Wednesday (April 1) night is Dolly Parton Night on American Idol, with Dolly serving as guest mentor, which will force surly judge Simon Cowell to balance his hatred of country music with his love of kissing up to celebrity visitors. As for me? I suspect the entire show will feel like an hour-long April Fool's joke (though hopefully less lame than the one Ryan Seacrest uses to start the show)...
Singer: BROOKE WHITE
My Take: Even Dolly can't deny the honesty of America's Nanny. Strumming the guitar, Brooke doesn't stray very far from the original melody and arrangement of what is -- if I were forced to list such things -- probably my favorite Parton song. I'm not sure she exactly gets the song's tone of melodic regret and pleading -- ain't nobody capable of stealin' Brooke White's man, no suh -- but it's simple and not-unpleasant. One of these weeks, Brooke's going to have to put just a little bit more out there vocally.
Hoss, Little Joe and Simon Say: Randy thinks she could make an album like this, but despite pitch and pacing problems, it was only aight for him. Brooke thanks him sincerely. Paula thinks Brooke has an emotional connection with every song she picks. Brooke sends her a very sweet "Thank you" note and the two women proceed to rave about each other's hair. Simon goes back to the evergreen "busking" analogy, saying he didn't see any connection. Brooke sends him a muffin basket to show there are no hard feelings.
Singer: PRESUMPTIVE AMERICAN IDOL WINNER DAVID [COOK]
Song: "Little Sparrow"
My Take: The producers of American Idol should be embarrassed by how they're letting random websites spell out the terms of a half-hearted controversy about David "The Leader" Cook's borrowing of different arrangements. This is a competition for cover artists and 99 percent of the performances on the show are borrowed from somebody or another. Yes, the artists behind the arrangements should be credited, probably, just so that they can get some benefit, but regardless of what Chris Cornell thinks, he couldn't have gotten any more credit last week than he did. Nobody else is being forced to bend over backward like he is, so David's making a special point of emphasizing that this week's version is all him. Well, mostly it's Dolly, actually. David thinks a bit more of his falsetto than I do, resorting too much to pushing high notes that, by the last one, betray him completely. Still, he makes the song sound contemporary and masculine, which is admirable.
Hoss, Little Joe and Simon Say: You know what Randy loves? He loves David's range. You know what Paula loves? David's haircut. They both rave about his "false," which means they need to listen to the last one on replay. We know that Simon has problems with songs about birds, but even he's enthusiastic.
Singer: RAMIELE MALUBAY
Song: "Do I Every Cross Your Mind"
My Take: Oh, Little Ramiele. You've got so much spunk, but why can't you choose a song that fits your voice properly? By the half-way point this jaunty track gets close, but for the first 30 seconds or so, she's mumbling notes that are much too low for her to enunciate. And that's a third of the song. Do we forget about that just because she sounds fine by the end? I don't. I defy anybody to tell me what this song is about or what its tone is based on Ramiele's performance.
Hoss, Little Joe and Simon Say: Check it out! Randy isn't jumping up and down, but he isn't mad at her either, giving her a 6.5/10. Paula's proud and thinks it was a great minute-and-thirty-seconds. Simon speculates we won't remember this in 10 years.
Singer: JASON CASTRO
Song: "Travelin' Thru"
My Take: Way to go, Jason! I wouldn't necessarily have thought the theme song from a movie about a transgender parent's pre-surgery odyssey could be transformed into something perfect for the next Muppet movie, but there it is. Did the band start out too fast or did Jason on his guitar? There's what seems to be a dramatic tempo swap early on, but maybe that's part of the song? I'm grading Clifford the Muppet on a curve this week because he's been so very, very bad the past two weeks. This week, he's less bad, though the funny faces are still there in spades.
Hoss, Little Joe and Simon Say: Randy figures that by the end of the song Jason worked it out. It was one of Jason's strongest performances for Paula. Simon jeopardizes his season pass to Dollywood by criticizing both the song and performance.
But what about the rest of the performances?