Last Wednesday night we had the misfortune to witness one of the worst two hours of live American Idol history. Each male performer was worse then the next. We sat on our collective couches and wondered how this group of 12 made it to the Final 24. Was this REALLY the best America had to offer?
This week, with two of the guys voted out last Thursday (Tyler Grady and Joe Munoz), we were down to ten guys to endure. And you know what? Maybe it was the fact that they made it through their opening round, or maybe it was a build-up of confidence, but every one of them was better than last week. It still wasn’t great, but it was better, and that’s a step in the right direction. Ok, one of them was not quite as good as last week, but I’ll get to him in a moment. There is still hope!!
Like last week, we had a best performance of the night, some good performances, and some bad ones. Let’s take a look at them and at the end, I’ll predict who goes home on Thursday. Last week, I was 0-for-4. But, I’m throwing that record out. America voted idiotically. Are you kidding me???? They kept Tim Urban and voted out Tyler Grady?? Grady wasn’t great, but Tim Urban cannot sing, and he showed that again last night. They voted out Janelle Wheeler and kept Haely Vaughn?? Haely Vaughn?? Why is she even in this competition?? (More on this tomorrow) I hope she doesn’t turn into this season’s Sanjaya. That would be tragic. A lot of very good people were voted out that season before the voters came to their senses.
Michael Lynche – Big Mike more than redeemed himself last night and showed us that he can sing some R&B. He opened up the show with a marked improvement over last week and set the bar high. He gave a beautiful performance of James Brown’s It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World that really proved that he knows exactly who he is. It really was a perfect song choice to start the night. Kara tells him that he went “From being a singer to someone who could potentially be a great artist.”
Casey James – Last week, Golden Boy Casey was the best performer in a very weak bunch. It wasn’t hard, but he was heads and shoulders above the rest of the fray. This week, he was still good, but not nearly as good as last week. He broke out his electric guitar and played some mad licks during Gavin DeGraw’s I Don’t Want To Be. At times, it seemed a little indulgent and I was sure Simon was going to nail him on it, but he seemed to dig it. He did hit him for “Trying to be a rock star…but lacking the grit in your voice.” Overall, it was a pretty good performance, but he was pitchy in some places and seemed to lose where he was going on occasion. No worries, he’s still one of the best in the competition.
Lee DeWyze – Lee continues to be relevant picking up from last week’s performance of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars with a performance this week of Hinder’s Lips of an Angel. And again, he did a good job with it. Kara hit it right on the head when she said that she could hear him on the radio now. He does have that sound quality to his voice. It’s that specific tone that’s popular in today’s market. He does, however, need to work on his pitch problems. They were present both last week and again last night, particularly during the chorus. If he can get that under control, there may be no stopping this guy. After two weeks in a row with the same music, I’d like to hear him do something a little different.
OK (In no particular order)
Andrew Garcia – Still getting plenty of mileage off of his Hollywood Week performance of Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, Andrew sang a somewhat lackluster version of James Morrison’s You Give Me Something. It may have just been the song, and if it was, I’m starting to think I don’t like Morrison, but at times Andrew seemed very distracted. He had trouble staying in tune and his pitch was all over the place. Since Hollywood Week, he has steadily declined. He better pick it up. His meter is running out.
Alex Lambert – I’m not sure what it is about this kid that I don’t like. He has a decent enough voice, and he most definitely improved over last week. I think it might be that like Haely Vaughn on the girls’ side, he just isn’t ready for this stage and they pushed him through anyway for reasons known only to them. Despite Ellen’s assertion that he’s like a banana in a paper bag, now suddenly ripened, this kid still is no where near ready. Last night, Alex sang John Legend’s Everybody Knows, and he did an OK job with it. It was a little slow, and a little quiet, but it wasn’t awful.
Todrick Hall – Last week, Todrick destroyed Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone. This week, he took a stab at Tina Turner’s classic, What’s Love Got to Do with It? Like last week, he made the song his own. Unlike last week, he didn’t completely change the arrangement to the point of unrecognizability (I may have just made that word up). However, it still wasn’t good. It was slow and plodding and I thought it would never end. The one bright spot, besides when he stopped, was the chorus. Randy spoke for us all when he asked him to just sing a song, for once. That would be a nice change of pace and we might be able to see what Mr. Hall can actually do without all the affectations.
Aaron Kelly – I think no matter what this kid sings, it’s going to sound country. He can’t help it. It’s just who he is. I’d like to test that theory and hear him rock some Daughtry or I’d even take some Justin Timberlake, just to see what else he could do. But, I fear that all we’re going to get is country. He showed us that last night, again, when he sang the Temptations’ classic, My Girl. Vocally, it was pretty good, don’t get me wrong. It just had that country thing going that young Mr. Kelly just cannot move away from. It’s not his fault. It’s just who he is.
BAD (And, I do mean, Bad.)
For the second week in a row:
John Park – He was good during the auditions, and even pretty good in Hollywood Week. But last week he took a beautiful song, God Bless the Child, and destroyed it. This week, he chose this week’s media’s punching bag John Mayer’s song Gravity and did absolutely nothing with it. It was boring and it was flat. Normally, it’s a pretty good song, but John made it sound like something painful. Yeah, I’m still a little mad at him for last week.
Jermaine Sellers – Yo, Jermaine, What’s goin’ on??? Remember that short list I talked about last week? The one that Idol producers should ban forever that includes Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Ann Wilson (Heart)? Yeah, let’s just go ahead and add Marvin Gaye to that list. There is no one on Idol good enough to be singing Marvin Gaye that can give it the richness that it deserves, that can make it sound anywhere near what it needs to sound like. They will always fall short. And that is the problem that plagued Jermaine last night while he gamely attempted to sing What’s Goin’ On. Plus, as I’ve said before, Jermaine is just not as good as he thinks he is.
Tim Urban – I’m not even sure why this guy is still here. His voice is not strong enough to carry many of the theme nights that they’re going to have. It wasn’t strong enough last week to go into the upper registers of One Republic’s Apologize. This week, he was at least smart enough to stay out of those upper registers during Matt Nathanson’s Come On Get Higher, but his voice was still not very strong. Ellen certainly noticed. She asked him if he could act because she pointed out that he can’t sing very well. Oh, that was cold, and from Ellen, no less. Simon, of all people, complimented him on his tremendous improvement from last week (he failed to mention that there was no where to go but up) and his work ethic. This was the Twilight Zone portion of the show.
Overall, there was certainly improvement over last week, and I really hope it continues tonight with the women.
NOTE: By the way, there was controversial flip of the nights. Due to an emergency hospitalization of Crystal Bowersox, the men went on Tuesday night and the women will go on Wednesday night. There are many fans bellyaching that in the past, contestants have been forced to perform regardless of illness.
Last season, Megan Joy was forced to perform with the flu, and in Season 5, several of the male contestants were forced to perform while sick, without given the opportunity to change evenings. However, none of them were forced to spend the night in the hospital. There is no word at this time as to whether Crystal will be out in time for Wednesday’s live show.