American Idol: Castro Survives

For at least the third week in a row, American Idol voters didn't get it right.

In one of the more emotional elminations of the season, Brooke White was sent home amid a stream of tears and one of the bravest farewell songs I can remember.

But it should have been Jason Castro.

I'm not saying that Brooke's elimination was a complete shocker. Some think she's been living on borrowed time for a while. But if that's the case, then Jason's living on a second mortgage, a couple of payday loans, and a debt with the local loan shark.

Seriously, Jason has had some inspired performances this season, but the last few weeks he's been phoning it in. His songs have been completely mellow, if not totally slack-ass. He looks so dazed and confused most of the time that (to crib a line from fellow Film.com columnist I.A.) he'd probably be surprised to learn he's been on a TV show the last three months.

Yet somehow, this dreadlocked troubador continues to survive, while the likes of Michael Johns, Carly Smithson, and now Brooke go home.

At this point in the competition, everyone is so good it's hard to choose who's the best. But Jason has been so unexciting of late, it has been pretty easy to identify him as one of the worst of the top seven, the top six, and the top five.

Maybe it's his name. The CIA tried for years to kill Cuba's Castro, to no avail. Now Fidel's American eponym is showing just as much resilience. He wasn't even in the bottom two this week. I guess those blue eyes and that Texas charm sure go a long way.

I admit, maybe I'm jaded. I really liked Brooke, and even thought she could win the whole thing. Although it's becoming clearer and clearer that the winner of this year's Idol will be a boy named David whose last name starts with either an A or a C.

But Brooke had that Carly-Simon-esque quality that made her special. I can see her getting signed by a record label pretty quickly and putting out an album.

So now it's down to the final four. Jason, David Archuleta, David Cook, and Syesha Mercado.

I suppose anything could happen, and we've seen some fairly shocking elminations up until now. But if I were Syesha, I'd start searching Expedia for tickets back to Sarasota next week. And Jason can ask her to look up flights to Texas for the week after while she's at it.

It's gonna be a David vs. David finale. The only question is, which one is Goliath.

A few other Idol notes ...

The contestants all performed a medley of Neil Diamond songs in tribute to this week's mentor. I think everyone has figured out that this performance means nothing, so that's about the extent of the effort they all seem to put into it.

Ryan addressed the big question on everyone's mind: What was up with Paula? In case you didn't see it, Paula had another weird moment Tuesday night when she critiqued Jason Castro's second performance even though he hadn't done it yet. (Read about it and watch Paula's floundering here.)

Ryan said the rumors about Paula weren't true, but failed to elaborate what said rumors were. I presume they are:

A. Paula's an idiot

B. She was drunk

C. She was predisposed against Jason and had already written her critique

D. All of the above.

Actually, given how detailed her evaluation of Jason's second song was, when he hadn't even sung it yet, means that option C might be on target. At the very least, it suggests Paula might have watched the contestants' dress rehearsals and made some notes about the performances in advance. That wouldn't surprise me. The pressure is on Paula, Randy and Simon to do a lot of quick thinking on their feet and make good television. But it does seem a little disingenuous to judge contestants on their practice and not the real performance. IF that's what is going on.

British songstress Natasha Beddingfield performed. She was perfectly good, but for some reason her career has never really taken off the way you might think it should have. I suppose it hasn't helped that her best known song, "Unwritten," has become an unofficial gay anthem.

Those horrible viewer calls were back, although there was one entertaining moment when Simon got a call from a girl who says she was his first kiss when he was 9-years-old. I still wish they'd dump this segment because, for the most part, this is the absolute worst part of the program.

Neil Diamond himself performed, singing a new song called "Pretty Amazing Grace." Sounded a lot like a typical "Neil Diamond" song, but it wasn't the flashy performance I expected. I was kinda hoping for something a little more upbeat -- maybe wearing one of his blue sequin shirts. But Neil seems to be in some kind of a Johnny Cash phase and was touting a black leather jacket.

Let me just reiterate that Brooke's farewell song was one of the most amazing moments of the entire season. Despite being extremely distraught after learning she was elminated, Brooke bravely took the stage and sang her goodbye performance like a trooper. The other Idols joined her on stage for solidarity, but she didn't need them. She soldiered on and finished, graciously thanking the audience and viewers. She's a class act.

So ends another episode of American Idol. Tune in next week. Same Idol time, same Idol website.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.