So long to the last watchable contestant on American Idol: FIU's own Syesha Mercado. And so long to my dignity, because I'll probably keep watching the show anyway.
Syesha charmed us early in the process, belting out Aretha Franklin with her busted vocal cords at the end of the Hollywood tryouts. Mercado is the second FIU student to make it onto Idol, but she outlasted fellow alumna Nadia Turner by five rounds. But until a recent turnaround, her continued presence on stage among the finalists seemed almost a fluke.
She was frequently in the bottom three, yet held on while seemingly stronger contestants went home. Thankfully a strong performance of a Sam Cooke tune last week reinvigorated both the singer and her fan base. But it wasn't enough. While none of the top three was especially good this past Tuesday night, Syesha's decision to sing Peggy Lee's "Fever" was fatal. You knew it as soon as you saw the prop chair at center stage. When it was finished, Simon Cowell told Mercado she'd probably regret that choice 24 hours later, and Simon Cowell is just about always right. (Except when he's praising David Cooke, but I'll get to that.)
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Mercado's departure is a shame, too, because she was just about the last tolerable thing about the show this season. The last two standing after last night's results show, the Davids (Archuleta and Cooke), have become as unbearable as the show's schmaltzy production values and its cheesy host, Ryan Seacrest.
Archuleta is too young; he can sing, sure, but it all sounds more programmed than felt; he doesn't seem to really understand what he's singing about half the time. (Don't even get me started on the fact that he "wasn't too familiar" with the work of Lennon and McCartney.)
And Cooke? Please. He's a fine front man for your local Fall Out Boy cover band, sure, but a star? He's all faux rasp, phony humility, and screaming. (And yet he's less annoying than David Archuleta. But that's sort of like saying having an anvil dropped on your head is less painful than having a nail driven into your eye.)
So goodbye, sweet Syesha. I'm just as sorry as you are to be left with these two twits. And yet I'll be watching. -- Frank Houston