Come on back Sanjaya, all is forgiven.
American Idol’s 12 male contestants did their best to send viewers over to the Winter Olympics last night. Even with the DVR cranked up to warp speed, the show seemed underwhelming and endless.
But let’s give the boys a break, at least for a moment. The judges had their own off night. They sent out so many mixed signals that the gents must have felt like they were parked up at Inspiration Point with the drunk president of the high school Abstinence Club.
Poor Tyler Grady: he has been lauded repeatedly for his Remember the 70s look and then—surprise, surprise—rocked those threads again. Not that Simon wasn’t right when he said that Grady looked like he was at “pretend-to-be-a-rock-star school.” I suspect that Tyler felt that he had found his Idol identity and was trying to not to fall into the trap that the judges sometimes set of “not being who you really are” when contestants try something new.
I liked Tyler’s response, “I guess I’ll have to go to the mall.” But considering his period look, what he should have said was, as Mick would have put it, “Well then, what can a poor boy do except to sing for a rock and roll band?”
And once again, despite all of the judges’ pleas for originality, safe performers carried the day, from Aaron Kelly to Casey James. Speaking of Casey James, the whole Kara the Cougar schtick is tired and potentially could have gotten in the way of his performance. If the show needs a lusty lady judge that badly, they should have just kept Paula around.
With a stronger field, more of these guys would be in danger. But someone has to get through, so here’s a look at how things are shaking out.
Michael Lynche: He did a nice and easy rendition of Maroon 5’s “This Love” and is so appealing and memorable that he’ll have no problems in coming weeks. Plus, half the country thinks he’s the guy from The Blind Side.
Aaron Kelly: He’s David Archuleta with less technique but more soul. Young Aaron seemed to gain strength and confidence the more he got into the song.
Andrew Garcia: Not a great night and not a great song. Just too many words and I’m not sure how well gun metaphor lyrics work on Idol. Speaking of which, he’ll reload and come out firing next week.
Todrick Hall: So here’s a talented guy who did exactly what the judges are always instructing: Take a well-known song and make it your own. His interpretation of “Since U Been Gone” was far from perfect. But come on, all he did was rework Kelly Clarkson not beatbox “Hey Jude.”
Lee Dewyze: I was underwhelmed by him, but the judges were fairly kind. Despite pitch issues, Lee has a good natural voice and looks a bit like Tim Tebow might if he doesn’t catch on in the NFL. His little aside to Ryan, “I don’t want to ever lose this feeling,” was almost a direct line from the old Derek and the Dominos/Eric Clapton song “Bell Bottom Blues.” That sweet, simple sentiment no doubt won him some votes.
Tyler Grady: Even after his Lenny Kravitz-ized “American Woman,” he’ll live to shimmy another day. For how many days, I'm not sure.
John Park: Shania Twain’s boy toy actually has the most polished voice in the bunch. Whether he'll catch on to the realities of the competition is another story,
Joe Munoz: Wow, the judges were awfully kind to him. And another thing: It’s time to declare a Mraz-atorium; enough with the Jason Mraz songs already!
Jermaine Sellers: I like him less and less every time I see him. Though he will likely survive beyond last night, despite his failed vocal pyrotechnics.
Tim Urban: Dude looks like the aspiring music critic in the movie Almost Famous. And after a losing battle with his shaky falsetto, "almost famous" may just be his musical epitaph.
Alex Lambert: When something’s wrong and you don’t belong, don’t sing a song that declares, “People look at me and they know/They can tell something is wrong/Like I don’t belong.”