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TV Review: The American Idol Top 4 and 500 Hundred Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll

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Tonight the top 4 American Idol contestants all chose from a list of 500 hundred songs that shaped rock and roll put out by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I had thought with a show featuring the Hall of Fame they would be choosing songs by the many inductees to the Hall, but instead it was the above mentioned list. The list, of course, contains many artists who are not a part of the Hall of Fame, and even some who probably never will be. MC Hammer is on the list after all. There are also some rather unusual song choices, such as "Legs" being the only representation of ZZ Top. I'm not sure how that song helped shape rock and roll, but I'm sure those who made the list had their reasons.

On to the performances – Round 1:

David Cook – "Hungry Like The Wolf": C+

David Cook led off the night with a selection from Duran Duran. I liked the arrangement of the song, which was done as hard rock. It actually worked pretty well that way. Cook sounded okay on the song, but he seemed to be lacking his usual pizzazz. He just did not seem to be that into his own performance. Even on an off night, Cook still sounds pretty good and comes across like a pro, but he was missing his usual spark.

Syesha Mercado – "Proud Mary": B+

Syesha chose to do Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" in the style of Ike and Tina Turner. Syesha sounded great, and she has really learned how to put on a good show. Her performance was very much like Tina Turner right down to her hip shakes and her dress, but her vocals were her own. That was good for her, even though Simon still unfavorably compared her to Tina. Syesha is showing that she is in it to win it.

Jason Castro – "I Shot The Sheriff": F

Earlier this week I predicted Jason would do this song, but I take no pride in that. This is probably the worst performance I've ever seen on American Idol. Jason was quoted earlier this week as saying he was "ready to go home," and I almost have to wonder if he's just stopped trying. His vocals were sub-par, and his Bob Marley imitation did not work anyway. The judges actually seemed a little upset with him, especially Simon.

David Archuleta – "Stand By Me": B

David Archuleta chose the classic "Stand By Me" for his first performance. His beginning sounded about the way I thought it would, or basically the way he always sounds: good, but lacking real passion. Then he started throwing in some interesting changes to song at the end that were actually pretty good. I'm not familiar with the arrangement he ended up basing his performance on, but it was a nice mix of the original Ben E. King version, with some new elements thrown in.

Simon said David Archuleta could have whistled his song and it would have been better than Jason's performance. I guess Jason has really worn out his welcome with the judges.

On to round 2:

David Cook – "Baba O'Reilly": B-

This was a very interesting song choice because the song is very difficult to condense into 90 seconds. That ultimately ended up being it's downfall. The song started with a very slow first verse, then gradually became more rocking. It all sounded pretty good, but the song seemed to end before it got started. This may not have been the best choice of song, but the only other Who songs on the list were the chestnut "My Generation" and "Go to the Mirror" from Tommy, which doesn't really work outside of the context of the album. Cook visibly did not seem to be himself tonight, but he did okay.

Syesha Mercado – "A Change Is Gonna Come": B-

Syesha did a kind of lounge-sounding arrangement of this song that I didn't really care for. That being said, she did a pretty good job of singing it. Randy pointed out that particular song is a classic, and maybe doesn't need the big treatment she gave it (which I agree with), but I still thought she sang it well. Paula and Simon both loved it, which moved Syesha to tears. She said the song meant a lot to her, and it was a touching moment to see how moved she was by Paula and Simon's comments.

Jason Castro – "Mr. Tambourine Man": F

Jason chose to "stick with the Bob's" and do the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man." To my surprise he chose to stick with the Dylan arrangement rather than go with the Byrds' version. Not to my surprise, he forgot the lyrics half way through and had to dum-dum the words. I'll give him some credit for getting back on track and making it through the rest of the song, but I'll take all that credit away for his utter lack of preparation for the whole night.

David Archuleta – "Love Me Tender": A

I think this performance of "Love Me Tender" is the best thing I've seen David Archuleta do this season. It's the most genuine performance I've from him. I finally felt as though he was really connected with the song rather than just singing it.

Best of the Night:

David Archuleta – "Love Me Tender"
Syesha Mercado – "Proud Mary"

Worst of the Night:

Both songs by Jason Castro

Bottom Two Prediction:

Jason Castro
Syesha Mercado

Going Home Prediction:

Jason Castro (It'll be a travesty if he doesn't)

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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.