‘Idol’ in Iraq: Syesha, David Cook & Archuleta Get Carey-ed Away; Carly Not Cutting It

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Editor’s Note: It’s crazy serious and difficult for the US Armed Forces in Iraq, but our soldiers still find time for a little fun and escape: just like many of you, they love their weekly dose of “American Idol.” We made friends on the Internet with some members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne division (Fort Bragg, what up!), who will be sending us their review of each “Idol” installment.

They get “Idol” a day later than we do, and their reports might not arrive until well after the show has aired (because, of course, things like communications blackouts do happen when you’re in the military taking care of URGENT BUSINESS). But you don’t mind because they are helping give you the freedom to watch “Idol” in the first place.

Our soldiers each week (L-R): PFC Joshua Miranda, 22 (Orlando, FL); PFC Nathan Puckett, 19 (Cynthiana, KY); SPC Cory Combs, 21 (Plymouth, MA); and SSG Steve Cody, 27 (Los Angeles, CA)

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Last week’s elimination of Michael Johns from the “Idol” crop stunned our valiant troops, and from the looks of it, Kristy Lee Cook’s ouster Wednesday night will be just as shocking — considering our judges in Iraq felt she’d done a good enough job to stick around for yet another week. And signs in the studio audience, calling for Simon Cowell’s appointment to the nation’s highest office, made them shudder. But they all agree that the contest is coming down to the wire, and it’s getting just too close to call. (Unfortunately, SPC Cory Combs missed this week’s “Idol,” as he was occupied doing “Army stuff.”)

After tackling Mariah Carey’s impressive catalogue, our judges still feel David Cook’s the one to beat, but they haven’t totally discounted David Archuleta — or his pants – from the running. Much like America, and the show’s judges, our troops came away from this week’s “Idol” feeling as though the dudes brought down the house, while the ladies dropped the proverbial ball.

Who did they adore? Who took their breath away? Who fell flat during Mariah week? Find out after the jump.

David Archuleta, “When You Believe”

Nathan: “He did very good…He really hit the long notes and the high falsetto.”
Steve: “Not only did he sound great, but he rocked the leather pants while he did it.”
Joshua: “Another very good performance. One of my favorite songs of all time, and he did an awesome job with it — but I still think he is trailing behind David Cook.”

Carly Smithson, “Without You”

Nathan: “It was just OK. She really didn’t step it up this week.”
Steve: “It wasn’t bad, but at this point in the competition, she really needs to step up or she is going to be watching ‘American Idol’ from home next week.”
Joshua: “She has really been off the past few weeks. I think she has one of the strongest voices, but she really isn’t showing it off.”

Syesha Mercado, “Vanishing”

Nathan: “She did great on this song. She is the best female vocalist in the competition.”
Steve: “I think that Simon is wrong about David Archuleta…Syesha did better than him this week. She was awesome this week.”
Joshua: “I think she showed the best vocals of the night — she really isn’t scared to pick the big songs, and she really does all the songs justice. I think she was the best of the night.”

Brooke White, “Hero”

Nathan: “Not a good performance. She did great on the piano, but really lacked on the vocals.”
Steve: “It wasn’t terrible. With that being said, it was probably the worst performance of the night, and it was boring.”
Joshua: “I normally like when she does stripped-down versions of the songs, but she really didn’t do anything great this week, vocals-wise.”

Kristy Lee Cook, “Forever”

Nathan: “Surprisingly, she did very well with a Mariah song. I was quite impressed.”
Steve: “I agree with Simon completely…Good but not great.”
Joshua: “The past few weeks, she has really been on it, and she is being smart about song choice. I think she saved herself from elimination again this week. I think she is getting used to the underdog position and is really coming to life.”

David Cook, “Always Be My Baby”

Nathan: “I loved the arrangement. This is my favorite Mariah song, and he really did it justice. By far best of the night and [he] is taking the front-runner position from David Archuleta.”
Steve: “I have never been a huge fan of Mariah Carey’s songs, but David Cook made me a huge fan of ‘Always Be My Baby.’”
Joshua: “He did an awesome job. I will definitely be buying a David Cook CD, whether he wins or not. He really shows his own style off every week. I’m really glad he did so great while his brother was in attendance.”

Jason Castro, “I Don’t Wanna Cry”

Nathan: “Hard to follow David Cook on this day, but he did pretty good. I was hoping he would have picked one of her more popular songs and put his style on it. All in all, I really liked what he did with the song.”
Steve: “I always like the relaxing style of his performances.”
Joshua: “It was an OK performance. It didn’t really stick out as anything special to me.”

Only SSG Steve Cody predicted Kristy Lee Cook would be relegated to the bottom three — and he had her getting the third lowest vote count after this week’s performances — with our other commentators pegging Brooke White as the one who’d get the boot. All of our soldiers picked Jason Castro and Carly Smithson to round out the bottom three. Will they have better luck next week calling the cut? Stay tuned to find out.