The top 10 guys got a second go to prove why they deserve your votes last night on American Idol.
They performed one night ahead of schedule due to female contestant, Crystal Bowersox, being sent to the hospital that morning, and, sadly, it seems more than half of them could have really used the extra day to get it together.
Like last week, song choice continued to prove difficult, even for some of the frontrunners. The song pool was narrowed down a bit but still wide, as the theme was Billboard chart hits. Andrew Garcia failed to match the fiery heat of his Hollywood week showstopper “Straight Up,” and John Park struggled through another lifeless offering.
Here’s a rundown of how our top 10 did:
Michael Lynche – It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World: Big Mike promised he would step it up after the lackluster response he got from his dullsville performance last week. He would have to. He chose a sizzling James Brown song to perform. While tackling James Brown could send many singers into the depths of karaoke hell, Mike freed himself with his showmanship and command of the stage. Randy showed his appreciation for Big Mike’s improvement with a standing O. Ellen and Kara both lauded his quick progression. “You owned it tonight,” Kara told him. Simon capped it off by saying, “What a difference.” Maybe Mike needs to put down that guitar and work his personality and the stage more often.
John Park – Gravity: Unlike Big Mike who took the criticism from week one and made a remarkable turn around, John Park was two for two with the ‘sweet Lord that was boring’ performances. It should have been good. There is no good reason why it shouldn’t have been. He picked one of the most adored John Mayer songs to sing with “Gravity,” and his deep, soulful voice should have been able to pull it off. He didn’t. He just didn’t. It was so lifeless. So empty. John really needs to sink into the song fully, instead of just going through the motions. Repeating a phrase does not show the audience you are “feeling” it. He just doesn’t make you believe him. The judges all panned the performance as dull and “so what.” So what is exactly how many will feel when it comes to voting. John’s in trouble.
Casey James – I Don’t Want To Be: Casey chose a song with a lot of history on Idol. The Gavin DeGraw chart-topper has been done by Bo Bice, Elliott Yamin, Chris Richardson, and others. It was Casey’s go to put his stamp on it. And he did — but not in a good way. The vocal performance took a back seat — a way in the back seat — to his electric guitar playing. Nice surprise with the axe, but there’s no excuse for those bum notes. Randy brushed off the vocals and praised his guitar skills. Ellen called it “a tiny bit stiff.” Kara, who drools over Casey like a dog drools over a t-bone, shocked everyone by slamming the performance as “two steps backward.” Simon agreed, saying it was like a performance we’d hear in “any bar across America.” Casey won’t be in trouble, though. He has top 12 written all over his face… or chest if you ask Kara.
Alex Lambert – Everybody Knows: Just call Alex the comeback kid! There really was no place for him to go but up after last week’s crash and burn performance. This week Alex shook off the nerves (mostly) and delivered a pleasant rendition of John Legend’s “Everybody Knows.” Sitting on a stool and playing his guitar was a big help. He kept himself busy and looked far less ready to run off the stage. The judges all loved the improvement. Ellen says his banana ripened so quickly (last week she compared him to an unripened banana) and said “under that mullet you have a little Sam Cooke voice.”
Todrick Hall – What’s Love Got To Do With It: Todrick hasn’t learned much from last week when the judges accused him of murdering Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone.” This time, he had his arrangement gun aimed at the heart of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” He gets points for trying to be creative, but his performance just doesn’t wow me or the judges. Randy said he would prefer if Tod stops with the tricks and just sings. Ellen and Kara agreed. Simon took it a bit further saying it was a “theme park” performance. Trouble!
Jermaine Sellers – What’s Going On: “What’s Going On” is exactly the question I want to ask Jermaine. In his pre-performance package, he reveals he wears a onsie to bed and he employs steam to get his voice in top shape for performances. So, he has a good enough personality to know that a onsie in any context is the funniest thing ever and he actually prepares his voice for competition. Then why, oh, why are we left with these completely boring, dry performances? Something with Jermaine isn’t connecting. He dresses modern, but chooses the oldest songs in the book. He has a fun personality, but is the dullest person on stage. Sad! Needless to say the judges are not thrilled. Jermaine laid his Idol career in front of the judges, asking them to choose the type of song he should sing next week. Simon barked back he doesn’t think Jermaine will be there next week. OUCH! Time to curl up in a onsie and sleep that burn off!
Andrew Garcia – You Give Me Something: The judges scared the originality right out of poor Andrew. Unlike last week when he completely stripped down a Fallout Boy song, Andrew played it safe and left this James Morrison number in tact. Besides more than a few pitchy moments, he added nothing new to the song. Way too sound-alike. Randy told Andy he didn’t get it. Simon repeated the same advice from last week, adding that he was still disappointed. The judges all went back to his outstanding performance of “Straight Up” during Hollywood week. Seems Andy should have paced himself.
Aaron Kelly – My Girl: With more spunk and confidence than last week, Aaron added a little twang to the Temptation’s classic. It’s an incredibly karaoke song to choose, but I think he did just enough to pull himself from the grips of karaoke hell. He could have also smoothed the vocals out a bit more (he had that Nick Jonas grunt thing going on). The judges loved the improvement he showed, but Simon didn’t love the song choice. He thought it was too “old fashioned.” He added Aaron needs to take a cue from Justin Bieber (…) and figure out what kind of artist he wants to be. Yes, Simon. I’m so sure Justin figured that out all on his own. His hoard of managers, producers, and Usher had NOTHING to do with it…
Tim Urban – Come On Get High: Improvement was the name of the game all around, and Tim Urban was no exception. He was more in his zone with this inspirational number, but it still wasn’t good enough to warrant him a spot in the top 12 — or top 16. It lacked passion and did not show what kind of contemporary recording artist he could be. Ellen let out one of her most Simon-like critiques yet, telling Urban he should act instead because his singing isn’t where it’s at for him. She said the performance had “no charisma. No stage presence.” Simon disagrees, saying the improvement was impressive. I think it’s time for Tim to find a boyband and synchronize dance off into the sunset.
Lee Dewyze – Lips of an Angel: Great song choice for soulful rocker Lee. Sure, this Hinder song is truly horrendous, but it would be a good vocal match for him. Or so I thought. The vocals were simply painful. Nerves (and his sagging pants) got the best of Lee and caused him to be pitchy and all over the place. The judges heard something completely different. Randy and Ellen loved it. Kara noted the pitch problems from last week were still there. But Simon unleashed a world of praise, even calling Lee “the one to beat.” What!? Are the possible dollar signs deafening these people? David Cook Lee is not!
Predictions: Mediocrity spilled all around, but despite John Park’s huge following in the K-pop community, it may be his time to wave goodbye. Jermaine Sellers should join him. One, because his performances have been sub-par. Two, because he just talks too damn much when he needs to listen.
Tune in tonight to see the top 10 girls hit the stage, and Thursday to see who goes home on the results show!