American Idol's Top 10 seventh-season finalists took the stage during last night's live performance episode broadcast, with each singing a song from the year they were born.
Some of the early frontrunners took another step backward; a new dark horse emerged among the females; one of the original favorites delivered his best performance of the competition so far; and a new finalist cemented his standing as the one to beat.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 10 finalists 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.
On Wednesday night beginning at 9PM ET/PT, one finalist will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last night's broadcast, revealing the seventh-season's Top 9 finalists. In addition, former Idol second-season third-place finisher Kimberley Locke will perform.
Ramiele Malubay, a 20-year-old from Miramar, FL
Song: "Alone" by Heart
Randy said: "Alright, so I hear you're a little under the weather like me, but still it wasn't the right song choice for you for me. It was a little too big of a song for me for you to sing. (boos) I remember... Who did it before? [Carly Smithson] did it before. It's not quite your kind of thing. It was a little pitchy all over the place. It wasn't a good luck for me."
Paula said: "I'm really glad that America's heard you sing and how big your voice is. People don't know you barely have a voice right now, and I think that you... It's not about picking it because I'm sure you picked it healthy. However I still give you a tremendous amount of credit and you're brave to do what you did. because you're really sick, and I know that. I hope you stay through and keep going because you're a very big talent in a little, small body."
Simon said: "I don't think it was as bad as Randy said. (cheers) The first part of the song was okay, maybe it's because you're not feeling well in the middle it all got a bit shrieky and shouty. The truth is Ramiele, after what you sang last week -- which I thought was appalling and you managed to survive -- than you're going to get through again this week on that performance. No question about it."
Additional Info: Ramiele was born September 6, 1987 in Saudi Arabia. She said she "liked to get into a lot of trouble" as a little kid... Ramiele said she "stepped it up" this week because she feels "lucky" to have made the Top 10... Idol host Ryan Seacrest asked if Ramiele had the flu, and she said no, her voice just went "bye-bye" earlier in the week. Randy defended his criticism. "When Simon listens to it back at home he'll find that the pitch was all over the place."
Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX
Song: "Fragile" by Sting
Randy said: "Dude I love that song. That's one of my favorite songs. That's a very good choice of song. I don't know if you did anything different with it vocally, but I liked the little Spanish touch and the whole thing. I thought it was alright -- it was very nice and pleasant. I don't know if it did anything for me vocally. I'm still waiting to see that jump-out vocal performance, but it was nice. It was nice."
Paula said: "I think you're staying true to who you are, and those are the songs that are your niche. I love Sting, and that's a beautiful song. I agree, I don't think that we saw anything different that makes us go, 'Wow! Jason did something different we either love or we don't like.' So you're kind of playing it a little safe in your zone, but that's who you are."
Simon said: "Jason, I think you've had two bad weeks. (boos) I think it's time that you start taking this a little bit more seriously. That was the equivalent of someone busking outside of a subway station. (boos) It was. The way that you played the guitar on the track was clumsy. Everything about it was too laid back -- too much in your own world. You are somebody Jason -- as you proved when you sang 'Hallelujah' -- who potentially may be even a winner. But you're not going to win if you keep doing that week after week. I'm telling you. Sorry."
Additional Info: Jason was born March 25, 1987, meaning last night was his 21st birthday... When he was little, Jason said he was "a lot smaller, pudgier, cuter" and always received compliments on his eyes... Jason played the guitar during his performance... Ryan asked Jason if he was taking it seriously. "Yeah," answered Jason. "I too felt my playing was probably a little sloppy. I could have spent a little more time practicing if I'm going to do this."
Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old from Sarasota, FL who currently resides in Miami, FL
Song: "If I Were Your Woman" by Stephanie Mills
Randy said: "You know this is great. This is a good moment for you for me. I think this is the best I've ever heard you sing, including when you auditioned. (cheers) I think this is the best you ever sounded to us. I think it was stellar. I think it was unbelievable. I'm shocked. I'm loving it. Yes! Yes! We've got another competitor in the competition... Blazing hot!"
Paula said: "What's great about this performance Syesha is that this is going to be the moment that everybody remembers where Syesha flipped it and became the dark horse who's going to sail on through. (cheers) Everything about it, your upper register, your lower. Everything was pitch perfect. It was your most brilliant."
Simon said: "Syesha it was definitely the best so far, but we're only three in. I don't think the end part of the song was as good as Randy thought actually. I think there is a limit on your vocal, and I think that song stretched it. I do."
Additional Info: Syesha was born January 2, 1987. She said she was a "big cry baby" as a child... As a youth, Syesha said she was part of an acrobatic dance team, complete with "corny looking costumes"... Following Simon's comments, Paula said she disagreed. "That's why there's three of us on the panel," retorted Simon.
Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA
Song: "If Only for One Night" by Luther Vandross
Randy said: "For me it's interesting, you following Syesha with that other oldie-but-goodie jam. Not that I like making comparisons, but for her, she moved it around. She made it at least younger feeling. This went back to a very old-school kind of just... I don't know man. I didn't love it for you. I didn't love this for you. (boos) It's very old-school. It wasn't hip and cool. It wasn't that vibey Chikezie that I love with all that energy. It was just kind of boring for me."
Paula said: "I disagree Randy. (cheers) You are throwback -- that's what we say all the time -- but it's a good throwback. I do think that by you upping the tempo... I think you did a great job. I think you did amazing with the textures of your vocals. You're a great, great singer."
Simon said: "Chikezie I think you sang it well. Having said that, I thought the performance actually was very cheesy. (boos) You know, all the putting your hand to the audience. ['But that's who I'm singing for,' replied Chikezie.] It's not. I'm going to pick you up on that. You're not singing it for them -- you're singing it for yourself along with everybody else. Come on. It's true... It's that you have to show originality. I didn't see anything original other than somebody trying to copy the original. I don't think that's what you should be doing. I miss your personality now."
Additional Info: Chikezie was born September 11, 1985. He grew-up in a household with Nigerian parents and listed to lots of cultural music as a kid... Chikezie said song selection this week was "pretty crazy" since he was "torn apart" following the first ballad he sang. However he said he decided to "follow his heart" and picked a song that "resonates really deeply within me"... Randy agreed with Simon's criticism of Chikezie.
Brooke White, a 24-year-old from Mesa, AZ who currently resides in Van Nuys, CA
Song: "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
Randy said: "Very interesting song choice. Great song. I thought the front part of it was pretty good. I like that you started and then you go, 'Wait a minute. This is not right.' I loved that -- lot of good professionalism there. But when you got to like the bridge, I did not like the arrangement with the band coming in. I was waiting for something else with it to happen. I almost would have loved it if you would have stayed without the band and made it more interesting on your own. It was just okay for me. It was alright. It was alright."
Paula said: "I enjoyed this performance so much more than last week's. What's great... This is the great thing. This season we really wanted... We've always wanted contestants who are unique and have their own niche. You do. I can hear your voice -- one note -- and know it's you Brooke. That's a great thing, and I think you're consistent."
Simon said: "Brooke, I'm going to agree with Randy. If you would have stayed with you on the piano, that would have sounded much more cool. The minute it picked up tempo and the band joined in it made it very old-fashioned. Definitely good enough to keep you in for another week, (cheers) but you've just got to work this out. I thought -- as Randy said -- the first half when it started, even with the mistake, it was fantastic. Better than last week."
Additional Info: Brooke was born June 2, 1983 and is the oldest of four children... Brooke said she still remembers the day she received her great-grandmother's piano and immediately took to it, learning to play by ear... Brooke played the piano during her performance... Brooke started the song incorrectly and stopped before restarting. Ryan called it a "brave move." "Generally you shouldn't do that," said Brooke. However the judges said the move reflected Brooke's personality.
Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA
Song: "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" by Queen
Randy said: "Finally -- finally -- you believe in yourself and you use that big old voice you've got. (cheers) That was the best performance for me since you've been on the show."
Paula said: "Anytime that anyone of us ever said you haven't found your right song, well we can all shut our mouths on this one. (cheers) This was your moment -- your shining moment -- and I'm so proud of you... You were probably dying knowing that you could [sing this song from the year he was born]. It was fantastic."
Simon said: "Michael this is the first time with you I saw star potential. (cheers) Tonight you just got it right. You look like a front-person. You were confident. You performed well. For me, it's the only memorable performance of the night so far."
Additional Info: Michael was born October 20, 1978 in Perth, Australia... Ever since he was a kid, he said he was "competitive" in everything from sports to playing cards with his sister... Michael said he thought he'd be a professional tennis player until he turned 15, which is when he found music... Randy had to wait a few moments before he could deliver his comments due to the screams and cheers from the studio audience.
Carly Smithson, a 24-year-old from San Diego, CA
Song: "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
Randy said: "Very interesting song choice for me. I didn't love it -- I liked it -- I didn't love it. (boos) I didn't like the note at the end, it went a little sharp. I think that wasn't quite the right song for you. It was just okay for me."
Paula said: "I don't know how you can say that. She picked this song from the year she was born that inspired her. [Randy commented he just didn't like the whole 'rock thing,' which brought boos from the audience.] Carly, what I so admire about you is you could probably take every song that I'm not crazy about and make me a believer and make me go buy it, and that's the truth. I love what you did at the end, because that shows me that you're willing to get out there and just go and stretch yourself into areas that you haven't showed us. ['That run at the end was not in-tune though Paula,' commented Randy.] Ugh... Carly, you could do no wrong tonight."
