On the cusp of the finals, American Idol's seventh-season Top 8 male semifinalists gave it their all in one last attempt to woo home viewers during last night's Fox broadcast.
Singing songs from the 1980s, it was a good night of performances for the majority of the semifinalists, who seemed more comfortable singing current songs and adding their own arrangements.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the eight 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.
"It started a little rough, but I think the guys really worked it out," said Randy after all Top 8 males had performed. "I'm really impressed with the song choices. Much better than last week."
Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT on Fox, the Top 8 female semifinalists will also perform songs from the 1980s during a one-hour 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, revealing the Top 12 finalists.
Luke Menard, a 29-year-old from Crawfordsville, IN
Song: "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" by Wham!
Randy said: "Did you have a good time baby? It was a fun song right? It started out a little rough for me. You couldn't quite find the pitch and you were rushing -- you were a little ahead of the band timing-wise. But you got it together in the end. A surprising song choice for me for you. It was alright -- a little bit corny for me -- but it was alright. (boos) Dude, I'm just trying to keep it real."
Paula said: "I disagree on that. I do agree on one thing, that I was kind of surprised you picked that song... What I love about you Luke, is you have such a great instrument. You're musical. [Simon interrupts, 'Did you like it or not?'] I love, love, love your interpretation of it, and because you're so musical I love the... [Simon interrupts again, 'So you did.'] on the upper notes. They were fantastic. I loved it."
Simon said: "Okay Luke, I'll make this very quick. I didn't like it, I thought it was weak, a bit girly. (boos) I've got to tell you, there is no chance you're going to make it through -- I don't even think to the final 12. You can't win!" (boos)
Additional Info: The video packages prior to each semifinalists' performance revealed their most embarrassing moments... Luke's most embarrassing moment was as an 8-year-old, when his older sister dressed him up like a ballerina... Paula mentioned how she choreographed former Wham! member George Michaels' tour... Simon also agreed with Randy that Luke's performance was corny. "It wasn't very good Luke, sorry."... "It's fun. I wanted something up-tempo," said Luke when asked by Ryan Seacrest to explain his song choice... Luke's dad and wife were in the studio audience.
David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT
Song: "Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins
Randy said: "David Archuleta. It's like watching one of your concerts. I like that. You're piano playing and then you get up, grab the mic. I thought it was good. It was an interesting song choice for me for you. It didn't show-off all your vocals and what you can do. It was nice -- there was a couple of little pitch problems here and there -- but it was nice. It was nice."
Paula said: "I loved that there were a couple of notes that were off because it proved to me you're not this make-believe person -- a hologram that can do everything perfect. (Randy and David laughed)... You're perfectly wonderful for this competition. You have a wonderful sensibility David to pick songs that you can really shine on. Keep going for it."
Simon said: "David, it wasn't as good as last week. I think you should have stayed at the piano, and I think you've got to be careful -- you're 17-years-old -- you're becoming... like it's all getting a little bit gloomy here. You haven't got to keep singing sad songs. We had "Imagine" last week, "Another Day in Paradise" this week... I just think you've got to lighten up a little David. There's no question you're going to make it through to the finals next week. Probably going to be in the Final 2. But I think now we've got to say a slightly different more fun side occasionally, otherwise it might get a bit depressing."
Additional Info: Prior to David's performance, Ryan revealed the teenager was thirsty and had to pee. "I didn't want everyone to know that really," answered David... David's embarrassing moment involved a fund-raiser in Honduras where he sang a Spanish song, but was unable to finish. His mom jumped onstage and finished the song for him... David played the piano for a portion of the song... David's parents were in the studio audience... "I think you've got to understand, any song that involves intimacy is depressing for Simon," cracked Ryan... David defended his song choice because "it brings attention to those around the world that have nothing."
