And yet, that wasn't the weirdest reminiscence of the night -- Seacrest referred to the film The Jazz Singer as "a great success," and then talked about happy memories "going in the wayback." I'm surprised Simon didn't pounce on that one. Anyway:
- Clifford the Crunchy Muppet: In a week designed around his strengths, he failed to shine. "Forever in Three Notes" and "September Morn" just never seemed to go anywhere, and I believe he just looks really small on that big, big stage.
- David Cook: Going to the Lesser Diamond songbook, "I'm Alive" truly earned the "if that were released as a contemporary single, it'd sell" appellation so often granted to lesser performances on the show, but his second number just felt like a recipe being followed without much passion. (I know Kim disagrees.)
- America's Nanny, Brooke: A slightly countrified and way-too-fast "I'm A Believer" to start. On the wordy "I Am, I Said," she started off decently, but then sounded way too upbeat when despair was called for in the lyrics. Brooke, not every song is about making us like you. Reminded me of how I'd imagine Suddenly, Tammy! would have covered it.
- YDA: Doo-wops "Sweet Caroline" but fails to work the crowd into it -- still, John Updike's first rule of reviewing says we have to understand what the artist wanted to do, "and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt." So I'll just say "WTF was that ending?" and leave it there. But then his technically competent but passionless "America" just fueled my massive hatred of immigrants. Right, Gary? I now have a rooting interest this season, and it's against YDA and his dead, dead eyes.
- Syesha: A rather lovely "Hello Again" (hello!), and then a very professional, '60s girl-group take "Thank the Lord For the Night Time". Second-best performer of the night.
e.t.a. Fienberg: "The Idol audience is unprepared to sing along [to "Sweet Caroline"], but maybe they're confused by the arrangement. Or perhaps they're perplexed that Archuleta is singing an up-tempo song, but he's performing it with the exact same mannerisms he's brought to the message songs he's done for the past six weeks. The arm sweep, the closed eyes, the tremendous absence of tangible pleasure, it's a David Archuleta Special. The kid doesn't have a clue what he's singing about when it doesn't involve homelessness or disease..."