Tears, hugs, high notes, and Ryan reviewing the troops before sending them out into battle like Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds; that was American Idol on Wednesday as the gents took the stage. And what should have been the dramatic culmination of weeks of campaigning ground to a halt with a thud.
Not a horrible night for these guys, but really, how many of them would you actually miss if they went home tonight? And while they have improved, is anyone likely to fire up iTunes and begin downloading songs by Tim Urban or Alex Lambert?
Forgive me, I'm suffering a bit of Idol fatigue. In past years, this is the stage of the season when I would actually tune in and start watching. All of the contestants were a revelation, and I was able to ride that initial wave of discovery through the rest of the competition. I'd rather not tally how many hours I've watched already this year, considering the three-shows-per-week schedule of the past month or so. "Pants On The Ground" seems so 1979.
Welcome To The FinalsMichael Lynche: Everyone thought he was terrific. Kara went all Paula and fell to pieces. Oh, the emotion of it all! And I thought, what a strange song. But the man-mountain showed range, ambition, and worked the stage like a cat.
Lee Dewyze: He went all Dave Matthews and staked at least some claim to being the male Crystal Bowersox i.e., a big, natural, unspoiled voice with authenticity. He's getting stronger as things move on.
Casey James: The hummingbirds on his pick guard may have been the most memorable thing about his performance. No matter: James probably picked up some country votes and playing it safe made sense for him.
Maybe, Maybe NotAndrew Garcia: Once a lock for the Final 12, he's starting to look like Idol's version of a one-hit wonder. The revelation of his "Straight Up" turned into a reach for buzz as he tried to do his thing with Christina Aguilera.
Aaron Kelly: After a too-low, shaky start, he probably saved the song. His voice, however, sounded tired—and for all the talk of his preternatural confidence, he looks awkward when he tries to move on stage. Young Aaron reminded me of a kid trying on his father's sport coat.
Todrick Hall: His performance could have been a disaster, but he reimagined "Somebody To Love." Todrick didn't make me forget Freddie Mercury, but the revival-style he brought to the song worked. If anything, considering his dance skills, a few knee drops and moves would have really made it special.
What Do We Have For Our Departing Contestants?Alex Lambert: He has gotten better and he's still weird (which I like). But we're all grading him on a generous curve and there are others with more potential to surprise.
Tim Urban: Ditto Adam Lambert, except he's not weird and is playing the cute dimple game way too much. Go ahead, defend Tim: you're still not going to miss him if he goes away.
Follow TV.com writer Matt Jaffe on Twitter: @MattAtTVDotCom