Thursday, February 25, 2010

American Idol Season 9, Episode 14: Top 24, Men

Wow, it feels like American Idol is on every night this week. I love this show so much, at levels many of you may not be able to comprehend, but three nights a week is a little much, even for me. I will be so glad when we're back to two nights a week--performances and results. But for the next three weeks, I'll be glued to the television every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Tonight, it's the guy's turn to sing songs from the Billboard Hot 100, and of course, we all saw it coming, Ryan was going to tell us that tonight's performances would separate "the men from the boys". Sometimes this show is so predictable it makes me laugh.

Why? Because THIS is American Idol! (Bah-da-Bah-da-Bah-da-Bow-Wow....that's how I hear the theme music in my head. And now, so do you. You're welcome.)

A couple of quick sidenotes before I get started recapping the performances: I am really happy to see that the guys are dressed like, well, guys, and not participants in some freak psychological experiment. Well, except Tyler Grady, who is dressed like he thinks his last name is Brady and he's about to go on stage with his five brothers and sisters. Also, I think Randy and I own the same black, white, and pink argyle cardigan.

Let's get started!

Tondrick Hall is up first, singing a new arrangement of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone". We've known since his audition that Tondrick is not like the other contestants. He's not just a singer; he's a performer at heart, and he wants to entertain people. Also, he's a bit of a clown, and I mean that in a good way. The arrangement of the song made it almost completely unrecognizable, but in the end, he will have people talking, which will get him votes and move him to the next round. I like the way Tondrick works the stage, the crowd, the song. He is definitely not one to drown in the music. If the judges are looking for artistry and creativity, then Tondrick has it spades.

I don't like the way Aaron Kelly holds his microphone while he sings "Here Comes Goodbye." It's like he's afraid that it's going to burn him. Let's be honest, I haven't really been an Aaron Kelly fan since I found he forgot his lyrics three times during Hollywood Week. Really, he should have been gone way before he was put in front of a live audience. Maybe it's because I'm not a big country music fan, but I just don't get why the judges are all wibbly over this kid. I don't feel like there's any charisma coming from him. In fact, it's like all the air has been sucked out of the room.

Jermaine Sellers pulled out the old chestnut "Get Here" by Aleta Adams, which hasn't been sung on American Idol since Justin Guarini attempted it in Season One. Ugh, and for good reason. This is about as dreary as anything. Why do contestants do this? This is your chance to show America your star power, show them how awesome your vocal skills are, and you sing some AM radio drivel from the 70s? He may as well have sung "The Pina Colada Song"! It's just about as relevant. He's very shrieky in places, don't you think? It's pretty bad when Ellen is stumbling over herself, trying to find good things to say about your performance.

What is it with boys and haircuts like Tim Urban's? It doesn't look like a haircut or a hairstyle at all. It's just a floppy mess. Also, if they used Tim Urban to replace Chris Golightly in the Top 24, why show us all that drama with telling poor Thaddeus Johnson goodbye? If it was really down to Andrew and Thad, then why not call him back? Just makes good solid sense, right? But there I go again, using that pesky logic of mine. Oh, wait. I just figured it out. It was all producer manipulation! They never wanted Thad to begin with, because even though he has a wonderful personality and a beautiful voice, he doesn't have a 'look', and Tim Urban, boy band wonder, definitely has a 'look'. Oh American Idol, it really is a love/hate relationship with us, isn't it? Anyway, this kid sang a song, "Apologize". Cathryn loves to sing this song when we play the American Idol video game. Also, as an 8-year-old girl, she sings it just about as well as Timbo here. Say it, don't spray it, dude. The high notes are killing him, and this song was just a mess.

We haven't heard Joe Munoz before tonight, and I'm glad. It's really a nice surprise to hear him sing Jason Mraz's "You And I". He has a really nice voice, and seems to really enjoy being up on stage. Nix that. I'm sure he does enjoy the stage, but what you can tell he really loves is singing. You can see it all over him, even when the nerves take a little control of his voice. Joe got my vote and Randy's first "dog" of the night!

