It’s the gentlemen’s round of [[American Idol (2010 Series)|American Idol]], and there are only ten blokes left after last week’s eliminations of Tyler Grady and Joe Muñoz. It was sort of both ends of the spectrum – Grady a wannabe retro rock god, and Muñoz a rather bland little gerbil of a singer.
So onwards and middlewards – after the barrage of criticism the male singers took last week, I’m expecting some to try and be more ambitious, and others to tone it down with safer performances.
[[Ryan Seacrest|The Seacrest]] explains that due to an unfortunate hospitalisation, Crystal Bowersox is unable to perform tonight. Therefore, all the women are benched and the boys come forward. The producers must rate Bowersox to postpone the entire female performance by a day.
Big [[Michael Lynche|Mike Lynche]] is opening the show tonight. Michael tells us that he’s a big musical theatre fan and tells us what kind of weights he can bench press. Tonight, Michael is singing This Is A Man’s World by James Brown. He starts out strong, with a low, smoky resonance to his voice. The backing is wishy-washy as usual – Idol really needs to pick up the quality of the accompaniments. His voice wasn’t quite as abrasive as I’d have liked it to be.
Randy: I feel like right now this season is really getting rolling. Dawg I gotta give it to you. R&B star right there. Ellen: I like every song choice that you’ve made so far, and they’re all so completely different. That’s the way to start out the night, and that’s the one to beat, that was amazing. Kara: Mike I gotta say, until tonight, I did not get it. Tonight, you went from being a singer to someone who could be a great artist. You are not the same guy. You are a different Mike, and I’m feeling it. Simon: What a difference! It was like going from a pussycat to a lion in one week. That was exactly the right kind of song for you, you’re an old soul, it’s what’s good about you. And it didn’t sound dated.
Chicago born singer [[John Park]] is still reeling from his critiques last week. This week he’s chosen Gravity by John Mayer. I hate not knowing the original to compare it to, but Mayer’s not as big in the UK as he is in your United States. I confess, his sitting-on-a-stool routine is utterly boring.
Randy: I think the John Mayer vibe is probably your vibe, but the thing is you didn’t bring anything new and kinda spicy to it. Every time I hear that song, I think of him and that guitar. It was just kinda flat for me, there were some pitch problems here and there. Ellen: It was so much better a song choice. I agree that there could have been a little more soul in it. You got into it more than you did in rehearsal. Just try and feel the song a tiny tiny bit more. Kara: Way better than last week. But it’s the connection – that’s what I lack from you the most. When you’re singing it, I don’t always believe it. You need to let loose and get out of that comfort zone of yours. Simon: I think Purple Haze may get their lead singer back this week. The problem is, there’s nothing to get excited about that – it’s what I call a “So What?” performance. I struggle with the believability here and I think in about ten minutes time, we’re going to forget that performance.
Texan singer and overeager shirt-remover [[Casey James]] returns to the stage with a Gavin McGraw song I Don’t Want To Be. He plays a blinding intro on lead guitar and there’s a reasonably rocky backing. The vocals may be slightly compromised by his guitar playing, but he gives great stage presence and put his own stamp on the performance.
Randy: First of all, I love you channelling Hendrix through the whole Texas, Stevie Ray meets [starts frothing at the mouth with excitement] but what I love – this is the kind of music I could see you making as an artist and winning. I didn’t know you played guitar like that, that was hot. Ellen: You can’t go wrong with that song. I thought you sounded great. On paper, everything is there – I love the way you look, I love your sound, but there’s just a stiffness about you. I want you to move more. I wanna see you perform more. Kara: Tonight, you took two steps backwards for me. Besides the fact that you’re a great lead guitar player, but this is a singing competition. And tonight, everything that was distinct about you, it was like you playing guitar and singing and the notes were off. Simon: I’m kind of with Kara here – last week you chose a great song and it was standout. This week, you turned into somebody you will see in any bar across America. I don’t think you’ve got the grit in your voice to make it authentic.
[[Alex Lambert]] scares us with a story about a made-up language he uses. Singing John Legend’s Everybody Knows. Alex is also playing guitar on the song. The singing is on mark, but it’s hard to be enthusiastic about another stool performance. There’s something charmless about it all…
Randy: This is such an improvement over last week. I love the confidence, I love the guitar, and it didn’t sound as soundalike as it did in the past. You kind of found your own niche with it. Ellen: It’s like someone took the unripe banana and put it in a paper bag…so much better than last week. You have it, you don’t have the experience, but you’re gaining the experience so quickly. Kara: There isn’t a person out there that isn’t rooting for you. You have an incredible, recordable voice, and you don’t even know what to do with it! Great improvement. Simon: Alex, that was a million times better than last week. You’ve got a very good voice. I don’t get the feeling that you’re taking part to win. I wish I was choosing your songs for you now.
[[Todrick Hall|Todrick]] takes on a Tina Turner song, What’s Love Got To Do With It? Somewhere along the line, Todrick believes that he can make a distinctive version of this song. Let’s see… I think the obvious thing with this rendition is that Todrick is more creative than he’s capable. I see the little R&B inflections he’s trying to give the song, and with the right voice, it might be pretty cool. But Todrick’s voice is the point where it all fails.
