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American Idol: Top 10 Guys Compete

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Greetings, Idol buddies.  I love the feeling that while I missed last week's installments, I actually didn't miss a thing.  Many thanks to good old Leonard Pierce for filling in for me while I was gone.  Now, can we just skip to the last few weeks of the competition? Because based on tonight's performances, I can tell you whom I can do without from here on out. 

Now I have to warn you, if you haven't watched the episode yet you will be in for quite a shock when you see the show listing on your DVR—the Top Ten Girls did NOT perform, as Crystal Bowersox was suffering from some mysterious illness that prevented her from performing (let's hear it for Crystal! Yeah!), so it was the guys instead.  By my approximation half of them entered the stage flashing that sideways peace sign.

The episode got off to a somewhat rocky start, as bad camerawork highlighted somebody's big head in the way of Ellen Degeneres' shot.  Ellen, dressed like some sort of boyish scout, was doing shtick right off the bat which I thought was going to be super annoying all night but to her credit, I think she knows when to be cutesy and when to give it a rest. It was also strange to me how Kara was essentially dressed up as Paula Abdul for the night—orangey skin, big hair, shiny décolletage, and loud dress. 

If I could just get rid of a bunch of guys right off the bat, here are the singers who would get the axe based on tonight's performances. Most of them didn't suck, but the just were of a middling-boring variety that isn't fun to sit through for weeks on end.

John Park
As a former Wildcat it pains me to go against one of my own but while John can sing (and probably is great with his a cappella group), he has zero stage presence, or at least chooses songs that allow him to display zero stage presence.  John Mayer's song "Gravity" was tedious, as some John Mayer songs tend to be. The judges all felt the same way, with Randy and Simon saying that they don't get star quality from John.

Casey James
In short: we've seen it before. Bucky Covington, Bo Bice—I don't see anything new that Casey brings to this particular table.  Hot licks and cool riffs aside, while he could wail out the big notes on Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be," he didn't seem to bother with nailing the quieter parts of the song.  Plus, he looked annoyingly confident in himself.  Randy adored it, saying "from one musician to another…" and then followed that phrase by a bunch of unconnected words.  He thinks Casey could win. I hope not. Ellen wanted more performance from Casey, which I think would actually make him less appealing.  I actually agreed with Kara, who thought everything distinct about him went away, while Simon said he was trying too hard to be a rock star.

Todrick Hall
I want to like Todrick.  I think the concept of a singer/dancer could be interesting on the show but the second he launched into "What's Love Got to Do With It" I knew the whole thing was a bad idea. He took a great song and sucked all the great out of it and his voice is in the lower ranks of the contestants, at least based on tonight's performance.  Randy pleaded with him to "just take a nice song and sing it," which sounds like something my nonexistent grandma would say. 

Jermaine Sellers
I thought Jermaine was cute and funny, dancing around in his onesie but as with Todrick's performance, I felt turned off once he got onstage.  Style-wise, whatever he was selling, I don't think America will be buying it—it may be the short-sleeved cardigan.  He overworked the camera during his mediocre performance of "What's Going On" which is a song that's been done to death on this show.  Randy gave it an "Ehhh, dude." I felt like Jermaine made a desperate plea to his Godfearing supporters by talking about his passion for singing in church, which went over like a fart in church with me. 

Andrew Garcia
Some of you out there are AnGar fans, so go on and defend your boy, if you still believe. He seems like an OK guy but I didn't hear anything special from him and it's dispiriting to hear that his cover of Paula Abdul was his apex to date.  I just found him to be one of the non-specials tonight.  Randy told him he's better than he was tonight, and Simon said that if he can't get his shit together and pick the right song, he's out of here. I appreciated the fact that he didn't then beg the judges to tell him what to sing.

Aaron Kelly
Objectively, Aaron's an Idol contestant we could have seen eight seasons ago, from his choice of "My Girl" to his cheesy dancing and wanna-be Timerlakey delivery.  But personally, something about him just bugs me. Maybe it's because he is young. He's probably in a gang. Ellen wanted a better song from him while Simon proclaimed it too old-fashioned and advised Aaron to figure out what kind of artist he wants to be. Ryan then asked Aaron if he likes Justin Bieber and Aaron demurred on the topic, I assume because either he doesn't know who Justin is or because he's in love with Bieber.

Tim Urban
So Tim sucked last week, eh?  But have you seen him without his shirt on? I know, who cares. I wouldn't go so far as to say he was awful tonight but he definitely wasn't good and I didn't like the song choice with Matt Nathanson's "Come On Get Higher".  He was shooting for "earnest" but I got "ponderous."  Randy greeted the performance with a very heavy "yo."  I thought Ellen's critique was hilarious for how nice/mean it was, basically saying "Learn how act: you're so good-looking that people will think you're a good singer even if you're not!" Simon noted that it was a marked improvement which, for me, was too nice from Simon. Who cares if it was better if it still wasn't very good. 

Yeah, so that doesn't leave many guys who I thought were very worthy tonight but these were the three who I thought actually did a good job:

Michael Lynche
It's hard not to like Michael Lynche—the football player who is comfortable hoofing it onstage with a cane and top hat is typically the most popular guy in school. Also, he reminds me of Frank Thomas.  He did a great job singing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," vocally and with confident stage presence. If I'm being honest I didn't find it especially unique to the show but the guy is talented and charming and it would be interesting to see him figure out his true singing persona. Randy gave him a standing ovation which I thought was a bit much, but in general the judges loved it. I think, meanwhile, Ryan could fit inside Michael Lynche the way Tony Stark could fit inside his suit.

Alex Lambert
I fully expected to hate Alex Lambert: I mean, look at his hair—just look at it! Plus, he seemed like he was asleep throughout the audition process.  But I was thoroughly charmed by the whole stage fright thing (which of course made me wonder if it was a ploy for sympathy).  He just has a unique timbre to his voice that I didn't expect—I liked hearing the kid sing.  The judges all praised him (Ellen compared him to a banana that ripened in a paper bag) and Simon advised him to start playing to win the contest, although I disagree with Simon that only useless people get nervous before they perform—I think it's a sign that you give a crap.

Lee DeWyze
Lee's singing is not quite my cup of tea—it reminds me of  Chris Daughtry and David Cook (or maybe it's just the wallet chain and achingly outdated goatee).  But there was something a little vulnerable about him that I liked, and if he can work that "sensitive rocker whom girls really want to understand" angle, he'll be golden.  The judges seem to support him and Simon proclaimed him the one to beat.

Oh man, two more hours of this tomorrow. I mean: two more hours of this tomorrow! Yay! I may be a little late with my post due to a prior commitment but I will be watching those gals sing for our pleasure, believe it. 

Stray observations:

—I kind of like it how Randy has already developed his patented method of throwing it to "E" after he talks.

—I'm not sure what bothers me more about Kara referring to herself as a "cougar": the fact that she used such a stupid played-out term, or the fact that she's just 9 years older than I am.

—What do we think Casey has in his box? A friend of mine predicts "his childhood dog's rotting body." I'm going with Real Doll head.

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