Seeing as this is a girls’ season on “American Idol,” it was disappointing to tune in Tuesday night and discover that the guys would be performing instead of the ladies, who were scheduled initially. Producers changed the order due to doctor’s orders that Crystal Bowersox not perform due to complications from her diabetes.
I’m sure the guys really loooved performing a day early but they didn’t complain. In fact, they showed improvement over last week.
MICHAEL LYNCHE: “This Is a Man’s World” by James Brown
I’ve always liked Big Mike, and not just because his wife had a baby during Hollywood Week. Lynche has it all — sensitivity, musicality, a really effective circuit training routine … But it wasn’t until last night that he proved he’s got soul. Sure, the novelty of the tough guy serenading us with the likes of Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz was enjoyable enough, but this different side of Big Mike showed us two things: that he’s versatile and that he’s got real star power. Additionally, the black suit just screamed “badass” (or “hitman”). If Randy’s standing ovation is any indication, Lynche may just be the one to beat.
JOHN PARK: “Gravity” by John Mayer
The thing with Park is that he’s got a good voice but I’m not sure he’s picking the right songs. I mean, let’s be honest. Last week’s “God Bless the Child” was better suited for a big fat black lady in a church choir than a hot Korean kid who goes to Northwestern. While “Gravity” was a little more, uh, current, Randy just couldn’t get John Mayer out of his head. (And, come on, John Mayer and all his douchebaggery should be a turn-off for virtually everyone!) Park can sing all the Top 40 songs he wants, but there is still something too formal about his style. He sounds more like a classical or Broadway artist than a pop singer. Perhaps that’s the college a cappella group coming through? If so then they are clearly no comparison to Indiana University’s own “Straight No Chaser.” (Go, Hoosiers!)
CASEY JAMES: “I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw
I love this song; in fact, it was my ringtone a few years back. But James seemed more interested in showing off his mad guitar skills than his vocals this week. Perhaps he should go down to the local bar for Guitar Hero Night. He could probably win some free wings or something. His vocals, however, were not even good enough to win a karaoke contest, much less a free order of nachos. I think he is as cute as can be, but his permagrin seems to be a shield to mask his nervousness. Ellen picked up on this too, calling him “stiff.” The guitar, the hair and the face all say rock star, but the voice isn’t quite there for me yet, dawg.
ALEX LAMBERT: “Everybody Knows” by John Legend
The more I learn about this kid the more I love him! I mean, who makes up their own language? (Only the most adorable 6th grader ever!) I like the fact that he owned up to his nerve problem from last week. That being said, he didn’t fool me this week. Ellen exclaimed that she didn’t know how he overcame his nerves this time around but I know how, Ellen. He hid behind a guitar and sat on a stool! Hey, whatever it takes to make him feel comfortable. Yes, he was a little pitchy this time, but his voice doesn’t have that nervous quiver that some of the other guys have. I like his voice but I love him. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to pull for this kid.
TODRICK HALL: “ What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner
Todrick mentioned that there’s nothing he can’t do because of race. Well, apparently that goes for gender, too, as he keeps picking songs made famous by females. And then he keeps butchering them. As Randy so greatly stated, “A great song doesn’t need a different wild arrangement … Great is great. It just needs someone to sing it greatly.” I think that Todrick is trying to wow the judges the way that David Cook did with his rendition of “Hello” by Lionel Richie or even the way that fellow competitor Andrew Garcia did with “Straight Up.” Somehow, though, it’s just not translating. Hints for next week’s (unlikely) appearance: show off your dance moves and stay away from tunes that remind people of movies chronicling domestic abuse between famous people. Oh, and choose a great song and sing it. Greatly.
JERMAINE SELLERS: “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
The judges were exhausted by all of Jermaine’s vocal tricks and I was just bored. Once again, his cocky antics were more impressive than his actual performance. (Remember during Hollywood Week when he threw the band under the bus?) Yes, the segment where he modeled footie pajamas was cute but his comments about his relationship with God were worthy of an eye roll. “I know God,” he insisted. “I’m a God-fearing person. Without God, I know I would fail.” Way to campaign for the Bible Beater vote, Todrick! Unlike you, God is not exactly on my speed dial. But I “know” him well enough to be confident that he doesn’t give a holy flip about which contestants get voted off this week. (That’s not to say that we don’t care!)
ANDREW GARCIA: “You Give Me Something” by James Morrison
Garcia’s version of “Straight Up” during Hollywood Week seems to be both a blessing and a curse, and the judges said as much. This goes to show again how important song selection and arrangement are, as Garcia’s voice is no better or worse than it has been in weeks past. Because they can’t get that clever Abdul cover out of their heads, the judges seem to be giving Garcia the opposite advice that they’re giving the other contestants. Instead of him “singing a great song greatly” they want the clever arrangements from him. I hope that he comes up with something inspired next week, as he may need to win more than anyone. After all, who’d wanna hire him with that neck tattoo?
AARON KELLY: “My Girl” by The Temptations
I enjoy the country vibe to Kelly’s voice, but he doesn’t really seem to have that country personality. Perhaps he needs a pickup truck or something. (Wait, is he even old enough to drive?) I like the fact that Aaron took a popular song and didn’t change the melody too much; he just added a little more twang. His voice was shaky in spots and I can’t figure out whether it’s nerves, vibrato or the fact that he’s 16. Still, I’d like to hear more from him. He just needs to take Simon’s advice and believe in himself.
TIM URBAN: “Come on Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson
Urban, like Todrick, seems to have a direct line to God as well, seeing as he’s still here. Nothing could be worse than the One Republic “Apologize” song from last week, but this was 100 times better. Do I think Urban will be the next American Idol? Absolutely not. But the fact that he is one of 10 children with two brothers in the military tells me that he’ll get the Mormon vote. Oh, and adding that he prayed before last week’s performance was a nice touch, too. Simon was much kinder to him this week and commended him for his work ethic and ability to listen to and apply the critiques. Still, I think that he should just stick to wearing baseball caps and seducing sorority girls with his guitar. Ellen, on the other hand, thinks he should join the cast of “Glee.”
LEE DEWYZE: “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder
All the judges love Lee! I like him fine and, yes, I could hear his voice on the radio. But he is not, in my opinion, “head and shoulders above the rest,” as Simon claims. I also have a problem with comments like Ellen’s, saying that there were a “couple of pitch problems but it doesn’t matter.” Uh, yes, it does matter, Ellen! It is a singing competition, for Simon’s sake! She’s said similar things about other contestants — that the singing was off but that it didn’t matter because people still like them or would vote for them anyway. Should we vote for Tim Urban, despite his “pitch problems?” I think not.
I think that while Urban probably deserves to go on Thursday, the teenage Mormon vote will save him. Park, Sellers and Hall are all on thin ice.