Tuesday, March 1, 2011

American Idol, Season 10 -- Top 12 Guys Compete

Having read some spoilers, and paid attention to the earlier rounds, I predict that there will be much mistreatment of notes, high octane histrionics and oversinging that would put a gospel diva to shame.  And this is just the boys singing.  The top 12 run the gamut from the tentative, breathy Paul McDonald to the straight arrow Scotty McCreery on one end of the performance spectrum to the dizzingly overwrought heights of James Durbin and Jacob Lusk.  Which will the judges prefer and, more significantly, which will grab the attention of the important tween girl voting bloc.  I can promise you now it won't be Lusk.

Opening up the night's festivities with a passable performance of Stevie Wonder's Superstition is resident bad guy, the Jacee dissing, Clint Jun Gamboa.   We get the ironic backstory, he's a karaoke singer who's on Idol.  And suddenly I miss Simon.  Clint starts the screechfest in loud, uncontrollably exuberant fashion, trying to set the annoyance bar extra high tonight.  It was loud and on key, but not something I'd ever want to hear again.  But it might be good to scare away bears, should I ever find myself under ursine attack.

Did you know Jovany worked in a shipyard?  He's singing I'll Be and it's a nice change of pace from the last performance.  He has such a sweet, pure voice.  He knows how to sing a song and respect the melody.  Thank you, it now seems like a lost art.  I wonder, though, will that be memorable enough.  Oh, hell, there goes Randy.  Karaoke.  Yeah, singing well is so passe, so trite. 

Poor Jordan Dorsey does the impossible, taking on Usher's OMG.  No, just no.  Usher is inimitable, there's no way to withstand comparison.  Poor Jordan tries his hardest and looks comfortable on stage and makes a great visual impression, but the vocals just...weren't...there.  Ouch.  Jordan tries to bail immediately, seeing if agreeing with the judges will be enough to get him through...but there are only five spots for the guys, so it's less than unlikely that he will get a second chance.

Tim Halperin was an unknown quantity until he burst forward during Beatles week.  Until then, he was known as the guy who asked JLo her age, thereby ensuring he would never get the vote of anyone over 40.  But will his voice save him from that fate?  Not based on the first few notes.  The musicians are doing their best to make sure we can't possible hear Tim and now he's fighting against them. But, wait, there are horns and backgrounds singers.  Their effort to drown him out is a success!  Yay.  Because what I can hear, is droning and bland. To call it a subpar performance would be overly positive.  It was not even up to the level of an average wedding singer.  Really poor performance.

Brett Lowenstern is memorable just for his mass of flaming red hair.  Brett, perhaps in an homage to his fiery locks, takes on Light My Fire.  His hair gets a ten, his voice a three.  Maybe two.  He's shouting and not even shouting well.  His voice is weak, barely on key and does nothing to sell the song.   All that was unique and interesting in his voice is gone.  Of course, the judges, realizing what a train wreck they're seeing, decide to pimp him just a little in case the rest of the guys keep up the suckage.

Now, one of the two moments we've all been waiting for.  The Adam Lambert wannabe with an unending supply of bandannas is up.  James Durbin is rocking out to You Got Another Thing Coming by Judas Priest.  But, wait, this doesn't blow.  Maybe because I knew the high notes were coming, but I liked his voice in the rest of the song and the rock star vocal posturing actually didn't bother me.  Two thumbs up!  He's a natural rocker -- just stay away from the show tunes, dude, and you may go very far!

Good thing we had a commercial break, because I wouldn't want to follow James, especially with a ballad.  But Robbie Rosen doesn't have to worry about comparisons.  He takes on Sarah MacLaughlan's Arms of an Angel and sings like, well, an angel.  He has a sweet, emotionally charged voice that  conveys feelings belying his young age.  So, of course, Randy hates it.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I don't like country music.  But I love me some Scotty McCreery.  And so do apparently the screaming teens in the audience who have been relatively quiet until now.  I think it's called Letters from Home and Randy says it's by John Michael Montgomery, but this is all a foreign area to me.  But whatever it is and wherever it comes from, it's good and so is Scotty.  He's cute, he sings well, even the high notes.  He's ready to record, right now. 

Stefano Langone is up next trying to tackle Just the Way You are, but he seems off the melody, as if he and the band have started from a different place.  Stefano is no Bruno Mars.  This was a train wreck.  I'd say car wreck, but since he survived one just a couple years ago I don't want to be insensitive.  You know what a caring soul I am, especially during my Idol blogs.  It would never occur to me to say that he should go back to his hotel, pack up his clothes and leave -- he will not be America's Next Top Model.

