AI: The substitute people

There’s a fire in the fireplace, I’ve got an unexpected night at home, Muffin and I are curled up on the couch, and it’s time for American Idol! Today just got good.

Tonight, the guys are up again. The ladies were scheduled, but Crystal Bowersox got sick and was taken to the hospital where her doctor said she couldn’t sing tonight, as Ryan explained it. He intros each of the guys, the “substitute people” at least for tonight, and explains to us what we’re voting for, before introducing the judges. Ellen is now sitting next to Kara, who has HUGE hair and a lot of make-up going on. It’s a lot of look, as Tim Gunn would say.

Ten guys, ten Billboard hits. Let’s go!

Up first, Michael Lynche singing “This is a Man’s World” by James Brown. He interviews that he wants to show he’s “a main event.” I’m going to tell you the truth: I’ve never really understood what the big deal was about this guy. He was always just OK to me. But last night, I got it. He picked a great song, showed off his vocal chops, and had fun. But I also think the song was a little slow in parts and he still hasn’t shown us his best performance. Randy stands and applauds while shouting “Crazy!”; Ellen likes the song choice and calls the performance fantastic; Kara says she didn’t “get it until tonight” and that he owned it (Kara and I said the same thing!); Simon says it was the right kind of song and it didn’t sound dated.

Second is John Park, who says tonight he’s focusing on the “honesty” of his song. This week, he’s singing John Mayer’s “Gravity,” a turn of events that makes me want to call Mindy and sing her favorite lyric to her. John starts off good, even if he is doing the same vocal tricks as John Mayer, but really, how much can you change this song up? I feel like a few of his notes aren’t quite on or that he slides around a little too long before getting to the note. Bottom line: I don’t think John feels this song and the “honesty” is missing. Randy says he didn’t bring anything new to it; Ellen says the song choice was good but it needed more soul; Kara says it was way better than last week but there was no honest connection (OH MY WORD! Are Kara and I on the same page tonight?!); Simon says he may be going home because it really wasn’t exciting.

Next is Casey. In his interview, he says he’s never really watched AI before—actually he says he doesn’t even have a TV. He’s apparently chosen a song that has a long history on AI—one that Bo Bice, Elliot Yamin, and Chris Richardson have done on the show. He’s doing Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be.” I have reservations because I am SO OVER THIS SONG! But he’s rocking the electric guitar, which is fun. As much as I hate the song, it’s a good choice for his voice, and he does a good job. Of all the guys, he’s the one who comes closest to being the American Idol for me because he already has stage presence. I do think his prowess on the guitar overshadowed and/or covered up his vocals, though. Randy says the guitar was hot; Ellen also applauds the song choice and said he sounded great; Kara says he took two steps backward for her (Phew! Kara and I don’t see eye-to-eye anymore); Simon says he was trying too hard to be a rock star. I do think he’s trying a little too hard, but so is everybody else. And I may have a slight crush on him, causing me to be more lenient with him. . . .

Next up is Alex Lambert, who talks about his stage fright last week. And they actually discuss vomit. SCORE! Alex does lack stage presence, but still, he’s a kid. This week he’s trying to work through his fear and sing John Legend’s “Everybody Knows.” He’s playing the guitar and wearing a plaid jacket I think my grandpa wore in the 70s. The vocals are better, but at certain points, it feels like we’re still at that high school talent show. When he hits the chorus, the performance gets much better than last week. It’s not exciting or amazing, but the vocals are mostly on and he doesn’t look like he wants to throw up throughout the entire performance. Randy says it’s a big performance; Ellen compliments his confidence and his mullet; Kara says he has great tone; Simon says it was a million times better than last week and gives him a ton of advice about not being nervous.

Todrick Hall is up next, apparently rocking some Tina Turner. Oh, boy! That could be a train wreck. Todrick is wearing a silvery leather jacket which I think is hideous. He talks about how he murdered a Kelly Clarkson song last week and how he chose a Tina song because he doesn’t want to be compared to the original. He’s singing “What’s Love Got to Do with It .” The beginning is OK, and his runs are nice and well controlled. This guy knows how to perform, especially after he gets to the chorus and faster part of the song. It’s a technically good performance, but it just lacked that something special for me. Randy says he didn’t love it and encouraged him to just sing a song and stop fooling with them; Ellen doesn’t like the song choice; Kara says they like him but it’s a little all over the place; Simon says this isn’t working out for him and compares it to a theme park performance. And I, sadly, agree.

Jermaine Sellers talks about “rocks”-ing his onesie. And there’s video footage. He’s not my favorite and after that video package I think he’s MORE annoying. He’s singing “What’s Going on” by Marvin Gaye. OK, a Marvin Gaye song? Why would you try to top that? WHY?! He’s not going to do it better or drastically different than the original. And while the vocals are on, it’s boring and pales in comparison to the original. Plus, he’s wearing a weird combo of jeans, cardigan, polka dot button-down and bow tie. AND he puts some doo wop in the middle of the song. Not OK. It’s all just too much. Randy says it was better than last week; Ellen says it just didn’t work; Kara says he can hit crazy notes and runs but it’s always too much and overpowers the truth of the song (And we’re back on the same page, me and Kara); Simon says he waters down the songs because he does so many vocal tricks. And then Jermaine invites everyone to church and Simon says he’ll go. Jermaine then goes on a long diatribe about how he knows God and that he’ll be here next week. I’d like to know what kind of theology his church is preaching . . .