Simon said: "Carly, something didn't quite work. I think it was because you were so tense and almost uptight during the performance, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I was going to enjoy it. There were parts of the song you sang very well. But I'm kind of again with Randy on this -- something didn't quite work there. I think you've just got to lighten up a little bit."
Additional Info: Carly was born September 12, 1983 in Ireland... Carly said while her mom was on the way to the hospital in labor, a Carly Simon song was on the radio, so she decided to name her daughter after the singer/songwriter... She said she had very curly hair as a kid... Carly's mom commented she never had any doubts her daughter would grow-up to be an entertainer... Carly's husband and her friends were in the studio audience... Following the judges' comments, Ryan asked Carly if she was tense. "I went to the bathroom before and I ran out," she answered with a laugh. "I had fun. I love that song, so..." Never one to miss an opportunity, Ryan asked Carly, "Did you flush?"
David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT
Song: "You're the Voice" by David Foster and Jeff Pescetto
Randy said: "It was a strange song choice for me. But guess what man? It proves once again that if you can sing, you can sing whatever. (cheers) So David's got mad skills. Very nice, very nice, very nice. I don't know the song, but very nice."
Paula said: "I think all of us were trying to figure that out... [Simon interjected it was first released by Australian singer John Farnham.] You couldn't have picked an American composer? (laughs) I'm just kidding. David, you could sing the phone book and we'd fall in love with that too. (cheers)"
Simon said: "David, you know, you sang it well in parts. But I'm going to be honest with you, and this is not going to make me very popular. I actually didn't like the performance at all. (boos) I thought it was actually reminiscent of a theme-park performance. (boos) I did. It's one of those ghastly songs you sing when you've got animated creatures with you and everyone joins in together. That's what it reminds me of. I don't think that is you at all. I'd be amazed if you chose the song yourself, because it's not you."
Additional Info: David was born December 28, 1990 and is really close to his oldest sister, whom he described as his "partner in crime"... David said he frequently danced as a child, which was "kind of embarrassing" but "fun"... Since he's participating in Idol, David hasn't been attending his high school and has instead been being tutored. Ryan asked if he's missed anything. "I've missed a few dances. I might miss prom," he answered, which brought a round of, "Aww" from the studio audience. Ryan asked if David had anybody in mind he wanted to take, and David was hesitant to answer since he was unsure if he could go. "Is it somebody that's here in the studio?" persisted Ryan. "Maybe close to your father?" The Idol cameras then caught a girl sitting in the audience next to David's dad, presumably the young lady Ryan was referencing.
Kristy Lee Cook, a 24-year-old from Selma, OR
Song: "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood
Randy said: "Great song choice. I love that song. Other than some little pitchy spots in the middle, I thought it was a very nice performance from you. (cheers)"
Paula said: "A very poignant and respectful song. It was a good choice -- a very good choice for you. To me, I've seen better performances from you. But your voice is sounding much stronger. Watch the pitch problems. But you're growing."
Simon said: "Kristy, your best performance by a mile I think. (cheers) I have to say that was the most clever song choice I have heard in years. I've got to tell you -- and I believe I'm right in saying it -- Lee Greenwood wrote that song. Brilliant writer. Brilliant song. I thought it overall was a good performance and that's going to keep you in the competition."
Additional Info: Kristy was born January 18, 1984 and said her parents always say she "came out smiling"... As a youth, Kristy said she was signing all the time, which she said got on her parent's nerves... Kristy pumped her fist and jumped around following Simon's comments.
David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK
Song: "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
Randy said: "I've got to say, you're probably the most original -- the most bold -- contestant we've ever had. That performance right there tonight on that joint you just did? Dude, you might be the one to win the whole lot! (cheers) That was hot! Blazing, molten hot!"
Paula said: "I was blown away. I can't sit down. I've got to tell you how smart you are, how brave you are and how willing you are to stretch the boundaries. You do it right to the edge without going over. I think you're brilliant."
Simon said: "David that was brave. It could have either been insane or amazing, and I have to tell you it was amazing. (cheers)"
Additional Info: David was born December 20, 1982... When he was a kid, David thought he had a "massive skull" and thought he looked like a comic book villain... He received his first guitar when he was 2-years-old... Ryan introduced David from a spot in the audience surrounded by female fans. A sign close by read, "Seacrest is sexy"... Paula delivered her comments on her feet... The studio audience once again went absolutely crazy after the judges' comments.