There is so much buzz around Paul McDonald I assume he's full of honey.  I have not been on the Paul train and his shout out to TV Land is not going to help.  But, wait, it gets worse.  That may have been the singularly most painful performance of a great song ever.  What was that?  The big grin, the weird movements, the over the top mugging for the camera, the pale comparison to Rod Stewart?  I'm so not digging him. 

Jacob Lusk is the judges' favorite.  They make sure to remind us of this before he sings.  He has sung better than anyone ever had ever in the history of singing and the rest of us are not even worthy of hearing his dulcet tones.  He has been bombastic and over-the-top, pushing his voice louder, higher, farther each time he takes the stage?  So what will he do for a change?  He takes on another overwrought singer's song, A House is Not a Home.  A song that cries out for delicacy and restraint.  Well, keep crying, because you're going to get none of that.  Just more GLEE-rific how many runs can I do?  He has compulsion to do more than is necessary to sing a song.  And with the judges telling him the want more and more, that's what we're going to get.  This is not current, this is not anything that you will hear on the radio, this is not the future of music.  It's campy and dramatic, but it's not going to bring the music business back from the brink.

Now it is the guy who will cure cancer with just his voice...at least according to the judges.  Casey Abrams is only slightly more in love with himself than the judges are.  I will run out of ways to say smug before this competition is over.  He's 99% attitude, 1% singing.  I don't know what show he thinks he's trying out for, but if their goal down the line is to find a current recording artist, this ain't the guy.  It would be a standout performance at your local High School talent show, even if it's mostly smoke and mirrors.  He looks like what he's doing should be amazing, and somehow he makes you believe it.  But not me, I'm impervious to his voodoo powers!  The growling, the talking, it's unique and interesting -- but not the sound of a future recording star.  And it's way too calculated and cute for me to buy it. 

My top five tonight -- James, Scotty, Jovany, Robbie and....Clint.  What say you?


  1. mine are #1 scotty,#2 jovanny,#3 durbin,and #4 tim halprin.thanks lisa

  2. You so know you are hard on Paul because you know I like him...so you're extra harsh. I see right through you Geller. Ok, my top 5, no particular order...Scotty, Paul, James, Casey, Tim (wildcard either Robbie or Jovany).

  3. I am going to pick six since there is a wild card. James,Scotty,Paul,Stefano,Jacob and Casey. Scotty and Stefano will get the pre-teen vote. James is the top dog. Paul, Jacob and Casey, because they were told they have never had a contestant like them on the show before. America will go for that.

  4. I am so with you on the Casey thing.Seems to me he makes more noises than he actually sings words. Not really getting him! Top five James,Scotty,Jovanny,Paul and Robbie.

  5. Sigh. In a "normal" year all but two of these guys would get at least one more chance to redeem themselves from opening night jitters and bad sound mix. I lime that better than the sudden death top 5 and that means some potentially interesting performers will go home unless the judges rescue them.
    My sweet little flame-haired pixie picked a bad song and will probably be sent home to FL. I adore watching Brett and think there's potentially interesting raw material in that voice. Emphasis on raw. So alas for me and my daughter who loves him it will probably come down to the judges.
    As for the others, James was good and I didn't like his personality before... Can't deny his talent. He nailed it. Casey, Paul and Tim are more the type of musician/singers I usually prefer; Mature male voices. None of them really distinguished themselves. I suppose Casey did the best of the three. I thought Jacob sounded beautiful but I will soon tire of the church singin'. Scotty did exactly what had to. If the PTB don't force him to sing anything but country he could go far in this competition. Robbie,Stefano and Jovany sounded petty good but forgettable... The worst thing to be when so much is on the line. Clint is unlikable and predictable and sang in the death spot. Jordan probably picked the worst song (for him) of the night and didn't do it any justice. That plus hid Divo edit probably doesn't help him. Although being handsome doesn't hurt.

  6. what is up with thosse noises casey makes when he sings?scary.my picks are tim,scotty,james d.,jovanny.rest are unmarketable.

  7. I love your commentary,it makes me laugh in an otherwise dreary day.But I must slightly disagree with you on Brett L.The tween girl in me gravitates to the setting sun hued locks and voice of this very young man.Yes he needs intense management and professional guidance to gain control over his posturing,enunciation and must learn to focus his vocal energy.But I like his original songs Break Free and Bulletproof vest,there is something soulful I find that I respond to.With more polished music and marketing I would buy these songs of his and I am a diehard heavy metal who usually disregards this type of genre.Of course I also fell hard for our Casey James on a grander scale.But it is like comparing a yearling to a mature racehorse,Brett,I think has a chance of growing into a marketable commodity and as he is so young I hope he gets a shot at it.Love your work-sign off as Faraspider