Don’t be shocked if the nerves that pretty much ruined last night’s show for the ladies will be kicking in hard for the men tonight. It’s their first night on stage, live, and while it’s been just a week for us it’s been well over a month for the contestants. They have had way too much time to stew and think about this performance. When the music starts, their adrenal glands will kick them like a horse. Good luck holding the tune with a gallon of red bull injected into your veins. Next week will be much better. They will all know how their nerves are going to affect them, and most of them will make adjustments accordingly.
I always write my critiques before the judges talk because I don’t want to have what they say affect my own opinions. If I am wrong I’ll deal with it, mostly by bitching about the judges and how stupid they are.
Aside: When I first wrote these articles I talked about the judges quite a bit. I don’t really care what they think, though, and talking about them just gets my blood boiling. I’ll put some of their stuff in if I think that it’s germane, but I’ll leave most of it out in this “reprint”.
The Singers, the songs:
Todrick Hall- “Since You’ve Been Gone”, Kelly Clarkson-
Nice, tightly wrapped performance. He cut the beat in half and funked it up a lot. Todrick has a bit of Janelle-itis in that his voice isn’t the strongest one around. He will have to make up for that with creativity, command and stage presence. Tonight he was good, but his vocals were inconsistent and his lack of range was glaring. I really like this kid because he has the creative gene, but he is going to have to be almost perfect to get much farther than the top 12. One stinker could oust him earlier than that. His public persona isn’t the best, thanks to some gratuitous editing by the Idol producers. I’m of the opinion that he is actually a pretty nice guy, but the public might not agree with me.
Aaron Kelly- “Here Comes Goodbye”, Rascal Flatts-
He spent the first half of his performance singing from the back of his mouth, not even from his throat. He loosened up some after that, but he never got to his diaphragm. He was uneven and pitchy, and though he has some very good vocal chops the entire performance was so full of nerves that he never did hit the tuning fork. Aaron is 16, and he forgot the words twice in Hollywood week but made it to the semis anyway. Like Haeley and Katie, he really should have waited until he was older and more experienced.
Jermaine Sellers– “Get Here”, Oleta Adams-
Jermaine has a ton of high range and a very nice tone as well. He was all over the place, overdoing it and missing a lot of what he was aiming for. It was like he was spashing paint all over a canvas in hopes that it will look cool if you don’t look too closely at it. Instead of painting a mural, he painted a Rorschach test. He was screaming like Adam did last year, but Adam nailed his notes on the button. Jermaine doesn’t have nearly enough command of his voice to get away with that kind of thing outside of a karaoke bar. This was my main worry about him. He overdoes it, and he really doesn’t have to. His voice is much better than he probably thinks that it is, so he overcompensates by trying to be a vocal athlete.
Tim Urban- “Apologize”, One Republic-
Horrible falsetto most of the song, but he did hit one pretty well towards the end. He has a good voice, but not great. His phrasing was mediocre and he missed a couple of notes, but mostly he was in tune. His runs were wooden and amateurish. He is purely a melody singer, and pure karaoke in my opinion. Actually, if he sang this song in a karaoke bar nobody would even pay attention.
Joe Munoz- “You and I Both”, Jason Mraz-
Wow, really good!!!! He is comparable to Anoop from last season, but I like his rhythm sense a lot more. He nailed a couple of difficult runs perfectly, and with style. His last little run was a little bit off, but overall this was very strong. If he had some high range he would be a sleeper, but I don’t think that he does. I still see him as a karaoke singer, but at the high end of that demographic group. He should be safe.
Tyler Grady– “American Woman”, The Guess Who?-
Ouch. If this style is his forte he is in big, huge trouble. I know hundreds of singers that can sing that song better than that. Hell, I can sing that song better than that. He had no scratch in his upper range, and he was shouting and out of tune whenever he reached for a note in any direction. It was limp, flat and embarrassing. He wasn’t singing the song. He was impersonating a singer singing the song. If he was Will Ferrell doing an impersonation that’s ok, but as a serious contestant on Idol this was just horrible.
Lee Dewyze- “Chasing Cars”, Snow Patrol-
This is what Lee does. It was a good bit better than most of the first week performances will be, because he is simply better than most of his competition. His achilles heel might be that he is too signature, like Didi. Both of them are ready to make a record right now. Both of them will eventually have to ask themselves if they want to win the competition. To do that, instead of petering out around fifth place, they will have to find a way to wow audiences for another three months. Their signature sound, the sound that will effortlessly take them to the final 12, will eventually count against them when the audience gets over the novelty and wants something original and new. For now he is safe and cruising.