And now, Andrew Garcia, who is apparently a break dancer. He sings a James Morrison song sitting on a stool and it’s a little intense and weird in the beginning. His vocals aren’t . . . .good. His gimmick seems to be to only sort of hit the most important notes. I liked him in the beginning, but this is lacking for me. Randy says it was pitchy all over the place (agreed); Ellen says there were pitch problems but she liked it; Kara says nothing compares to the version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” he did in auditions; Simon says it was frustrating and that his song choice was bad.

And now it’s Aaron Kelly. He’s singing the Temptations “My Girl.” The vocals are good, but I think he interpreted “be confident” as bop around and toss your head around a lot. His vocals are good and he’s on his notes, most of the time. My problem with him is that he does too many runs. I think he follows the Rascal Flatts mantra: why just go from one note to the next? It’s way more fun to hit every note in between! His falsetto isn’t good and there’s weird vibrato in the last note, but still, he can sing. Randy says the first half was brilliant, then got strange (agreed); Ellen says he was more confident, but the song was a little forgettable; Kara said she liked it and likes him; Simon says he didn’t like it (me, too, Simon!) and that Aaron needs to figure out what kind of artist he wants to be.

Tim Urban is up next and reveals that he is one of 10 kids! 10 KIDS! He also talks openly about praying and calls his siblings his best friends. I kind of like him more now. He’s singing “Come on, Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson. I’m scared. I love this song (and am a little concerned about that b/c I think it’s all about sex). His voice is a little too heavy in the beginning and he tends to put emphasis on the wrong words. I think he’s a sweet little guy, but he just doesn’t really have the vocal chops. There are good moments, but it’s just not over-all great. Randy says he didn’t get it and called it karaoke; Ellen says he should be on “Glee”; Kara likes the song choice but says he didn’t really sell it; Simon calls it marked improvement over last week (I do agree with that).

And the final guy of the night, Lee Dewyze. Thank goodness. This show has seemed like it was a year long and honestly, I was ready for it to be over an hour ago. He talks about making bad decisions as a teen (something teens need to hear more about) and taking the judges’ advice to be better this week. He’s doing Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel,” which I personally think is a great choice. The beginning is good and a little different from the original. I don’t know why, but I like this guy. I like the gravel in his voice; I like that he performs and feels his songs. He’s not on every note and has a tendency to get a little screamy, though. Still, one of my favorite performances of the night. Randy likes that he took chances and that there were pitch problems, but he liked it; Ellen agrees and says a bunch of other stuff; Kara says it was a big improvement; Simon tells him to raise his shoulders and says he’s vocally above everyone else.

Best of the night: Michael Lynche and Lee Dewyze

Going home: Tim Urban and possibly Alex Lambert, Jermaine Sellers, or Andrew Garcia.

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8 thoughts on “AI: The substitute people”

  1. I’m glad the judges weren’t so hard on Tim Urban because hopefully he won’t get the sympathy vote this week. I’m shooting for him and Jermaine Sellers. I’m sad about Jermaine because I liked his audition, but each glimpse at him has shown a bad light. Overall I think he’s probably a good guy, but there’s no way he’s going to win this. That last comment about knowing God and he’ll be there. . . geez. I think he’s definitely going. It didn’t sound very humble.

    With Aaron Kelly, I think what Simon is subtly trying to say is “You are a country artist. Be that!” Country artists do really well on AI—even when they don’t win. He should chalk it all up as introducing himself to country fans. Give ’em what they want. “My Girl” is NOT what they want.

  2. Totally agree with you about Jermaine and the not sounding humble. I think he’s probably a nice guy, but we’re catching him in some bad moments.

    Aaron Kelly is definitely a country artist and I think you’re right about Simon. “My Girl” wasn’t the best choice. I’d love to hear Aaron just let go on some country ballad.

  3. I dislike Jermaine- I think he is doing harm for Christians all over the world! He seems too cocky to be a Christian! I also dislike Toddrick because I think he is cocky. I do feel bad for him- he gets told mix it up then told not to mix it up.

    I like Aaron Kelly, but I am afraid AI will up the audition age because Aaron & Katie look too nervous to do their best.

    I believe Alex Lambert has Asperger’s, which isn’t meant to be an insult. I honestly like the guy, and I’m not sure if it’s because I think he has that diagnosis or just because.

    I also like Dewyze, and I appreciate his story! I like Casey’s voice, and I am attracted to his teeth (I don’t think he’s cute, but he’s got great teeth!)

    I don’t have 1 favorite yet! However, I have never watched AI from the beginning. This is my 2nd AI after all! I was turned off by the “Idol” part of the name and all those verses in the Bible about worshipping idols!

  4. I agree with you about Jermaine. I wonder what his weird outburst taught non-believers about Christianity. That we’re all prideful? That humility is something we just talk about but don’t live? I just wish he would take the judges comments with more humility. Because I want to like him.

    And think Aaron Kelly is good. He just needs to embrace his country-ness and go with it.

    I didn’t know Alex has Asperger’s, but that explains a lot. I like him and love his voice, I just feel sorry for him every time he’s on stage. He’s so nervous! But I feel the same way when I have to be the center of attention, so I feel a kinship with him.

    I don’t have a favorite yet either. I still think we’re waiting for the contestants to show who they really are. And I agree the name of the show is a bit stupid.

  5. Had to tape Tuesday’s show so we just watched last night. Tonight I’ll make up last night (after The Office). I agree that Michael and Lee probably had the best performances. I think Lee may be the front-runner at this point. I didn’t agree with Simon. I don’t think Lee looked nervous or lacked much confidence until after he finished singing. I’d have a hard time being confident facing that panel.

    I’m calling Andrew my favorite of the guys at this point though. I’m hoping he can hang on. I’d like to see him do an Elvis Costello-type number at some point.

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