American Idol Recap: Let's Get Critical

Twelve shipwrecked guys are treading water amid a swarm of ravenous sharks, when suddenly, a luxury yacht pulls up alongside them. “Darling, your bathing suits are divine!” exclaims a glamorous actress, peering down from the deck. “Dude, your backstroke is bitchin’!” says the rock star alongside her. “Way to throw caution to the wind and do your thing, dawgs!” says their pal the music producer, sipping from a tall Coca-Cola glass. Welcome to the American Idol season 10 men’s semifinal — life boats not included!

Okay, okay, I’m probably sounding harsher than I’d intended. After all, of the dozen male semifinalists who debuted on the American Idol stage Tuesday night, most were pretty decent, and only one came close to the legendarily awful season 9 “top 24 week” troika of Tim Urban’s “Apologize,” John Park’s “God Bless the Child,” and Jermaine Sellers’ “Get Here.” (Thanks for the memories, guys?)

But whether or not you agree with my working theory that, on the whole, the dudes of season 10 appear to be more talented than their season 9 counterparts, one thing is certain: Each and every one of ’em could use some constructive criticism. After all, competitively speaking, six or seven of ’em are already chum. As Ryan Seacrest explained it, the season 10 semifinal round will last one week only, meaning that on Thursday night, the top five vote-getting guys will score automatic slots in the finals; the seven men out will then be at the mercy of the judges’ wild cards in order to get a second chance to perform for the Idoloonie Nation.

Given the brutality of what’s to come, I was flabbergasted that Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and (to a slightly lesser degree) Randy Jackson failed to give actionable feedback to Idol‘s merry band of inexperienced combatants. Maybe nobody wanted to be compared to Simon Cowell (who I missed for the first time all season), or maybe our judges wanted to go easy on the new kids on the block. But since Idol‘s not that kind of game, I thought I’d review the top 12 in order from “cannon fodder” to “definitely making the finals,” while also pointing out the beginners’ mistakes each of these singers committed during Tuesday’s performance telecast (which, for the record, was pre-taped Friday night in front of a live audience):

Take the spotlight off your vocals at your own risk. Indeed, by choosing to make his first impression with Usher’s highly stylized “OMG,” Jordan Dorsey pulled the equivalent of showing up to a culinary throwdown against Bobby Flay armed with only a can of Spam and a hot plate. We don’t really know whether or not the guy can carry a tune (although that garbled falsetto note is a point in the “not really” column), but we know he can awkwardly shake his shoulders while delivering lines like, “Honey got a booty like pow-pow-pow.” J.Lo asked the right question when she wondered if this was the kind of artist Jordan wanted to be. And since the answer was a pretty clear “no” — “I’m not a jumpy-jumpy singer,” said Jordan — we’re left wondering why the dude didn’t radically slow down the song’s tempo (hey, it’s an idea!), or ask Uncle Nigel for one last look at the list of available songs.

In the early weeks of voting, there’s no faster way to the exit than being boring. Poor, competent Jovany Baretto! There’s no denying the guy’s got a very pleasant singing voice, and he’s certainly mastered the art of staring meaningfully into the camera. But his rendition of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” was like the iceberg lettuce of the Idol salad bar: You wouldn’t spit it out into your napkin, but you’re not exactly going to be talking about it after dessert. There were no unexpected note choices, no discernible changes to the song’s arrangement, none of the Latin flavor of any of Jovany’s Hollywood Week performances. Okay, there was a retro, ’80s-esque “final chorus” key change, and, um, a gray vest, but methinks Jovany may soon regret his earlier rallying cries of “No more shipyard for me!”

Just say no to the Stevie Wonder songbook! Sure, once in a while a contestant nails a Stevie track, but Clint Jun Gamboa will not join that short, prestigious list for his rendition of “Superstition” (which has been previously sung on Idol by RJ Helton, Bucky Covington, Ricky Braddy, and Siobhan Magnus). Clint sounded like an enthusiastic goat on the verse, and it seemed too ironic by half that the lyrics “then you suffer” appeared in the midst of Clint’s “Adam Lambert with his hand in a blender” howl toward the end of the number. “No karaoke singer in the world has that kind of talent,” shouted Randy, who has clearly never been to a karaoke bar and/or cannot resist excessive hyperbole.

It’s just as important to understand your emotional range as it is your vocal range. Or to put it another way, while Brett Loewenstern’s got a lovely tone to his voice, it shouldn’t be used on a growly, big-boy jam like the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” I mean,was there anything more cacophonous this episode than watching the endearingly awkward teenager timidly pose and hair-flip his way through a song by sexy beast Jim Morrison. “The time to hesitate is through,” Brett sang, seconds after attempting to disappear behind the mic stand. I can only assume Steven’s “you are on fire” critique was a cleverly edited-down commentary on Brett’s hair color. J.Lo, meanwhile, scored her biggest laugh of the night by noting Brett’s performance contained “more hair tossing than me plus Beyonce together in the last 10 years.” Anyone else wishing the judges had cut Brett from the “Green Mile” episode and told him to come back in five years’ time? (Colton Dixon fans, I know your answer already!)

Don’t get too reliant on instruments. Idol‘s producers have repeatedly said they don’t want contestants “hiding behind” guitars and pianos this season, and that turned out to be bad news for Tim Halperin. What a shock to see the guy who had such magnificent presence behind the keys performing the Beatles’ “Something” with Julie Zorrilla in Vegas, awkwardly shuffling his way around the stage during Rob Thomas’ blandly inoffensive “Streetcorner Symphony.” Tim struggled with pitch from start to finish, kept adopting a weird, wide stance, and ended with a cheesy “point and smile” pose that was strangely reminiscent of a season 9 finalist with the same given name. Plus, could the dude have been any more Caspar Milquetoast in his pre-performance interview with Ryan? “Everyone is so supportive of one another.” “All those guys are like my brothers.” “My favorite color is beige.” “My favorite food is a boiled potato.” The only positive news for Tim is that he’s a potential front-runner for the judges’ wild card picks; J.Lo declared Tim as having “one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.” Grrrrl, let me introduce you to Patti LaBelle, okay?

Not all song rearrangements are created equal. “Like Jennifer said, I did my own thing,” said Robbie Rosen, responding to Randy Jackson’s criticism of his performance of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” But much like adding marshmallows to spaghetti bolognese, making something your own doesn’t necessarily mean making it better. Robbie seemed to be just a tad behind the band the whole way through the song, and his falsetto notes made about as much sense as the strange “sliver of moon” backdrop behind him. And in just 90 seconds, the kid who seemed like a mortal lock for the season 10 finals found himself at risk of an early ouster.

