American Idol's seventh-season Top 10 male semifinalists continued their push for the finals during last night's Fox broadcast, singing songs from the 1970s.
Some semifinalists made bad song choices while others took the opportunity to rebound following poor performances last week. In addition, the youngest remaining male semifinalist established himself as the early frontrunner among both the guys and girls.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 10 male semifinalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.
"Hopefully the nerves are gone. The first week is over," Randy told the semifinalists at the beginning of the broadcast. "Dude, you've got to bring it hard tonight. Make sure you're in it to win it."
Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT on Fox, the Top 10 female semifinalists will also perform songs from the 1970s during a 90-minute broadcast. On Thursday night beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following this week's performance episode broadcasts.
Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA
Song: "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac
Randy said: "Nice way to start it off. I don't know if it was your best man, but I kind of liked it. It started a little slow for me, but you kind of got into it. Nice song, nice song. I was ready for you to just let go and you didn't quite go there. I liked it though. You're a good singer."
Paula said: "You're consistent. I think it's a great way to start-off the show. You got the whole crowd working (cheers). You're charismatic, you're a seasoned performer and you're charming. I think you're already there."
Simon said: "Michael it was okay. It was by far your weakest performance of the whole competition so far for you. It was what I call coasting along, a song like that. As Randy said, there was no moment. It was a very weak choice of song for you, that kind of song. (boos) Sorry..."
Additional Info: When host Ryan Seacrest was introducing the judges, he called Randy "very well known" and Simon the "genius, brilliant, amazing king of all media"... There were two constants during last night's broadcast: the family and friends of contestants in the studio audience and each Top 10 male semifinalist revealing facts America might be surprised to know about them... Michael said he's "a bit of a jock," with tennis as his main sport... He said tennis helps his song writing... In response to the feedback, "Hey, it happens."... Michael said it's been his dream to sing a Fleetwood Mac song and stood by his choice.
Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX
Song: "I Just Want to be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb
Randy said: "It's interesting to me, this one, because with the guitar -- you singing with the guitar -- it's all cool because it's cool as an act. But as a vocalist -- if I take that away because it's more of a singing competition than it is anything -- the vocals just weren't that great dude. It was just really just okay. (boos) Sounded kind a little karaoke almost."
Paula said: "I don't think it was as bad as you heard it to be Randy. (cheers)... I feel you made a clever choice with the song. It was a nice song. I like the way you musically interpreted it by pulling the bad out, bringing it back out, taking it back in again -- it drew the song back to you. But I would like next week -- because I know you'll be here next week, I do believe you will be -- to see you without the guitar and allow yourself to be more vulnerable as an artist. Good job though."
Simon said: "I thought the song was horrible because it was too schmaltzy, didn't suit your voice. Randy's absolutely right, your vocals are very weak on that. It didn't go together this week. The song, you, the guitar all went together that last week. This week, it was all out of sort. You actually looked very uncomfortable with that song, and with all the song choices available to you from this decade, you chose a very average -- like I said schmaltzy-type song -- that isn't you. You didn't do yourself any favors at all tonight."
Additional Info: Jason revealed that he really hates giving interviews, which he described as "frustrating and awkward"... Jason added participating in Idol is "a lot more not music stuff" than he anticipated... He played the guitar for his second-consecutive semifinals performance... Randy said Jason's use of the guitar was "cute and charming," and Paula commented Jason himself was cute. Randy wouldn't agree, but said he "loves the dreads."
Luke Menard, a 29-year-old from Crawfordsville, IN
Song: "Killer Queen" by Queen
Randy said: "Degree of difficulty, definitely you chose a very, very tough song. I like you better actually this week than last week, because this seems to be a little bit more to me your wheelhouse -- your vibe... You did this whole theatrical kind of thing. I thought it was pretty good. There were a couple of pitch problems here and there. But all in all, I thought it was pretty good."
Paula said: "I'm just so glad that this week was a great week for you. I think it was really great for you vocally, I think you really picked the perfect song. It's vocal performances like this and vocalists like you that make me fight to get people like you in the Top 24. I think this is really a great week for you Luke."
Simon said: "Paula's right. We owe a lot to you darling, thank you... Fine, I'm going to judge that performance, and I think it was a mistake, and I'll tell you why. (boos) Enough. You are always going to be judged with the original, and the trouble is that the singer of that song had charisma and personality -- you didn't. (boos) Therefore, you suffered by comparison, and Randy's right -- it was a bit theatrical and verging on whiny."
Additional Info: Luke revealed he's toured the country with an a cappella group called Chapter 6, and most recently made a stop in Hong Kong... Luke said he enjoys the "challenge" of a cappella because you have to be "flawless," adding it's helped prepare him to perform on the Idol stage... Ryan referred to Luke as "Dawson's Creek," a reference to his Dawson Leery-like looks... Randy corrected Simon for putting the word "whiny" in his mouth... Ryan said the judges' comments were "confusing" since they largely disagreed.
