'American Idol' - 'Top 12 Boys Compete' Recap

by Kona Gallagher, posted Feb 24th 2010 11:25PM
american idol top 12 guys
I don't know about you all, but I was severely underwhelmed by the girls' first performance, so my main hope going into the Top 12 guys' performance is that it won't bore me to death. I also hope that I can get back in sync with the judges a little more tonight, because my opinions differed wildly from theirs.

Two hours later, one of these things happened. While the guys had more high points than the girls, they were generally underwhelming. However, the night was not without its funny moments and mini-heartbreaks, and at the end of it, Kara DioGuardi realized she needed to hire a lawyer.

While we don't get a funny sexual harassment video to kick off this show, we do get a few interesting comments from the judges: Ellen confirms what some of you were saying in the comments: that what they hear in the theater is way different from what we hear at home, so that can absolutely contribute to some of the discrepancies between what the judges think, versus what the viewers do. Also, Simon continues to use his last season on the show to get even more blunt (who thought that was even possible?) and tell the guys that if they screw up tonight, their careers are over. So ... let's get started!

Todrick Hall

I think we all pretty much knew from the beginning that Todrick Hall wasn't going to be a shrinking violet in this competition. So, yes, of course he's going to do a soulful, John Legend--type remake of Kelly Clarkson's 'Since You've Been Gone.' Not only did he put his own spin on it (and then some), but you can tell that he's had a lot of experience as a performer, as he looks absolutely comfortable up on that stage. He's not boring me, and for that, I thank him. The judges all basically tell him that he perhaps changed the song a little bit too much, and didn't sing enough. Simon says that he came across as a dancer who was trying to sing. He even says that Todrick murdered the original. Say what you will, but the majority of contestants who "make songs their own," are really just ripping off other people who have covered that particular song. Very rarely does the arrangement come from them, as this one did.

Aaron Kelly

Aaron is doing a more traditional song, Rascal Flatts' 'Here Comes Goodbye.' He does a perfectly fine job with it, and hits a really nice note at the end. However, is it just me, or did that seem like a really impressive State Fair performance? He just doesn't seem to have the elusive star power that the judges are always talking about. Simon actually compliments him, but does say that he needs to be more confident in his abilities. Kara also encourages him and tells him to keep in the pop/country vein. Randy and Ellen also praise him, so Aaron is off to a pretty great start.

Jermaine Sellers

'Get Here' is another pretty common song on the show, so it's tough to make it stand out. Is it just me, or was his mic way too low? I feel like I could barely hear his vocals at all. So I'm pretty sure he did a good job with the song, but the mix was so off, that I can't be positive. Ellen liked the song, but thought that he was trying too hard. Randy and Kara both think that it was too old of a song, as did Simon. He also thought that the middle was too over-the-top. Not only that, but he thinks Jermaine totally blew his opportunity.

Tim Urban

Tim is the guy who is in the Top 12 because Chris Golightly was cut from the competition, so he kind of has a little bit more to prove. Unfortunately, he hits some pretty terrible notes during his performance of One Republic's 'Apologize.' The poor guys' nerves are just getting to him, and during the song, he's clutching the mic for dear life. Simon starts off by saying that Tim doesn't belong in the competition. It's a pretty harsh criticism, to say the least. Kara tells him that he was overwhelmed by the music, and Randy tells him it was the wrong song. It's not looking too good for ol' Tim Urban.

Joe Munoz

I always forget who Joe Munoz is, so I'm kind of interested to see his performance tonight. I kind of feel like I'm seeing him for the first time. He's singing one of my favorite Jason Mraz songs, 'You and I Both.' He does a good job, but I'm afraid that he's still running into the same problem: he's just not that memorable. I doubt I'll remember this performance by the end of the show tonight. Ellen praises him for his confidence, and while Randy wasn't in love with the song choice, he thought Joe did a good job with it. Kara even goes so far as to say that he had the best vocals of the night so far. Simon, however, doesn't see the star power.

Tyler Grady

Yes, it makes sense that Tyler is doing something from the seventies, but if he's not careful, he's going to seem like a performer at an amusement park. Maybe it's just because Lenny Kravitz has already covered this song for 'Austin Powers,' but this just seems really fake to me. Plus, the vocals aren't really all that great. I like Tyler, but this performance just doesn't do it for me at all. Simon agrees and says that Tyler seems like he just came from "pretend to be a rock star school." The rest of the judges basically agree, and urge Tyler to be more original.