Be careful about choosing the right key for your songs. Stefano Langone was undeniably adorable bouncing around the stage on Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are,” but right from the getgo, the song seemed to be pitched a little high for him, and by the time he reached for those big closing notes, he’d reached a very unpleasant spot in his vocal range. Heck, J.Lo visibly winced at one point, but made no note of Stefano’s pitch problems in her critique.

Gimmicks are not your friends. If he’s not careful, James Durbin’s Na’vi scarf-tail has the potential to become Jasmine Trias’ flower or Sanjaya’s hair — an accessory that becomes a rallying cry for the opposition. Which would be kind of a shame. James’ rendition of Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” was a vast improvement on anything he’s done all season: It had enough attitude and volume to outmuscle with Idol’s Bandzilla, but it didn’t go overboard in the backbend-and-shout department (except maybe that final “rocker-jump pose” from hell). And most importantly, it was the kind of number that made sense under the “any song they wish” theme. “That was f****** crazy good,” said Steven, later adding.”I think all of America agrees with that word, anyway.”

Don’t be afraid to be unpredictable. Thank heaven (perhaps quite literally) or maybe Jimmy Iovine that Jacob Lusk dialed back on the melisma-meter for his rendition of Luther Vandross’ “A House Is Not a Home.” The guy who previously treated the release of every note like a full-blown exorcism dialed it back — waayyy back — and took us to the center of his broken heart, instead of easing on down the road to Ebenezer Baptist. (Side note: Anyone else find the audio mix on this performance bizarrely echo-y?) The key for Jacob going forward, though, will be to infuse less obvious material with his old-school R&B vibe. J.Lo was sweet (and perhaps a little premature) in dubbing Jacob the next Luther, but it’s season 10, and it’s not just white guys with guitars who need to show their musical imaginations to go all the way.

This…is American Idol — not Zoolander. Scotty McCreery almost made me a believer tonight with his affecting performance of John Michael Montgomery’s “Letters From Home.” Perhaps more than any other contestant tonight, the deep-voiced teenager managed to tell a story, despite having to condense his song into a 90-second snippet, and his black-and-silver checked shirt won Best in Show among the dudes. Now the kid just needs to play back his performances and be careful about the “lean to the side, raise eyebrows, grin knowingly” antics he trotted out for the duration of the performance.

Just because your general awesomeness makes us forget your occasional pitch problems doesn’t mean they won’t eventually become an issue for voters. Aw shucks, is there a contestant right now who’s more endearing than Casey Abrams? Heck, Naima Adedapo practically leapt over the second-floor balcony to express her excitement for Casey’s growling, gutteral take on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You.” I like that the kid inhabits his songs with the tenacity of a bedbug clinging to the underside of a mattress, and that he does it with a wry sense of humor — a quality that’s all-too-often missing on the super-serious Idol stage. That said, I wish one of the judges had at least made note of the fact that the latter third of Casey’s performance devolved into not-always-tuneful howling. With a reigning Idol champ who never quite conquered his pitch problems, I’m guessing voters may be a little less forgiving of such issues as season 10 goes forward.

Go on with your quirky self, but be careful not to become the male Megan Joy. Hands down my favorite vocal of the night was Paul McDonald’s quietly powerful cover of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.” Yeah, it’s not the easiest track to condense into a minute and 30 seconds, but Paul’s chipotle-smoky voice glided over the top of it like the Winklevoss Twins zipping down the Charles in The Social Network. I could listen to him all day. My only slight concern is how Paul’s stagger-sexy-cool stage presence will play out as the season progresses, especially with Ryan’s voiceover already beating the “quirky” drum. It’s one thing to heed Madonna’s advice and let your body move to the music, it’s quite another to shout “what’s up TV Land?” and flail your legs with the random energy of a trout on a dock. Paul is another contestant who might benefit from a slo-mo morning-after replay of his performances, just to make sure his body language stays on par with his vocal adrenaline.

What did you think of the Tuesday night performance show? Which five contestants deserve to advance to the finals, and is there a sixth who deserves another chance via Wild Card? Which contestant disappointed you most? And did you find yourself missing Simon Cowell (or Kara DioGuardi) tonight? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol coverage, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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  1. Ablo says:

    I agree mostly with Michael.

    I’m not sure I agree that “the latter third of Casey’s performance devolved into not-always-tuneful howling”

    The song is a howling song — like it or not(spend a few minutes online listening to different versions of the song.

    I thought he kept it musical, all things considered.

    I will be happy if Clint, Jovany, Stephano, Jordan, Robbie and Brett leave us this week.

    I’m willing to give Tim another try (though man that was bad). I’m not a country person, but I’m ok with Scotty “George W” seeing what he can do. I don’t know about James — I haven’t liked him, but he wasn’t that bad last night. Jacob needs to work more with the song so that he isn’t just doing gymnastics. And so far, I’m on-board with Paul and Casey.

    • marie says:

      Yeah, it’s a howling song – which is precisely why I was disappointed that he chose it over something more tuneful.

      • Ablo says:

        I get your point marie, but I would still rather listen to it then an Usher song or the like.

        • marie says:

          Granted. And, hey, I am a Casey fan – just want to hear more melody from him going forward, a la “Georgia” and “Do Right.”

          • Applesauce says:

            im thinking casey can sing anything from black keys and the white stripes to louis armstrong. sure he is blues, but he can do alot.

    • darclyte says:

      With the Idol producers lowering the age and putting through so many singers under 18 since they’re OBVIOUSLY trying to find the next “Miley” or “Bieber,” could THIS have been the year that Allison Iraheta SHOULD have tried out? 2 years ago at 16 she had to contend with the judges “favs” Adam and Danny (not too mention the talented eventual winner Kris,) and Simon seemed to dismiss her or criticize her as she was messing with their “chosen ones.” Would SHE have been a “chosen one” this year? At the time, J-Lo picked her as her fav, as did guitarist Slash. Would Steven have been bowled over by “the Rocker” too? At 18 going on 19, Allison is STILL young enough for Nigel to have given the “Lauren” treatment. I just wonder how she would have done THIS year.

    • SDTim says:

      THANK YOU! I keep thinking that Scotty looks WAY too much like George W. Bush! It kinda creeps me out!

    • Media Ho says:

      Abio, you and I are almost totally in sync, though my top five would be Casey, Paul, James (same reaction to him as yours), Scotty, and Jacob, with the wild card going to either Tim or Robbie. Both gave their worst vocal performance of the competition last night, but they had such promise that I don’t want to see them go. I’d sacrifice Scotty or Jacob to get both of them in. Tim’s duet with Julie was awesome, and Robbie (normally) sings beautifully.

      It will interesting to see how Jacob and James can handle songs that don’t allow their trademark vocal inflections, and what magic Casey can work with something a bit more contemporary. Also, can Scotty sing out of his country comfort zone?

