Yeah! Dolly Parton is the mentor tonight. I must admit, right off the bat, that I have always loved her. She has such a sweet and gentle personality. She's a very smart and talented musician, singer, and songwriter. For these reasons, I think she'll be a great mentor. I'm looking forward to hearing what she offers. I think it will make for some interesting songs, too.
Brooke White - Jolene - Hmmm...I like country Brooke. She looks very natural and at ease, and this is a good choice for her. Different from her regular groove, yet not cheesy. I like the intensity she brought to the song. Simon didn't see emotion, but I disagree. I saw fierceness in her eyes, like she was fighting for her man. I liked it.
David Cook - Little Sparrow - I don't know this Dolly song. Good look tonight...the white shirt is a nice contrast to his usual look, and the haircut is sharp. I loved the very first line, and the fragility of it. His falsetto just reinforces that sense of fragility, making it a smart choice. David is my pick to win it all. I think he's smart and creative, and an excellent musician.
Ramielle Malubay - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind - She doesn't look very comfortable singing country...it seemed a little karaoke. She had some pitch issues, and seemed to get a little lost in the back beat. I'm sure this was a stretch for her but she looked like she had fun with it. I liked it better than the last few weeks, but I didn't love it. I agree with Simon, it was cute, but forgettable. I think Ramielle has great potential, but I seriously doubt she'll win this season. I hope she spends this next year really figuring out what she's about, what her musical style is, what her optimal range is. She needs to figure out her musical identity. Then she can choose songs from various genres that she understands how to sing and make her own. I think that's what she's lacking right now.
Jason Castro - Travelin' Through - I'd so love to hear Jason do this as a duet with Dolly, like he did in practice. Good for Jason! He found a way to be different this week. I like the increased intensity in his sound on this song. He picked up the tempo and energy. I still like the more melancholy Jason better (Hallelujah), but this proved he has some versatility.
Carly Smithson - Here You Come Again - I never knew that Dolly didn't write this! Learned something new tonight. I liked Carly's slower version. I believed her on this one. I felt she connected better than she has in many weeks. I didn't love her look tonight, but Brian thought she looked better. I'd like to see her in a hip, funky dress, and with a little less eye makeup...it almost obscures her gorgeous eyes. LOVED her long note. I like the smoky sound of her voice on this kind of song...right in the meat of her range. So good, Carly!
David Archuleta - Smoky Mountain Memories - What a beautiful, pure voice. He doesn't need American Idol...he is already a star. He is vocally sublime. This was a perfect song choice for him, and
Kristy Lee Cook - Coat of Many Colors - I LOVE this song. Kristy looks pretty tonight, but I actually preferred her leaner, hipper country look in her practice session. She sounded more confident and natural in the practice session, as well. She seemed a little stiff and old-fashioned sitting on the stage. I agree with Randy, country is definitely her genre, but Simon is also right...this was pleasant but forgettable. Last week was better for her, I think.
Syesha Mercado - I Will Always Love You - Syesha said she found an emotional connection - so important. She looks glamorous tonight. Didn't like the breath in al-ways. I think Dolly was right: she found a nice place between Dolly's and Whitney's versions, and made this one her very own. I liked the sweet smile before the big finish, LOVED the sustained note, and the sweet teary tenderness as she ended it. Nicely done, Syesha. I think this is one of her best performances.
Michael Johns - It's All Wrong, But It's All Right - What's with the cravat? Does anyone else think he looks like Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef? Maybe that's just me. OK...I thought this was pretty good. It was an interesting bluesy arrangement. I actually like him better as a blues singer than a rock singer. He seems to "get it" better than he does the rock stuff. I even liked it better than his Queen renditions.
HOT tonight: David Cook (of course), David Archuleta, Syesha Mercado, Michael Johns, & Carly Smithson.
Should Go: Kristy or Ramielle. Kristy has made great progress the last two weeks, but she's just not as strong and polished as some of the others. And though Ramielle has great potential, I believe she is out of her league this year. I like both of these girls, but it's time for them to go.
As always, let me remind you to visit Boomama and all the other armchair judges on her Mr. Linky! See you next week!