American Idol Season 7: Top 4 (David Archuleta, David Cook, Jason Castro, Sayesha Mercado)

Michael Becker / FOX

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

Love 'em or hate 'em, this is your season-seven top four, and tonight the lucky ducks will dip into the 500-strong list of songs designated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the tunes that shaped the face of rock 'n' roll as we know it today.

David Archuleta and his Top 40 proclivities, Jason Castro and his indie-rock friendly vibe, David Cook with his KROQ-ready rasp and Syesha Mercado and her Mariah-Whitney-Broadway aspirations have one heck of a songbook to choose from. But the finalists also have to contend with the fact that millions of viewers will know exactly how each of these beloved songs is supposed to sound, and each one is going to have to do something vocally special to distinguish him or herself from the pack.

Then again, this is American Idol. So, getting Simon's seal of approval, picking a culturally vital song or being David Archuleta helps, too.

8:04 p.m.: David C. starts things off with Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." (This week, perhaps to avoid one of those embarrassing "live TV" moments, the judges will comment after each song rather than waiting until the contestants have sung twice. OK, Paula, no excuses...)

8:07 p.m.: Not a "mad, hot vocal" by Randy's standards just yet, and a bit "copycat" as far as Simon is concerned, but a solid start nonetheless. True, that was an actual rock song, so David C. didn't have to do anything to it to suit his style. We recommend he slow it down for his second go-round. Why? Because we can.

8:13 p.m.: Syesha takes the "roll" part seriously and takes on the iconic "Proud Mary," Ike & Tina Turner's most famous—and most copied/parodied—number. Hasn't everyone done the "Proud Mary" dance in front of the mirror at least once?

8:16 p.m.: What a surprise: "Hot." "Hot." "Bad Tina Turner impression." Guess which judge said what?

8:22 p.m.: And Jason's hair makes sense at last! The controversial top-four finisher (he's had some great nights but none of them in the past few weeks) finally looks comfortable again, this time tearing into Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff."

8:26 p.m.: "Tear" being the operative word. The judges hate it. Not in so many words, of course. Simon just compares it to a "first-round audition massacre."

8:27 p.m.: David A. has once again found a song that's just so...him. Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" is just so...him. And, finally, as he did with "Imagine" way back when, the baby-faced 17-year-old has added that certain je ne sais quoi, and it rocks.

8:29 p.m.: And, just like when he first started out, the kid still manages to look surprised and so, so thankful that the judges love it.

8:31 p.m.: "Best performance so far," Simon says, although he also noted that David A. could have whistled a tune and sounded better than Jason. Ouch.

8:36 p.m.: We're really digging tonight so far, bad impressions and all.

8:37 p.m.: David C. has done himself a good turn by picking the Who's "Baba O'Riley"—both a slower (see?) and more intense tune that lets him put his own stamp on things and dig in with some emotion.

8:39 p.m.: As Randy says, that's the David C. we've grown to love. "Welcome back, David Cook," Simon adds.

8:45 p.m.: Syesha, who keeps landing in the bottom two despite a string of really nice performances, must be hoping "A Change Is Gonna Come" as she belts the soulful Sam Cooke tune.

8:48 p.m.: Randy doesn't like it, but Paula stands up and applauds, sending the tears streaming down Syesha's face. Now, are those happy tears?

"I think Randy, with all due respect, got that completely wrong," Simon says. Happy tears it is! "Randy, you made her cry," the Brit says reproachfully.

8:50 p.m.: Jason made our hearts skip a beat by saying he was sticking with the Bobs tonight, but he meant Bob Dylan this time around. That's better.

8:51 p.m.: Not! Just when he was totally redeeming himself, Jason forgets some of the lyrics to "Mr. Tambourine Man." Oh, dear.

8:53 p.m.: "It's at this point in the competition that you've solidified your niche," Paula says. (Calcified is more like it.) "Jason, I'd pack your suitcase," Simon advises.

8:57 p.m.: And David A. closes things out with Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender," a test of whether the youngster can actually make a romantic connection with all those peeps of every persuasion who adore him.

Is it weird to prefer this version to the King's (admittedly, it's not one of our favorite Elvis tunes)?

9:00 p.m.: "You didn't beat the competition tonight," Simon says. "You crushed the competition."

Well, who would've thought David A. would be the prince of rock 'n' roll tonight? Did David C. do justice to his rocker roots? Was Syesha good enough to get either the highest—or at the very least, the second-highest—number of votes? Did those performances make you think Jason wants to go home? Let us know what you think.

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