    • morgan says:

      I think the whole “James was surprisingly good!” is because there was a surprising amount of reverb or delay fx on his vocals. I think they want to keep him around beacuse he gets people talking. This was apparent with some others too and it’s annoying. How can we tell how good they are without a clean vocal mix?

    • Delirious says:

      I think the problem this year is that Randy made the HORRIBLE mistake of going against Iovine’s words, which were spot on – don’t oversing. And they’re all going out of what could be “our comfort zone” (ie. the audience’s), overkilling their performances. See Clint, Stephano…
      And when not doing that, they went out of their own comfort zone to try to make things differently – as in Jovani, Jordan or Brett.
      Point is, Clint could’ve done so much better had he not tried to sing 50 melodies per minute. Jovany chose a song too bland to shine. Dorsey screwed up the song choice, out of his own style. Tim managed to be absolutely forgettable due to his performance. Brett, I still don’t know why he made it to the semis (yup, another Colton fan here, at least over Brett for sure!). Durbin managed to do an ok performance, even if I don’t like him at all – it’s all screeching vocals without any control (in fact, I wouldn’t have minded it if Colton made it instead of him!). Robbie also chose a song that was too bland, and didn’t boost it with his performance. Scotty should be given songs that showcase his higher register from now on, he surprised me gladly during the Hollywood phase. Stefano could be good, if he knows where to sing. Paul has me doubting, due to his lack of vocal power, even if the personality in his voice kinda compensates it. Jacob is too much for me, sorry (please, have 4 judges – add Iovine!). And Casey is my male favourite by far, even if he went too far with that song.
      Hopefully, after thursday, things will go better. For now, I’d save Casey, Clint, Stefano, Paul and Scotty, and Robbie as wildcard. Although I’m afraid the audience will choose Jordan, Brett, Durbin, or Jacob.

    • Joseph says:

      Okay we have seen a few performances from each so from spanning the time of their audtions, solos and group , and not their top 24 time.

      The only singer that has so far been pretty solid giving us the unexpected each time has been Casey.

      The next strongest man could be Scott depending on if he is able to learn the lyrics of new songs quickly , which is still an unknown.

      As for Jacob , he has gotten raves about his vocal ability but for me it will come down to the question is he willing to edit his performance. Think back 2 seasons ago when Adam Lambert got the attention of a much larger audience when he did stripped down versions of Tears and Mad World. Jacob has the equipment the questions is how he will use it.

  2. Christie says:

    Hey Michael – miss you on EW but glad to find you on TV Line. What about your grades on the performances? Always like that in your previous recaps – surely that is not considered intellectual property?!

  3. Bekah says:

    As for last night’s show, I was completely underwhelmed.
    I refuse to drink the James Durbin kool-aid, as he is totally unlikable.
    I love Paul McDonald, but wish he TOTALLY would have sung Amos Lee’s “Arms of a Woman.” I would have DIED.

    • Shannon says:

      Ohhhhh….that is a fantastic idea! I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Paul needs to sing some Amos Lee or Paul Simon or James Blunt or even Ray Lamontagne.

    • Betsy says:

      What is WRONG with YOU PEOPLE?!? Paul McDonald sounded AWFUL – like he was struggling through the whole song. I am shocked…SHOCKED!…that Slezak likes him at all, much less BEST. Ugh. It would be a crying shame if he got in the top five men for many reasons, not the least of which is that I never want to suffer through another performance like that again.

      • WhiteLady says:

        Thanks for saying what I think

      • Lina says:

        I could not agree more! I don’t understand all the love for Paul. His voice is ok in general but his hipster schtick leaves me totally cold. Maggie May was totally the wrong song and he sounded awful on it.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        There’s one thing I’ve learned in life – it’s never good when someone calls you “You People”.

        I think Paul is a polarizing contestant. you like him or you don’t. that’s it!

      • djm says:

        I am not surprised that Slezak likes him – he’s cute in that harmless, sorta generic way that Kris Allen was. Plus they both smile when they sing and if Slezak wasn’t married and was posting an ad on a singles/dating website something tells me that an “awesome smile” would be one of his “turn-on’s”. So I can sort of forgive him for being temporarily blinded by Paul’s smile and ignoring the fact that his dancing made him look like he was having seizures and his performance was borderline, yes, Karaoke. he did nothing new with the song at all and sorry, I liked Rod Stewarts version WAY better.

      • WilNEverett says:

        Right ON, Betsy! I think Paul has one of the most annoying, screechy, raspy, unappealing voices that’s ever been featured on that show. And those herky-jerky stage “moves” would be laughable if they weren’t so painful to watch. Talk about a train wreck on two legs. Excuse me while I vomit.

      • dbaj says:

        I thought FOR SURE Randy would go all “karaoke” on Paul. Sounded/looked so copycat to Rod Stewart, and not in a good Rod Stewart circa 1970s way. I’m talking Rod Stewart today. So not contemporary or youthful. Yikes, Slezak!

        • Frendotyu says:

          Brett and Paul are the same to me. Weak-voiced and in above their heads. They’re quirky but only marginally talented. Casey is quirky and highly talented. Please let both of these guys go home – now!

        • elr says:

          I thought the same thing, that he sounded just like Rod Stewart. I wasn’t totally against him though and would like to see him perform something else. I actually felt the same about Jacob and Casey. No one really WOWED me last night, but I think Scotty’s voice is memorable and different enough from everyone else that he is pretty much a lock for the top 10. I wish they would have 2 weeks of the top 24 without getting rid of anyone in the first round, just so you have something to compare. Although, at this point I am ready to say BYE-BYE to Clint (reminds me too much of Gokey), Jordan, Stefano, and Brett. I didn’t like any of them. I also hope that we get some more constructive critcism from the judges.

      • Bat Country says:

        I wondered if he was drunk. He looked it. Maggie May? Really? Wow, too bad it’s not a Rod Stewart impersonator contest, you’d win hands down, but that’s not what this show is.

    • Kelly says:

      I liked Paul’s vocals too, but his dancing reminded me of . . . Mr. Bean. He needs a stool or a guitar or something to ground him a bit.

      • McFudge says:

        Amen. He had a very manic affect, which was distracting. I still like his voice, though, and if he can get his stage movements under control I think he could really be a force to be reckoned with..

        • Es Tee says:

          Yay! Proper use of “affect”!!!—just thought I’d give props for that, as one so seldom sees it used correctly.

      • pop culture bystander says:

        Mr. Bean! Perfect. I’ll picture him with his head stuck inside the Thanksgiving turkey, and giggle, from now on.

  4. jaxmomkc says:

    Michael, I was bummed when I discovered you were no longer doing AI recaps for EW. It just wouldn’t be the same watching AI without your post-show comments. So, I “googled” you and found you here at TV Line! I loved Casey and James “Straight Adam Clone” Durbin, but was totally unimpressed with Paul’s “Maggie May.” I love his tone, but this was not good. Too much twitchin’ and caterwallin’ for me. Still love you, Slezak. I’ll be back!