Danny Noriega, an 18-year-old from Azuza, CA
Song: "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell
Randy said: "There's some good stuff and some bad stuff. It started off a little rough -- it was a little pitchy -- but you know what? I loved the arrangement, especially after Rihanna had the whole sample in her joint, it was a big record. But I liked the way you did it at the end. You know, have that confidence. Let me see that conviction! Danny, you can do this! Come on man, you can do this! Because when you came out, you were a little shy with it. ['What!?' said Simon, surprised Danny could be described as shy.] He was man... Yo check it out! He's never shy in attitude, but vocally is what I'm talking about. He's got all the bad attitude for everybody in the place! But yeah, come on with the vocals man. You can do this!"
Paula said: "Danny, Danny, Danny. I love that you're like this bright light in this competition. You've got a sensitive side of you, you've got a total spicy side of you. You are real -- you're the real deal. The most important thing is, you've got great vocals and you are... You've got to keep going. I love the fact you're really true to yourself. That's what I really love about you.
Simon said: "I thought it was horrible. (boos) I did! Absolutely useless. Sorry. I didn't like it. I hated the arrangement, hated the performance, hated the vocal, didn't like anything about it."
Additional Info: Danny's embarrassing moment involved being tripped down a staircase at the movies by a friend. He described it was "TMTH," or "Too much to handle"... Future reality TV star Denise Richards was shown in the studio audience prior to Danny's performance... Paula suggested Danny take the purple streaks out of his hair, even though she though he "looks fabulous."... Following Simon's comments, Danny told him, "Whatever!"
David Hernandez, a 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ
Song: "It's All Coming Back to Me" by Meatloaf
Randy said: "David Hernandez, what's going down baby? You chillin'? Doin' your thing? Nice song choice for you because you've got that big ole' voice. I thought it was really good except there were some little pitch problems -- sometimes you just overshoot the notes, they get a little sharp. But you got that big ole' voice, good song choice for you."
Paula said: "Absolutely. I'm so glad the first week's over because I really feel like you're getting into your groove here and you're finding your niche. You're really becoming a very good performer, and I think you have some of the best vocals in this whole group here."
Simon said: "David it wasn't as good as last week. I prefer it when you're doing more of the kind of the soul songs. But I mean you've 100% secured a place in the finals for next week on that."
Additional Info: David said his most embarrassing moment occurred when he delivered an outstanding photo shoot, only to later discover he had a booger in his noise in all the photos. "I think it was like the size of a walnut and kind of flaky," said David in describing the booger... David flaunted his shoes to Randy following his performance. "I love these kicks man," answered Randy.
Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA
Song: "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds (The Breakfast Club)
Randy said: "You know what I love about that dog, it's like the Aussie boy goes home for 80s. You've got to love that man. It's so you. You kind of remind me of [deceased INXS frontman] Michael Hutchence -- you've got that big ole' range, that big ole' voice. Nicely done. Good song choice. I loved it dude. Nice one, baby, nice one!"
Paula said: "I am so glad you are the type of artist who really is defining who you are. Tonight is the perfect example. You picked the perfect song and I loved hearing the strength in your low range, because it allowed you to really go somewhere and wail on the high notes. It's great. You have this presence that's different and unique. The way you hold the mic, you've got this hopping thing going on. Minus a couple bum notes from everyone we've seen so far, this season, you all are unique and different. You are know exception. You've got it to go all the way through."
Simon said: "Michael, I liked it. I didn't love it. I still think with you, you're rather like one of the girls in the competition [Carly Smithson] -- huge talent, but haven't quite connected with the right song and had your moment yet. I actually prefer you when you're singer more as a song singer rather than a wannabe rock singer... I really, really like you. I think you're going to do very, very well in this competition."
Additional Info: Michael revealed his strategy is to show viewers what type of artist he is and what type of album he'd cut -- "like a rock, soul kind of record with some dance involved"... He said as a mascot in Australia -- "Boomer the Roo" -- during a rugby match, he was attacked by four guys in front of 20,000 people... Michael's wife and friend were in the studio audience... As "the victim of an older sister," Michael said he was forced to watch The Breakfast Club quite a lot as a youth.
