American Idol: the mediocre rise to the top

Last night on “American Idol,” the guys had to take their turn because Crystal Bowersox of the ladies’ contingent had to spend the night in the hospital with an undisclosed illness. The girls will sing tonight, and hopefully Crystal is feeling better and will be back on stage. As for the guys, though, it was another bland night, and they proved once again that the judges did an absolutely lousy job of picking the semi-finalists this year. A few of the guys improved from last week, and those that did looked very good based on the bar being set extremely low. Here is our take on the performances….

THE PRETTY GOOD

Michael Lynche kicked things off and instead of playing jangly white boy stuff, he took on James Browns’ “This is a Man’s World.” No doubt, Michael is the only guy who could pull this song off, but for some reason I found myself a bit bored. I’m not sure if it was the song, which had long pauses in it, or Mike’s interpretation of it. The judges loved it, though, and it was surely better than his Maroon 5 cover last week. Randy gave Michael a standing ovation (really, Randy?)…Ellen liked the song choice and said Michael established himself early as the one to beat (really Ellen?)…..Kara said she did not “get” Michael until last night…and Simon said it was a huge difference this week–a good song choice, not dated, and his best performance so far. Okay…he was good but not that good.

Alex Lambert, for my money, has the best voice among the guys. But he’s far from a seasoned performer, and has terrible stage fright that he just has to get over. Last night he took on John Legend’s “Everybody Knows,” and he looked much more comfortable up there. However, his vocal performance this week wasn’t as good as last week’s James Morrison tune. Oh, and Alex freaked us all out by mentioning that he has made up his own language. Yikes, that is really weird. Anyway, Randy said it was a big improvement and not at all a “soundalike”….Ellen made another banana reference, saying it was like Alex put the banana in a paper bag to ripen it faster, likening that to his performance. Okay, whatever. Ellen added that he has a great voice under that mullet. Ha…and Ellen gets line of the night for that….Kara said that Alex has a very recordable voice and that many are probably rooting for him….and Simon said it was a million times better than last week, but that Alex needs to not be so nervous, and he needs to have a killer instinct to keep moving on in the competition. Agree completely.

Aaron Kelly gets on my nerves and I’m not quite sure why. But last night he did a much better job singing, with about as good a take on “My Girl” as a 16 year old boy can deliver. Randy said the first half of the song was brilliant but the second half not as good, but that overall it was 200% better than last week. Um, not quite, but okay….Ellen said Aaron looked much more comfortable up there and did a lot with the song…Kara agreed with Randy and Ellen…and Simon disagreed, saying it was “all over the place” and that Aaron is going backwards. I’m not sure I agree with that, but last week Simon praised the kid and I didn’t think he was all that.

Side note–how annoying is Ryan Seacrest and that banter after the judges make their comments? It’s starting to make me cringe. Dude, let the judges judge and don’t harp on it! If the show is too long, cut out 30 minutes of it!

Lee Dewyze closed the night, with Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel.” The song was right in Lee’s wheelhouse, as he has the perfect voice for what passes as album rock right now. Still, he didn’t do the best job with the song. He was better than several others last night, but really, this guy, a star? I don’t think so. Randy liked it despite a few pitch problems…..Ellen said she liked Lee’s passion and intensity….Kara said it was a big improvement from last week and that she could hear Lee on the radio (no doubt performing one of those crappy formulaic songs she writes)…and Simon said he thinks Lee has the best voice among the guys (really Simon?) but that he still looks terrified on stage. I’m not sure about that, but at least he has Simon in his corner.

THE IN-BETWEEN

Casey James brought out his electric guitar this time and did Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be.” It wasn’t horrible, but vocally it was pitchy in spots and let’s face it….Casey doesn’t have a great voice. But he sure can play lead guitar, something that was cool, but also made him look like less of a singer. Randy said he loved the playing but that it wasn’t he best vocal….Ellen said she loves the song and that Casey sounded great, but looked kind of stiff on stage….Kara said something about how they all know “the cougar’s a fan” but she thought he took “12 steps backwards” last night. I don’t agree with that, but I did think he was better last week….Simon agreed with Kara, however, saying Casey looked and sounded like a “rock star wannabe” last night. Ouch. Still, he’ll get plenty of votes.

Todrick Hall took on Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” and it was just okay starting out but got better in the second half when Todrick showed more emotion. Randy said it got better as it went along but that he still didn’t love it, and wants Todrick to “just sing” instead of trying to change the song up….Ellen said she liked how Todrick used his strength as a dancer to help him perform, but she didn’t like the song choice…Kara said it was okay but she didn’t like all the vocal runs Todrick did…….and Simon likened it to a “theme park performance,” which is one of the worst comments a judge can make. Todrick was okay, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

Andrew Garcia once again picked a bad song for him, James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something,” and he chose to not play guitar this week. Andrew didn’t do much with the arrangement, instead trying to just showcase his vocal ability, which is good, but he wowed everyone in Hollywood with a crazy acoustic version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” and has been regressing ever since. He did hit the high notes last night, though. Randy said it wasn’t the right vibe for Andrew and was pitchy, and that he knows Andrew can do way better….Ellen disagreed with Randy, saying she likes Andrew’s chances….Kara likes Andrew but said he set his own bar too high with that Paula song…and Simon said it’s not good that Andrew chose the wrong song two weeks in a row. Yep, pretty much.

THE NOT SO GOOD

John Park started out by telling everyone he fronts a vocal group back in Chicago called Purple Haze. Then, looking very plain in a t-shirt and jeans, sang John Mayer’s “Gravity.” It was as boring as the outfit he wore, and proof that John has absolutey no star charisma. Randy said there was nothing new or spicy about it, and that it was also pitchy in spots…..Ellen said it was a better choice than last week, but that it “needed soul”……Kara said it was way better than last week, but that John didn’t connect enough with the audience….and Simon said that Purple Haze may soon get their lead singer back, that it was a “so what” performance, and then he used the dreaded “forgettable” word. Ouch.

Jermaine Sellers talked about how he wears a “onesie” at home, and then they showed him walking around in it, basically pajamas with the feet….and Jermaine talked about being proud to “rock the onesie.” You’re kidding, dude, right? Anyway, Jermaine sang Marvin Gaye’s “Whats Going On?” and Marvin is one of those lofty talents who you just can’t replicate. It started out awful, but got a bit better as it went along. Randy said it was better than last week but that it still wasn’t great and too big of a song for Jermaine….Ellen said she loves Jermaine’s style, including the onesie, but that this performance didn’t work for her….Kara said the performance sounded forced….and Simon said he was frustrated and disappointed, that Jermaine played around with the song too much, to the point that it sounded cabaret-ish.

Tim Urban did Matt Nathanson’s “Come On Get Higher” with his guitar, and seeing this reminded me of how talented Matt Nathanson is. It was not nearly as good as the original, and very pitchy. Randy said he didn’t get it, that it was too karaoke-ish and not special….Ellen said Tim had no stage charisma nor a good voice but that he does have good looks….Kara liked the song choice but said Tim didn’t do enough to make it his own….and Simon said it was much better than last week and that he disagreed with the other judges, saying Tim was more “relevant” than the other guys last night. Really, Simon?

So there you have it…..I’d be really surprised if it’s not John and Jermaine going home this week, but Tim is a distinct possibility as is Todrick. But any of those guys could be eliminated and it wouldn’t bother me a bit. The crop this year really just isn’t very good…..hopefully the ladies will bring it tonight, but I’m not holding my breath, are you?

  

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