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Downhill event: Men's night on 'American Idol'

If you watched the Olympics on NBC Wednesday night instead of "American Idol," you made the right viewing choice. Even if they brought back ice dancers dressed as Aborigines for an encore. Compare any of these guys to any performance of Adam Lambert's last season -- it's like speed skating vs. curling.

Contestant Todrick Hall performs former 'Idol' winner Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." (Michael Becker -- Fox)

Todrick Hall starts things off with Kelly Clarkson song "Since U Been Gone," which is to say he flicks his head and does some theatrical dance moves to the tune he rearranged in his head. He explains to the judges in response to their "What was that about?" questions afterward. Judge Simon Cowell accuses him of murdering the original song. Well, at least he wasn't accused of something really bad, like taking money from the parents of little little children in exchange for giving the tots roles in a traveling musical which shut down, leaving the tots in the lurch. Oh wait . . .

Aaron Kelly is a little boy and it would be mean to judge his performance of Rascal Flatts' "Here Comes Goodbye" harshly. So Simon, who has been forced to wear his Il Divo shirt because Ellen has borrowed his white T-shirt and black sweater, therefore calls it "quite a good performance."

Jermaine Sellers has found someone's cutaway morning coat in a consignment shop along with a sensible pair of galoshes and a grandmother's Sunday hat; he's wearing it all to celebrate his singing of "You Can Reach Me." Simon calls it "screaming."

Tim Urban is the guy who got through to the semi finals after another guy got the hook over a recording contract. He sings "Apologize" by OneRepublic which is so appropriate and Simon congratulates him for making it to the semi finals after all, then suggests he'll be the first to go.

Joe Munoz is better than anyone we've heard so far Wednesday night, but that's like saying C-plus is better than C. Simon calls his performance "limp" and "forgettable"and mumble-adds, "kind of like our host." Show host Ryan Seacrest appears not to hear that gag. Anyway, he ignores it.

Tyler Grady is still a Jim Morrison groupie and his "American Woman" performance is like a 70's re-enactment. He strikes a series of wall-poster poses that don't add up to one good flashback. Simon says he's from The Pretend to be a Rock Star School. We recommend he either get on acid or try a new shtick.

Lee Dewyze, who is going to win this competition because he most closely resembles previous winners David Cook and Kris Allen, sings "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol and is not bad in a local coffee shop open mic night kinda way. Simon raves that he's a "naturally good singer" and advises him to emulate David Cook. Oh, great.

John Park proposes to Shania Twain, who had swished her necklace madly and spoken of his nice lips and bottom when he auditioned for the show. That was cute. But then he pushes all the wrong buttons with the "Idol" judges, picking an "old" tune -- "God Bless the Child" -- and Twain isn't there to save him. Simon says it takes someone with an incredible voice to pull off that tune and he hasn't got that. The studio audience thinks he said "has" instead of "hasn't" and starts to cheer until Simon sets them straight.

Michael Lynche is a large likeable guy, bouncing in place and playing the ukelele - it's actually a guitar but he dwarfs it -- to Maroon 5's "This Love." Simon calls him "the support act before the main act," but without any real conviction because Michael is so likeable.

Alex Lambert suffers from being named Lambert, which especially invites comparison to Adam. Imagine a deer performing "Wonderful World" while caught in headlights. Simon tells him to get his nerves under control or it's all over for him.

The "Cougar Town" story arc of this "Idol" season opens a new episode as Casey James takes the stage. Casey sings "Heaven" and he's actually OK but for insurance he's also showing plenty of chest through an unbuttoned shirt. Much ho-ho-ho follows from the judges. Kara: "Casey, I don't recognize you with your shirt on." Ellen says it was hard for her to concentrate because "I could feel Kara undressing you with her eyes." Randy jokes that he and Casey are both models, and Simon jokes that they were both cursed with good looks, adding "Obviously the Cougar here likes you." Seabiscuit says Kara's HR meeting will be a special two-hour live event this week while the American Idol Decency Police pull their Paula Plasticuffs out of storage.

Andrew Garcia, this season's quirky guy, is up next with his guitar and an acoustic reinterpretation of the hard rocking "Sugar We're Going Down" but the judges pretty much tell him not to come around selling quirky because they're full up. Kara calls it "a strange rendition -- kind of isn't meant to be played acoustically." Even Ellen finds him "too serious and self-indulgent".

"American Idol" is back on Thursday night for a results show that will send four contestants home to forever contemplate their bad song choices/too much quirkiness/not enough quirkiness//lack of good backstories/failure to take their shirts off.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 25, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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That was some bad singing last night. I do like Aaron though. Kara's chesty choice, not so much. Todrick, Jermaine and Tim Urban were absolutely terrible.

Posted by: MrsKirby | February 25, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Man, I was SO looking forward to the men and they were as bad as the women! What on earth is going on? I've been watching Idol since the beginning and I've never seen the top 24 be so consistently BAD.
I didn't think some of them, however, were as bad as the judges thought. Michael, Andrew Garcia, Casey "The Hair" James, Todrick, and Jermaine I actually enjoyed. John Park has a GREAT voice, I totally disagree with Simon... but that WAS a horrible song choice for him. I could barely watch.
As for the others -- some were so painful I had to change the channel. Thank God for the Olympics. What will I do without them??

