhee will be performing on the Top 12 Results Show.  All righty.  I'm hoping she sings "Helter Skelter" or "I Am the Walrus."  She's singing "You Can't Do That."  I predicted this correctly in my song choices article!  How about that?  Good work, me!  And I was right - this song works pretty well for her. As we know, Amanda is pretty limited as a singer, but "You Can't Do That" is perfect for her.  It's a funkier version and Amanda's best performance of the season.  Actually, I'd say it's one of the best performances of the night.  Color me impressed.  Randy "loved it."  Paula is "blown away."  Simon didn't think it was "as good as last week's."  Simon and Paula start snipping at each other.  

Oh, good lord.  Michael and Kristy Lee are up next, which means that Archuleta will finish the show again.  How shameless can you be, American Idol?  If he comes out and sings “Yesterday” I'm going to stick my hand in the garbage disposal.

Michael Johns is next.  He's originally from Australia, and has been in America for ten years.  He's been a tennis coach on the side.  He's going to sing "Across the Universe," which could be sweet.  Johns is a huge Beatles fan.  This should be interesting - Johns slowing it down for the first time.  I still contend that Johns has the best voice of anyone in the competition, but he sometimes has a hard time reining it in.  This arrangement is more triumphant that the original - kind of reminds me of the Rufus Wainwright from the I Am Sam soundtrack.  It wasn't spectacular, but definitely a solid performance.  Randy calls is "a little sleepy."  Paula disagrees.  She thought it was "brilliant."  Simon agrees with Randy, he thought he should have changed the song up and made it different, bigger. 

Kristy Lee Cook is going to sing a country version of "Eight Days a Week."  No!  Absolutely not!  She starts singing, and I immediately feel blood dripping from my ears.  This is a train wreck.  It's a hillbilly country version.  I am confident that I'm watching Kristy Lee's final last Idol performance ever.  My Slingbox messed up, so I didn't hear what Randy and Paula said.  But, Simon calls it "horrendous."  Wholeheartedly agree, Mr. Cowell.

David Archuleta is next and I am frightened.  What kind of precious, crowd-pleasing performance will he inflict upon America tonight?  He's not a fan of older music from the sixties.  He saw "We Can Work it Out" and decided to sing it because he knew the Stevie Wonder version.  I don't trust anyone in the music industry who isn't familiar with The Beatles.  It's a corny, jazzy version of the song.  It's super annoying.  Oh my goodness!  Ha!  He forgets the words not once, but twice, early in the song.  This performance is a mess.  It'd be the kind of cover you'd hear on a smooth jazz radio station.  I can't remember the last time someone forgot the words like that on Idol.  Randy calls it "forced."  He didn't like it.  Paula manages to praise him, somehow, and I hate her for it.  Simon says it was a "mess."  He expects much better.  That was bad. 

Overall, I'd say it was a good night of performances.  I'll be back with my performance rankings later this evening.

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