'American Idol' Recap: Carly Smithson Sings Her 'Heart' Out, Simon 'Loves' Brooke White

Will Alexandréa Lushington stick around long enough for a 'Star Search' rematch against David Archuleta?

On Wednesday night, I revisited Tuesday night's Boys Club to be sure that my disgust was warranted and that my observational skills were on the money. They were. But honestly, all I really wanted to do was watch Robbie Carrico one more time. I'm no masochist — his faux-rock maneuverings didn't warrant another listen. I just needed to see for myself what all the "Idol" chatter was about. You know, the blond elephant in the room: Robbie's wig.

These stories just write themselves, don't they? And it makes me wonder if this had anything to do with the "authenticity" questions that the judges keep tossing at him? But the Great Wig Chase didn't last long, and I could barely stomach half his performance again. I had dinner reservations, after all, and didn't wish to further spoil my appetite.

After a delightful dinner, it was time to turn on my DVR and watch Wednesday's "Idol." Is it morally wrong for me to be envious of H.W. Plainview? Because there's an oilrig explodin' in my head that all the Oscars in the world couldn't silence.

Wednesday's roll call of the top 10 girls resulted in stunted applause from an audience eager for next Tuesday. I don't blame them: The girls' showdown was a total waste of makeup. The nicest thing I can say is that the gals were more genial and respectful to the judges' criticism (hear that, Robbie, Chikezie and David Cook?). Then again, they weren't in any position to argue, were they?

Carly Smithson

Song: Heart's "Crazy on You"

Verdict: Every time I think about it, I wanna cry

With Simon saying, "You're the girl they've all got to beat"(not exactly the best way to deflect the controversy that's haunted her since her first audition), Smithson struggled through a huge song she didn't have the pipes to pull off. That's not a good sign for a former "professional" who once had a recording contract. Not that most humans could re-create the banshee wails of the great Ann Wilson. Carly loves her some Heart, and "Crazy on You" is her all-time favorite song, but she seemed disconnected all the same. In a season lacking major female talent, Carly is actually the one with the best vocal ability. And that ain't saying much.

Syesha Mercado

Song: Billy Paul's "Me & Mr(s). Jones"

Verdict: After Thursday, we might not meet at the same place, the same time

Flat and tuneless in spots, crystalline and clear in others, Syesha sang in such a hushed whisper, it was as if she were trying not to wake the creepy crying baby she imitated in her pre-perf clip. I could hardly hear what she was singing in the first half the song, where her tones almost dissipated completely during her attempts at the lower ones, and the last note fell flat and truncated. It was dull and uninspiring, and that's a shame because coming into the top 24, she was one of my favorites. And it would have proven a more beguiling take if she hadn't changed the Mrs. to Mr.

Brooke White

Song: Carly Simon's "You're So Vain"

Verdict: Were there clouds in Simon's coffee?

While I'm grateful she didn't get all obvious on us and sing "Beauty School Dropout" (however appropriate it would have been — the girl always looks like she's been awake for 24 hours waiting for that ransom call), it was a relief to see a guitar in Brooke's hands and not a meat cleaver. Still, it was a weird presentation. It always amuses me when these clueless chicks sing sepia-toned lyrics with big old oblivious grins on their faces. What, did Katharine McPhee open a vocal school? Brooke was more Phoebe Buffay at Central Perk than Carly Simon at Martha's Vineyard. But Simon said he "loved it," and her safety is almost assured. I'm glad. Me like crazy.

Ramiele Malubay

Song: Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way"

Verdict: When will she satisfy the need in me?

Was anyone taken aback by Ramiele's lackluster recital of this song? Not 10 seconds before she started, she said, "You might see me dancing onstage if I do a fast song. Maybe!" She said "maybe," exclamation point. If she had told us she was going to position herself onstage like a stagnant albeit beautiful piece of pottery while performing one of the most popular disco classics ever, I would've told her to stick to ballads and be proud of the nickname "Ramiele Lullaby." Vocally, she started the song nicely, but immediately fell into an awfulness reminiscent of Jasmine Trias (one of Malubay's idols). Too bad, because while I think the judges overpraised her anticlimactic Dusty Springfield during '60s Week, I do believe Malubay possesses the potential to be one terrific powerhouse. And she does a fiercer (although less feminine) hula than Sanjaya.

Kristy Lee Cook

Song: Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good"

Verdict: The title sorta says it all, no?

