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TV Review: American Idol Top 3

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Tonight's the night when the three remaining contestants vie for a place in the finals. They each performed three songs. In standard tradition the judges picked one song, the producers picked one, and the contestants each picked one for themselves.

Round 1 – Judge's Picks

David Archuleta – "And So It Goes": B-

Paula Abdul chose this minor Billy Joel hit for David Archuleta. I think she could have made a better choice. This song is okay, but kind of boring. It's not the kind of song that really strikes you when you hear it. This being the night that may or may not put the contestant into the finals, it would have been better to pick a song that would allow them to really get the audience's attention. All that being said, David did a decent job with it. I wouldn't say the performance stood out in any way, but he sounded very good. Randy Jackson said the song was "dope." I'm pretty sure he is the only person to ever refer to "And So It Goes" as dope.

Syesha Mercado – "If I Ain't Got You": C+

Randy Jackson picked this song for Syesha. Randy was hoping to go for something contemporary by picking an Alicia Keys song, but I don't think it was that great of a choice. Again, the choices for the top-three night should be memorable, but this wasn't. Syesha sounded fine, but there wasn't anything interesting or exciting about the performance.

David Cook – "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face": B

Simon Cowell gets the award for the most interesting and challenging song pick. David Cook doing a Roberta Flack song is not predictable, and that's exactly what Simon was going for. Cook's performance was good, but it was somewhat predictable in that he started out soft and then built to a big ending. However, I do think he sang it very well. It was a nice performance.

Round 2 – Contestant's Picks

David Archuleta – "With You": C-

David Archuleta attempted to show he is young and hip by doing a Chris Brown song. This was a bad choice. The song didn't suit him at all, and the whole thing was very awkward. Furthermore, the song did not show off his voice in any way. I think Archuleta could have found something contemporary that would have been more suited to his style, rather than come across as a wannabe R&B singer. Definitely not "dope."

Syesha Mercado – "Fever": C

Syesha tried to vamp things up by doing a cabaret-style performance of the Peggy Lee classic "Fever." She danced around a chair in the middle of the stage and unfortunately seemed more intent on creating a "performance" rather than singing well. The whole thing fell flat. As with her first song, a fairly average vocal from Syesha.

David Cook – "Dare You To Move": C

It had been all over the internet that David Cook was going to be performing Collective Soul's "The World I Know" for his personal pick, so this came as a surprise. It wasn't a good surprise. Instead of Collective Soul, Cook chose "Dare You To Move" by Switchfoot. The problem with doing a song like this is that it's so specific to its audience. It's the kind of song that pretty much only fans of the modern rock genre know, and people who don't are likely to tune out. Cook really had a lot of pitch problems in the beginning of this song. It seemed too low for him. It sounded better toward the end. As Paula (in a rare moment of clarity) pointed out, the song seemed to end before it really got going.

Round Three – The Producers' Picks

David Archuleta – "Longer": C

It doesn't get much cheesier than the late Dan Fogelberg's "Longer." I'm not sure why the producers would pick this song for David Archuleta. I thought the idea was to give the contestants something that sounds like what they would actually record. Is this what they really see for David Archuleta – MOR Adult Contemporary? He did an passable job singing it. It would have been nice if he could have thought of something interesting to do with it, rather than just sing it the way it was written.

Syesha Mercado – "Hit Me Up": C-

The producers went more modern with Syesha by giving her a song from the Happy Feet soundtrack. While I appreciate the effort to make Syesha sound current, I don't think this was a very good choice. The song didn't give Syesha much room for her own interpretation. There wasn't a lot of melody to it. It was more of a dance track, with too much spotlight on the backing vocalists.

David Cook – "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing": B+

I guess one of Aerosmith's worst songs is (according to Simon Cowell) "one of the greatest songs ever written." Though not a great choice by the producers, David made the most of it. I thought this was a very good performance. He sounded strong throughout, but he really shined at the end. He made the smart choice of making no attempt to sound like the incomparable Steven Tyler. He succeeded in making this one his own.

Best Of The Night:

David Cook – "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"
David Cook – "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"

Worst Of The Night:

David Arhuleta – "With You"
David Cook – "Dare You To Move"

Advancing To The Finals:

David Cook and David Archuleta

I was kind of hoping Syesha had a chance of pulling an upset, but based on tonight's performances, I do not think that will be the case.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.