‘American Idol’ sees four leave, and we are left with twenty hopefuls

After watching both the American Idol’ Top 12 women, then men, I am left with little hope that this season will exceed the thrill of last season, as Adam Lambert and Kris Allen vyed for the win.

This year, the men seem to outclass them women overall, and my gut instinct is telling me that the blonde who has captured judge Kara DioGuardi’s affection, Casey James, and the hard-scrabble Latino dad Andrew Garcia, who has escaped a life of gangs thanks to his loving family, are the two to bet heavily on.

It’s early, I understand, but the review of performances has left me uninspired by any other performers thus far.

As with every season on AI, it can change based on one performance, one moment.

The judges can be wrong too. Their critique of Andrew Garcia’s changed up Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Going Down” was dead wrong. He was excellent, and they were ridiculously critical of him.

One woman stood out for me, though not to the extent the men did. Crystal Bowersox is a unique package, festooned with dreadlocks and piercings, the single mom’s take on Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket” was a compelling performance.  She reminds me of the great era 1980’s music that saw the 10,000 Maniacs, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians and Lucinda Williams rise in stardom. I miss great female vocalists that aren’t swathed in gloss and digitally retouched in raunchy fashion-oriented rock and R&B videos.

Simon Cowell has been interviewed a gajillion times since the beginning of the series and has gone on record saying that a female may well win this year’s “American Idol” but based on last weeks’ performances, the men singing on Wednesday night (February 24), it is a total coin toss.

Todrick Hall sang “Since U Been Gone.” He appealed to Ellen DeGeneres and inspired Cowell to label Hall “as a dancer trying to sing,” docking him for completely “murdering” the song.

Side note: DeGeneres and Cowell have zero charisma as judges together.

The other men did slightly better than the women:

Aaron Kelly, just 16, did Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye,” and did well. “Bearing in mind it’s your first live show, it actually was quite a good performance,” said Cowell. “You’re a good singer, very likable, very cute, but you have to take control of the song,” he added.

Jermaine Sellers, 27, sang Oleta Adams’ version of the gospel tune “Get Here,” and Ellen liked the song choice but said Sellers was trying too hard. Simon killed his performance by comparing it to a piano-bar song and said the middle section sounded like screaming. “I think you’ve totally blown your opportunity.”

Tim Urban, 20, blew his moment with OneRepublic’s “Apologize,” as Ellen said the high notes were just not there, though people might vote for him because he’s adorable, which she reiterated while Simon looked pained.

Joe Muñoz, 20, sang Jason Mraz’s “You and I Both,” as Simon delivered the patented Cowell kiss of death line: “safe and forgettable and lacked the star power” needed to win.

Tyler Grady sang Guess Who’s “American Woman,” as he preened and posed a la Jim Morrison and generally did not deliver the goods. This fact was noted by the judges who gave him their wincing grimaces as they each agreed on the fail element of Tyler’s performance.  He has talent; he needs to be himself.

Lee Dewyze, 23, delivered the Snow Patrol ballad “Chasing Cars,” as Randy and Kara – the reigning tribe of two – hated the song choice, and Simon said it was his best performance so far, praising his “authentically good voice.”

John Park, 21, flashed his great smile and then put me to sleep with the jazz standard “God Bless the Child,” as Simon labeled the performance flat, devoid of emotion and kind of pointless.

New dad Michael Lynche delivered Maroon 5’s “This Love” as Ellen said Lynche benefited from a night of mediocre performances.

Alex Lambert, 19, performed James Morrison’s “Wonderful World,” he was nervous and then Ellen related an odd banana metaphor for the kid, “I love bananas, and sometimes a banana is just not quite ripe, and you’re like, ‘Ooh! I wish it was riper, because I’d like to eat that banana right now. … You just need to ripen.”

Thursday night, fans voted on their choices for elimination on American Idol. Last year’s winner, Kris Allen, performed and talk about his recent trip to Haiti, and finalist Allison Iraheta sang her new single “Scars.”

Booted off by fans were Ashley Rodriguez, Janell Wheeler, Joe Muñoz and Tyler Grady.

Grady was on a conference call with online journalists on Friday last week, and when he was asked what his suggestions were for people who want to be on American Idol, he said, “You might not take this advice because I was eliminated. But be confident and stick to your guns. Don’t second guess yourself. It was a great ride and I had the best time of my life.”



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