AUTHOR'S NOTE: Nobody's reading this anyway, but I just wanna quickly say that I may well be done with this American Idol tripe. There aren't 8 good singers left, much less 12, much less 20.
My Take: Children love Santa Claus. Children should also love Taylor Hicks. He's a lot like Santa only without the beard, presents, affiliation with Christmas and prodigious list of good and bad deeds. He is, indeed, easy like a Sunday morning. The song offers no particular challenges for the Gray Pony and, if I'm being honest, he butchers some of the notes entirely. But I don't care. You're either with Taylor Hicks or you're with the terrorists.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy likes him even with the pitch problems. Paula likes him, didn't much like the performance. Simon thinks the song was a problem and says something confusing about a bubble. Paula calls him Mr. Mean.
Singer: ELLIOTT YAMIN
Song: "Mood for Love"
My Take: Ol' Neckbeard is looking REALLY tired. The bags under his eyes have replaced his awful facial hair as his defining trait. If I don't look at him, he sounds fantastic tonight, smooth and melodic, nicely modulated. If I look at him, his teeth distract me. His sideburns distract me. So maybe I just won't look anymore. OK. Much better. Good song choice. Nicely delivered. Pity about the package. Somebody fix this guy up. Please.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy stands for him. Paula admires the song choice and the interpretation. Simon's seeing a boost in confidence and calls it a great performance.
Singer: ACE YOUNG
Song: "If I'm Not Made For You"
My Take: The tidbit about the beanie in Ace's pocket is the least interesting factoid I've ever learned about an "American Idol" contestant. Ever. Ace is singing out of his nose tonight. That's not a good idea. Tonight he's actually really cheesy. He actually goes from flat to sharp without a couple notes and his falsetto is weak. I think this guy may have really awful taste in music and only limited awareness of his own strengths. That could be trouble.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy thinks he showed a bit more range this week. Paula thinks he was good. Why are people praising his falsetto? Simon thinks he struggled with the song.
Singer: GEDEON MCKINNEY
Song: "Change Is Gonna Come"
My Take: This is one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Vocally, Gedeon is decent. He over-emotes in really unappealing ways and has to push some of the notes into shape. There are some places, particularly toward the end, that I really liked. I don't, on the other hand, think he had a clue what he was singing about. That's disappointing, but there's something very very different about him.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy thinks he started shaky and worked it out. Paula predicts decades of success. Simon calls him a "funny little thing." I like Simon's point that Gedeon sounded authentic. He didn't sound perfect, but it wasn't embarrassing. That's saying something.
Singer: KEVIN COVAIS
Song: "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"
My Take: We're one week into voting and the Spectacled Fetus has taken to heart that he's a sex symbol? I couldn't explain the horror of his Marvin Gaye impression if I tried. He makes no effort to move. He just stands and twitches. He over-vibratos a song that doesn't benefit from that treatment. He's unlistenable. The line between encouraging and condescending is very fine. This isn't a competition to be patting special children on the head.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy really enjoyed it. Moron. What a waste of time. Paula calls him infectious. No. This must stop. She says she "loved his performance." Simon, the only one with any sense, says that he'd turn it off if he were on the radio.
Singer: JOSE "SWAY" PENALA
My Take: "Sway" starts off with some excruciating pitch problems, but he benefits from following Kevin Covais. Once he figures out the notes, he sounds fleetingly confident and mature. You can evaluate him as an artist, rather than just saying that for the dorky kid in homeroom he's OK. Sway's flat much more than he should be and he's bland as a performer.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy and Paula didn't think he was connected tonight. Simon says there wasn't anything original.
Singer: WILL MAKAR
My Take: The only thing you need to know about Will: The dude mentions meeting Justin Guarini as a personal highlight. I was looking away from the TV and I thought, "This isn't inspired, but he sounds OK." I looked up and Will is making this horrible "I'm intense and I feel this song even though I don't have a clue what it actually means" face. Am I the only one feeling like this season could be in serious, serious, serious trouble?
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy thought it was alright, but not amazing. Paula thinks he has a good tone, but too safe. Simon compares it to an audition for "Cats."
Singer: BUCKY COVINGTONSong: "Thunder Rolls"
My Take: Bucky washed his face and shaved a little! Like Kelly Pickler, he's confused by the big city. How sad is tonight? Bucky gives what an unimpressive country karaoke performance -- he'd be laughed off the stage of "Nashville Star" -- and I may have to put him in the top half of the evening's singers.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Randy's a moron. I've lost all respect of him. I never respected Paula. Simon thinks he's a support act, not a star.
Singer: DAVID RADFORD
My Take: A story about how David didn't have a belt? Are the producers trying to put us to sleep? This is the best they can do? As a lazy, sleepy bar crooner, I guess David's OK. Yup. My expectations have diminished to this point. Kids doing mediocre Sinatra are sounding fine to me. Well, not fine. He's singing alone in the shower. Why must I listen?
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Don't care.
Singer: CHRIS DAUGHTRY
My Take: Does Chris' arm hurt? Why is he clutching it? I think I'd like to start a Candlebox or Collective Soul revival band with Chris as the frontman. He's got the right voice of that. Is that a compliment? Who knows? Probably. He's not great, but I'm awake and that something. On an awful night, he moves to the front of the class.
Irrelevant Judicial Opinion: Something or other. Whatever.
TONIGHT'S BEST: Elliott and Chris
IN DANGER: Well, I'd get rid of Kevin, Bucky, Kevin, Will, Kevin, "Sway," Kevin and Kevin.