“What’s the dynamic like because you’re all so good?” –Ryan
S10E13: Now that we’ve gotten through the not-so-nail-biting Idol eliminations and we’ve got our top 12 men, it looks like the problem now may be that they’re all pretty damn good – and when they’re not good they’ve got enough stage presence to make up for it. I really have no idea what audiences are going to do with this, but no matter what we’ll have some great performers sticking around. Overall the episode was pretty enjoyable throughout – minus the shameless JLo music video plugs and those weird contestant intros that looked like they were ripped straight from a bad baseball video game.
The real problem this time around is the fact that with total freedom of song choice this week, the contestants are showing their weaknesses. Many of them could have delivered stellar performances had they not chosen terrible songs. Throughout this, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were playing it WAY too nice; they both loved EVERYONE. Thank goodness Randy seems to have some sense, delivering the bad news with a “yo dawg” but I think a few of these guys would have benefitted from some Simon-style criticism. The judges are throwing the word “artist” a lot and I think Mr. Cowell would beg to differ (let’s wait to use that word until people deserve it). With that in mind, here are the top 12 dudes in order of awesomeness (best to worst).
“I Put a Spell On You”
To be honest, the top spot was a toss-up for me. Abrams ends up on top simply because he’s more along the lines of my style of music, but his performance was flawless. This guy just gets it – he is a born performer. He makes it look easy and that’s something Idol contestants rarely do this early on. The judges really covered all the bases here; Jennifer saying he’s sexy and Randy and Steven exchanging varying versions of “You are the business.”
Simon Says*: Fantastic. (Unless he somehow lost his hearing.)
*Simon Says is just what we think Simon might have said because it’s fun.
“A House Is Not a Home”
The only reason Lusk is number two is because I’m more of a bluesy rock sort of girl. This man is TALENTED. Wow. Normally, when judges start making comparisons to other wildly successful and well-respected artists, it makes me cringe but when Jennifer and Randy made the Luther Vandross comparison and said Luther would be proud if he could see this performance, I really felt like it was true. Lusk has an incredibly strong, effortless, fantastic voice and though it’s not my style I always look forward to hearing him sing again.
Simon Says: I like you.
Talk about picking the perfect song. I absolutely love this guy. His rendition of the Rod Stewart hit was akin to the original without being a complete replica. Paul is refreshingly quirky, different but very engaging – which I appreciate because many of the artists I pay to see perform aren’t necessarily the vanilla (but talented) singers that get pushed through other Idol cycles. Then of course, there’s Jennifer’s praise which is that he smiles while he sings. Yeah, it’s kind of adorable. I just hope audiences can get on board with someone who doesn’t really fit the mold, much like Abrams and Lusk.
Simon Says: You don’t really have very much of a range compared to the other singers on the show, but you know your voice and what works and it’s all about your sound. I’m not sure if you’ll click with America, though.
“Letters From Home”
I don’t like country music but this kid is fantastic and flawless within his genre. If I liked that style of music, I’d be raving because there are no technical complaints here. His stage presence is great; he needs a makeover (FOR REAL) but that will come with success. Randy praise him for sticking to his “country guns” instead of attempting to be a disingenuous crossover artist (oh hey, Carrie Underwood) and I have to agree.
Simon Says: Look, you are very talented but the fact is this is a pop music competition and I’m just not sure this is the right place for you.
“Light My Fire”
I really liked it because it was very personal. He's great vocally, but we know he could be bigger. I like his stage presence with its “more hair tossing than [JLo] and Beyonce put together in the past 10 years." Seriously: 14 hair shakes. He had pitch problems, but overall I think it worked. It was a unique rendition of an overdone song.
Simon Says: Look, I don't know if the hair flipping was distracting you, but your voice just wasn't there. We've got a lot of huge singers, and I just wasn't seeing it tonight.
“You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”
This is one of his better song choices (and the first Judas Priest song on Idol) because whereas his other auditions were kind painful to hear, this really works. I’m still not a fan of his voice, but I can’t deny that he’s talented. He doesn’t have to be my cup o’ tea to be good, that’s the beauty of having different tastes in music.
Simon Says: He’s talented but this was a bit awkward. It proves he should be auditioning for bands as lead singer instead of trying to be a pop idol on this show because without a band to accompany him, it looks like a high school Air Bands performance. (To which the standing audience members would heartily boo. They really LOVED him.)
Though he wasn’t on his game last night, this guy makes me want to say SCREW JUSTIN BIEBER. This is the 17 year old we should be watching. He started off a little shaky and it seemed a little tame for what we know he can do. The song choice was really all wrong, he worked with it, but as Randy said, he was never really comfortable with it. He’d sound good singing anything, but he needs to be great to stay on the show. Good’s not going to cut it.
Simon Says: It was awful. Look, you are a talented singer, but this performance tonight just gave us no indication of that.
“Come on Over”
Terrible song choice. This is what you sing when it’s last call at a bar in your hometown when you’re home for the holidays, not your first official performance on Idol. He’s obviously got a good voice, and a nice quality to it but he’s been so much better on other songs. There are singers who have incredible range and there are singers who get by on style; he gets by on style and this song has very little of it.
Simon Says: It sounded like you were warming up an auditorium for a high school pep rally. Dreadfully boring.
Clint Jun Gamboa
Besides the fact that I was offended that he chose to attempt “Superstitious” on the Idol stage, I was surprised by how much I didn’t hate this performance. He knows how to work the stage (that sounds like he’s a stripper, but that’s not what I’m saying) but I think his voice simply isn’t strong enough, especially in comparison to the other guys we have to choose from.
Simon Says: This would have merited a standing ovation, if we were in a karaoke bar on a Wednesday night.
“Just The Way You Are”
The judges seemed to love this performance, but I thought his voice sounded tiny and weak and that he was all over the place. Maybe it was nerves or song choice, but it just didn’t work.
Simon Says: Look, you’re very at home on the stage but that’s not enough. This is a singing competition and the fact is that you didn’t sing well. You may be in trouble this week.
I usually love him, but this was kind of boring. The song choice was definitely an issue, but the fact was that he wasn’t putting any oomph behind his voice. It just wasn’t unique or impressive. Randy made a karaoke quip and I’m forced to agree.
Simon Says: I almost fell asleep.
“Oh My God”
This was just awful. You can’t be all show if you don’t have the goods. He was all snazz no substance. It looked like a drunken high school party. Part of it was the fact that he chose an Usher song, but the guy hasn’t been impressing me since his initial audition and then he made excuses for his poor vocal performance, but guess what? THAT’S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT.
Simon Says: Oh My God that was awful. I could not wait until it was over.