The top three battle it out on “Idol”

It’s do-or-die time on American Idol, and I can happily say that Syesha Mercado is still alive and kicking. While most Idol “experts” (and even some judges) will tell you that the finals should come down to a battle of the two Davids, I’ve been hoping for a small miracle that would allow Syesha to strut her stuff into the finals. Last night she may have gotten her opportunity.

The show was split up into three pseudo-rounds: In the first round, songs were chosen by a judge, in the second the contestants chose their own songs, and lastly the producers made selections.

Photo credit: FOX

For boy-wonder David Archuleta, the evening resulted in mixed reviews. Paula Abdul chose “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel for his first song, and Randy Jackson said he was completely “in the zone.”

Photo credit: FOX

David’s personal choice was possibly the most interesting of the season, singing “With You” by Chris Brown. Though it’s definitely the first time he’s tackled something that’s even remotely targeted towards his age bracket, it didn’t necessarily make it a good decision. Simon Cowell’s assessment of the situation (like a chihuahua acting like a tiger) was right on the money. Lastly, the judges had him sing “Longer” by Dan Fogelberg. Bor-ing.

David numero dos (David Cook, for any Idol neophytes out there) was given the task of tackling Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” My first thought was, “What the F?” But, alas, I begrudgingly admit that the talents of Mr. Cook and the musical prowess of Mr. Cowell did, indeed, prevail. It was an awesome, awesome performance.

Photo credit: FOX

His last two songs were very widely recognizable songs — “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith, respectively — and while they were both solid, they weren’t nearly as inspired as his first of the night. The Aerosmith song did provide a different texture to his voice that I don’t remember hearing from him before. It was nice. He is a shoo-in for the top two.

Syesha, on the other hand, needed a bit of a boost to have a shot, and Randy tried to give it to her by selecting “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. When she found out, Syesha was visibly excited to be singing some Keys.

Photo credit: FOX

The judges and I were all in agreement that Syesha sang the song perfectly, and they stole words out of my mouth during their critiques as well:

Paula: And aside from all of that, you look absolutely stunning.
Simon: Overall, it was — you look gorgeous, by the way.

Yeah, Simon couldn’t even complete his thought without getting that out.

For herself, Syesha chose “Fever” by Peggy Lee and gave a very sexy performance, complete with a prop chair and a short dress. The judges weren’t too crazy about her song choice, but who cares? (OK, so at this point I’m just being shallow, but do any of you really mind? I didn’t think so.)

Lastly, the producers chose Gia Farrell’s “Hit Me Up” from Happy Feet, which really actually angers me. That song was very obviously not the type of song Syesha has done well on, and while the two boys were spoon-fed songs that my hamster could have chosen for them, she got this random song from a cartoon soundtrack. Now, I’m not hating on the song — I quite like it — but they had to have known she wouldn’t be able to provide the type of performance needed to surpass the Davids with that. I have tried so hard to avoid writing about “conspiracies” and things being rigged on Idol and whatnot because, frankly, there is enough of that silly chatter around the net to make my eyes cross. But this, well, this is a travesty.

Cook, without even a blink, should be in the finals. Will the other — to my surprise and delight — be Syesha? Goodness, I hope so.