Courtesy of Fox
This is either the hardest or easiest night of the season if you are Syesha Mercado. It’s hard because you have been dissed by the Zeitgeist. The David-versus-David finale is destiny, we have all been told. It is to be man against boy, comb-over against nervous giggle, “I found this great alternative arrangement” against “I sometimes sing this to my dog.” On the other hand, it’s easy, because Syesha is the contestant with nothing to lose, and as you know if you’ve watched a few movies about renegade cops, that makes her very, very dangerous.
On Three-Song Night — when the last three contestants each perform one song they choose themselves, one chosen for them by a judge, and one chosen by “the producers” — Syesha is going to go for the glory-hogging ballad. It’s always obvious when she hits the big notes in “I Will Always Love You” or one of its close relatives that she believes this to be her sweet spot. Spoilers suggest, though, that the glory-hogging song has been taken care of — Randy Jackson has picked out Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You.” Having seen some success with a couple of Broadway-esque numbers, Syesha should probably make room for an up-tempo showpiece if “the producers” don’t send her out to sing something from Chicago. The more fun she’s having, the less average she seems, so we prescribe a lot of finger-snapping. If she can stand on the piano again, so much the better. That way if she loses, she can still book a slot in the (Tony-nominated!) revival of Grease.
But how can Syesha overtake the Davids? She could hope that David Archuleta will be distracted by his father’s attempts to signal to him from the audience with semaphore flags. But everyone probably feels so sorry for him at this point that America would draw a stumbling David Archuleta to its speed-dialing bosom in an instant. Furthermore, rumor has it that Paula Abdul (of course) has chosen the Billy Joel song (of course) “And So It Goes” (of course) for David’s “judge’s choice” number. Syesha’s greatest hope is that David Cook decides to … try something. A guy who likes to try things is the one you want to bet on if you’re looking for an enormous misstep. Simon Cowell may done him a favor if he’s really chosen “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for David, who could sing it straight and avoid a whole evening of growl-rock. David’s own supposed choice of Collective Soul’s “The World I Know” puts him back in his comfortable, Daughtry-ish box, but if the “producers’ choice” song gives him a gun, he’s not above shooting his own foot off. He almost offed himself with Duran Duran; who knows what a more potent weapon could accomplish?
So sing your heart out, Syesha. You’re probably doomed, but there’s nowhere to go from here but up. —Linda Holmes
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