Simon Cowell has already said a girl is going to win American Idol this year.
And apparently only a few of the guys are interested in trying to prove him wrong.
The top 12 boys-to-men sang live Wednesday, falling squarely into two categories: those with a shot, and those whose only consolation is that, according to Ellen DeGeneres, they're adorable.
Simon, however, was ruthless tonight, starting with performance No. 1, and so uninspired by performance No. 10 that he briefly took over Ryan Seacrest's duties and talked about his girlfriend.
Todrick Hall: Memorable, although the 24-year-old actor-dancer's R&B version of "Since U Been Gone" didn't show off his voice at all. Todrick put too much bebop bounce in the verses and didn't nail the chorus nearly enough to make it a worthwhile reworking of the Kelly Clarkson hit. Poor Ellen, so eager to compliment and then forced to kick off the night with a thumbs-down. "I think you came over as a dahncer trying to sing," Simon said snootily.
Aaron Kelly: The Rascal Flatts breakup tune "Here Comes Goodbye" was a good choice for the 16-year-old, giving him a flattering showcase for his mature voice while still allowing his youthful cuteness to shine through. The judges liked what they saw, with Kara DioGuardi calling Aaron her "favorite kind of contestant," because he has no idea how great his "raw, natural talent" is. Even Simon called him likable and "very cute."
Jermaine Sellers: The guys have to be careful when they try lady songs like Oleta Adams' "Get Here." Jermaine's opening bars sounded weak and wussy and then his falsetto failed him during the chorus. What a bummer, because we know he has chops. "There were a couple of times that you went out and off," Ellen put it mildly. "I think you've totally blown your opportunity with that," Simon put it harshly.
Tim Urban: Meh. We've been hearing OneRepublic's "Apologize" on Idol for years now, first from David Archuleta and OneRepublic on the season-seven finale and last year from winner Kris Allen. Tim's version now ranks a distant third. The only standout thing about his performance was the utter beating he took afterward from Simon. "Congratulations for coming back," Simon told the last-minute replacement for Chris Golightly. "Having said that, we absolutely made the right decision the first time around, based on that performance."
Joe Muñoz: Thanks for the perfectly fine performance of Jason Mraz's "You and I Both." "In terms of the singing, I think you've been the best," Kara offered, though Simon—determined to go out in a blaze of glory, apparently—objected to Joe's lack of star quality. "In 10 seconds' time we're going to forget that performance," he sniffed.
Tyler Grady: It's unfortunate that the 20-year-old Jim Morrison-idolizer picked the Guess Who's "American Woman," already picked through by fellow knotted scarf-wearer Lenny Kravitz. Lots of screaming rather than singing, and he didn't scream well enough to win anyone over. "Definitely style over substance," observed Randy Jackson.
Lee Dewyze: The Fray frontman Isaac Slade's gravelly timbre was easier for Lee to mimic during Hollywood week, when he hit it out of the park with "You Found Me." But he hit some sour notes with Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars." He's a very likable guy, but yeesh. Simon, however, heard nothing of the sort. "I thought this was the best performance by a mile," he praised the unassuming fella. "I fought for you to be here [aha!], I still believe in you."
John Park: Well, sure, who doesn't think of Billie Holliday when they see John Park? The 21-year-old, who made a fan of Shania Twain during the audition process, chose, let's just say, oddly when he decided to take on the jazz standard "God Bless the Child." Ellen thought he sounded great, but...he didn't. "You have got to have an incredible voice to take on that song, and you haven't," Simon concluded. "I actually agree," Kara said quietly and somewhat regretfully.
Michael Lynche: OK, now that is how to turn a zippy pop song around. The proud new dad from Florida unnecessarily accompanied himself on guitar for an R&Bish take on Maroon 5's "This Love," but his enthusiasm was infectious and, like Kara said, "it was a little depressing in here until [he] came up and did his thing." Simon didn't think much of it, but the rest of the judges deemed it a fair-to-great debut on a night of fair-to-low-grade performances.
Alex Lambert: Who is picking these songs?! The poor 19-year-old spent about three-quarters of his stage time butchering James Morrison's "Wonderful World" and the remaining time actually sounding pretty good. "I don't know who was happier for that to end, you or me," began Simon. "If you can't get your nerves together on a night like this, this is never going to work for you." Ellen then compared him to a banana that isn't quite ripe yet. (What are they putting in those Coca-Cola cups?)
Casey James: Way to save face on what was a rough night for the guys. The 27-year-old sang Bryan Adams' "Heaven," looking all tousled and hunky 'n' stuff as he strummed his guitar. Almost hunky enough to excuse the pitch issues, in fact. "I could feel Kara undressing you with her eyes," joked Ellen. "I know we're both models, but look—I actually really liked you," added Randy, while Simon also empathized with Casey's predicament. "One thing I understand is that we both were cursed with good looks and somehow you have to manage the talent thing as well," he said, going on to praise the song choice and Casey's "honest, sincere" delivery. "Obviously the cougar here loves you," he quipped.
Andrew Garcia: The 24-year-old stay-at-home dad ended the night with an acoustic version of Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Goin' Down." His voice registered sweetly, but the performance overall was kind of a snooze, unlike the time he worked magic with "Straight Up." "I was looking forward to hearing you more than anyone tonight, but I was disappointed," lamented Simon. "Too serious, too indulgent and not original enough."
And with that, the night ended on a low note.
Two of these guys, plus two of the girls (who, as a whole, made a far better first impression), will be eliminated Thursday during a live results show. Allison Iraheta is making an appearance and Kris Allen will perform.
What were some of these guys thinking?! No, really, we have no idea. Please tell us in the comments section.
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