  5. CMJ says:

    Oh, how the pimped have fallen! I think Brett has thrown himself into the fire with that performance, and Robbie may get burned. Tim clearly was the evening’s cannon fodder.

    My 5 — in no particular order were Casey, Stefano, Paul, Robbie and Jacob. I can see Scotty, Brett, or James getting through on the wild card (based on the judges’ comments) but I don’t necessarily see them lasting very long. I fear Jovany may get in with votes from those thinking with their genitalia. And I don’t care how well he does, neither Jordan nor Clint June will have my support.

  6. jaxmomkc says:

    Oh yeah, was missing the grades. And will we get video recaps? Those were my favorite! You are awesome, Slezak!

  7. DJ says:

    I guess I am on a different page than everybody else this time, because Brett and James were my faves and who I voted for last night. I can’t even imagine the wincing brutatility we will be subjected to Thursday night. I don’t usually watch gory horror movies, so I don’t know if I’m ready for it.

    • KB says:

      Yes, Thursday is going to be brutal. And people don’t always vote the way the judges and bloggers think they should (see: Season 9), so there may well be some worthy singers going home.

    • Caroline says:

      Thursday is going to be miserable… couldn’t they let us see these people for just another week or two?

    • forrest says:

      I know is all about tone, but I had to smile reading your reaction to this upcoming Thursday – am I missing the sarcasm? lol. thanks DJ

  8. Great recap, and I particularly agree with your point that the judges gave no advice about performance etc during their statements.

    I thought JLo was one of the better judges, and found Steve Tyler disappointing. Basically he said nothing.

    Do I miss Simon and even Kara – hell yes.

    I did think most of the guys were geeky except for Paul McDonald who almost made a Rod Stewart song likeable.

    • Jen says:

      Funny you should say that because I can’t decide whether Paul is cool or dorky.

      • OnePlusSix says:

        When I was watching Paul last night the first thing that came to mind that he reminded me of a female version of Megan Joy…not sure why but there was something about his performance in general.

      • Alina says:

        Haha, he’s probably both… music dork, which makes him sort of cool.
        I think he probably suffers from the small-stage band vocalist syndrome. On a club scene you’ll have a small stage in which you need to fit in usually 5 members plus instruments, leading to a 2×2 ft space in which each of them can move and dance. The result is the weird contortionist dance and funny limb positions… on a small stage it’s fine… set one free on a bigger one and they don’t know what to do with all that space.
        Having said that, I’m sure Paul will improve his posture in time, I find it sort of endearing for the time being.

    • Prevodilac1 Prevodi says:

      i actually couldn’t agree more even if I tried. You’ve summed up my feelings perfectly

  9. Stephanie says:

    Great recap, I completely agree on everything!

    Right now, Paul is my favorite. I do understand how he may need to be careful into morphing into the male Megan Joy (horror!) but right now, I like not only his voice but his style and presence. There’s a very polished feel to him, due to his experience- this could prove to be a downfall if America wants awkward inexperience over Paul McDonald. If that makes sense ^_^

    Casey was great but his vocals aren’t selling it for me….I actually found the performance too angry. I know it was the point, but it also became too howl-y to me.

    Everyone else is either “eh” “blah” or “ugh”

  10. Broadway Baby says:

    I too was pleasantly surprised by Scotty. The lean was a little too cloying, but I believed he could be a recording artist. James was also a nice surprise. I am all for song choices that haven’t been done to death plus he did it pretty well. I thought Casey was weird. It could be that I can’t get the Fraggle Rock thing out of my head, but I didn’t buy it. I buy that we all WANT to want to buy it – but I ended up not wanting it.

    Paul was my favorite and the Megan Joy comparison is right on – I hope he’s reading and knows his Idol history.

  11. jrw0305 says:

    Any American Idol contestant who attempts to sing “I’ll Be” should be Veruca Salted down a trapdoor as soon as the music starts. Who is advising these people??

    Didn’t hear anyone last night I can see winning this competition and being successful long-term. Granted, it’s early, but there were no “moments” last night. I actually enjoyed Scotty McCreery the best, which frightens me. At least his voice was spot on and he looked comfortable, something I can’t say anyone else managed to accomplish. Hope the girls are better!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      “”Any American Idol contestant who attempts to sing “I’ll Be” should be Veruca Salted down a trapdoor as soon as the music starts. Who is advising these people?? “”

      Oh, wow, made me REALLY laugh! :-)

    • teecie says:

      Veruca Salted = hilarious!

  12. @spunkybean says:

    I don’t know. I think Paul McDonald is on the bubble.

  13. Jen says:

    I didn’t realize we were narrowing it down to five this week or I would have voted. I too am on board with Paul and Casey, but I’m concerned that the tweenage speed dialers might stick us with Brett and Robbie and that other guy I can’t remember.

    • darclyte says:

      Well, thankfully there will be “wild card” choices. It appears that EACH judge will get a wild card pick, so there will be a Top 13. I’m gonna bet that Steven picks a gal (because, come on, it’s Steven frickin Tyler,) Randy will pick a guy who he’ll call “his dawg,” and J-Lo will either pick another guy, or if she can she’ll bring back Chris “Funky Cold” Medina.

    • McFudge says:

      Is Tim the other guy you can’t remember? I missed the first part of the show and when they did the final recap all I could think was “I have no idea who that person is.” Jordan, Jovany, Brett, Clint, Jacob can all leave and I won’t be unhappy. Too bad Robbie crumped; I liked him before this.

  14. hooch says:

    Last night had a lot of surprises for me. I am excited about the season. Here were my knee-jerk reactions :
    CLINT – Nothing special, Just ‘aight for me (dawg)
    JOVANY – Yawn, lame, karaoke-ish
    TIM – Wasn’t good. Very disappointed. I thought he’d be much better.
    JORDAN – WOW. Horrible. Buh-Bye.
    *BRETT – Hysterical ! Kid is hilarious. JLo was funny saying he needed a wind machine.
    JAMES – Surprisingly good. Strong vocals, could def front a band.
    *ROBBIE – I thought it was fantastic. F U Randy ! (After reading comments later, realize I am in the minority here, surprised so many didn’t like it)
    *SCOTTIE – Wasn’t a fan before, but really liked it actually
    STEFANO – WAS a fan before, but found this performance annoying, lots of bum notes, and irritating tone to his voice.
    *PAUL – OMG. I love him. He’s crazy! I’m worried young girls won’t get it and won’t vote him through.
    JACOB – He’s really really good, but it’s just not my thing. I was bored.
    *CASEY – YEAH baby! Killed it! In another league.
    (*’s are my pic for top 5 – although I think Stefano will go through instead of Robbie)

    • Sara says:

      I agree with you except that Brett was hilarious in a wierd, super creepy way!

