American Idol

Timothy White/FOX

Something happened on the way to the debut of the American Idol top 24 that was supposed to be "the best yet."

They, um, sorta sucked.

Yes, there were three obvious exceptions—Jason Castro, Michael Johns and David Archuleta, who will no doubt make it to the final 12 and possibly even final three—but still, tonight's kickoff performances by the boys of season seven were by and large so shaky and awkward and off-kilter, it made us fans yearn for the likes of Justin Guarini singing "A Moment Like This" back in the earliest days. (And that's so not a good thing!)

And so the biggest question of the night is: What happened? Where did all this amazing talent go wrong? And why did so many of them look so terrified and out of place?

Clearly, their first big night being thrown to the vultures (voters and viewers who might say awful things like the second sentence above) had them all scared hit-less. The debut jitters were in full effect, and pitch and performance took a back seat. It's also worth noting here that insiders tell me the contestants are solely responsible (financially and otherwise) for their overall look at this point in the game, which could explain Garrett's garish and "haunting" appearance, Chikezie's (bless him) bold but hideous safety-cone-colored suit and Luke Menard's "just rolled outta bed" sweatshirt chic.

But of course, it's not about the clothes, and it's not about the first night (as we were reminded, no one paid any attention to Kelly Clarkson early on in the first season). It's about the talent, and as we saw in the auditions, these peeps do have pipes, so I still have total faith in this year's Idol crop.

Especially when we have talent like Michael Johns, who, let's face it, doesn't even need to win this thing to launch a career (the guy just screams major recording artist), and David Archuleta, who is so  many different kinds of adorable that not only did I vote for him tonight, but I'd like to clone him, shrink him and put him in my pocket to make me smile wherever I go.

So, who are you digging? And do you agree the boys didn't live up to the hype tonight? Keep reading to weigh in on the Best Man poll and Comments section below!


Best Man
Which Idol guy did you love most tonight?
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