Robbie Carrico, a 26-year-old from Melbourne, FL
Song: "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner
Randy said: "It was interesting to hear you say up there that there's different forms of rock because there really, really are. But I'm gonna say I kind of agree with Simon. I don't know if the rock thing is really, really your thing. That's like one of my favorite songs -- Foreigner, Lou Gramm an amazing voice, strong like that. It's it doesn't have enough [Randy grunts] to really be like a rock voice. But I thought you did a pretty good job with it. I was just waiting to be like, 'Wow!' and nothing came out dog. I was like, 'Yo, come on! Kill me! Come on!'" But it didn't quite go there for me. It was just okay."
Paula said: "I bet it could drive you crazy having someone say, 'That's not authentic. It's not who you are.' How does anyone know who you are but you? (cheers) Robbie, I think in some ways though, you played it a little safe this week. When you play it safe, you sometimes lose your character and your personality. I think you can get so wound-up hearing what everyone else is thinking of you. You've got to -- right before you come on stage -- just kind of quiet yourself. You know who you are. Just go out there and give it your all... You've just got up the anty a little bit because now's the time you've got to really push through to make a difference to get through and keep going."
Simon said: "Robbie you don't have to get so defensive about it. It's only an opinion. I don't know you well, as Paula said. Actually, I thought the vocal was okay tonight."
Additional Info: Robbie explained he's a big drag racing fan because the rush he gets from it is "amazing," however he also warned viewers to not try the dangerous sport unless on a closed course... Since Simon has previously questioned Robbie's "authenticity" as a rocker, the former boy-band member defended himself. "I get up there every time and I be me -- I am me... There's so many different levels of rock, I guess maybe he's just focused on one and doesn't think that I'm the one that's in his mind. So get used to it."... Randy told Robbie that "rock is an attitude, not something you should have to prove."
Danny Noriega, an 18-year-old from Azuza, CA
Song: "Superstar" by The Carpenters
Randy said: "Danny, you know man I'm a fan of yours dog because you're a fun guy. There were some problems with the vocals on that song for me. I think you've got the slow bravado. On a song like this, you can maybe speed it up a bit. Also, I felt like you were thinking while you were singing almost every part of it and not just letting yourself sing. You've got a good voice. All you guys are here because you guys are the best 24 we found out of all these people we saw. So just let it go man. You can sing. Don't think about what you want to do to it. Sometimes just let it go."
Paula said: "Danny, you've got amazing vocal skill. You really do. (cheers) What Randy said is true. You can't over think it, you've got to just take a deep breathe and forget about us as much as you can. Just perform. You've got the ability, you've got the talent. Your bravado, when you just let it go, it's just magical. I like the way you chose The Carpenters' take on the song."
Simon said: "Danny, look. Last week, as you know, I thought was a disaster. This was better. It wasn't a fantastic vocal. I think randy's got a point. I think you were trying so hard -- in fact -- you were over-concentrating on it. What I do like about you is that you stand-out in the crowd and you're interesting. You look terrific on camera by the way."
Additional Info: Danny revealed he was in a punk rock band as a high-school freshman. He was the singer, and his best friend was the drummer. But they broke-up after the one -- and only -- show they played because they "realized they sucked"... Needless to say, Danny said the band didn't prepare him for Idol... Danny admitted he too felt last week's performance was a "disaster," however he stopped short of agreeing with Simon's overall assessment.
David Hernandez, a 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ
Song: "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations
Randy said: "Check it out dog! Check this out! Check this out! This is the David Hernandez that we fell in love with. (cheers) I was saying earlier I hope this kid is good tonight because you were so good when we saw you dude. That's how to put it down! Show the personality, you've got all the vocal skills. That was hot right there! Very nice."
Paula said: "Your voice is so pure, it pierces right through the heart every note... God, there were some notes there that were amazing! David what's so great is that your personality really came out this week and you told a story from beginning to end. You didn't overdo the song with the growling and anything, it was just perfect. Perfect."
Simon said: "David, this may surprise you, but in my opinion, that was the best vocal of the night so far. (cheers) David, this is what I like about you. I like the fact that when you are given some criticism, rather than sulking, you treat it as a challenge. You're not being childish about it, because people do get criticized in real life -- that's the way it goes. You've risen to the challenge. I wasn't a big fan when you got through, but I'm quite happy now to hold my hands up and say I'm alright with that."
Additional Info: David revealed he participated in gymnastics as a youth -- and was pretty good at it -- winning 10 medals at the Grand Canyon Olympics... "I can do a mean cartwheel," he said... Following Simon's comments, David said he had "been waiting to hear that."
Jason Yeager, a 28-year-old from Grand Prairie, TX who currently resides in Branson, MO
Song: "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers
Randy said: "Alright. So check it out. That song to me -- the 70s to me, in my estimation -- is one of the greatest times in music ever. So many amazing songs. To choose that song as a singer -- by The Doobie Brothers -- wasn't like a singer's kind of song, so I don't think you did yourself any justice with that song particularly. It was very pitchy and just kind of karaoke once again for me. I didn't really get it." (boos)
Paula said: "From last week to this week, it was fun to see this side of you. I'm having a tough time figuring out how to... Well, I'll just say it like this. It's a song that has not many notes in it. That doesn't show your vocal range. So be careful in your song choice. You've got a real nice voice -- that's why we picked you. Pick singer's songs."