      • Hooch says:

        yeah, I know he wasn’t great at all, and he is VERY amateur, but I found it so entertaining I hope he goes through so I can keep watching it. A little comic relief for a few weeks doesn’t hurt!

        • McFudge says:

          Might not hurt us, but hurts the contestants who have more talent and actually SHOULD go through. Colton Dixon must be watching this and shaking his head in disbelief.

    • Drew says:

      Trade Jacob for Brett and we’re in business. Although James will probably get in over Robbie…based solely on last night’s performances though, I’d put Robbie and Stefano on the bubble for the Wild Card. Of course, the judges will factor everything in and probably give it to Tim. But Robbie’s arrangement was the most interesting thing I heard all night, and it’d be a shame to lose him. Granted, the semifinals always take at least two casualties of my absolute favorites, so we’ll have to see, I guess…

    • Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

      I agree with your list although I’d swap out Jacob for Paul. I don’t really like the gay gospel thing, but I can’t deny Jacob’s talent. Paul is too thin voiced for me – a dime a dozen.

    • Sookie says:

      I agreed with most of your recap except for Robbie. I love that song but it was unrecognizable. He was rushing the melody when the song should be slow and haunting. I loved Casey and I don’t know why because he wasn’t very melodic so I suppose he “put a spell on me”.

    • rivercard says:

      Wow . I truly thought Robbie had the worst performance in Idol History at this stage. I stopped counting at 20 completly butchered notes. Dreadful. Strange thing is I tend to agree with most of your analysis.

  15. The Wheeze says:

    Awesome recap as always! Overall I was disappointed because I do agree that it seemed like the talent of the guys this year was 10 folds better than last year. Granted, I was not expecting much from some as I had already decided unless they gave me a musical performance that made my earth move I would not vote for them (Jordan/Clint), but Brett, Robbie, Stefano were NOT good. Thank you for calling out Stefano’s BAD singing! When he sang (or should I say tried to) some of the notes my dog actually looked up to me for help! I did miss Simon last night too and felt the judges were way to SOFT! Hoping for much better tonight!

  16. Hooch says:

    Someone last night on the instant recap comments said that they thought the music production was purposely mixing it to make some people sound bad and others good, and when I thought back, it kind of does seem like this is true. For example, Clint sounded swallowed up by the music, when I expected him to be pretty good, and James powered through the music and sounded great, when I expected him to be bad.
    Maybe it’s just that Clint held the microphone too far away from his mouth or something, but you’d think a Karaoke emcee would know better than that. Seems suspicious !

    • marie says:

      I completely agree. Something is very suspicious about that sound mixing – ESPECIALLY since this was a pre-taped show!

    • Yo says:

      Something definitely was up with the audio/music; I wondered if it threw some less experienced or less powerful singers off. Even Ryan Seacrest sounded strange in a voice-over.

    • Sookie says:

      The music way overpowered some of the singers. I noticed this last year too, I would think the sound mixer would turn down the band a little bit. I couldn’t even hear Clint.

  17. Ghost of Kelly Clarkson says:

    I always find it interesting to see how the singers adapt to their first performance on the stage, in front of a live audience (not their fellow contestants), with a full band. Clearly, some are more used to that environment than others. I just wish that the sound mix had been better on some of the performances — the band totally overwhelmed some of the singers.

  18. Bob says:

    I agree about the judges not giving much in the way of constructive or destructive criticism. On the other hand, for once they weren’t overtly trying to sway the voting public. I also wish they hadn’t reduced the semifinal round to one week.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Bob, I agree. I enjoyed the judges’ comments, but also wondered if they weren’t trying to allow the voters to make up their own minds.

  19. poisnivy says:

    Well after profusely disagreeing with you for most of season 9, I must say that you nailed this critique on the head. By far my favorite last night was Paul. He just has such a wonderful, different voice (just check out his stuff from the Grand Magnolias). I love the entertainment value that Casey brings to the table, but I don’t think that will be enough to win the whole thing. We’ll see..

  20. @spunkybean says:

    What? Everyone loves Paul? Seriously …isn’t he just another version of Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, David Cook, or Daughtry. OK, well Daughtry figured out a way to sell CDs. Who exactly would buy Paul McDonald’s?

    • Jen says:

      A lot of people. His voice with his band is a lot different from when he’s singing the boring stuff on idol. It’s grittier and fuller. He’s a Faces era Stewart with this band. It’s pretty incredible.

      I think a lot of folks need to step outside their comfort zones of boring pop music and listen to other voices.

      • CMJ says:

        I’m eh about Paul. He sounded too much like Rod Stewart. Why not, as Paula used to say, make it your own? Spazzy dancer and that greeting at the front end made my skin crawl.

      • Scarlett says:

        I totally agree with you that Paul’s voice is different with his band. I like him both ways. He’s got my vote.

      • allie says:

        I agree. His band is awesome – I particularly like Fly Me To The Moon. Really good stuff – sounds nothing like what he did last night (which I enjoyed but I liked Casey’s performance better).

    • boomstick says:

      I’ve already bought music from Paul McDonald’s band, The Grand Magnolias. I’d guess I’m not the only fan who has done this either.

      Personally, my hope is that he lasts long enough on the show to get a lot of attention for his terrific band. I’d love to buy another album from them.

  21. Helene says:

    I will never understand why the judges picked Mr. Hair Flip… Brett over Colton in the first place, but after last night I bet they were sorry. Light my Fire is a sexy song and he’s just way too immature to light anyones fire! Ouch, it was painful.
    On another note, anyone who can do a decent Luther is Top 10 material in my book and Scotty (even though I’m not a country fan) has great potential.
    Looking forward to seeing the girls now.

  22. John says:

    …great to have your thoughts, as always, Mr. S. I’m probably in a minority here, but I enjoyed last evening…as a concert performance. After watching AI for many years, I was about to ‘give up’ after last year’s miserable season. Frankly, I have not enjoyed any season since season 7. That being said…I thought that the ten best of last night were ‘head and shoulders’ above any of last season’s contestants. Simply said….I enjoyed the March 1 show. I even found Ryan Seacrest to be less annoying…possibly because he was not trying to “one-up” Simon with snarky comments. One shocker for me…I often found myself agreeing with Randy’s comments….(oh my!)….J.Lo and Steven were just to ‘nicey-nice’ for me. Possibly they chose not to smash any dreams this early in the season….who knows…but possibly that can improve. I did look forward (but did not receive) any ‘great fun’ Steven comments…only the ‘shipyard’ blurb was worth a real laugh…..come on Steven…..let it fly! Enough prattle….thanks for letting me rant….now, let’s see if we can overlook the producers’ pimping….performance order, lighting, sound reinforcement..or lack there of….and enjoy these young folks for the next couple of months.