John Park- “God Bless the Child”, gospel standard made famous by Blood, Sweat and Tears among others-
First, I was tickled by the Shania thing. Shania is massively famous, but also an incredibly beautiful woman. I like how John played it, telling her that he would marry her and making the face and saying “I’m serious, I’ll do it”. John was the internet frontrunner for weeks, but Idol hasn’t shown him singing since his audition, until tonight. I am really looking forward to this one…
I think that he took too much stock in the comments about his low range, and overdid it. He didn’t quite nail the low notes, and the key of the song kept him below the belting range. He should have done this song at least a full step higher, and probably two steps. He should be safe, but this kind of performance won’t win him the title. He will need, need, need to show some upper range and some intensity next week. I love this song, but his version was, frankly, pretty boring. All of that being said he has terrific command and a great tone to his voice.
Micheal Lynche– “This Love”, Maroon Five-
I liked it as a performance, but he sang the entire song in a range of less than an octave. If he is going to be a serious contender he has to have some range. Other than that, though, he has some good things going for him. His trilly style of working a melody is one that can get out of hand, but he controlled it well and stayed in tune. His energy was infectious and he was charismatic and enjoyable to watch; a thundering herd of a man with some almost ballerina-like finesse. He looks ridiculous with that tiny guitar in his hands, but he can play it and he radiates fun and happiness. He should be safe as hell for now, but he will need to address that lack of high range eventually.
Alex Lambert- “Wonderful World”, James Morrison-
Man, I really love his voice. I am a sucker for the scratch and his silky, smoky voice is warm all over. Unfortunately, he needs some serious lessons and experience to learn how to use it. He isn’t ready for this yet. Why didn’t they tell him to come back next year, and in the meantime sing about two thousand times at karaoke, join a band and work on his stage persona and his guitar? He needs polish, and he needs to work on his high range. He needs to learn how to work a microphone, how to breathe, and how to express himself with his body as well as his voice. I am impressed with that voice, and he is probably safe for this week, but he might be an even bigger “what if?” than Haeley, Aaron and Katie. Wait a few more minutes and you get to hear the mature version of Alex Lambert. His name is Andrew Garcia.
Casey James– “Heaven”, Bryan Adams-
He sounds a LOT like Scott Stapp, from Creed. His voice isn’t quite as thick, but his earlier auditions showed that he has some serious soul. He, for the first time, showed his high range. It was a little tinny, but overall not something that will hurt him. He is a major contender. He is not only safe for tonight, but he announced himself as a lock for the final 12; and probably the final four.
Andrew Garcia– “Sugar We’re Going Down”, Fall out Boy-
Oh man, how good was that? Complete command, effortless range, rich, thick tone and he is completely relaxed up on the stage. After two days of watching and biting my nails over nervous performances, Andrew stepped up there like this was his living room and he was singing for his family. Andrew can go out on tour tomorrow. His accent is subtle, but juuuust there. It adds a gentle lilt to his phrasing that makes him even more pleasing to listen to. It’s less than a reach to declare him the number one contender. It’s his game to lose at this point, but we need to be real about this. There are 13 more weeks to go, and he isn’t blow you away like Adam was last year. He’s just really, really smooth.
Tim is the Lacey of this night, the one most likely to be gone on Thursday. It’s not that clear, though. This one is fairly wide open. There is an additional dynamic here, one that didn’t apply to the females. There are some male performers that have been portrayed as “black hats”. It’s probably a coincidence that they are actually black skinned. One last thought about the guys that are in danger:
John- No range, no energy but he has serious internet support and he is publicly judged to be better than this
Alex- Great voice but way too green
Jermaine- Huge pipes but some personality issues and he was all over the place during his performance
Todrick- He should be safe but Idol seems to be trying to reject him like a bad kidney
Tyler- He flat stunk but he has fans, so you never know
Tim- He might get saved by the judge manipulations, but he should probably be gone
My guess is thatTylerand Tim will get bounced, but that’s far from a lock. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Simon’s crap tonight gets one of the black singers tossed, Jermaine or Todrick. That would be a huge injustice. Todrick is one of the few who can create something original every night. The show needs him. Jermaine is more problematic, but he has the most range of any man left. There are others that can be let go at this point, others who are not capable of what he can do if he nails one.