How much difference can a week make? That's the question American Idol's top 10 women men had to face Tuesday. (Crystal Bowersox's illness forced a last minute switcheroo; the ladies will sing Wednesday). Overall, many of the guys made better decisions this week, but the talent level still left a lot to be desired by this recapper. Who made the most of his second chance? And which contestants were singing on borrowed time? Let's find out.
When asked by Ryan Seacrest what will be different this week, Kara promised improvements. Well, duh. But Kara's not-so-astute observation turned out to be true, especially for singers like Tim Urban and Alex Lambert, both of whom barely escaped being axed a week ago. Let's break it down:
Michael Lynche, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
After informing us that he can bench-press 505 pounds, Michael also reminded me why I loved him originally. He left the guitar at home and delivered James Brown's hit with the perfect blend of soul and energy. I'll take this guy any day over the John Mayer wannabe he's tried to be in recent weeks.
Judging the Judges: A- They praised his renewed fire, and Simon applauded not only his song choice, but his ability to not make the old song sound dated.
John Park, "Gravity"
I'm not sure why, but I want to like John Park. But he's just dreadfully boring. This performance felt so lifeless and so absent of any of the honesty he claimed he wanted to bring through. Also, if he's in an a capella group, why not take the risk and do a song with no accompaniment? His vocals are passable, but he needs some sort of gimmick at this point, because I don't think anyone cares.
Judging the Judges: B+ Kara and Ellen urged him to let loose and to show a little feeling.
Casey James, "I Don't Wanna Be"
Dude has got some mad guitar chops, but somebody needed to tell Casey that this is still a singing competition. As he pointed out, this song has been done by other Idol alums, and to much greater effect. The performance was fun because of the guitar work, but the vocals weren't there. You know it's bad when Kara the Cougar isn't feeling it. (Groan.)
Judging the Judges: A Everyone agreed that this was in his wheelhouse, but he didn't really elevate himself to a new level.
Alex Lambert, "Everybody Knows"
I didn't have a problem with Alex's vocals last week, but plenty of other people did. My beef was with his stiffness, which melted away tonight when he strapped on the guitar. He still looked awkward at points, but the song suited his unique voice. I almost can't believe I'm about to type this, but I daresay Alex delivered the best vocals of the night. But, seriously: He has to do something about that hair.
Judging the Judges: C I docked major points mostly because Ellen went back to her unripe banana metaphor.
Todrick Hall, "What's Love Got to Do with It"
I didn't hate this arrangement as much as the judges, but he didn't deliver a stunning vocal performance. Todrick does seem to be grasping at straws when it comes to trying to please the judges. But that goes back to their wishy-washy hypocrisy of telling contestants to be original but criticizing them for not just singing a great song. I want him to survive another week just so he can do what they ask. Because I am certain they will then say he's playing it safe.
Judging the Judges: C Why would Ellen tell him to dance more when he's not singing well?
Jermaine Sellers, "What's Going On"
Rant Alert: I can't find a single thing to like about this guy. He's so full of himself and he has this "Man, I'm killing this song right now" look on his face the entire time he sings. I think every time he pushed his voice into that upper register, he sounded shout-y and far from pleasant. He also talked back to almost every judge, because clearly he thinks he's got it all figured out. I will relish his elimination.
Judging the Judges: A Kara warned him to stop showing off his tricks, because you don't have to do them all just to prove you can.
Andrew Garcia, "You Give Me Something"
Andrew is one of the only guys I definitely see in the top 12, but not if he gives more performances like the one tonight. I don't think he has to have the guitar, but he certainly has to sing songs with some life. This one was dead on arrival, and Andrew drowned in it.
Judging the Judges: B Kara said he played it safe and Randy accurately diagnosed the problem: Andrew has soul, but he's not a soul singer.
Aaron Kelly, "My Girl"
I'm impressed with Aaron's talent at his age, but I can't picture him as an artist I will ever care about. More accurately: I see him as a child star who will fizzle when he gets a little older. Maybe I'm wrong. Either way, his vocals are still among the top in this group, and his countrified version of this song worked for me, even if it didn't fit his baby face.
Judging the Judges: B Simon, who is a fan, thought he regressed. Ellen wished he had used his newfound confidence on a more powerful song.
Tim Urban, "Come on Get Higher"
First: It's an absolute tragedy that this kid even got the chance to sing tonight. That said, he did play to his strengths by throwing down some singer/songwriter action. But let's be honest: The guy doesn't have much range. While he sang this song satisfactorily, he's never going to win. And all the teen girls voting are just prolonging the misery.
Judging the Judges: B+ The panel slammed him again for just not having the vocals to go along with his look. (Ellen told him he should be on Glee.) But Simon applauded his work ethic and the way he listened to the judges in an attempt to improve.
Lee Dewyze, "Lips of an Angel"
Lee is the kind of guy I would root for, but after he destroyed the Snow Patrol song and did a bad Counting Crows impression of this Hinder song, I'm at a loss. He can sing, but his phrasing was annoying, and he was really hit or miss on his pitch, especially in the lower register. I'm gobsmacked by how much Simon liked this performance.
Judging the Judges: C The producers (they gave him the closing spot) and judges seem to be pushing this guy, which felt so obvious in their critiques. I know there aren't a ton of amazing vocalists in this group, Simon, but calling Lee "undoubtedly the best singer"? Really?
What did you think of the guys? Who improved the most?
How much difference can a week make? That's the question American Idol's top 10 women men had to face Tuesday. (Crystal Bowersox's illness forced a last minute switcheroo; the ladies will sing Wednesday). Overall, many of the guys made better decisions this week, but the talent level still left a lot to be desired by this recapper. Who made the most of his second chance? And which contestants were singing on borrowed time? Let's find out...