Semifinals, The Men


The singers, the songs:

Clint Jun Gamboa- “Superstition”, Stevie Wonder

He really heth (8)ld back, didn’t he? His tone was great, but he was really stepping on the breaks. He went for it late, and both of his glory runs were spot on. He moved well, and I can’t find much fault with his performance. Soibhan did this song last year in the finals, and she wasn’t nearly as good as Junebug was tonight.

That said, I’m not sure that it’s going to get him to the finals. I haven’t heard anyone else, of course, but I know that the competition is going to be incredibly stiff and he doesn’t have positive buzz coming into the show. Going first doesn’t help, either. I’ll know more in a couple of hours, when I’ve heard everyone.

*I’m watching the judges as we go along, and I’ll have something about that at the end of my recap.*

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th (2)Jovany Barreto- “I’ll Be”, Edwin McCain

He sang it well, I guess. He didn’t do much, just sing the song, and it wasn’t dramatic or emotional as far as I could tell. It seemed more like an audition in front of an empty room than a performance in front of a large crowd, from a kid singing for his future.

(Added later) He WAS singing in an empty room. His performance got screwed up, so he had to redo it without the audience. If he wasn’t such a jerk I would feel bad for him.

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th (1)Jordan Dorsey- “OMG”, Usher

He had a couple of decent moments, but I wouldn’t have liked it even if I liked the guy. He’s in trouble.

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th (3)Tim Halperin- “Come on Over”, Rob Thomas

Tim is more of a balladeer than a singer at tempo, and this was a pretty bad song choice for his talents. I didn’t think that he sang it all that badly, but he wasn’t amazing and, with no previous buzz, he might be one and done. It’s too bad if that’s true. He’s really good. Maybe Idol isn’t his best platform. He’s more of a singer/songwriter than a pure singer.

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th (5)Brett Loewenstern- “Light My Fire”, the Doors

Is Brett this year’s Didi, just less masculine? Kidding….

He does remind me of Didi with his pronunciations and the tone of his voice. He hit some nice notes, and I liked how he started out low (too low for his voice, but he didn’t hit any horrible notes down there), and built it up to the big upper range blow-off for the last verse. It would have been easy for him to lose it and start shouting, but he never did. His highest notes were right on the tuning fork. Some in the middle weren’t, but that’s to be expected. His overall performance might have been a little bit sloppy, but it was also interesting and I was entertained. He has no rhythm in his legs, so his dance moves were hilarious.

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th (6)James Durbin– “You Got Another Thing Coming”, Judas Priest

I’ve heard this song a million times. JD did some cool things to it, and he showed off what his voice can do, but his version wasn’t nearly as good as the original version. It just didn’t have the pizzazz, or the intensity. When JP did this song, every vocal move had a reason, and a purpose, towards the picture that they were painting. JD was just splashing around, hoping that something would stick.

All the voice in the world won’t help you if you don’t know what to do with it. I don’t care if you are John Holmes; nobody is going to get excited if you are sticking your talent in their armpit. That said this should be plenty to keep JD moving on to the finals. He made it into something, and he showed some restraint while still bring energy to the stage.

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th (10)Robbie Rosen- “In the Arms of an Angel” Sarah Mclachlan

It’s amazing just how much his intonation has improved since he was making all of those basement tapes. If he keeps improving like this, he might even give Casey a run for his money. Is he the new David Archuleta?

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thScotty McReery- “Letters From Home”, John Michael Mongomery

He was ahead of the guitar on the verse, badly off the tempo. Other than that he sounded like vintage Scotty. Ok America, what do you do with him? I like the kid, of course. I’ve been hammering him lately, not because I don’t like him but because he just doesn’t fit the competition.

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th (4)Stefano Langone- “Just the Way You Are”, Bruno Mars

He was off on his high note, and he was a bit pitchy at the end too. Other than that I loved his performance. He was dynamic, and emotional. I love the kid’s voice, and he picked a terrific song to show it off.

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th (9)Paul McDonald- “Maggie May”, Rod Stewart

We ain’t getting any big glory notes from this guy. His range is about an octave, if that. He is going to live and die withAmerica’s love of his tone, and his ability to rework some songs into something cool. How freaking white are his teeth? Turn the lights off and we would have had a Cheshire Cat sighting up there…..

