If we thought we were disappointed on Tuesday night with the Top 12 women, then we were down right discouraged last night after the Top 12 Men were done performing. Of the 12, I would say that there was one very good perfomer and maybe a couple of good performers, and even with that, I’m being generous.
The theme of the night was poor song choice. By and large, the performances were lackluster and bland. Off key and pitchy. In some cases, my daughter, my wife and I were sitting there wondering how in the hell these guys made it this far.
At one point, it got so bad that Tara, my oldest daughter, looked behind the couch. Lynn, my wife, asked her what she was doing and Tara said that she was looking for Ashton Kutcher because we had to be getting Punk’d. Yeah, it was that bad.
So, let’s take a look at these guys, from best to worst, and take a guess at which two are going home tonight.
Casey James – Unlike the women last night, there was a clear best performance of the night last night, and it goes to Casey. His version of Bryan Adams’ Heaven was the perfect song choice for his voice (something that several other contestants failed miserably at), and he both in key and on pitch the entire song. By the way, this was hampered by the ridiculous antics of Randy and Kara carrying on while he was singing, and then making very inappropriate comments during his critique. It was the guys first live show in front of millions of people, I had hoped for a little more class from the judges. Ellen gets bonus points for apologizing to him for all of nonsense going on next to her while he was performing.
Andrew Garcia – After Andrew’s amazing version of Paula Abdul’s Straight Up during Hollywood Week, I really thought he was going to come out and slay this week with something special. His rendition of Fall Out Boys’ Sugar, We’re Going Down, was good, but not great. One thing he has going for him is that he has a great tone to his voice. It’s melodic and very easy to listen to. All of the judges were right that his Straight Up performance is going to buy him a lot of mileage.
Michael Lynche – Like Andrew, after his Hollywood round I thought he would come out this week and kick some ass. Sadly, he did not. He sang a breathy, sometimes quiet, passable version of Maroon 5’s This Love. Like Andrew’s performance, it was good, but not as good as we expected. In fact, Kara summed it up well when she said that if the other performances before him were better, they would have been more critical. Or, in other words, he didn’t suck as bad as everyone else.
Lee DeWyze – Lee is another guy with mounds of potential who didn’t deliver all the way. Aside from Casey James, he may actually have the best true, natural voice of all the guys. Last night, he sang Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, and he sang it well enough, just. The tone of his voice was pure and he hit all the notes. The problem was that he lacked the verve and excitement, or maybe it was just the song itself. I’d really like to see him to something a little more upbeat next week and really see what he can do. The tone of his voice reminds me a lot of Adam Duritz from Counting Crows, and that is not a bad thing by any stretch. And I totally disagree with Simon. I think he could totally rock a Bad Company song. He has the perfect voice to give a Paul Rogers song its just due. Although he is right when he says that Lee should take a song that no one expects and make it his own.
OK (in no particular order, since they are all just mediocre, and really, how do you rate mediocre??)
Aaron Kelly – I’m sure that somewhere, somebody thinks that this 16 year old is very good, but since I HATE country music (a theme you will see often in this blog), it won’t be me. Plus, I’m still pissed that he even made it to the Top 12 after committing the cardinal sin of Hollywood Week and forgetting the lyrics, twice, while the much better Thaddeus Johnson was denied the opportunity. All of that now out of my system, Aaron sang Rascal Flatts’ hit, Here Comes Goodbye. For a country song, I suppose it was good. It did make me wonder, however, if this kid can sing anything else besides country. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I don’t expect him to be around long.
Tyler Grady – I really, really liked Tyler in the audition rounds and the Hollywood rounds. I was diggin’ the ‘70’s vibe that he was pushing out, and I loved the fact that he seemed to be channeling Jim Morrison at every turn. However, the judges were right last night. It got old fast. Plus, American Woman by the Guess Who was a lousy song choice. He may be Jim Morrison, but he ain’t Burton Cummings. He’s not even Lenny Kravitz. There’s a reason that the Guess Who had like 72 hits in 3 years, and Tyler Grady’s voice isn’t it. Ellen was absolute genius when she told him that “you’re lacking in charisma. You’re going through the motions (of a 70’s rocker) without being the real thing.” It was her best critique so far.
Joe Munoz – I almost feel bad for this guy. He had virtually zero on screen time during the auditions or Hollywood Week, then he comes on last night and sings a BORING Jason Mraz song, You and I Both. His vocals were fine. He stayed in tune, and it didn’t make me cringe. It was just B-O-R-I-N-G. Last week, when he was named as a Top 24 finalist, I said, “Joe Who?” After last night’s performance, I find myself saying, “Joe Who?”
Jermaine Sellers – I said in last week’s column that Jermaine is not as good as he thinks he is, and he proved it again last night. It’s really just his whole demeanor, and it effects his whole performance. If he took it down a notch and took a small lesson in humility, he may end up being a better performer. Last night, he sang Oleta Adams’ Get Here. It was off-tune and at times, very pitchy. His high notes were screechy and overall, he just wasn’t very good. He has sung better, and if he came off his high horse, would probably do better.
Alex Lambert – Alex sang James Morrison’s It’s a Wonderful World and for the entire song barely moved. He sang it pretty well, in a Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, relaxed-mode way, but he has zero stage presence and he looked scared to death up there. If he doesn’t get over this problem, they are going to eat him alive.
Todrick Hall – First, I have to give Todrick props for originality. He completely remade Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone into something totally different. Now, that being said, I have to rip him for completely remaking Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone into something completely different. It’s one thing to take a song and make it your own. It’s totally another to make it unrecognizable, and that’s what he did. And, to make it worse, it wasn’t even good.
John Park – Like so many others before him (and after him, for that matter), John’s song choice is what killed him, because he has a very good natural talent. His voice is rich and he can hit the low notes as well as some nice high runs. But, last night he sang the usually beautiful God Bless the Child, and it wasn’t beautiful. It was awful. Forget pitchy, he couldn’t find the pitch to save his life. He was up, he was down, he was all over the damn place. At times, I don’t even know if he knew what register he was supposed to be in anymore. We certainly didn’t. It was a confusing mess.
Tim Urban – Tim was a call-back after contestant Chris Golightly was disqualified. After his awful performance last night, Simon stated the obvious when he said that the judges made the right decision the first time around. Ouch! But, he just wasn’t Top 12 material. He sang One Republic’s Apologize, more or less. He couldn’t hit the falsettos and his voice is weak throughout the entire song. This was easily the worst performance of the night.
Like the women, I really hope the men improve next week, or this is going to be one long season.