“The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber”
Top 6 – April 22nd, 2008
So Cultural Learnings has been Idol-free for pretty much the entirety of this season, which isn’t to say I haven’t been watching – I’ve just been, admittedly, distracted by real life commitments and kinda bored with the contestants. However, two things aligned this week: the arrival of a lot of free time and the potential tranwreck that is American Idol going Broadway.
I will admit to being a fan of the broadway bombast, even its overly sappy ballads – so to see these Idols destroy or finally embrace their inner broadway star is a fantastic idea…for the viewer. For the Idols, it’s a huge gamble, but for us it’s an endless source of entertainment.
And wow, did they deliver on that promise…maybe not in the ways they wanted.
Syesha Mercado – “One Rock ‘n’ Roll Too Many”
It’s unfortunate that we are starting with what is ultimately perhaps the evening’s most explosive performance, a sudden burst of personality from Syesha Mercado. This relatively obscure song from 1984’s Starlight Express was an ideal choice for Syesha as it allowed her to show her sassy and seductive side. That sex appeal is the best we’ve seen from her, and it felt like Kelly Clarkson’s breakout Big Band performance in the first season.
I don’t know if Syesha can take this momentum any further as Clarkson did, as I don’t think her pop star chops are up to her Broadway antics, but she was definitely up to the challenge of this difficult task. She came out with a punchy number that was engaging for the audience, that really seemed to click with everyone, and Ricky Minor dancing was worth the price of admission. A lot of Idols have had great careers heading to broadway, as they are a better draw than a non-name actor or actress, and based on this Syesha (Who can’t win the competition outright) might have won that particular side competition.
Jason Castro – “Memory”
All aloneee in the mooooonlighttt. See, I know those two lines of this song from the longest running show of all time, Cats, better than a majority of the real classics of musical history, which should tell you two things: the song has been overplayed, and that a majestic female-sang ballad is not an easy sell when you’re Jason Castro. With Jason we had our first trainwreck of the evening, a false attempt at melody that was awful in all of the sections where it couldn’t be.