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th (7)Jacob Lusk- “A House is Not a Home”, Burt Bacharach (Luther Vandross)

JD could take a lesson from this guy. He knows where he is going on every single note, and he isn’t exactly going to the corner grocery store. He was almost beta blocker restrained by his own standards, yet he still took his song to its knees and made it beg for mercy.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen anyone with so much nervous energy inside them; so much AIR inside them, trying to get out. I’m not sure if he’s incredibly emotional, or just incredibly full of air.

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th (11)Casey Abrams- “I Put a Spell on You”, CCR

The whole performance was so massively, ridiculously over the top, like a drag queen on a mix of meth and horse tranquilizers trying to channel Eartha Kitt…….. Then he hit that last blue note, the major seven, so softly and so sweetly, almost mocking his own performance. Amazing. He’s obviously still sick, too. His color was off, and he looked more like a kidney patient than a stage performer. He doesn’t have a great voice, but he has a great presence, a great sense of timing, of moment, of himself. This cat knows drama, and he knows comedy….. He knows performing. His performances are going to be amazing when he gets out there on the Idol tour.

That said I am troubled that he doesn’t have a better voice. He can’t scream at us for the next three months and win. I’ve heard him sing softer stuff well, though. He’s going to have to do that. He’s amazing, but so are Jacob, Robbie and a couple of others. We are a long way from the Nokia.

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Ok, the judges:

Steven Tyler- Steven is obviously the “ditsy” judge, as well as the total soft touch judge like Paula was, and Ellen was last year. He is a much respected musician and icon, so his place on the panel can be seen as ceremonial in a way. He’s the old drunken uncle, with the caveat that everyone loves and respects the old guy and loves to hear his stories. He won’t add much in the way of criticism, but he’ll add a lot of color. On balance, he will earn his money. He’ll be as fun as Simon wasn’t fun.

Jennifer Lopez- Jen is going to have to toughen up some. She is playing the part of a coherent Paula right now, too easy and too loving. She doesn’t have to be mean, or harsh, but she can’t just love everyone. I think she sees what she is supposed to do, and I believe Nigel is going to be on her some to make sure that she doesn’t degenerate into an Ellen. Her comments show that she is paying attention, and I think she’ll do better with a show or two under her belt.

Randy Jackson- What a difference it makes being on the other side of the table. Randy was concise, constructive, and mostly accurate. He doesn’t have Simon’s gift for the dig, or the insult, but he has something that Simon never had: An ear, and experience on the stage. Randy can get too obsessed with intonation because of his previous career as a producer, but he showed some restraint tonight. Robbie got the brunt of it after his performance, but I see that as a good sign for Robbie. Intonation is his largest flaw, and it was obvious that Randy picked up on that. I thought that he was better than Randy did, but I’m just me while Randy is a guy that knows what he is talking about.

(added later, much later) I should have known better. Randy, for the last two years, has taken pretty much one performance per night to pull out his “pitchy dawg” schtick. I wouldn’t mind it so much if he was more consistent and accurate about it.

Safe to in danger:

Locks-

Casey Abrams

Jacob Lusk

Should be in:

Robbie Rosen

Paul McDonald

Brett Loewenstern

James Durbin

Looking for a Wild Card:

Stefano Langone

Clint Jun Gamboa

Goodbye, thanks for playing-

Jovany Barreto

Tim Halperin

Jordan Dorsey

What do we do with him?

Scotty McReery

I knew the male side was stacked, but this is ridiculous. Even Robbie or Paul could be gone on Thursday night. Brett isn’t a lock, and James might not be the slam dunk that I figured that he was. It’s the deepest male draw that I’ve ever seen. Junebug would have made the top five last year, and he’s a long shot to even make the final 12.

The judges have 3 wild cards in their pocket, to go with the top 5 for each gender. My guess, at least right now, is that at least two of the wild cards will go to the men. If Scotty gets voted in, which is very possible, two very deserving candidates are going to get tossed. I don’t even want to think about the possibility that Jovany or Jordan will make it through.