Michael Becker/ FOX
Michael Becker/ FOX
These guys apparently really needed that extra day to rehearse.
Taking the American Idol stage a day early because week-one standout Crystal Bowersox was taken ill Tuesday, the gents had another lackluster night, courtesy of bad song choices, flat vocals and M.I.A. personalities.
Of course, not the entire top 10 disappointed. Simon even told one guy, "You may be the one to beat."
But after a strong start, things started to go downhill faster than Lindsey Vonn on Bode Miller's skis...
Michael Lynche: Ironic song choice—"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown—but the 26-year-old teddy-bear type did the Godfather of Soul pretty proud. Oozing charisma and, more importantly, sounding great, he kicked off the night with a bang. Randy Jackson was so relieved, he gave Big Mike a standing-O."That was the one to beat, the way to start out the night…fantastic," praised Ellen DeGeneres.
John Park: Warbling "Gravity," John sounded like a different singer, a week after making a truly bizarre song choice probably should have sent him home. Unfortunately, he's nowhere near as good as John Mayer. It was "just kinda flat" for Randy. Ellen thought "there could have been a little more soul in it," and Simon called it a "so what?" performance.
Casey James: Buoyed by his electric guitar, Casey did a respectable impression of Gavin DeGraw on "I Don't Want to Be," but the One Tree Hill theme song didn't really suit his voice. Plus, he paid more attention to his strumming than his crooning. Even girlfriend Kara DioGuardi said he took "two steps back" in her eyes (although we suspect she was being a little extra hard on him to make up for last week's sickening display).
Alex Lambert: This performance was a complete 180 from what Alex brought to the stage the first time. He put a nice twist on John Legend's "Everybody Knows" with his guitar, and the teen lost the deer-in-the-headlights vibe that had hampered him. Ellen said someone had taken the unripe banana and put it in a paper bag. "A million times better than last week," Simon said, eschewing the fruit metaphors.
Todrick Hall: We're starting to not root for this once irresistibly watchable performer. His song choices are so wrong! Sure, let's strip down Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It" and sing it just so-so. Great game plan. "Just pick a nice song and just sing it!" Randy implored the actor-dancer. Ellen suggested he dance more, and then Simon suggested he "move but don't sing." Ouch.
Jermaine Sellers: He looked like Frankie Lymon but sounded like Frankie Lemon. The outspoken 27-year-old, who has no trouble sparring with the judges, the band or whoever displeases him at any given moment, turned in a flat version of the seminal Marvin Gaye classic "What's Going On." For the second week in a row, we thought, Why is this guy here? Simon broke it down like this: "We're frustrated and disappointed. You water down the songs."
Andrew Garcia: Where did Mr. "Straight Up" go? The fans are only going to be able to cling to that Hollywood round gem for so long before they give up on him. Tonight he did a perfectly adequate version of James Morison's "You Give Me Something." But where is the magic?! "You're way better than that," Randy said, pretty much summing up the theme of the night.
Aaron Kelly: The 16-year-old stuck out a bit, in a good way, with the Temptations' "My Girl," although as Simon pointed out, the arrangement was "old-fashioned." Ellen, who collected the Simon's share of boos tonight, also didn't care for the song choice. His voice sounded rich, though, and we doubt the youngster is in any trouble.
Tim Urban: Talk about pressure. Poor Tim had to somehow get people's minds off the beating he took last week, combined with the fact that he was a last-minute substitution in the competition. The earnest 20-year-old with the Peter Brady haircut is very likable but he still wasn't much more than coffee-house-guy-with-guitar in strumming Matt Nathanson's "Come On Get Higher." But while Ellen suggested he try out for Glee, Simon deemed Tim markedly improved over last week and had nothing but praise for the kid's work ethic and attitude…if not his voice.
Lee Dewyze: Finally, something hot. Hinder's "Lips of an Angel" rolled off Lee's tongue with ease and he punctuated the night with an intense, emotional performance. (Not to mention blew the previous nine guys, minus Michael Lynche, out of the water). Randy acknowledged that Lee felt a little "out of sorts" without his guitar and pointed out the pitch problems, but overall, the judges were pleased. "You may be the one to beat," Simon said, praising Lee's voice as "head and shoulders above everyone else on your side of the competition right now."
Guys, consider yourself on notice.
The top 10 ladies—including Crystal Bowersox, we hope—perform Wednesday.
Who was your favorite guy tonight? Anyone? Anyone...?
As the Idol judges say, sometimes you got to take a risk, be it with your song choice or your red carpet attire, as the fellows in our Real Men Take Risks gallery did.