The tough criticism continued Wednesday as the top 12 men took the American Idol stage, hoping to make a bigger impression than the women.
But the men seemed just as nervous making their live debut as the women did on Tuesday and like the women, there were only a couple of standout performances.
Todrick Hall was first up with his take on the Kelly Clarkson hit Since U been Gone. The Arlington, TX, native got a mixed reaction, ranging from Ellen telling him he’s a “great performer” to Simon telling him he “murdered the song” and that his performance was “verging on stupid”.
16-year-old Aaron Kelly managed to keep his nerves despite his young age, remembering all the lyrics unlike his first appearance, and performing a passable version of Rascal Flatts’ Here Comes Goodbye. Although he didn’t win rave reviews Simon conceded that it was “quite a good performance” before adding that he “looks embarrassed to be here”. Kara was kinder, telling Kelly that he is her “favorite kind of performer”. Randy carried on the praise commenting that Kelly has a “huge voice”…not adding much to justify her multi million dollar salary Ellen said “ditto”.
Jermaine Sellers got mixed reviews for his performance of Oleta Adams‘ Get Here. Elen commented that she’s a huge fan of his but felt that he was “all into the performance instead of feeling the song”. Randy told him it was a weird choice whereas Simon was less diplomatic quipping that it sounded like “the kind of song someone in their 50s would request in a piano bar.” And stingingly added that he believed Sellers had just blown his opportunity.
Tim Urban got through to the top 24 by the skin of his teeth, securing a place only after Chris Golightly was disqualified. Urban made a bad choice with his pick of OneRepublics’ Apologise. Simon told the wanabee congratulations on his comeback but based on his performance they made the right choice first time round. Ouch!
20-year-old Joe Munoz performed a sweet version of Joe Mraz’s You And I Both. Kara and Randy gave rave reviews but Simon, in typical Simon fashion, rolled his eyes as he commented, “In 10 seconds time, we’re going to forget this.” calling the performance, “Limp and forgettable” … adding, “Rather like our host.”
70s rocker Tyler Grady took on American Woman, starting off strong but finishing on a bum note. Simon slammed him, saying that people will remember this performance, but down side is, not necessarily for the right reasons. Simon said Tyler comes across like someone who went to “trying-to-be-a-rock-star school,” and that it doesn’t seem natural.
23-year-old Lee DeWyze sang a pretty forgettable yet passable version of Snow Machine’s Chasing Cars. Ellen commented that it was a good song choice, “except when you started kind of screaming it a bit.” Simon praised DeWyze though, even go so far as to say, “It was the best performance…by a mile”.
John Park performed an unusual song choice, singing God Save The Child. The judges were left unimpressed with Kara saying there was no connection and that the song was “loungey and sleepy”. Ellen disagreed though, saying that she thought he sounded great.
26-year-old Michael Lynch chose to jazz up Maroon 5’s This Love for his performance. Randy, Ellen and Kara praised him, but Simon dourly commented that his performance “was like the support act before the main act, you delivered so little.”
Texan student Alex Lambert rocked a mullet and performed James Morrison‘s classic hit Wonderful World. Simon awarded him with the the “most uncomfortable performance of the night” whereas Kara just added that she felt he “needs a hug”. Ellen threw in her support of Lambert’s hairstyle choice though before cryptically comparing him to a “not quite ripe banana.”
Kara is obviously a huge fan of Casey James and holds nothing back in her praise. James let down his long blond hair and gave a pitchy version of Bryan Adams’ Heaven. Kara DioGuardi didn’t seem to mind the missed notes as she swayed back and forth during the song and told him giddily afterward, “Casey I don’t recognize you with your shirt on.”
James even managed to unnerve Ellen DeGeneres, who stammered out, “I could feel Kara undressing you with her eyes, I couldn’t focus. You’re going to get votes like crazy.”
Even Simon seemed a little knocked off his block. “Casey one thing I do understand is that we were both cursed with good looks. But somehow you have to manage the talent thing as well. Obviously the cougar here loves you.”
Finally, 24-year-old Andrew Garcia went out on a limb, performing a stripped down and acoustic version of Fall Out Boy’s We’re Going Down. Kara said it was a “strange rendition” and Simon was just plain blunt, telling Garcia that he found his performance “disappointing and kind of boring”.
Stay tuned Thursday for Season 9’s first elimination round and a performance from Season 8’s American Idol, Kris Allen.