  23. Rebecca says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Paul!! He was so fun to watch and great to listen to; he seems so natural on the stage.

  24. Jen says:

    Honestly I get where people think Paul is “quirky”, but he’s not. He’s in a league of voices that have a gritty quality to them such as Stewart, Loggins(at times), Dylan, Joseph Arthur, Ray LaMontagne to name a few.

    I heard his band’s album was selling like hotcakes on iTunes so I just listened to some of the songs, holy mackerel! SUCH a difference from what he’s doing on idol! His voice is so much harder and fuller on these songs then the soft “quirky” everyone thinks they’re hearing on the show. After listening to those he is hands DOWN my favorite. Seriously, check out The Grand Magnolias. You’ll see how much stronger his voice is there.

    As for the rest, I love Casey and thought he was awesome and even if he wasn’t perfect well I give him leeway since he was just out of the hospital after a blood transfusion just hours prior to singing. I too found Jovany and Stefano just horribly bland. Jordan is just awful to me. Clint, I don’t care anymore. I liked him at first, now just can’t be invested. Scotty, while he’s got a great voice, I just think he’s going to suffer with the themes. He already proved that with the Beatles, he can’t go too far out of his comfort zone.

    As for the others: Ohh poor Brett, Robbie and Tim. I really liked all three of them, but all three disappointed(especially Brett, oh my dear little ginger snap). Right now I’d be happy with Paul, Casey, Jacob( I LIKED him), Scotty(because he’ll be in so I have to accept it), and well…James. Which I get but don’t have to like.

  25. madeleine says:

    I enjoyed the show, and the recap. Agree with Ablo — Clint, Jovany, Stephano, Jordan, Robbie and Brett can all go. Seriously? Hair toss? I loved Casey, and “down low” scotty can stay for now. Did not love paul mcdonald at all. What is up with the band? Could not really even hear the singers very well. I miss the old simon but not the bored simon.

  26. tma says:

    This was the first episode Ive seen all season. I have been following Mr Slezak’s recaps from the beginning , so I have to say I had high hope for this crop of kids. I rewatched the performances again this morning and have to say I thought it was a total train wreck. I heard maybe 4 potentially great singers. The kid who sang Judas Priest has promise. The Country kid had a great sound for traditional country music. I cannot imagine him surviving theme weeks. The spastic Kenny Logginsesque dude has great potential and last but not least The kid who sang Luther sounded the best, but we all know how african american men have done on this show since season 2. Im sorry I dont remember there names, but I guess thats my point. The first time I heard Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia and Chris Daughtry, I didnt have to look up there names. they were memorable. I cant see myself spending money on music from any of these kids. Oh, and I have two words for the scruffy dude who sang last… Taylor Hicks. Please get rid of him quick.

  27. Jason S. says:

    Hey Slezak ease up on the metaphors! You dont have to use them in every paragraph!!

  28. Dasha says:

    Michael, seriously? Paul McDonald was your favorite of the night? Somebody referred to him as Rod Stewart on helium, and I couldn’t agree more. I agree with you about missing Simon as there was very little constructive criticism that would actually help these kids going forward.

  29. susan says:

    Michael, I almost always agree with everything you say, and this recap is no different.
    I was wrapped up so much in Casey’s performance that I missed any “not-always tuneful,” but I believe you. He’s my favorite right now.
    I really like Paul, but was distracted by his flailing around the stage. I thought he looked like a marionette puppet — thought I was the only one.
    James Durbin did do better last night, but I’ve already put him at the top of my “Do Not Like” list and for James, there’s just no getting off of it. Sorry, James.
    I think this is a great season. Can’t wait for tonight!

  30. J says:

    My picks based on last night’s performances are: Casey, Scotty, Jacob, James and Paul.

    1. Casey is intense and creative – always someone to look forward to
    2. Scotty – “the real thing” for country music (that surreal voice!)
    3. Jacob – channels the divine regularly
    4. James – He appears to be “all in” and it is a treat to watch someone like that.
    5. Paul – Mr. Charisma and so “pro” with his voice (his physical maneuvers though are very off-putting). I am going to go out on a sci-fi limb here and even go so far as to say watching him reminds me of watching a character in one of those movies where someone has taken the option of selling his soul to get fame.

    As for the others:

    1. Robbie – waaay sugary and overdone
    2. Tim – weak
    3. Jovany – a karaoke caricature
    4. Jordan – model (with a personality disorder) and NOT a singer
    5. Stefano – teen chick magnet (a Sanjaya who can actually sing) but still a dime-a-dozen dude
    6. Clint – repellant insect (vice insect repellant)
    7. Brett – His performance was wrong in almost (maybe every) way. It was incredibly uncomfortable (there were an ick and a sad factor for me)one really needs to help him so that he can see himself, others and situations for what they really are. Being different is wonderful – but …. unconsciously flipping one’s magnificent hair is not the equivalent of clicking the heels of ruby slippers.

  31. LizR says:

    Great recap- as usual. I have one comment and one question. First, I didn’t mind the innocuous comments from the judges (at least at this point) because I blame them (mostly Simon) for last year’s terrible Top 12. Katelyn Epperly gave that fantastic performance last year and then got the “boring” comment. And don’t even get me started with Tim frakking Urban and that frakking hug from Ellen. Anyway, at least with the comments last night I didn’t feel like anyone was completely bussed my the judges. But, here’s my question- you noted that Jennifer made a face when Stefano hit that note and then didn’t mention it in her critique. Is it possible that the producers did some manipulating with the sound mix? Did James’ voice really sound that close to perfect and did Tim and Robbie sound that bad? And how did so many people give a standing O to Stefano with those screechy notes? And was Jennifer really reacting to Stefano at all or was it another singer, just edited in?

    • marie says:

      Very good points, all! I definitely smell chicanery!

    • commentfree says:

      I don’t think that they edited her face in because you can her Stefano’s note still playing in the background when she makes the face. I know they do some manipulating, but i’m not sure if the things you mention are a little too overboard? i really have no ideas the things they can do. as far as her face though- i really do think that was for Stefano.

    • chistosa says:

      I agree about the judges reaction. Since this was an edited show, it is impossible to know how accurate all of the critique was. Maybe there were more constructive advice that was cut or possibly other parts of the commentary were edited. No way of knowing unless someone who was there posts a comment.

    • commentfree says:

      go over to and read the Behind the scenes…

  32. Shelly says:

    I think the band was too loud at times for a few of the contestants (esp Clint). I kind of miss the days of the instruments, feel like many of the contestants – e.g. Tim, Paul, to name a few, could have made a better visual impression. It’s funny how Randy was the only one offering some semblance of a critique – Simon will be missed more and more as the season moves forward. J.lo and S.Ty really showed their lack of experience.

  33. Derrick says:

    Considering how awful some of the first “live” performances have been in the past, I thought last night was decent.