Randy: At the end of this song, when you did the falsetto run at the end, that was hot. A great song doesn’t need a different arrangement. I didn’t love this – just sing a nice song and just sing it. Don’t change anything, just sing. Ellen: I would say sing and move. You’re a dancer. You should always go with your strength. I don’t think it was the right song and it’s a hard song to sing. Kara: We all like you. When you started dancing, it started getting better. Simon: I would say Todrick, move but don’t sing. This is not working out at all for you. It was a corny bad version of a Tina Turner song which has no relevance. I don’t know what’s going through your head at the moment, but you’re getting this completely wrong.
After seeing [[Jermaine Sellers]] in his onesie, I think any performance could be redundant. Then I remember that Jermaine had a freaky girl-voice when he sang last week. He’s singing What’s Going On? by Marvin Gaye. First off, I hate his styling. Did he choose a bow tie himself? Second, the voice is severely strained by the song – too low at the start and the limits could be seen when he sang the climax.
Randy: I’ll at least say, it was better than last week. It was so close, but so far. It just wasn’t a great performance. It’s another tough song to sing. Ellen: It’s doesn’t feel good to get these notes, but I’ll start with the positives. I think you’ve got great style and I like that you rocks the onesie. It just didn’t work for me. Kara: You can do all of these things, which is impressive in itself. But you’re always doing too much. Look at the meaning of the lyrics and sing from here. Simon: What everyone’s saying is that we’re frustrated and disappointed. What you do is you water down the songs. This is one of the best pop songs of all time, but you make it lose its importance – you play around with it so much.
Showing off his breakdancing this week, [[Andrew Garcia]] is coming back from some negative comments last week. Aw, crap. He’s singing James Morrison’s You Give Me Something. His voice is hit and miss in places, and his phrasing makes me wish he’d sung It’s A Man’s World.
Randy: I love James Morrision too – amazing singer, amazing song. Dawg, honestly that wasn’t the vibe for you tonight. It was pitchy all over the place. To me you’re way better than that. I see you with your guitar, doing your thing, doing things more unique than that. Ellen: I disagree with Randy. I thought there were a couple of little pitch problems, but I liked it a lot. And I like that you take chances. You set the bar so high with that Paula Abdul song, and that’s what’s causing you problems. Kara: That’s the problem. Since Straight Up, it’s been kinda going down. I do see that potential. At least last week, it was a different take. Today, you played it too safe. Simon: It’s frustrating once again. The fact that you haven’t managed to choose the right song in two weeks is beginning to become a problem. You’re better than OK.
16 year old [[Aaron Kelly]] sings the old Temptations hit My Girl. There’s a bit of f flutter in his vocals at the start. Still, this kid’s growing on us – he’s got a clean, mostly tuneful voice and seeing him almost faint after Simon complimented him last week was endearing!
Randy: The first half of that song was great, the end when you did the breakdown, it got a little strange. But dude, you can really sing, and that was 200% better for me than last week. Nice one! Ellen: A whole lot more confidence. You sing very well, but the song was a little forgettable. I wish that there was a different song that you’d chose. Kara: I liked it, I really liked it. Every time you step up on that stage, it’s consistent. You’ve got a little country twang, you do your thing to it, you’ve got control for someone your age. Simon: I didn’t like the song. It was all over the place, and I think you actually went backwards. You’ve got to work out what kind of artist you want to be. We could have heard that song 10, 15 years ago. It’s too old fashioned, the arrangement was too old fashioned.
Tim Urban (anybody else think he looks like a young Tom Welling from Smallville?) sings Come On Get Higher by Matt Nathanson. I think this is a big improvement on last week, plus he’s playing guitar which is cool. Still not the strongest voice in the competition though…
Randy: I didn’t really get it, it was kinda karaoke for me. There was nothing special about it, nothing made it unique, there were pitch problems all over it. Ellen: Keep booing for me now…do you like to act? Can you act? If you were on Glee and you sang as well…girls would love you. I don’t think the strong point is the singing. Kara: I actually liked the song choice. I see you more in that lane way more than One Republic. But you didn’t make it your own. You look the part, you play the part, but it’s not all there yet. Simon: This may surprise you, but I’m gonna disagree with these three. I think that was a marked improvement on last week. I think you really listened to the criticism, you chose a young song. I thought you were more relevant tonight than a lot of the other singers we’ve seen before, which really was karaoke. I’m impressed by your attitude and your work ethic.
We were impressed last week by [[Lee DeWyze]], who this week is singing Hinder’s Lips Of An Angel for us. When he’s mostly singing alone, his voice sounds great, but the band kicks in and it feels like they’re playing too low for him. It doesn’t sound good.
Randy: It was a bold move, but I liked that you tried to take chances. I’m a huge fan of you, and I thought there were a couple of pitch problems, but I liked it. Ellen: I agree. A couple of little pitch problems. You didn’t move around and you didn’t perform, but there was so much passion and intensity and maybe it was nervousness. But it came out as a great performance, because you were so much in that song. Kara: I think it was a big improvement on last week. There were some pitch problems last week, and this week, they’re still there. But I can hear you on the radio right now. It’s very commercial. Your look is commercial. Simon: Raise your shoulders a little bit. I’ve said this before – vocally, you are head and shoulders above everyone else in your side of the competition right now. You look terrified right now. You’ve just got to take the center. I’m just waiting for you to totally connect, lose your nerves, choose the right song, sing as good as we know you can. You may be the one to beat.
Favourites tonight? I always like Michael Lynche, and Casey James’ guitar wankathon was overindulgent but a joy to hear. Lee DeWyze is definitely carving a niche for himself in the competition. I seem to be gravitating toward the older entrants, don’t I?
Who were your favourites?