From gigantic former cheeleaders to sentiment-inducing old men to one very weird Cowardly Lion, American Idol viewers have already had to put up with a lot this season, but on Tuesday (Feb. 20) night, with the first appearance of the Top 12 men, the competition is finally on.
Let the royal rumpus begin...
Singer: Rudy Cardenas
My Take: In his video montage, Rudy's soul patch ebbs and flows with the moon, like he's the least committed werewolf on Earth. If this is the first time America has really seen you, accentuating just how kitschy you can be isn't the best strategy, but I guess Rudy wanted to show that his voice can be cartoonish both low and high. When he isn't mumbling his lyrics ("Ca ma an ta a fee ri" the chorus seems to go), the energy is undeniable and the notes are close enough. But he's a theme park entertainer luring kids to hop on a flume ride between bites of fried dough. Mmm... Fried dough.
Three Blind Mice Say: Randy gives him a couple pluses for getting the party started, but little else. Amidst scattered boos, Randy insists he's keeping it real. Paula thinks Rudy started off fantastic. Simon says he isn't distinctive or unique.
Singer: Brandon Rogers
Song:Rock With You"
My Take: Even if we didn't know Brandon's history as a background singer, you'd still say that he's not quite ready for the spotlight. He comes out tentative and though the spirit eventually stirs, he's more smooth than dramatic or engaging. Also, if you're going to do Michael Jackson, you have to manage better than Brandon's nervous half-shuffle on the stage.
Three Blind Mice Say: Randy calls it pitchy and a little weird and warns him about the runs. Paula thinks it was great, but he needs to be a lead vocalist. Simon goes with "safe and predictable" and tells Brandon to come out on stage and make an impact.
Singer: Sundance Head
Song:Nights in White Satin"
My Take: Rather than trying to remind viewers of that gruff soul singer from the auditions, Sundance has chosen a song that lets him go 90 second without hitting a single note. He's not out of tune, just consistantly wobbly. By the time the song reaches its big notes, Sundance turns a melody that should be passionate into a high drone. Plus, he keeps reaching out to hug me through my TV. I know the chorus repeats "I love you," but stop that, Sundance.
Three Blind Mice Say: Randy wonders were the bluesy Sundance went. Even Paula tells him he picked the wrong song. Simon compares him to "dad at a wedding" and ends by saying that he didn't like him tonight.
Singer: Paul Kim
My Take: When Paul just plain sings, he has great tone. He barely ever just sings. When he reaches for the falsetto or digs deep for soul notes, the acrobatics distract him. I know where the notes are supposed to be, because he has tendency to make like a graphic equalizer with his hands, displaying exactly where he's trying to go. If he's willing to take coaching, he's got potential.
Three Blind Mice Say: Randy thought it started pitchy, weird and stiff. Paula observes that Paul oversang and says he never found his center. Simon cautions that it was a third-rate version of the George Michael original.
Singer: Chris Richardson
Song:I Don't Wanna Be"
My Take: Somewhere, Gavin DeGraw is cringing, as Chris gives the occasionally rough-around-the-edges song a full-on pop make-over. That's not an insult, necessarily. The song comes mostly out of the top of his head and there's something a bit Ace Young-ish about the sound of his voice. On the other hand, Chris seems completely at ease on the stage and his ability to get the crowd engaged is more important than the limitations of his knee-bending bounce. Based on the audition footage, he should get better.
Three Blind Mice Say: Randy indicates that the night just started and that Chris made the song his own and did his thang. Paula's likes the performance, but mocks his dad's dancing. Simon says he sounded small and that without watching it was a below-standard vocal.
WHO ELSE DID I LIKE? WHO DID I HATE? SORRY TO BE THE IDOL EQUIVALENT OF A CRACK DEALER, BUT CHECK OUT THE REST OF MY IDOL RECAP OVER AT ZAP2IT.COM.