'American Idol': Top-12 Guys Do the '60s
"American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest opens Guys Night by reminding us "people are saying this year's talent is the best yet." By "people" he means "Idol" producers. This is our first opportunity to see what they mean. Naturally, the 12 guys are forced to sing tunes from the 1960s -- when their grandparents were young.
The Fantastic 3 are back judging the 12 guys' performances: Randy "ClichÃ© Man" Jackson, Paula "The Fog" Abdul and Simon Cowell the Unyielding.
Competent David Hernandez sings "In the Midnight Hour" -- a performance we'd forgotten before it even finished. Oh, and he comes from a "broken home," Hernandez says, and was raised by a single mom. Yes, the Idolettes finally figured out, by the seventh go-round, that milking their sad tales translates into viewer votes.
Randy's reaction: "Yo yo, competition is on, baby, it's on!" Paula declares David has "brilliant" vocals to rely on. Simon pronounces the middle part of the tune "a little bit rabbit-in-the-headlights" but overall "better than I thought it would be." Bye-bye, David.
Chikezie Eze has dropped his last name, either because he's decided he's already so big he only needs one -- like Cher -- or he's tired of people mispronouncing it. Either way, totally annoying. Plus he's wearing an orange suit, so he loses our vote. Chikezie gives a lounge-lizard rendition of "I Love You More Today Than Yesterday."
Randy: "It was a'ight yeah yeah yeah." Paula: "You've come a long way and you look great -- people may not know, he's lost a lot of weight." Simon: "Here's my problem, Jacuzzi . . . I absolutely hated the whole performance and I'll tell you why. The suit is hideous . . . the wink was hideous, the 'woo!' was hideous. It was all old-fashioned, corny, cheesy" and not "current." Chikezie says "current" is hard to do "on '60s night." Bye-bye, Chikezie.
David Cook's hair no longer looks like my taxidermy rooster but it's still unnerving to watch him deliver a pseudo-rock version of the Turtles' "Happy Together" while trying to sex it up with long looks at the camera that we think are supposed to convey smoldering sexuality but really scream "homicidal."
Randy said he worked it out, apropos of we're not sure what. Paula called the performance "a bit 'worthy,' " by way of mocking a comment Simon made ages ago about a Cook performance. Simon said he "almost made it believable." We're sure Cook took a lot away from their observations.
Jason Yeager, Branson, Mo., singer-server, nukes himself with an Andy Williams version of "Moon River."
Randy tells him it's important not to lose his concentration when trying to imitate Andy Williams singing "Moon River." Paula announces she gave her first ballet recital to that song. Jason says he dedicated the song to his grandmother who, he tries to explain, is dead, but Simon jumps in with, "I bought my first puppy to that song," which may be the best line this season -- possibly in "American Idol" history. Simon pulls out all the "cruise ship" references he can muster and throws in a "you're like a dependable old dog," adding that a lot of young viewers watched that performance with question marks floating over their heads. We think Paula and Simon switched Coke cups.
Robbie Carrico would be the perfect person to cast as the rocker guy in a Disney Channel movie about a preteen girl who nearly went wrong when she fell for an older rocker, until her fairy godmother showed up and helped her realize that Daddy was right when he said older rocker boys don't make good boyfriends.
Robbie sings Three Dog Night's "One" like he thinks it's a Doors song. Randy says he was rockin' out. Paula says he picked the perfect song for him. Simon says he's not convinced Robbie is in fact a rocker and not a pop singer in disguise (Robbie used to be part of a band that toured with Britney). Robbie insists he's definitely not a pop singer -- he's got the whole costume to prove it -- adding, "This is me." Even Seacrest seems dubious, suggesting Robbie is a rocker who looks like Justin Timberlake.
David Archuleta sings "Shop Around" and makes you forget all the guys who performed before him.
Randy is so impressed he pulls himself together long enough to call it "brilliant." Paula calls it a brave and bold choice of songs and says she forgets he's only 17 when he sings, which sounds like something the Fox decency police will want to keep an eye on. "When you've got it, you've got it," Simon says, adding that it was, "by a comfortable mile," the best performance so far.
Archuleta is in, or feigns, shock. "I'm really awed that came out of [the judges] . . . I loved it, man, especially with the audience here -- wow!" he ejaculates.
"You can only vote for him; you can't adopt him," Seacrest says. Archuleta feels the need to remind Seacrest he's 17 years old.
Danny Noriega, whose head has swelled mightily since we saw him last, says he wants to bring "swagger and attitude" to his performance. "I want it to be hot." He breaks into a manic rendition of Elvis hit "Jailhouse Rock" that is long on heinie waggling, pouting for the camera and hair shaking but short on actual singing.
Randy notices Danny was having a good time. Paula calls the performance "almost scalding" and says it "allowed you to just be 'the performer,' " whatever that means. Simon -- the only judge worth listening to -- says it "verged on the grotesque."
Luke Menard is very good-looking and, though we've seen nothing of him so far on the show, after hearing his version of Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'," we don't think we'll bother.
We've also not seen anything of Colton Berry, which inspires Seacrest to ask him what he'd like viewers to know about him. Colton responds he wants people to know he looks like Ellen DeGeneres "from the left, the right and the front" -- wrecking any chance he might have had of winning this competition regardless of his performances. For the record, he sang "Suspicious Minds" very theatrically, which he'd warned us was his tendency because, he explained to Seacrest, he has studied theater.
Cherubic Garrett Haley is very pretty and delicate, but his "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" is utterly forgettable. Randy and Paula try to be nice, but Simon says Garrett looked haunted and like he's been locked up in a room for days, and recommended he go out and spend some time in the sun.
Jason Castro plays guitar and sings "What a Day for a Daydream" in a surprisingly entertaining Lovin' Spoonful-cum-Arlo Guthrie kinda way. Randy and Paula love him, Simon says he's one of the night's top two performances.
And, finally, Aussie rocker Michael Johns gives an Andrew Lloyd Webber interpretation of "Light My Fire." It's the second time he's done the song in this competition (he also used it in Hollywood).
Randy declares it "da bomb." Paula says he set everyone on fire. Simon says he has all the charisma of a lead singer -- which somehow sounded like an insult but was clearly intended as praise.
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