David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK
Song: "Hello" by Lionel Richie
Randy said: "You know what I love about that man? You made a slightly emo version of an extremely pop Lionel Richie song. Great arrangement man. I think that could be a single and be a hit. I thought it was brilliant. Brilliant! Very nice!"
Paula said: "David, I totally love when you come on that stage, because I know that I'm in for a great surprise and great talent. That was fabulous. It would be a hit today and it should be a hit today. You changed things up and it's perfect choices, you make perfect choices. I believe you're going to be a great shining star."
Simon said: "David that was a very brave thing to do, and I loved it... I like people who go out there and take a few risks. It was unpredictable, I thought it worked. I think Lionel Richie will be very happy when he hears that. Terrific version, and I really, really hope we're going to see you next week."
Additional Info: David was scheduled to perform after David Hernandez, however technical problems with his guitar forced Michael Johns to go first. "What you didn't see during the break was massive panic onstage to hook all of this up," said Ryan before David's performance. "Does it work David?" He then strummed a note and it was good to go... David revealed his embarrassing moment came during a talent show performance when he forgot the second verse of the song he was performing. "Here's to hoping I won't do it on this stage," he added... David's mom and cousin were in the studio audience... Following David's performance, Simon revealed he saw Lionel Richie while shopping at a supermarket on Sunday. "I had carrots and he was buying cereal," said Simon.
Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX
Song: "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen
Randy said: "Listen, great degree of difficulty. Great Leonard Cohen song, probably more popular by Jeff Buckley. Amazing song, one of my favorites. You did a pretty good job with it because it's a tall order because they did it man, they worked it out. I give you props for it man, and I give you props for coming out here without the guitar, showing a different side. Good looking out baby, good looking out."
Paula said: "Although the level of difficulty, you made it sound so effortless with ease. I am so glad that you showed a beautiful vulnerability. You are great in-front of the guitar, and leaving it down, that's... First of all, all the guys, you're great so far! Jason, you're exactly what I'm loving about this season. You're unique. You are definitely recognizable in your technique and your phrasing -- your phrasing is what makes you great."
Simon said: "The Jeff Buckley version of that song is one of my favorite songs of all time... I thought it was absolutely brilliant, what you just did. (cheers) Arguably one of my favorite performances of the whole night, definitely your strongest so far. Jason, I've got to tell you, you are getting better and better and better."
Additional Info: Jason's embarrassing moment came on a date when he was tying his dreads and one of them came off, so he had a dread in his hand at the dinner table. "The good news is, we went out on another date," he said.
Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA
Song: "All the Woman I Need" by Luther Vandross
Randy said: "Yo Chikezie. Interesting song choice once again, when it started Paula and I were looking at each other like, 'I don't know dog, I don't know.' But you know what? You did a good job with it. I was really impressed. The last note kind of looked like it surprised you and me too, but I thought it was really good though. Tough song choice baby."
Paula said: "Again, your personality. I was waiting for this upbeat thing and you switched it up on me. But your vocals sound really good tonight. Really good. All the guys, you guys are rocking! It's so good tonight. Chikezie, I'm proud of you."
Simon said: "That was a [Whitney Houston] song, right? (Yes, Whitney did record it) Then no, I don't think that worked at all. (boos) You were okay in bits, but I thought it was much more cabaret than last week. (boos) You can boo all you want. (boos) I don't think that was a very smart move personally. (boos) Sorry."
Additional Info: Chikezie's mom and sister were in the studio audience... Chikezie said his most embarrassing moment happened in high school when he continuously used the girls' bathroom without knowing it. "I always wondered why there was no urinals," he said... Randy said Chikezie "definitely deserves" a spot in the Top 12... Ryan asked Paula to describe the night in one word and she said she wanted to use two words, "phenomenal." "How can I reply to those wise words," said Simon.