Michael Becker / FOX
Michael Becker / FOX
After a mostly lovely, yet still partly lame, ladies' night, it was the guys' turn to sing it out for a spot in American Idol's top 12.
Only a couple had performed with any consistency up to this point, so our hopes weren't high as we tuned in Wednesday to listen to the top eight gents.
Were our suspicions correct, or have we all been a bit hasty in judging the guys to be finished before they even really began?
Lee Dewyze: The fan favorite who redeemed guys' night last week kicked off the show with a slightly grittier version of the oh-so-contemporary "Fireflies." And Lee managed to make the song more appealing, with the tone of his husky voice proving a better fit than Owl City frontman Adam Young's nasal twang. "I think you actually made the song a better song," Kara DioGuardi said. "A strange song choice," Randy Jackson agreed, "but you kinda made it your own." Simon Cowell thought there was "nothing to rave about," but he wasn't too worried about Lee's future on the show.
Alex Lambert: Ah, nothing like a 19-year-old singing the blues. Or a Ray LaMontagne song. But Alex actually seemed to benefit from the weary yet hopeful tone of LaMontagne's "Trouble" and sang the tune with a maturity previously unseen in the lad. "You are becoming a mushy banana, you're ripening so fast," Ellen DeGeneres said, keeping the banana metaphor going for the third straight week. Simon encouraged him to "picture Randy in a bikini or something" if it will help him loosen up onstage.
Tim Urban: The second banana is all grown up! The last-moment replacement was a different man out there tonight, benefiting from the nowhere-to-hide honesty and bewitching simplicity of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" via Jeff Buckley. It wasn't quite Jason Castro a couple of years ago, but Tim certainly gave his best performance of the competition. Ellen, so hard on him week after week, ran over and gave the wide-eyed 20-year-old a hug. "I kind of feel responsible for you doing well tonight because I gave you a compliment," Simon smirked, referring to last week when he was really the only judge in Tim's court. "For you, it was terrific."
Andrew Garcia: So long as he only sings lady songs, Andrew's good to go. Tonight it was an acoustic "Genie in a Bottle" that boosted him back into the better half of the male competitors—though it didn't really rub the judges the right way. Randy missed Christina Aguilera's range, saying Andrew made it feel "like the whole song was three notes." "It was a little bit desperate," Simon observed, a common reaction for the Brit, and probably never more appropriate than it was here.
Casey James: This was a tricky one. Keith Urban's voice on "You'll Think of Me" is so tender, so broken, and Casey doesn't exactly give off the broken vibe, but… That rugged hotness just wins in the end. Sure enough, Kara's "kind of back on the Casey train." Randy thought the song choice too safe, but Simon and Ellen thought he sounded great.
Aaron Kelly: The 16-year-old continued to sound far older than he is, but the more booming parts of Lonestar's "I'm Already There" didn't exactly do the kid any favors. And apparently he stands like he's 30, according to Ellen. But perhaps the best part of Aaron's performance was during the judging afterward, when Simon finally called Kara out on one of her "I don't feel the emotional connection" comments. "It's just a nice song!" Simon insisted.
Todrick Hall: Definitely Todrick's best performance since the voting began. His gospel a cappella intro to Queen's "Somebody to Love" was the highlight, but he held his own as the song continued to get bigger and bigger. "It may have saved you, that song," Simon said, appreciating Todrick's attempt to do more with his performance than some of the other guys tonight. "There were moments where I didn't know whether to laugh at it or love it," puzzled Kara, referring to the same dramatic performance that Simon appreciated.
Michael Lynche: Can you say risky? Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work," covered so finely by Maxwell?! We thought we could hear a few holes in Michael's otherwise solid vocal foundation, but his performance had Randy speaking gibberish (more than usual) and made Kara cry. "You come out with an incredibly difficult song to sing and you 100 percent nailed it," Simon said. "It's the best performance we've had on all these live shows so far."
And just like that, it became a co-ed competition again. Alas, two of these guys are outta here tomorrow, along with two ladies.
This time, we actually care.
Did Andrew's "Genie" rub you the wrong way? Did you hear Michael's harsh notes or was he beyond perfect on your TV? And how about that Tim?! Discuss any and all in the comments section.
What else is on tonight? Check out Watch With Kristin for the latest scoop on all your favorite shows!