The guys kicked off the first performance week of "American Idol" on Tuesday, and while there were a few truly awful performances, I don't think anybody really distinguished himself from the pack in terms of greatness. I would guess that the fan favorites who had weak showings will get another chance, while some of the less well-known (and marginally less-awful) guys will go home instead.
A couple of general things:
- Did anyone else think the tiny, theater-in-the-round stage was bizarre? I wonder if the reason nobody really loosened up the whole night was that they were afraid of tumbling off the edge.
- I'd put the Paula crazy-ometer at about a 4 out of 10. She actually critiqued some of the contestants, but she also had a few moments of mindless babbling and that odd breast-rubbing moment after Sundance performed. (More on that later.)
To hear my thoughts on the top 12 and see who I think is heading home,
Rudy Cardenas (at right): Does anyone else think he looks suspiciously like Gob from "Arrested Development"? He did a fairly karaoke-ish version of "Free Ride." Randy called it corny, Simon said it wasn't unique, and I agree with both of them.
Brandon Rogers: He sang Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," and ... wow, I just got distracted by his blindingly white shoes. He was fairly safe and boring, though I do think he has a great voice. He'd better wow me next time, though.
Sundance Head: Will someone please explain the appeal of Sundance? I so don't get it. He looked awkward singing "Nights in White Satin," and I'm not sure he hit any right notes. Simon equated it to "a dad at a wedding." Then Paula gave herself an impromptu chest massage. I have no idea.
Paul Kim: Apparently, being barefoot makes him feel free, but he sure didn't really loosen up here. He sang "Careless Whisper," and it was a pretty personality-free performance. Randy thinks he has potential; Simon suggested he put his damn shoes on.
Chris Richardson (at left): Ah, our fake Timberlake (Fakelake? Timberfake?). He sang "I Don't Want to Be" with a lot of robotic hand motions, and I'm not sure he hit a single note in the melody, but Paula called it a great arrangement. One person's "arrangement" is another person's "making it up," I guess.
Nick Pedro: He was really not very good, kind of warbly and dull. Weirdly, Simon liked him, while Randy and Paula weren't feeling it.
Blake Lewis: Not a beatbox to be found in this performance, and I'm glad to discover he can actually sing. Simon said his rendition of "Somewhere Only We Know" sounded contemporary; I thought he seemed uncomfortable. Then again, maybe I'm just blinded by my love for him. And his sweater vest.
Sanjaya Malakar: If we've learned one thing from six seasons of "American Idol," it's that teenagers shouldn't sing Stevie Wonder. All the judges said it was dreary, but he's cute, so I bet he gets another chance.
Chris Sligh (at right): I have no idea what song he was singing, but he was obviously having fun, even though the performance was a little like a college open mic night. If I'd known how much support he already had, I definitely would have put him in my top 12.
Jared Cotter: He sang that Brian McKnight "Back at One" song (my notes say "hey! he can count!") that sends my boyfriend into a fit of junior high reminiscence. He's really smooth, though not the most exciting performer. I'd like him to stick around long enough to sing a song that's not about trying to get a woman into bed.
A.J. Tabaldo: He was a little cheesy with his popped collar and bad party dancing, but the singing wasn't bad. Simon called it a "theme park" performance but also said he might not have given A.J. enough credit before. I might not have, either.
Phil Stacey: Finally, a guy who's not afraid to belt one out. Randy called his "I Could Not Ask for More" the best vocal of the night, and while that might be an exaggeration, I think I underestimated Phil. I know I underestimated the extent of his baldness, because wow.
Who Should Go: Nick Pedro and Sundance Head
Who Will Go: Nick and Paul, but Rudy could be in trouble, too.
Photos courtesy of Fox