Syesha Mercado, American Idol: Season 7

Frank Micelotta / FOX

Don't miss one song—or one note of British sarcasm—with our performance-show liveblog:

8:05 p.m.: This should be interesting. If David Cook has a secret yen for singing show tunes in the shower, now isn't the time to worry about his street cred. The estimable Top Six are dipping into the songbook of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the prolific composer of the smash musicals Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Evita, among many, many others.

"This is probably going to be the toughest night of the season," Randy opined.

Interestingly, Webber is no stranger to reality competitions, having previously gone to the dark side for the British reality show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, through which he cast the lead for his West End revival of The Sound of Music.

8:08 p.m.: First up is Syesha Mercado, with "One Rock 'n' Roll Too Many" from Starlight Express. It turns out the jaunty number is just what the nonfront-runner needed to put the spring back in her step and to get her back in Simon's good graces (which, as much as they might deny it, is where everybody wants to be). 

8:18 p.m.: "He kind of understood it—I think." So said Webber of Jason Castro as the wide-eyed 20-year-old prepared to take on "Memory" from Cats, the musical that everyone has seen and yet you've never met anybody who has.

8:20 p.m.: "A little bit of a trainwreck," Randy said. Not really the song for him, eh? You think?

8:23 p.m.: We spy Courteney Cox and daughter Coco in the audience.

8:28 p.m.: Webber sure dug Brooke White, who he says was singing "You Must Love Me" from Evita "as if she meant it."

8:29 p.m.: And then she flubbed the beginning and had to start over. Have you ever seen that happen on this show? (Really, leave your comments.) Even Paula gently chided her, "You must never start and stop."

(Unfortunately, once she got started, White channeled neither Madonna nor Patti LuPone.)

8:33 p.m.: "This is why I love live TV," Simon said, even adding that he probably would have done the same thing. (Of course, he may have only said that to contradict Paula.)

8:40 p.m.: David Archuleta is giving the easy-listening treatment to "Think of Me," the spotlight number that fuels the masked one's obsession at the beginning of The Phantom of the Opera. Let's see what the judges think...

8:44 p.m.: Paula thought it was "absolutely perfect." Simon thinks it was one of his weakest performances, "forgettable" in fact.

Doesn't matter. Only a mass outbreak of amnesia—if even—could make the tweens forget to vote for their not-quite-a-man of the hour.

8:49 p.m.: Webber wouldn't even let Carly Smithson sing more than a few bars of "All I Ask of You" from Phantom before giving her a Jesus complex. Throwing the lass a bone, the maestro determined that "Superstar" from Jesus Christ Superstar would better suit her.

Here she's hot so far...

8:53 p.m.: Even Simon, hanging in there despite all the upbeat music, admitted that Smithson's performance was one of his favorites tonight.

No big surprise on musical theater (or, theatre, considering the source) night: The big voices, bright smiles and pep have risen to the top. Which makes us even more curious to see what David Cook's gonna bring to the table...

8:56 p.m.:
Cook has gone with what Webber calls "probably the sexiest song" he's ever written, "Music of the Night" from Phantom. OK, only heard a few bars, but we're thinking this might actually be what it sounds like when worlds collide...

8:58 p.m.: Actually, it's kinda nice to be reminded that Cook's got more going for him than raspy charm. The dude can really blow.

He "made the most it," Simon offered begrudgingly.

9 p.m.: Well, the Davids are gonna skate, but are there enough Broadway fans out there to give Syesha credit where credit's due? Is Brooke in trouble, or is she going to get sympathy votes? (And yay for Carly when she doesn't sound angry.)

Who do you think ruled the stage tonight?

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