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American Idol: Top 8 Boys compete

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There were a few winners and a few losers tonight on Idol and as usual more than a few whatevers, but I think the biggest stinker of the night was Kara.  I am not by definition a Kara hater—some part of me roots for her to be a good Idol judge but she tries so hard to stake her claim that it comes off as desperate and obnoxious.  Her biggest fouls tonight were the faux flirtation with Simon (she will never replicate the magic he had with Paula) and the faux tears after Michael Lynche's performance. If you have to tell us you're crying, you're doing it wrong. Again, Paula did that better. Fortunately for Kara, Ellen jumped into the tomfoolery with her own dumb judge antic, running up onstage to give Tim Urban a hug to congratulate him for not doing a terrible job. She explained that she did it because she felt like she'd been so hard on him, but Ellen's "hard" setting is still softer than Simon's nicest "nice" setting.

As has been the case with the guys to date, a lot of them did just fine.  Lee DeWyze's version of "Fireflies" sounded Dave Matthews-ish to me, and sort of like something I would hear while pushing my cart through the frozen food section of the grocery store (I don't know why that section, that's just the image that came to me).  I still like Alex Lambert's voice a lot but I have to admit he didn't bring anything new to "Trouble": the judges want him to loosen up and find himself.  Randy summed up Casey James' version of "You'll Think of Me" as a "safe choice" and "just a'ight" (even Kara admitted he was missing a spark). And I think far from being "top of the boys" as Kara said, Tim turned in an OK version of "Hallelujah", although Simon was right that it was his best performance to date.

Andrew Garcia slipped significantly tonight, I think showing his hand. He turned in a pitchy version of "Genie in a Bottle" but more than the mediocre singing, I think he revealed that what everyone thought was his best moment was just a gimmick: taking poppy female songs and slowing them down and putting them to acoustic guitar. I don't see it taking him very far past this point.

I can't stand Aaron Kelly. I feel bad about that and I try to be careful when I trash people on Idol because God knows inevitably the contestants' local papers pick it up and call me mean and I feel bad but it's just a knee-jerk reaction. I think my problem is that I am too young (I wasn't surprised to hear one of my aunts loves him) to like him and probably too old too.  He can sing fine but I don't think there is anything about the sound of his voice that's extra special and his earnest, quasi-inspirational choices are just too behind the times—and I mean Idol times—to make me a fan.  I'm sure he's a good hardworking kid and he's definitely a better singer than I am but I just don't want him on my TV anymore. Oh, he sang "I'm Already There" by Lonestar, in case you were wondering. I thought it was boring and he didn't hit all the notes.

Todrick Hall however improved upon last week, if not with better singing than with a better performance.  He took on "Somebody to Love" and of course nobody ever will be able to touch Freddie Mercury (sorry, Adam Lambert) but he at least injected a little energy into the evening with a gospel take on the song.  It was corny and Glee-ey of course but I think as long as we're all operating under the consensus that he's not the best singer in the show, maybe not even top 50%, at least it was an enjoyable performance and as Simon said, showed us who he is as a singer.

Michael "Big Hurt" Lynch batted cleanup and brought it home with "This Woman's Work" which is an unfair song to pick since it always gives me goosebumps and makes me think of perilous childbirth situations and/or cancer.  The very beginning was on the verge of humorous to me, seeing such a big guy (he looked nice by the way I thought tonight, in the jacket and jeans) singing such high notes, but then he really put his back into belting out the rest of the song. I think a good deal of what made the performance so enjoyable was how much energy he put into it, but that's been missing this season (which is why I probably didn't hate Todrick's performance).  Simon called it not only the best of the night, but the best of the live shows to date. Kara said she could really relate to it as a woman who doesn't have a child.  I have no idea what the shit that means.

I don't know who of the guys would go home tomorrow night although I feel like Andrew Garcia will be amongst the unsafe.

—That was one homoerotic drill sergeant routine Ryan was doing at the start of the show.

—The rules of declaring whether "Hallelujah" is by Leonard Cohen or is as-covered by Jeff Buckley are unclear to me.

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