Well, we’re down to the top 10 guys and top 10 girls and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it only gets harder from here. Sure, it was relatively easy to say goodbye to Tyler Grady and Joe Munoz because we didn’t know them. Now that we’re getting to know the Idoloonies, it’s gonna get significantly tougher. The good news is, though, that we hopefully have at least one more week of relatively painless cuts before the true surgery must begin.
Boy, we sure had some good song choices tonight, right? I mean John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson? Super awesome. All the components of a super fast engine capable of Nascar-like speed and agility…but somehow the parts capable of greatness were put together in a haphazard way that only managed to sputter along. Maybe most of the contestants were feeling as gray as Kara’s skin last night. Then again, maybe not.
Michael Lynche – “This is a Man’s World” by James Brown
Big Mike was looking rather dapper tonight, wasn’t he? And he was so sweet to offer us Gleeks something until the show returns in April – our Mr. Michael Lynche was a football player that also juggles a love of musical theater. The on stage footage was priceless as was the vocal performance he offered up tonight. As much as it pains me to admit it, I think Mikey-Mike might be more than just the guy cast as the “everyman”. It might be controversial, but I think he had the best vocal of the night. It was tight, it was in key and it was entertaining. That’s more than you can say for some of these yahoos.
John Park – “Gravity” by John Mayer
Oh, John. I was totally rooting for you and when I heard you picked this song, I was all ready to watch you redeem yourself from last week’s performance. But aside from not delivering a stellar vocal performance, you ALSO didn’t convey the emotion of the song. Like, AT ALL. You need a “spark infusion”. Sounds painful, but pain is gain, right? Alas, I think instead of building yourself a nice little wooden ladder of success, you’ve instead constructed a coffin…and you’ve put about a dozen nails in it. While I think you’re a likeable guy, I don’t think you’ll be around at this time next week.
Top 12 Potential: 3 out of 10
Casey James – “I Don’t Wanna Be” by Gavin DeGraw
Dear, dear Sully. As happy as I was to see the sexual harassment suit waiting to happen come to a semi-close, I don’t think he delivered this week. His vibrato weirded me out and the phrasing of the song left me in a sea of chopiliciousness. (And while that may sound good, it most definitely isn’t.) I wonder if he’s ever played baseball or basketball or football, or any sport where a ball is involved. If so, he should know the meaning of the phrase”follow through” and I have my doubts about that after tonight’s performance. I’ll say this for the guy, though, he knows how to wield an axe. The dude ROCKED on the electric guitar…and he had some mad skills, too. And also? I think I’ll know what he’ll be eating tomorrow for breakfast–a nice serving of southern grits.
Alex Lambert – “Everybody Knows” by John Legend
I’ll admit it. I’m not scared. I’m not ashamed…I’m shallow. I enjoyed this performance a lot more when I had my eyes closed. I’m sorry, but a mullet is not an appropriate use of hair. And to be PROUD of a mullet shows a lot about someone’s character. And why is it that he always looks like he’s been in a bar fight? All the externals aside, though, this guy really impressed me. I thought he sang the song brilliantly, I loved his guitar playing and the tone of his voice. I didn’t get it last week – I totally and completely thought that he deserved to go home. But now, I’m a fan. For reals.
Top 12 potential: 7 out of 10
Todrick Hall – “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner
Todrick took the stage tonight prepared to harness his inner Tina. And while his notes didn’t fly as high as Tina’s hair back in the day, all he really had to do was step on the stage and not sing a single note to improve over last week’s train wreck. For what it’s worth, I do think that he’s on the right path. His strategy is sound…take a song, work out a cool arrangement, wow the judges. And one and a half out of three ain’t bad, right? Right? Here’s my deal with Todrick – he’s got a good voice, and I want him to crack the top 12, but he tries to stylize WAY too much. It’s like if I was driving and started to nod off at the wheel and veered to the side of the road where the “correction grates” are to wake me up and then I decided to sing a Tina Turner song. It gets a little out of control and makes the entire song a mixed bag. The bridge and ending were strong. The rest? Not so much.
Top 12 potential: 6 out of 10
Jermaine Sellers – “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
Sigh. Jermaine, Jermaine. Why are you such a ghetto diva? Seriously. It puts me off. I do have to disagree with the judges tonight, though. I thought Jermaine relaxed and sang a smooth and sophisticated great vocal. Even if I can’t get behind his faux faux hawk which generally resembled a knot on the head that Tom might give Jerry (you know, the kind where it grows to the size of a large carrot and birds circle around it?), and I can’t get behind his way-too-outspoken personality, I can at least give praise where praise is due. I do wonder how much of Jermaine America can handle. I, for one, will not be able to take too much at this rate. I would, however, DVR a show chronicling Simon and Jermaine’s adventures at church.
Top 12 potential: 3 out of 10
Andrew Garcia – “You Get Me Singing” by James Morrison
I’m not going to go so far as to say I’ve jumped ship on Team Andrew, because he is definitely one of my favorite guys. What I WILL say is that I’m putting on a life vest. I think Andrew will be around after tomorrow’s vote, but I’m going to need a little something extra from him to stay on board and rent shuffleboard equipment. His voice is cool, though. It’s hip. It’s jive. And when it shines, it really shines. Let’s see some more of that, k?
