American Idol's Latest Cause: The Search for a New Rock God
He had some problems with the start of his performance on Tuesday's American Idol, fumbling with the lower register of Mariah Carey's Always Be My Baby. Like last week, he saved the performance with a strong, stylish finish; still, last time he tried something like that, judge Simon Cowell tore him a new one.
But Tuesday ended differently. Randy Jackson said Cook was ready to make a record tomorrow and Cowell feinted with a crack about karaoke hell before delivering one of the best compliments he's ever given idol's last remaining rocker.
That's the shape of things on Idol, circa P.J. -- or, post-Johns. With dreamy-looking rocker Michael Johns ejected last week, Idol's last hope of seeing a Daughtry-style rocker crowned king now rests on Cook's slender shoulders. So Cook should get used to a level of love he hasn't yet seen from the judges, who seem willing to do just about anything to get a rock star to the top. (It also didn't hurt that David's cancer-stricken brother was in the audience, causing him to tear up after the judging session; even Cowell knew better than to diss a guy whose dying brother is in the house)
Once again, that's bad news for Syesha Mercado, who turned in the second best vocal performance of the night -- though you'd never know it from the judges comments. Even Cowell had to admit Mercado's take on Carey's Vanishing was "technically perfect" though he criticized her for singing a lesser=-known song.
But didn't he harp on and on last week about her tackling a song that was too well known by the audience, inviting inevitable comparisons? Doesn't it make sense that she would tackle a Carey song not so many people knew to avoid those selfsame comparisons?
Indeed, Cowell's taste-o-meter -- often brutally accurate in ways only the British can muster -- seemed a bit off tonight, as he praised Jason Castro for delivering the night's weakest vocal, while dinging Kristy Lee Cook after she delivered a take on Carey's Forever that was near her personal best.
It's hard to tell who's in danger this week, because weak singers like Castro are liked by the audience and judges, while contestants on the outs with the judges gave some of the strongest performances. I'd say, trusting the Idol voters to place a lot of weight on the performances, that Brooke White, Castro and Carly Smithson are in the most danger, though Syesha may suffer most, simply because Idol so clearly wants her gone.
Still, my prediction: Brooke White hits the bricks tomorrow.