Simon said: "Look, the simple truth is last week was boring this week was just awkward and ordinary. (boos) And that horrific, horrific ending... I don't know what you were doing there. It was like you were drunk at a party or something. It was just corny. You're just a quite good singer who can't perform very well. So I'm very disappointed."
Additional Info: Jason explained he's "self-taught" on the piano, drums and guitar -- however he's yet to perform with an instrument during Idol, explaining he's waiting for the "killer song" to use the guitar and still hadn't found it... Jason said since all the semifinalists are talented, he feels the competition is going to come down to song choice... He added he tried to "dance and have fun" to be not be a "dependable old dog," one of Simon's criticisms from last week... "I guess I'm just gonna have to really come out next week with something that's going to be straight from the heart and just show my range," said Jason.
Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA
Song: "I Believe to My Soul" by Donny Hathaway
Randy said: "Chikezie is back America! (cheers) Check it out dog, check it out. Chikezie man, this is the guy that we fell in love with. Dude, I said this twice tonight. I'm so happy that you're back. That was blazing! You were have fun, you were singing it at ease, you didn't care what was going on. That was hot baby."
Paula said: "Very clever to pick a song and a story and point to [Simon], 'Better remember my name.' It was brilliant. It was fun." (cheers)
Simon said: "I've got to tell you... I'm going to call you Chi, so I'm not going to get this wrong. You look better, you sounded better, I thought it was a very clever choice of song. It was a million times better than last week."
Additional Info: Chikezie explained where his "crazy name" comes from. Both he and his name are Nigerian, and he said the pronunciation that's currently being used actually isn't correct but has stuck with him since kindergarten when teachers couldn't pronounce it... His name comes from the Igbo dialect and translates to "something well created by God"... Simon asked Chikezie if he watched last week's performance and agreed "it wasn't good," to which he replied, "What I saw last week was basically, I let you get to me, which was the part that kind of messed me up."... Chikezie then took a pretty good shot at Simon for constantly donning the gray T-shirt... Chikezie said he also loves the song and Donny Hathaway, whose daughter Kenya is also an Idol background vocalist.
David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK
Song: "All Right Now" by Free
Randy said: "You know what I love? I love throwing the picks out into the crowd, like a real rock show! So listen man, you've got the Marshall [amplifier], you've got the Les Paul [guitar], the whole nine. Listen. To me, you're our real rocker for the boys this year. I actually really, really liked that. It was a smart choice of song, it was cool for you. I really kind of believed you right there. Good looking out baby. Good looking out."
Paula said: "David you are the real deal. You've got it -- you've got it, you've got it, you've got it. That's a song that every kid who wanted to play guitar learned in junior high and every junior-high girl fell in love with the guitar player. ['I'm alright with that,' answered David.] It was very smart, very fun, very relevant to who you are. I loved it."
Simon said: "David it was solid. I agree with the guys. It was sort of believable. I don't think that film helped you. Tennis, drag racing, to crosswords. It's boring -- and that's partly your problem -- because you don't have a lot of charisma, which is fine."
Additional Info: David described himself as a "huge word nerd" and a "geek for vocab," as he enjoys doing crossword puzzles and word searches... David performed with a guitar... Paula credited Rickey Minor and the band for "being on fire" following David's performance... Following Simon's comments, David fired back, "Fortunately, I don't have to win you over with my charisma. I've got to win these people over." Simon didn't look pleased. "David, I think by now I know the rules of this competition," he said, adding it's just his opinion. Simon still sat there and looked annoyed. "I'm just slightly irritated by the pointing out what the rules of the show are. I know what the rules of the show are... The criticism is actually meant to be constructive."
David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT
Song: "Imagine" by John Lennon
Randy said: "I've been saying all this year it's about the young ones. Dog, that's one of the best vocals I've ever heard on this show. (cheers) You're singing with such maturity way beyond your years. All you can say is you were born to do exactly what you're doing there. That was brilliant."
Paula said: "David you are ridiculous. I just want to squish you, squeeze your head off and dangle you from my rearview mirror. (laughter) That was one of the most beautiful songs ever written and one of the most moving performances I've ever heard. (cheers) You're destined for superstardom."
Simon said: "Very, very risky to do a John Lennon song, particularly that one. But it worked. I've got to tell you, you're the one to beat. Right now, there are 19 very miserable contestants sitting here tonight. Trust me."
Additional Info: David revealed when he was 11-years-old, he actually met Idol's first-season finalists when he was a studio audience member for the finale. His family ran into the finalists in the hotel lobby, and he even sang for them, which impressed Kelly Clarkson. "It helped me raise my self-esteem," he explained, adding it was "one of the most memorable moments" of his young life... The studio audience went absolutely wild with cheers and screams following David's performance and the judges' comments... Randy asked David why he decided against singing the song's first verse. "I only had time for one verse," answered David. "The third one is actually my favorite and I think it has a great message."... As the broadcast concluded, Ryan thanked Paula and Randy without even mentioning Simon.