Top 12 potential: 9 out of 10
Aaron Kelly – “My Girl” by The Temptations
Aaron revealed to us tonight that he likes Burger King photography – you know, photography his way. I can appreciate that Aaron is a genuine and humble guy who is just trying to make it through the thick jungles of American Idol and come out the other end with the machete still in hand and without any tropical diseases. I get it. And, I think of all the advice the judges can give “be more confident” is probably the hardest to implement. Think about it – if you know you need to be more confident, you’re probably analyzing everything and forcing movements that aren’t super natural to show that you are “confident”, which really means that you’re NOT confident, but you’re really trying to pull it off anyway. I think that’s the tree Aaron shimmied up tonight. I didn’t like his song or his performance and I don’t anticipate this changing anytime soon. Maybe Archie can come back to the show and mentor the poor boy. Until then, I’d rather not endure any more. Unfortunately, tween girls across the US may disagree with me. And have you ever tried to win a war of words with a pre-teen? It’s not an easy feat.
Top 12 potential: 4 out of 10
Tim Urban – “Come On Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson
Of all the things Tim has going for him (his hair, his sense of humor, and did I mention his hair?), I don’t think musical prowess is one of them. The song was honestly awful and made me cringe noticeably in several spots. I’m not lying to you. If Tim’s followers (girls looking for the next best thing to High School Musical) manage to keep him here another week, he should heed my advice: try an up tempo song where you don’t have to manufacture energy from thin air. Throughout tonight’s performance, Tim danced on the edge of the pitch and didn’t always come out without abrasions. Maybe he should leave the dancing to Todrick. Or Big Mike. Ahem. Bless his heart.
Lee Dewyse – “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder
Okay, Lee has the whole tough-guy-vulnerable thing going for him. He also happens to have a wicked cool voice is possibly worthy of usurping Andrew’s number one spot on my top 3 list. I really think all he needs to do is lay back into the notes and not push so hard to be more rock than he is and he’ll be golden. I hope to see this guy for many weeks to come. And I’m not just saying that because I think he’s cute. I’m not. Really.
Top 12 potential: 7 out of 10
Best Intro Video: Casey James
After waxing long and not so eloquently about why he decided to perform the song he did even though past Idol greats had already been there, done that, Ryan cued the intro video. Casey highlighted the fact that he doesn’t have a television OVER the fact that when he was a kid his HOUSE WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTENING. Seriously. Seriously? And what is young Casey doing with his time while he’s not watching Lost or 24? Well, he’s remodeling a house. His house in fact. That’s right. In addition to owning his own house, he also is handy.
I could be wrong about this next observation, but I don’t ever remember the American Idol intro videos showing subtitles from the producer asking the questions in the past. And what follows is a rather hilarious depiction of Casey trying to keep his pre-show ritual a secret so that the other contestants can’t steal it because “a lot of these people are better than I am…I need every advantage I can get”. All we know about said ritual is that it involves a medium size cardboard box. I beg you, America. Please put Casey through to the top 10 so we can figure out what was in that blasted box!
Honorable Mention: Alex Lambert
Point number one in Alex’s favor: he was a football player. This fact alone ALMOST made up for the mullet and horrid choice of clothing (Jackets that look like Al’s flannel shirts should stay on the set of Home Improvement, Alex). Almost. What I can appreciate about his video is his honesty…after sharing a random story about how he made up his own language that sounds suspiciously like Spanish, he ‘fesses up to being a nervous wreck because he’s not used to performing and follows that statement by admitting that he just wanted America to like him and so he was trying too hard. Part of me responded to this by thinking “Dude. Did you not know that American Idol is a show where you perform on a stage in front of MILLIONS of PEOPLE each week?” But the majority of me responded to his authenticity and so I’ve put Alex squarely in the put-him-in-your-pocket and root-for-the-underdog column of my notes. Luckily he pulled through with a great performance that made me like him even more. Now if only we can negotiate the mullet.
Worst Intro Video: Jermaine Sellers
This is what I wrote down in my notes: “Onesie. No.” And that pretty much sums up how I feel about Jermaine’s grow-up footsie pajamas. Sure, I know sometimes it can get rather cold, but doesn’t he know that the acceptable form of full-length warmth is the Snuggie? If that was the only thing in this video, I think I could have moved past it and blocked it from my memory. But no, Jermaine goes on to show his personality and comes across as arrogant and a little bit immature. He redeems himself somewhat by admitting that all the contestants are “artists but aren’t Picassos yet” and that the judges “know what they’re talkin’ ’bout”. All the same, I’m not diggin’ Jermaine. And I’m also violently opposed to his onesie.
If I had my druthers, I’d see John Park and Tim Urban go home this week. However, I think Mr. Hair may skate by another week, and so I’ll also throw Jermaine into the mix.