David Cook, David Archuleta, American Idol

Frank Micelotta / FOX

8:02 p.m.: Tonight the American Idol aspirants are singing Mariah Carey tunes, so—good news for Syesha Mercado—no one can be faulted this week for choosing a song that's already been impeccably belted out by an artist with far more polished pipes. (And Mariah seems very sweet, by the way.)

8:07 p.m.: OK, it's not as weird as we thought it would be hearing the male contestants croon Mariah. Of course, this is David Archuleta, who has already shown his affinity for the feel-good ballad many times...and may still not have hit puberty.

Simon Cowell even said, following the 17-year-old's rendition of "When You Believe," that he would have bet $1 million on Archuleta choosing that song. He also thinks the guys are going to have an easier time of it tonight than the ladies because they aren't actually expected to sound like Carey.

8:16 p.m.: Carly Smithson can't live if living is "Without You." We believe her. (Especially now that she's wearing long sleeves.)

8:26 p.m.: Unfortunately for Syesha, "Vanishing" could be the name of the game for her. Paula and Simon were (what do you know) at odds, with Paula thinking it was smart of the big-voiced singer to pick a tune not too many people know, while Simon thought the decision...well, wasn't so smart.

Here's hoping that this "unbelievably magical night" does more for Syesha than make her disappear.

8:34 p.m.: Brooke White missed her sister's wedding Saturday, a casualty of being immersed in Idoldom. Instead, she apparently spent time rehearsing things to say in order to prove that nothing the judges say can surprise her.

Although "Hero" sounded surprisingly good as a stripped-down piano ballad, Randy said she kinda lost it when she reached the bridge.

"It's out there for me, I totally admit that!" White announced, looking to head Simon off at the pass.

To no avail, however. Simon compared listening to her performance to ordering a hamburger and getting a bun without the meat.

8:47 p.m.: Kristy Lee Cook can't believe she gave Mariah Carey goosebumps with her country-western version of "Forever." We can't, either.

8:50 p.m.: "Always Be My Baby" never sounded so believable. Here's to David Cook, who may have turned in the most authentic performance in Idol history, fashioning the bubblegum hit from 1996 into a real, live rock song.

Paula said it was good enough to be on a movie soundtrack. Guess what? It was even better than that.

And the star-making performance came on just the right night, with Cook's brother Adam, who's battling brain cancer, in the audience for the first time.

8:57p.m.: Ryan Seacrest just tore an audience member's "Simon for President" sign in half. This is getting serious.

8:59 p.m.: "I Don't Wanna Cry" after watching Jason Castro's performance, but I also don't want to jump for joy and vote a million times like I did after hearing his ukulele-assisted "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" last week.

9:03 p.m.: And the verdict, according to Simon: "The guys completely won the night."
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