Can someone call 1972 and tell them that Greg Brady escaped? Oh, wait, no, that's not Greg Brady. It's that 70s guy on American Idol, Tyler Grady. Wow, he's really got a thing for that decade, doesn't he? Right down to the lavender shirt and cravat. Also, Richie totally called his song choice during his video interview. As we were watching, Richie called out "He's going to sing 'American Woman'!" Lo and behold, if that is not what Johnny Bravo busted out. Of course, he's probably singing the Guess Who version, and not the Lenny Kravtiz version, because that wouldn't be authentic 70s. It was good, I guess, but he's so totally a poser; even Ellen told him so. Is Simon listening to the performance? Who is he winking at in the audience?

I love Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" that Lee Dewyze is singing. I have it on two different CDs, and sing along in the car like a 12-year old. I'm not ashamed to admit it. it me, or is Lee way, way off-key? He's completely lost the melody, and is singing something completely different. I really enjoyed hearing him sing during Hollywood Week, well, during the videos they showed of him singing at Hollywood Week. I'm hoping that he's just having an off night, and I hope that he doesn't go home because of this. He has room to grow.

It is time to retire "God Bless The Child" on American Idol. Apparently, John Parks didn't get the memo. It's a lovely song, and he has a lovely voice, but this song just isn't relevant to this show anymore. If we haven't seen you before now, we have no idea what kind of artist you are, and singing "God Bless The Child" doesn't help us out any. It makes you seem old and outdated, and you can't connect with your audience that way. On American Idol, and in the entertainment industry in general, the most important thing is to connect with your audience.

I have been waiting for Michael Lynche to perform all night. What I just said about connecting with your audience? Michael Lynche has that down pat. Is he the strongest singer in the competition? By any means, no. But he is fun, and likable, and you can have fun when he performs. He invites that kind of thinking in, and that really appeals to a lot of people. He chose to sing Maroon 5's "This Love". He's a little difficult to pin down, isn't he? This is really an unexpected choice, but at the same time, it feels really right. Good performance, and I look forward to more.

Ryan said that Michael's guitar looked like a ukulele in his hands, and speaking of ukuleles, Alex Lambert, that kid that loves to play the ukulele because he thinks he is Jason Mraz, is up, singing "It's A Wonderful World" by James Morrison. I really, really want to give this guy a haircut, because he's trying to grow it out to look like Tim Urban's, but it really just looks like a mullet. The nerves are showing all over this kid. It's like someone ordered him to stay glued to that one spot on the stage, to grip that mic like his life was depending on it, to bounce in place, and glare at the camera. Bless his heart. I know it's no fun to have stage fright, but he's going to pay dearly for that.

Hey--wait a minute. Glee is going to be on Tuesdays this April? Most likely after American Idol? Hmm. Will need to rearrange the schedule.

Well, well, somebody found the conditioner and the hot rollers, didn't they? Yes, friends, we have found the love child of Season Five's Bucky Covington and Ace Young. His name is Casey James and he is singing "Heaven" by Bryan Adams to YOU. And only YOU. No one exists on this planet but YOU, and this song is all for YOU. And, baby, YOU are all that he needs, when YOU are lying there in his arms. And he needs YOUR vote. He definitely chose the right song for his voice. For all the hubbub that American Idol (and Kara specifically, but we'll get to her in a moment) has made over his looks, he's actually a pretty good performer and is a good singer. At least he has charisma, which is more than can be said for at least half these contestants tonight. Now, back to Kara. She's a bit dippy over Casey, isn't she? She makes Paula look modest, and you can tell that all this blathering over him makes him very uncomfortable. Who can blame him? It was unfortable and embarrassing to watch.

I recently read an article that said Andrew Garcia had no chance of winning American Idol this season because he's had too much press, we've seen too much of him, and there's really no room for improvement. Apparently, because he's on top now, there's nowhere to go from here but down. I wonder if he's read the same article, because he has decided to perform "Sugar, We're Going Down" by Fall Out Boy. I like the lyrics of this song, and I like the way he sings it. He's got his guitar again, which is good. He knows exactly what type of artist he is, and is never afraid to be himself. Hopefully, he will improve next week, and sail right into the Top 12.

And that's it for Top 12 guys! I'm not really sure what to make of it. There are so many contestants that they all start to bleed together, with a few exceptions. I am anxiously awaiting next week, when hopefully, the nerves will have melted away and we'll see some creativity and hear more courageous song choices.

Bottom Four: Jermaine Sellers, Tim Urban, John Park, and Alex Lambert

Going Home: John Park and Alex Lambert

Tearful goodbyes tonight!

And a super-extra-big Thank You to Richie, who very sweetly has begun proofreading for me.


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