(Sorry this is so long - it was a strange show last night, and like you guys have said, other than the top 2-3, it's hard to pick the order. L is teaching a class right now, so she will post her thoughts in a little while.)
I have to say this, especially this week: For best 2nd/3rd analysis of the Idol performances, I suggest listening to the sound through high-fidelity speakers, and take YouTube with a grain of salt - the digital compression algorithm YouTube uses distorts the sound terribly. You might not catch how TERRIBLE Brooke sounded in the 2nd half of her song, for instance.
Also, I am by no means a Mariah fan, though anyone would have to admit she really could really, really sing, back in the day. Now, I imagine there are some "fresher" singers out there (Kelly C?) who could blow her off the stage.
Let's all have a drink from Paula's cup, AND:
David Cook - he's at the top for me because he does what no one else seems willing to do - try something different. There's a lot of bitching on the internet that Cookie "steals" his arrangements - which I say is bullshit. Not that he doesn't lift inspiration from various sources, but who else on Idol is subject to this kind of scrutiny? Do any of the others catch hell for adbdicating the arranging to Ricky, or just going with the same, tired version as the originals? I say, give Cookie props for making the songs sound like something a modern listener would respond to.
David A - maybe the best he's sounded since the Top 12. His voice was strong, he put on a confident show - the only reason he wasn't # 1 was he gave us exactly what we expected. It was very good, a "wow" on the singing, not a "wow" on the star power. Maybe I'm just getting tired of the whole "Up With People" vibe to his performances every week.
Jason C. - the Idol download king, and heir apparent to the Jack Johnson stoner-hippie singer-songwriter empire. Jason did a great job, I would download it off iTunes, but did it really sound any different than last week, or the week before that? (See 1 & 2 above.) Still, love this kid.
Then, after a several-story drop, the ladies.
Syesha - come on, she didn't try to blow out a lung (see Carly), she didn't take us into Bizarro land (see Kristy), and she delivered it with confidence (see Brooke). Still, it was blah. After the cardinal mistake on the Whitney song, and then another on "I Believe", she again commits an Idol faux pas: singing a forgettable song. She knew she was in trouble, going into this week, because did you notice she was working the cleavage? Still, you have to give her cred for taking the $ Idol doles out for clothing and making it seem like more.
Carly - tough week. She looked great, the first part of her song was surprisingly tender - and then she tried to blow the roof off the studio. Not that she doesn't have power - but as Spiderman says, "with great power comes great responsibility". She has to learn to apply the power with a deft touch. She cranked up to 11, however, and kept it there, even through the completely gratuitous end note. We may see another shocker exit a la MJ last week - and her #7 tattoo on her finger might turn out to be prophetic.
Brooke - the only reason I didn't place her at the bottom was the beautiful 1st half of her song. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much from her: I am coming to expect less from Brooke every week, I know, them's fightin' words. But Brooke out-Jasons Jason in the week-in, week-out clone of her last performance. But this week, I was amazed to find myself drawn in - until after the bridge, not quite when Randy said, but close. Listen to it again: at approximately the mid-point, Brooke either misses a pedal-push or gets caught up in the chord change, but she VISIBLY and AUDIBLY freezes up. L & I were cringing. The entire rest of the song was flat, too fast, and warbly. Her last note, and the tearful look in her left eye, were almost like a surrender, not a glory finish. I don't think she's gone, but she'll be sweating it out in the B3.
Kristy - the Kountry twang was just weird, and it made the song seem twice as long to me. You can't say she wasn't confident, and she didn't really sing badly, it was just odd. Maybe you guys aren't aware of this, but she's the voting pick for a certain subversive Idol group, however - VFTW - so she has made it further than perhaps she should. We are heading into the second half of the 12, and blondes Kristy and Brooke might start looking alike to middle America, so she may soon be in trouble, as well.
America's B3: Syesha, Carly, Brooke - Man, it's competely a toss-up, but I'd say Brooke goes home, if only because Syesha is the last African American left, and the producers might want to keep her in.