Last night on American Idol, the Top 12 male contestants took the stage in front of a live audience for the first time. And as host Ryan Seacrest announced “This Is Your American Idol”, Season 10 officially got underway. We finally got a chance to see how our new judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, would react to full performances, and how Randy Jackson would react to being the anchor of the group.
Karaoke manager Clint Jun Gamboa kicked the night off with Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. He started off a little flat, but made a quick recovery. By mid song he was bringing it and showing us why he was in the top 12. His high notes were right on target, and his upper register was near perfect. He’s got to lose those ridiculous glasses. They are distracting as hell.
Jovany Barreto wowed us (and J Lo) in the auditions, singing a beautiful Spanish song. But his rendition of Ed McCain’s I’ll Be was just not quite as good. He was solid when he hit his run in the middle, but the rest of it was pretty pedestrian. That being said, he’s still definitely a fan favorite, and J-Lo liked him too. He’s a not going anywhere yet.
Jordon Dorsey was out of breath and seemingly all over the place during Usher’s OMG. He sounded much better in the New Orleans auditions singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. This was just not a good song choice for him, or anybody else, for that matter.
Tim Halperin came out and sang a somewhat subdued version of Rob Thomas’s StreetCorner Symphony (Come on Over). It was good, but it could have been a lot better if he put a little more behind it and maybe sped it up a little. Overall, not awful. Frankly, I was expecting a lot more from Tim after his very good performance during last week’s Hollywood Audition when he sang a duet of Something with Julie Zorilla (who we’ll see tonight).
Brett Lowenstein showed us his strange, but inspired version of the Doors Light My Fire. He started out very pitchy and off key, but actually finished pretty strong. Nonetheless, he was way, way out of league with this song. Long wavy hair and crazy head shakes does not a singer make, but thanks for playing.
James Durbin, or Adam Lambert Light, introduced Judas Priest to the American Idol stage with You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’. And he rocked it. I have to admit that I was concerned that he’d be doing the “Lambert Screech” at every opportunity, but he really contained himself and screeched when the song called for it. Rob Halford would be proud. He finally managed to provide some reasonable competition to Casey Abrams, who until now has been the odds-on favorite.
Robbie Rosen sang a pretty fair version of Sarah McLaughlin’s Angel. He was pitchy and it really wasn’t a great song for him. As J Lo said, all the notes weren’t perfectly perfect. Not bad vocal control, but overall, pretty freakin’ boring and easily forgettable.
Surprise! Scottie McReary sang a country song. Letters from Home, by John Michael Montgomery. For a country song, it was pretty good. It was in tune and in key. I just don’t dig country music. The question is, if he goes forward from here, can he sing anything else????
Stefano Langone did an OK job with Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are. It was very pitchy and his higher runs were way off. Coming back into his low register he fell off key. He’s not going to make it that way. It was a good song that would have been better if it was handled by someone with a stronger voice.
Paul McDonald grooved us with a nice version of Rod Stewart’s Maggie May. The unique tone in Paul’s voice is going to carry him far in this competition. It’s something that no one else has. His jerky movements on stage are a little off-putting, however. I think he thinks it’s swagger. I think he looks like a drunk looking for a place to sit.
Jacob Lusk oversang A House is Not a Home, by Luther Vandross. J Lo compared him to Luther Vandross and I think that’s a mighty strong compliment, and I’m not sure it’s warranted. Not yet, anyway. He’s very good, no doubt, with incredible vocal range, but Luther Vandross?? Really??? Steven Tyler told him that it was divine intervention that brought him here. Um, ok. That might be pouring it on a little thick. What’s he going to say if the crazy, fickle American audience sends him packing, keeping in mind that a large majority of the voting audience is 12-14 year old girls? The devil made them do it???
Casey Abrams stayed right in his wheelhouse and sang Screaming Jay Hawkins’ Put a Spell on You, and he continued to make American Idol 10 the Casey Abrams Show. Once again, Casey owned the stage. He was every bit every part of that song, and it was every part of him. He hit the blues notes right where they had to be hit for the right effects. Make no mistake, he knows exactly what he’s doing up there.
OK, so now we’ve seen the new judges sit through one night of somewhat live performances. My first thought is, they need to toughen up, a lot. There has to be SOME critiquing and less hand-holding and glad-handing. I get it: They don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They want to nurture their young, blessed hearts and not kill their dreams. I’m good with that. I really am. But can we have some constructive criticism and not pretend that everyone is going to go home with a trophy at the end. People are going to get voted off. Feelings are going to be hurt. They have to know what they are doing wrong. Also, can we cut down on the hyperbole a little. They are not all Freddie Mercury, Luther Vandross, Steven Tyler, Marvin Gaye, etc… some are just not that good. Get used to the idea.
Top 5 Moving On: (results show Thurs Night):
CASEY ABRAMS, JAMES DURBIN, TIM HALPERIN, PAUL McDONALD, JACOB LUSK
JUDGES WILDCARD: JOVANY BARRETO (J-Lo seems to love him)