    So was it just me or did it seem like J-Lo was reading off of notes in front of her?

    • marie says:

      Too bad they weren’t live performances, at least not for the television audience.

    • Tereza says:

      I think she was reading the titles of the songs… but maybe she had notes, who knows :)

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      J-Lo did have notes, but that’s better than stumbling around making comments, IMO.

    • j. christopher says:

      don’t think there is anything wrong with judges having notes in front of them…good sign of preparedness…Randy Jackson should try it instead of blubbering the same 15 words over and over again

  34. Chrisword says:

    I wasn’t a big fan of the 4-judge format, but I’d be all for it if Michael Slezak could join the panel. Judges need to do just that — judge! There was more constructive criticism provided in this recap than came out of Steven, J.Lo and Randy all night. I actually like the new panel (I love their chemistry with each other and their interactions with the singers during auditions and Hollywood), but as the live shows begin, we need more actual judging . . . or at least more cowbell!
    Michael – A. Idol Judges – C.

  35. AprilD says:

    I went into this show with low expectations. There’s always the hit or miss theme of these shows. But I wasn’t pleasantly surprised by anyone last night either. I’ve got to say that Durbin made it work. He was the first contestant to actually take command of the stage instead of letting himself get lost in it. He dialed back the screaming until the end which was much better than what we’d seen before. There was barely a bum note in the bunch and he sang the song like it should have been sung. Maybe I had blinders on for most of the previous episodes but I don’t think his attitude/personality is that bad. Others that I can’t wait to see more from are Paul, Casey, Tim, Scotty and yes even Jacob. I couldn’t watch Paul’s performance, but I loved hearing it. I love Casey’s style and his choices. Sure he growled the whole song, but we know there’s more behind it. Even though Tim’s performance was bad, I do hope they let him bring out his instruments if he stays. I think if an artist is a musician they should be able to use their instruments. This business of “Hiding” behind instruments is ludacris, especially if Idol is saying they want someone who is really an artist. Way to be hypocritical Idol. *Steps off soapbox* Scotty’s attitude on stage has to change. That performance felt smarmy even if it did sound great. Last, I hope Jacob makes it through. This showed he is going to try to reign it in, but I would like to see more of him letting loose. Hopefully he’ll be able to step outside his genre a little bit.

  36. Michele says:

    I was frantic when I looked on EW for Michael’s review. What no Michael on the first night of the Top 24? I quickly Google’d MS and found him at this little known, at least to me, website. Soooo happy..what would the AI season be without Simon and Michael? Anyway, what were the judges thinking? It’s the first time this season I missed Simon! Did Steven take too many happy pills? Pitch problems were rampant with many singers. I couldn’t even hear the tune in Robbie Rosen’s rendition of “Angel.” There’s a lot of talent but my top 3 were James, Casey and Scotty with Jacob a close runner up. I thought Paul was awful and awfully cute.

  37. Leila says:

    Dude, Paul McDonald best of the night? I agreed with everything you said except your love for this kid. Sorry, he’s easy on the eyes and I like his “uniqueness” but his voice was swallowed up by the band, we could barely hear him the whole time. If he stays in the show he’ll lose his voice by the end of the season.

  38. dj says:

    Thank you for having Melinda on! Love, love, LOVE her. She is a sweetheart, but still willing to say it like it is. She would make an awesome Idol judge and/or vocal coach and/or mentor. And I so wish I could go to New York to see her show. It sounds amazingly crazy fun. But she says she’s going on the road, so hopefully she’ll come to Minnesota.

  39. Isabel says:

    I have a feeling Paul McDonald is going to become Season 10’s “cougar bait”… a suspicion only made more probable thanks to his song choice, “Maggie May.” I do have to say though, I thought he was the best of the night!

    • Sunny says:

      Sorry, I’m cougar age, and seen enough Rod Stewart live concerts to know Paul was a complete clone of music, sound, clothes, AND on-stage movement of Rod. Get a life/career of your own, Paul. How come some get knocked for not making a song their own, and others are allowed to sail through doing a complete cloning?

      • SaraW says:

        Because they’re good!! Sometimes a song doesn’t need a lot of altering. But what Paul does is he brings his own personality and unique style to the performance and that’s what makes it memorable!

  40. marie says:

    I agree almost totally with Michael.

    Last night’s Idol was a letdown for me. First, song choices were questionable. Who in their right mind didn’t do everything possible to dissuade Brett from making a jackass of himself with “Light My Fire”? Why did Robbie and Tim perform songs that did them absolutely no favors? Even Casey – the only one who has truly excited me up to now – disappointed me with his choice: “I Put a Spell On You” gives the singer a lot of opporunity to growl and shout, but does not contain enough melody to highlight singing talent. I was hoping for more on the lines of “Georgia” and “Do Right”. But I’m not writing him off yet, because I KNOW he’s got much better chops than what he showed last night. (But Jacob, about whom I’ve been on the fence, but whom I generally concede is a talented singer with potential, was spot on in his choice of the superb Burt Bacharach classic.)

    The sound mix was generally pretty damned awful – but more for some than for others. This was a taped show, so I suppose they could have helped that in post production, but didn’t – at least, not for the non-anointed ones. Durbin, who has been irritating me up to now with his anti-musical screeching and the unpleasant timbre of his voice, sounded surprisingly good: but of course he’s one of the Producers’ Pets, so I suspect he may have gotten some electronic assistance.

    The new judges disappointed me too; either they’ve come down with Ellen Syndrome, i.e., they’re actually a bunch of tin ears who are way too easily pleased and / or misguidedly holding back deserved criticism to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, or their assessments were dictated by the producers in advance in accordance with who they want to continue in competition. I mean, it was actually Randy who offered the most useful, accurate assessments – what’s up with that?

    In general, there’s too much that’s fishy, even more than in previous years: pre-taped? New voting system: Twelve guys in the semi finals; the viewers choose 5 to proceed to next week, and then on top of that, the judges choose I guess 3 more wildcards to continue, guaranteeing that most or all of the Producers’ Pets will remain on the show?

    I’d be finished with this nonsense, but I’m afraid Idol has become that car crash you know you should look away from but can’t help staring at – and to be honest, I’m still very enthusiastic about Casey, whom I can’t fault for a single iffy song choice.