Once again, the judges are killing this show worse than the performances. First of all, I'm sorry, 4 judges is too many. When the critique takes longer than the performance, get the hook. Besides, they don't say anything helpful or original. Yesterday the girls weren't original enough or make enough changes with the songs. This time, the men changed the songs TOO MUCH. They're looking for Goldilocks here? Jeez. I mean, you guys picked these people, remember? If they're all so horrible then isn't this the judges fault?

Please bring back Paula!!! At least she added some refreshing camp to the show I really miss. I finally realize this show is not fun when it's taken so seriously. And will someone please tell Kara to SHUT UP? She's trying so hard to be Paula, she keeps talking to Simon even during other judges' critiques and when Seabiscuit is talking. Did you notice that?
And also someone tell her she's not funny. The whole "oh, it's hot in here now that Casey's up on stage..." was so bad even Ellen looked embarrassed and mostly she's just been botoxed in place for this season.

It looks like Simon will be this year's biggest Idol winner. Good move to make this your last season -- I can't see how this mess is going to get better.

Posted by: tmeintermedia | February 25, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Four judges is too much. And they need to pick one order and stick with it. I can't keep track of who has critiqued (and neither can they).

Kara's antics during Casey's performance were repugnant and unprofessional. Poor guy is trying to sing and he's catching her shenanigans out of the corner of his eye. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Best of the night: Lee, Andrew, Casey
Worst: Everyone else.
Going home: Todrick and Tim

Posted by: jljardon2 | February 25, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Ah, 'tis the season ...
* Tim Urban could be Peter Brady's long lost twin
* Joe Munoz made my dog howl
* If all Tyler Grady has going for him is his "Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison" impersonation, he's SOL 'cause his singing ain't gonna get him anywhere
* Alex Lambert was the reincarnation of Shelley Long doing her best Carol Brady impersonation. Seriously dude, you're rockin' a shag haircut circa 1972.
* I swear to God if you could put on his head a jewel encrusted, bow of a hat Michael Lynche could be Aretha Franklin at Obama's inauguration! The resemblance was uncanny! (Plus two words for Michael: Right.Guard.)

Posted by: jpstang | February 25, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I only watched half before I couldn't take it anymore. I'll watch the rest later.

The judges were really bad last night. Somebody would totally butcher a tune, pitch-wise, and they would dish out minor criticism on song selection. I thought Lee Dewyze was out of tune the entire time. It was awful.

I sure hope Aaron Kelly (hope I got the right guy) doesn't become the next David Archuleta, where the reviews are always positive regardless of the performance.

I don't bad caution flags watching Michael Lynche. He does not come across as a nice guy to me. The guy is a bully. He thinks he is the alpha dog, and treats others as beta dogs. It was a bit subtle, but his looks and demeanor while Kara and Randy were critiquing him were that of disapproval. You might understand disagreement, but disapproval is bad nuance. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, we'll see.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | February 25, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

My above post should start, "I get bad caution flags wathcing Michael Lynche", not "I don't bad caution flags watching Michael Lynche"

Posted by: niceshoes1 | February 25, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

John Park has a beautiful voice, but I really don't think he understood the lyrics to "God Bless the Child". He said he sang it for his parents who are struggling financially. But that is so *not* the point of the song. It's about a guy who sees everyone else doing well, *including* his parents, but he's barely keeping his head above water, while at the same time his pride won't allow him to take any hand-outs and he's saying he intends to make it on his own, with a little divine providence. Which is why someone his age shouldn't be allowed to sing the blues. He didn't even have the requisite pain in his voice for that performance to even make a little sense.

The vocal coaches should make sure that the contestants read the lyrics and understand them, in addition to giving them performance tips.

And as for Tim Urban's excuse that he just didn't want to cut his first choice as much as he needed to fit it into the time slot...what a lame excuse!!! This is your 90 seconds (or whatever) to prove you belong here and and you choose a song that's outside your vocal range because your first choice required too much editting? Buh-bye.

The evening's performances were less painful, though, than the previous night.

Posted by: SheldonAlexandria | February 25, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The women were downright terrible on Tuesday and then we have to sit through that godawful dreck yesterday? This show is going to hell in a handbasket and you can see it in the glint in Simon's eye and the corner of his sneering mouth that he knows it full well. If things are looking to grim already I shudder to think what this show will be next year...

Posted by: ozpunk | February 25, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Simon looks bored. But even while running on half a cylinder, he managed to give the most useful and honest feedback to each contestant. It's gonna be a looong season with four judges and no Paula for comic relief.

Posted by: chantooz | February 25, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

what does everyone expect? You have a bunch of cookie-cutter wannabes who go straight from singing Kareokee in their parent's basement to a national stage and you get the same thing you get every season - a bunch of generic sound-alikes.

You get everything you need to know by watching the commercials - don't waste your time watching the show.

Posted by: xconservative | February 25, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

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