Sun City scab Linda Ronstadt, naive political niggles aside, still harbors one of the most distinct, gorgeous and wide-ranged voices in rock-music history, which is probably why no Idol has ever attempted, to my recollection, anything from her lustrous catalog. Yet, even with the simple melody of "You're No Good," self-proclaimed tomboy Cook couldn't muster the oomph to pull it off. Her amateurish version was akin to a Miss America audition circa 1984, proving once again that pretty blondes with perky breasts and decent voices will always get through the early rounds. How soon before she feels the need to sing in front of the Confederate flag again (like she did in her "Devoted" video) to fortify her Red State appeal?

Amanda Overmyer

Song: Kansas' "(Carry on My) Wayward Son"

Verdict: Once I rose above the noise and confusion ... I wanted to cry

It was a sad evening in my household last night because I wasn't expecting a disaster from Overmyer for weeks (you know, like dance-music night). Something about her since her first audition made her an instant favorite of mine — was it the Bonnie Tyler tobacco- and whiskey-soaked voice? Yep. The growls, the classic-rock machination, the absolute nerve of it all? You betcha. And yes, I felt that the viewers might eventually tire of her acquired-taste vocal styling — but so what? I lapped it up. So you can imagine the revulsion I felt when instead of rock and roll heaven, I received a 50-year-old Lion Queen in all her hideous nonglory, lumbering along and preying on the ears of America like a Vegas production of "Rocky Horror" starring Yvonne DeCarlo. If she survives that performance, and I hope to the heavens she does, she owes us the rock and roll she promised months ago.

Alaina Whitaker

Song: Olivia Newton-John's "Hopelessly Devoted to You"

Verdict: Hopelessly devoid of charm

Last night, the show's youngest contestant proved that she is, well, the show's youngest contestant. Hasn't she ever been in love? Hasn't she ever yearned for the wrong guy? Am I actually trying to explain the lyrics to this putrid song from that decaying film? A year ago my partner polluted our household with "Grease: You're the One That I Want" for weeks and weeks, and I prayed I'd never hear another song from that "musical" again. I was traumatized enough at 13; I needn't be in adulthood. But that's not really the point. I could forgive all that if Whitaker's vocals weren't so tinny and aloof, and if she hadn't sliced the song like scaloppini sauteed with paint and sugar. If she spent more time on her vocal tics (and less on separating the food on her plate), her OCD could be used for good, not evil.

Alexandréa Lushington

Song: Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now"

Verdict: If she leaves us now, it would be our mistake

She lost to David Archuleta during the year he won "Star Search Juniors," and she won't be around long enough this season to get the chance to battle again. And that's too bad, because when Alexandréa is on, she sings in rich, colorful tones. Plus, she has a great vibrato. While I was dismayed that she went with such a dated Chicago song, I must disagree with Simon — she contemporized the song with a few delicate phrasings and ended it with a smooth-jazz feel. It didn't completely work but it was not the disaster he made it out to be.

Kady Malloy

Song: Heart's "Magic Man"

Verdict: I tried to understand. Tried to understand. Tried, tried, tried to understand.

A performance so dull it wasn't completely heinous. I mean, how could it be? I'd need to actually remember it to hate it. And while I'm always thrilled when Heart get a shout-out, I wish the results were less stupefying. While Malloy's Britney and Shakira imitations might be brilliant, Ann Wilson proves to be a task too extraordinary for her metallic voice box to attempt. I'm willing to surmise that maybe Malloy has regrets about ever displaying her talent for mimicry. If she hadn't, maybe the judges' "find your own identity" repartee wouldn't be so frustrating for her. Or truthful.

Asia'h Epperson

Song: Eric Carmen's "All by Myself" (by way of Celine Dion)

Verdict: I'm all by myself ... hiding under the bed

Although Epperson was swallowing her vowels like Anita Baker on steroids, I had a hard time paying attention. I was too damned distracted by the cheap Tyra Banks horse-weave cemented atop her head. All this wouldn't have mattered if she'd given even an iota of a good vocal instead of caterwauling Camilla Velasco-style. But forget Celine — LaToya London set the bar for this song back in season three, and Asia'h, you are no LaToya. Besides, this is '70s Week. It might have suited you better not to go with Dion's monstrous, over-the-top version.

So there you have it, an evening of near-nuclear-fallout proportions. So what's an "Idol" fan to do? Who to try to save? Could it be that for the first time, we should weed out all the girls and make it an all-guy top five? If Wednesday was any indication, that might become a reality. Be afraid.

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