    • djm says:

      I agree. I entered this season as a skeptic, and was pleasantly surprised during the auditions by the talent they were selecting. I was so excited about last nights show and then by the second perfomance was already scratching my head. Sorry, but the judges were WAY OFF last night. I’ll start with young Scotty. Sorry, but his perfomance was SO affected it was borderline Toddlers & Tiaras! Sorry, but if a girl had done that performance in years past they would have been called “too pagenty” and the judges would have raked them over the coals. There was NOTHING authentic about him last night. Oh, and a 16/17 year old singing a song about being a father? Again, he should have been called out for not singing something more age appropriate. His whole performance just grossed me out, but something tells me the south will keep him in to at least the Top 5 if not higher. I also thought they were WAy too easy on a lot of the other perfromances last night. Brett was a train wreck, Robbie was just HORRID – in fact, I started shredding my junk mail half way through to drown him out it was that bad. And sorry Slezak, Paul was having some sort of seizure while being full-on Rod Stewart karaoke during Maggie May. And while I love me some Casey (the boy is so talented) I hated that song and performance last night. My guess for the top 5 is:
      and hopefully Stefano (at least he has some sort of “spark”), but who knows. Let’s hope the girls are 5,000,000 times better tonight.

  41. iva says:

    missed both Simon and Kara because after the first couple I started fast forwarding through critiques. Night left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. At least after Tim Urban’s performance he got ripped a new one.. these guys might be tempted to believe they did good, which for the most part they most certainly didn’t.

    Let us be cruel, only to be kind (and hand forge electrifying performances)

    too bad for Halperin

  42. marli says:

    I really like Tim Halperin. I notice how he has that singer songwriter vibe. plays his own instruments and he can sing. Sadly he just doesnt get to show it which is a pity because i think he is pretty good

    • JeffNYC says:

      I agree completely with what you said, Marli. Tim is an amazing talent, and he’s got the looks to boot!! He made a bad song choice last night and he wasn’t helped at all by the awful sound system (it got much better as the show wore on.)

  43. Jim says:

    The zombie apocalypse has now started. Jim Morrison dragged himself out of the earth and is now terrorizing France in order to get a flight to LA to take revenge on Brett. What a horrible song choice, and a really bad delivery of “Light My Fire”. It was painful for the eyes and the ears.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Made me laugh! :-)

      France has been trying to get rid of Morrison’s grave for years. Maybe Brett’s song choice was part of a French plot!

  44. hailey says:

    honestly that james guy just reminds me of adam lambert which probably means he wont win. HAH!

  45. Katie says:

    CLINT – I didn’t like him since the Hollywood group rounds and although in general, his voice isn’t awful I can’t tolerate the overuse of notes in each song he sings. He is all over the place, and his god awful personality cannot overcompensate for the notes.

    JOVANY – I believe he has sung in the same karaoke bar that Clint worked at. I love ‘I’ll Be’, but only when Edwin McCain is singing it.

    TIM – So very disappointed in him. I wish he would have just toned a song down, and sat behind a piano and sang it. He lost so much of the enjoyment I felt watching him last night and I hate that.

    JORDAN – This may be the WORST Idol performance ever. Yes, ever. Usher can barely make that song tolerable and he has autotune helping him out. And the fact that he was so willing to claim “no… this is not who I am as an artist”, it makes me question what the heck he is thinking.

    BRETT – Funny, but inadvertently so. Another song choice that just did not fit for me.

    JAMES – Strong vocals tonight, but I sorta think that this performance may be a fluke. I don’t forsee strong vocals from him on a consistant basis.

    ROBBIE – Another one with the song. Why choose a song that envokes adopting puppies to keep them from being euthanized? There were notes in there that had no business being there.

    SCOTTIE – Don’t like. Don’t want, but when put in this assortment, he came out smelling like roses.

    STEFANO – Charismatic and fun, but the notes were not there.

    PAUL – I love him and think he looks like Bradley Cooper from certain angles. While it wasn’t the strongest voice tonight- I think it was certainly passable enough to get him through.

    JACOB – Was on last night., though it’s ridiculously premature to say “First there was Luther, now we have you.” Seriously J Lo?

    CASEY – Enjoy him- but did get a little tedious toward the end. I give him side points for having been in the hospital the morning the show was taped.

    Michael, like you, this was the first time I missed Simon because I felt like the judges were not honest with these contestants.

    I couldn’t help but think Colt may have been sitting home and wondering How in the hell was I not in this top 12?

    Top 5 to get through: James, Paul, Brett, Casey, Jacob
    Judges Pick: Tim

  46. Becky says:

    I miss the intimacy of the small stage for these first few rounds – the big stage completely swallowed up the likes of Brett, Robbie, Tim and Jovany. In fact, Brett’s performance was so cheesy – the flames in the background simply intensified the fact that this boy was singing a song totally inappropriate to where he is in his young life. His song choice and Jordan’s song choice were bad bad decisions.

    I don’t care if or when Paul gets voted off – I am a fan and will buy anything he sells.

    Scotty will have the tween vote this year – expect to see him around for many weeks. For the love of all that’s holy, someone tell him to lose the suggestive eyebrow raising and head tilt. He needs to inject his personality into his singing, not some country caricature personality.

    Good-bye to Jovany, Jordan, Tim, Clint (first spot punishment for Hollywood week antics,hmmm??)and probably Brett.

    Locks: Casey, Paul, Scotty, James and Jacob

    Judges saves: Robbie and Tim

  47. thecatlady says:

    Paul!? Paul?!! REALLY?! What was with all that twitchin’ an skippin’ and sort of whisperin’? J Lo’ got it right – almost all I could concentrate on was the blinding white teeth as they twitched around the stage. Want to like Jacob Lusk – but could not get past his sashaying, sideways eye-looking entrance at the start of his song, so ruined it for me. LOVED Scotty! A lot more than I thought I would. Might of been best of the night, but do worry about him in theme weeks to come. James – really much better than I thought he could do. LIKE. Casey/Fraggle Rock. Yeah, you’re not that great, growled too much second half of song. Wonder if the beard won’t play to the tweens and their fast texting fingers… Buy Bye Brett, Jun Bug, Jordon, Tim.

    • Broadway Baby says:

      I too have been comparing Casey to Fraggle Rock, but it just hit me who he really reminds me of – the Ghost of Christmas Present in the Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine. Look up an image of that and I’d be interested to see if you agree with me.

      Nice to see a good amount of Idoloonies on here from past boards without the trolls.

  48. Songwevr says:

    Guess I was the only one who thought Paul McD’s stage antics looked more like he had thrown back a few rather than a quirky stage presence? I kept waiting for him to fall on the stage! I like him, but that performance really put me off.

    Also, I think being the third judge to speak has really helped Randy to think through and get some good thoughts together. Being the first judge to speak is really more difficult.

  49. Shanna says:

    I went to EW looking for Slezak …and OMG he was not there!! I about panicked .how was I going to survive a whole season without the benefit….but thank god I googled him …and found him here…..yayyyy ….crisis adverted.

  50. ngh18 says:

    I kept wondering what Simon would have said and although he sometimes was a little harsh with his criticism, he helped the contestants get a little better each week. They hung on his every word. These judges told them they all sounded nice–and they did or surely they wouldn’t be here right? Now What?!!