Well, almost everything I knew about American Idol this season is wrong, at least if Tuesday's performances by the top 10 guys are any indication. Several of the favorites had off nights, while those who seemed certain to be out before the Top 12 sounded great. One thing is still certain, though: On the guys' side, David Archuleta seems like the one to beat.
The night's theme was '70s songs (please tell me this means next week will be '80s), and we also learned some fun facts about the top 10 guys along the way . Don't forget to vote for which guys are going home, and to see my take on the night's performances, just
Michael Johns — As if the guy weren't hot enough, now we've seen him play tennis. Sigh. Two things I noticed about his performance of "Go Your Own Way": 1) He seemed a little off on some of the notes, and 2) From certain angles, he looks like a cleaned-up Zach Braff. Randy said he needed to let go, Paula praised him for being consistent, and Simon said it was Michael's weakest performance of the competition.
Jason Castro — Fun fact: He's totally awkward in his one-on-one interviews. He came out playing guitar again, and that plus the dreads totally makes him the kid who always has the crowd of hippie girls hanging around him in the middle of the campus quad, if you know what I mean. His "I Just Want to be Your Everything" sounded like two different songs — a beginning and end with him and the guitar, and a long middle with '70s synth and backup singers. I preferred the guitar part. Randy said the guitar was cute but the vocals weren't good, Paula told him to ditch the guitar next time, and Simon harped on the poor song choice.
Luke Menard — How did I not see that he's a touring a capella singer? It seems like the most obvious job for him now. After boring me to tears last week, he came out with this crazy, half-falsetto "Killer Queen" that I found oddly captivating to watch. He's self-consciously theatrical on stage, but because he's 29 (and not a teenager, Colton), he pulls it off pretty well. Randy said this seemed like the right song for him, Paula said he had a great week, and Simon slammed him for not living up to Freddie Mercury.
Robbie Carrico — He's also a race car driver. How rock n' roll. I've been on the pro-Carrico side till now, but his "Hot Blooded" got all karaoke, and now I suppose I'm one of those doubting his rock cred. He sounded fine, but not any more fine than the singer from the bar band down the street. Randy said he's starting to doubt the rocker thing too, Paula said he played it safe and lost his character in the process, and Simon actually thought his singing was pretty good.
Danny Noriega — He apparently sang in a teen punk band, where I bet his neck-snapping skills came in handy. His performance of "Superstar" was certainly better than last week's unmitigated Elvis disaster, but I find him really distracting to watch; every moment and glance toward the camera seems calculated. Randy said he was thinking too much, Paula wants him to be himself, and Simon liked that he stands out in a crowd.
David Hernandez — Did you hear those whoops from the crowd when he said he used to be a gymnast? His "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" kept the crowd in it: He sounded good, the arrangement was cool, and he was a more believable rocker than, say, Carrico. Randy announced that David was back, Paula said his voice was pure, and Simon praised David for responding well to criticism. Then David got all cute and dancey and nearly throttled Seacrest. I think I love him now.
Jason Yeager — His fun fact: He plays a lot of instruments. None on stage, though. Apparently this song was called "Long Train Running" (I've just always known it as that "without looo-o-ov-ove" song), and everything I said before about Carrico sounding like a bar band singer goes triple for Jason. He ended with all this weird dancing, which made me laugh. Randy called it karaoke, Paula said he needed to pick "singer songs," and Simon called it "awkward and ordinary."
Chikezie — After last week's hideous orange suit, he came out looking very Sesame Street in bright blue and green polo shirts. He sang "I Believe to My Soul," working his name into it, letting loose at the end, making good use of the background singers, and basically tearing it up in every way possible. Get down with your bad self, Chikezie. Randy whooped that Chikezie is back, Paula called it brilliant, and Simon praised him for looking and sounding better than last week, which apparently doesn't mean he's properly learned to say the guy's name.
David Cook — David's word-nerdiness almost makes up for his bad hair. He's also rocking the guitar, to the point that I was more impressed with his guitar playing than his singing. That said, he did sound better than I expected from him, especially on the a capella part of "All Right Now." Randy calls him the real rocker, Paula says he's got "it," but Simon criticized his lack of charisma.
David Archuleta — So I was really, really nervous when I heard he'd be singing "Imagine." That's one of those songs you just can't mess with, you know? But David doesn't mess. It's a very different interpretation of the song, not a Lennon copy at all, and it lets him do a lot of interesting, show-offy things with his voice. Randy said it's one of the best vocals he's heard on the show ever, Paula said she wants him to be her car ornament (?), and Simon said he's now the one to beat — male or female.
My favorites: Chikezie, David Archuleta, David Hernandez, and, actually, Luke.
Should be worried: The Jasons (Yeager and Castro). Michael Johns and Robbie Carrico are probably safe, but this should be a warning to step it up.
Going home: I think Jason Yeager is out. The second spot is the tough one, because many of the night's worst performances came from popular people. I'm actually going out on a limb to say Luke probably didn't do enough and will be the other one headed home.
Photos courtesy of Fox