American Idol 7: Top 3 Performances, Live Thoughts
We're really here.  We made it.  Give yourselves a pat on the back, American Idol fans - the finish line is within sight.  In what has been an up and down season, we have finally arrived at the Top 3.  David Cook and David Archuleta were pegged as favorites to reach this point very early in the season.  Syesha Mercado was not.  Brooke White, Carly Smithson, Michael Johns, Jason Castro - these were the people who had a chance to make it to the Top 3.  Syesha has been a survivor and, if everything breaks right, could sneak into the top 2.  Tonight, each American Idol contestant will perform three songs, which is a difficult task for anyone.  One thing to look out for - how will David Archuleta fare without his father's help?  I'll be here throughout the episode, giving live thoughts as the episode moves along.

I am convinced that the most underrated thing in the world is 7-11 coffee.  Just do this: get a twenty ounce cup, fill about two-sevenths of it with french vanilla stuff from the machine, then fill the rest with black coffee.  A great mixture - puts you in an Idol-watching mood.  And, yes, I'm waiting for the show to begin. 

Seacrest is excited tonight.  Very, very excited.  After introducing the top 3, he does an impromptu spin move. 

Marilu Henner in the house! So is Rex Lee, TV's greatest secretary, Lloyd. 

Paula Abdul is glittering up the joint tonight.  Randy just got back from the casino. 

Tonight's format: Three song's each - 1 Producer's pick, 1 Judge's pick, and 1 Singer's pick

The judge's choices are first.

Paula Abdul picks "And So it Goes" for David Archuleta.  Paula uses the phrase "exploit the timbre."  Whoa there, Paula.

David kicks it off singing some Billy Joel.  He slows the song way, way down.  He sings it technically very well, as usual, but it's the exact same dead in the eyes (when they're open) performance that we've seen all season.  For what he does, he does it well.  I'll listen to the original during the break.  The judges love it, obviously. 

Apparently, my iTunes does not contain "And So it Goes" which means that the song is not a Billy Joel greatest hit. 

Randy chooses "I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys for Syesha.  This could be good.  Let's hear it.  I can't imagine this is an easy song to sing, the range is big, but Syesha is treading through it with ease.  She is always a tiny bit iffy on the really high notes, and she tends to go out of tune every now and then, but I enjoyed the whole thing.  More dynamic than, say, David Archuleta.  Randy loved it.  Simon wishes Randy had picked a less identifiable song, but she still sang very well.  Everyone is remarking about how good she looks.  I guess because she looks good.

Simon picks "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack for David Cook.  Wow, this could be cool.  It's a slower ballad at the beginning , with some guitar picking and piano.  Cook shows off his extremely good falsetto.  Wow, I stopped writing and just listened.  That was spectacular.  There's no way that won't be the best performance of the night.  Awesome.  It just grew and grew and grew and got huge at the end.

David Archuleta chose "With You" by Chris Brown.  Oh, sorry, I mean - Jeff Archuleta chose "With You" by Chris Brown.  "I gotta see you, boo," should not be sung by a 17-year old white guy from Utah.  Regardless, this is a train wreck.  He cannot do uptempo.  He forgets the lyrics in the beginning, looks super-nervous and just doesn't sound good.  God, that was a mess.  Randy doesn't think that was the right song.  Paula loved it - her meds just kicked in, apparently.  Simon said it wasn't him, and that it was awkward.  He is right.

Syesha chose to sing "Fever" by Peggy Lee.  Hey-o!  Syesha is going to amp up the sex appeal here, folks.  Anything to oust Archie I'm for.  And, yes, she's wearing a short cocktail dress.  And using a chair as a prop. Mid song, she uses the stand-up bass player as a prop too.  She sings it just fine, but the theatrics are what make it somewhat memorable.  The choreography wasn't great, but not terrible either.  Randy and Paula are surprised at the song choice - I'm not.  All three judges think she should have done something modern.  Simon thinks the cabaret was lame.

Here's the deal - I'd much rather watch Syesha perform a classic song, then anybody perform a Chris Brown song.  I guess that makes me an atypical Idol watcher?

David Cook has chosen to perform a Switchfoot song.  I know a lot of modern music, but I don't know Switchfoot.  The song is called "Dare You to Move."  Cooksie plays acoustic guitar on this one. He gives us the low, soft-ish growl for this song.  This is bad Daivd Cook, as far as I'm concerned - singing slow, plodding power ballads.  Randy calls it a little pitchy (it was).  Simon thinks all three singers had an OK middle around.  I'd agree.

Now, it's the producers' choice.

David A. is singing "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg. He's dressed like a student in seminary.  Guess what, the producers' picked a slow, Archie-friendly ballad (if they make Syesha sing a Romanian polka, we'll know something is fishy).  This is somehow way more boring than his first performance.  This is a song you put on to make a baby fall asleep.  It's the type of song that runs during the credits of an after-school special.  Needless to say, I'm not a fan.  Randy and Paula show their blind support, but Simon calls it gooey.

Justin Guarini in the house!  Not sure - he may just be an usher.

Syesha sings "Hit Me Up" chosen by the producers.  I don't know who sang this song.  It's super uptempo, and she acquits herself nicely throughout.  There are the little pitch problems, as per usual, but it was more than solid.  Randy says it was just all right for him.  Oh god - the judges are talking about penguins.  Paula is not sure if it's the type of song that defines her as an artist - she didn't pick it, Paula.  All the criticisms revolved around the song choice, which she had no say in.

Last performance of the night: The producers pick "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith for David Cook.  It's from the Armageddon soundtrack.  He sings a string-heavy version of the tune. Cook did not rock tonight - three rock ballads.  When it gets to the chorus, it's messy.  The arrangement is weird, and it wasn't Cook's best work.  He sang it well, though.  It was OK for Randy.  Simon calls it "one of the great songs of all time."  Really, Simon?  One of the greatest songs of all time?

I'll be back later with the performance rankings.

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