Even with the singers performing Broadway power ballads by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tuesday's show stopper was an awful moment of dead silence.
Brooke White's selection was "You Must Love Me," sung by Madonna in the movie Evita. But she made it no further than the first nine words when she fumbled the lyrics and blanked. Brooke asked the band to start over, then sang the song through, but the result was so painfully tense -- at every pause you wondered if she'd break off again -- that judge Paula Abdul looked positively funereal. She solemnly told Brooke: "You must never start and stop."
With so much at stake, this was possibly the dramatic highpoint of the season so far.
Brooke's slip-up easily eclipsed the other misfire of the night: Jason Castro singing "Memory" from Cats. Jason said he hadn't known the song was supposed to be sung by a cat -- Dude, there's a reason it's not called Hamsters -- and he was sweetly but completely in over his head. Randy Jackson's assessment: "A little bit of a train wreck."
David Archuleta sang a tender, earnest "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera, wowing Paula and Randy but underwhelming Simon Cowell, who found it merely pleasant. (One plus: Lloyd Webber instructed him to keep his eyes open when singing -- but he should stop licking his lips, too.) David Cook also chose a ballad from Phantom, "Music of the Night," hitting all the tricky notes effortlessly but pronouncing the lyrics with phony-sounding stage-diction. Still, the judges were impressed.
Overall, the panel seemed happiest with Syesha Mercado's "One Rock 'n' Roll Too Many," which was sassy -- and "very sexy," according to Simon -- and Carly Smithon's "Jesus Christ Superstar," which was volcanically loud and a lot of fun. --Tom Gliatto
Tell us: Who was your favorite of the night? Will Brooke be safe?FOX