Lee Dewyze

Snow Patrol's 'Chasing Cars' is a pretty good song choice for Lee. He's also the first contestant tonight to play an instrument, so that will be interesting. He hits a few bad notes, but you can definitely see where he's going and get behind him. It's their first live performance: I'm really going to cut them all a lot of slack for awkward notes, as long as there's some sort of performance there. Lee doesn't blow me away, but I can definitely see him getting more interesting as the competition goes on. Ellen loves his song choice, but Randy disagrees and calls Lee more of a rocker. Kara agrees with Randy, and tells Lee that the range of the song was too low. Simon, however, surprises everyone by heaping downright effusive praise upon him. It's pretty amazing.

John Park

John was one of my favorites from the auditions, but I feel like we've barely seen him since. So it's nice that he reminded me why I loved him so much by talking about how much he wants to marry Shania Twain. He decides to sing "God Bless the Child," which is a beautiful song, and a very unusual choice for 'Idol.' While he does a lot of beautiful things with the song, it really doesn't fit his personality. He needs something more upbeat and fun. The song just kind of drags him down, which is a shame. Simon and Kara both think that it didn't have enough personality and that there wasn't enough of a connection. Ellen also agrees that it was the wrong song, but that it was a great performance.

Michael Lynche

Michael Lynche is also busting out the guitar, although I'm not sure he's actually playing it. It looks like he's strumming haphazardly and just kind of keeping the beat for his performance of 'This Love.' I really hate musical instruments as props, but this is a pretty fun performance otherwise. Mike's doing what John needed to do: he's having fun and showing his personality. The judges basically agree and praise him for showing his personality, but they do mention that he hit a couple of bad notes. Simon says that he was "the support act before the main act."

Alex Lambert

There's something that's always bugged me about Alex Lambert, but I can't quite put my finger on it. He's singing 'Wonderful World' by James Morrison, and he does a great job, but he just seems somehow inauthentic to me. I don't know; I just get a weird vibe from him. Simon calls it the most uncomfortable performance of the night. Kara and Randy both tell him that he sounds like James Morrison, but that he needs to pull it together. Ellen compliments him on holding onto the mullet.

Casey James

He's singing 'Heaven,' maybe to Kara, which is a good choice, except everybody's still giggling about Kara's crush on him, and he looks like he's about to bust out laughing as he begins the song. I'm really impressed with his ability to keep it all together, although you can tell it's not easy. It's definitely not his smoothest performance, but he does a good job. Kara basically falls all over herself, once again, and Ellen actually apologizes for all of the nonsense going on, because it wasn't fair to him. However, the judges all praise him effusively and tell him that his talent is on par with his looks, which is a pretty damn good compliment for this guy.

Andrew Garcia

Andrew's another one of my early favorites, so I'm really pulling for him. He's singing 'Sugar We're Going Down,' by Fall Out Boy, which is an interesting choice and kind of a lyrically difficult song to sing. He does a slower version of it, and while it's not as good as the Paula Abdul song he did during Hollywood week, it's still pretty interesting. I really look forward to seeing what else he comes up with in the competition. Simon calls it too serious and too indulgent, although says that he has a "great recording voice." The rest of the judges agree with Simon and continue to talk about how amazing his rendition of 'Straight Up' was.

Which of the Top 12 Boys Gave the Best Performance?
Todrick Hall25 (2.4%)
Aaron Kelly56 (5.3%)
Jermaine Sellers11 (1.0%)
Tim Urban15 (1.4%)
Joe Munoz23 (2.2%)
Tyler Grady11 (1.0%)
Lee Dewyze129 (12.2%)
John Park24 (2.3%)
Michael Lynche28 (2.6%)
Alex Lambert17 (1.6%)
Casey James504 (47.5%)
Andrew Garcia217 (20.5%)

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Toddrick, did not even recognize it was Kelly's keep some of the melody of the original. Aaron, I liked it alot and agreed w/Kara. Jeremy = WHO? not a good performance, Tim - not good - just a scared performance. Joe, good singer just forgettable. Tyler, I love my 70's music, just not by him. Lee - one of my Chicago boys - much better, will like to see what he will bring. John - my other Chicago boy - wish he picked a different song. Big Mike - Hope he does better, seems like a great guy just the wrong song. Alex looked like he was so scared up there, and you could see that with the performance. Casey - The boy has star power all over him or is it my hormones working again. Oops I must be a cougar (lol). Mr Garcia- Hope to see that magic he had with Straight up some more.

I see Casey and Andrew stay for a long time. Lee has a shot, so does Aaron the one for the teenyboppers (showing my age again). Toddrick if he could follow some guidelines on changing up a song he could be a dark horse.

Going home tonight - Tim and Tyler

February 25 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Boys were better than the girls overall, but we still have miles to go... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rdsx9o4EL54

February 25 2010 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would guess that the judges were so unanimously nasty to Todrick Hall because he changed a song from American Idol's darling, Kelly Clarkson. I love Kelly, too, and consider her to be about the best singer the show has ever found, but I think the producers were way out of line in having the judges be so contemptuous of this arrangement. (Remember, everyone sees these performances at the rehearsal and undoubtedly they do some prep on their comments in advance.)

This was exactly the kind of reworking of a song and "making it your own" that they scream at everybody else for not doing. It was different, surprising, and it worked. I guess they were trying to make it clear to the rest of the contestants that if you screw too much with established Idol "brand" songs, you will be ripped to shreds.

I find it particularly distasteful for them to do this when there have been prior performances that made even more radical changes than this to a (non-Idol) song that got praised by the judges.

February 25 2010 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Honestly? Idol has lost something this year, and it's not just Paula. All the judges, except Ellen, seem bored to be there. At least 3 times that i've counted the camera has caught them talking and not even paying attention to Ryan, or the contestants. And compared to other years, this crop just doesn't stand up. Judges comments are getting old, sometimes downright nasty, and all in all been there done that. Better do something soon or Simon's new X Factor will be the death nail in Idol's coffin.

February 25 2010 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Honestly? Idol has lost something this year, and it's not just Paula. All the judges, except Ellen, seem bored to be there. At least 3 times that i've counted the camera has caught them talking and not even paying attention to Ryan, or the contestants. And compared to other years, this crop just doesn't stand up. Judges comments are getting old, sometimes downright nasty, and all in all been there done that. Better do something soon or Simon's new X Factor will be the death nail in Idol's coffin.

February 25 2010 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Both nights were very disappointing. In the last few seasons, the best performers are the ones who can actually take songs and change them enough to make them interesting and not derivative.

The real problem, though, is that without Paula (despite her incoherent musings), there is no panelist that gives the audience a chance to cheer. Since they all want to 'keep it real', there is no chance for the audience to leave the singers on a high note. When Paula would comment, the singers could gain some confidence because the audience was going to celebrate them.

This issue is likely to result in substantial ratings decline for AI because casual viewers do not enjoy seeing young adults criticized again and again and again and again. Either Ellen needs to be the total nice person, or they need to do guest judges that are only complimentary.

February 25 2010 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite of last night was Aaron Kelly, Lee, Casey, and Andrew Garcia. Alex Lambert, Munoz, Tyler, Mike, and Todrick Hall performance was ok and should be safe this week. I think Tim Urban is going home and I think it is a toss up between John Park and Sellers. I agree with Ellen that Sellers was trying to hard and his performance could have been better if he tone it down a little. I think the bottom four will be Tim, John, Sellers, and Munoz or Todrick.

February 25 2010 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Randy started the night off telling the guys, "Yo, the girls blew it away last night." Um, they did? Where was I for that dynamite? Now while I can't say that the Top 12 Guys fared a whole lot better as a whole, I will say that the two shining stars of the night (along with a few others who displayed some twinkle potential) has me thinking that Simon might want to rethink his early prediction that a female will take the Idol crown this year. Here is my run-down, ranking the Top 12 Guys from best ...

February 25 2010 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's obvious that most of these contestants don't have alot of experience singing in front of a large audience. Alot of nerves on display. John Park might have the best set of pipes but he seems to be a Michael Buble/Josh Groban type that normally doesn't do well on Idol.

February 25 2010 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorites last night (and I use that term VERY loosely) were Casey James and Andrew Garcia...

I think Joe Munoz and Tim Urban have the best chance of going home tonight, and Jermaine Sellers and Alex Lambert should be worried too...

I hope that this week got all their nerves out so that they can actually start impressing next week!


February 25 2010 at 10:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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