American Idol – Episode 9-14 Review

More I think about about last night’s Top 12 girls, the less I can remember. The performances were bland, but even worse was the lameness of the judges. While supposedly Simon and Ellen aren’t getting along, they weren’t tangling enough for us to care. Where’s the bitterness? Where’s the mocking? Where’s Paula and what is she drinking? This show is suffering from orbital decay. Where’s the zing? Where’s the passion? Can the boys save this series from making me regret missing curling?

Ryan tells the audience that it is their night to separate the men from they boys. Really Ryan? You want us to go straight to the “with a crowbar” punchline. Simon is wearing an open white shirt that allows his chest hair to breathe. It’s like he’s cheating on his t-shirts. Randy declares that “the girls blew it out last night.” What? There was a lot of sucking. Not that much blowing in those girls performances. Are these people hyping up a selection fiasco? This is as painful as watching the New Jersey Nets cheerleaders. Ellen points out the mix is different in the studio than when she heard it at home. Simon reminds the kids that if they lose it or forget the words, their careers are over.

Todrick Hall better do amazing since upset parents are accusing him of pulling a scam with a musical he was producing. This is not the kind of press they want. He might end up being a shocking early round loser if the bad buzz builds. Todrick goes for Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” as a electo-funk ditty. He’s over shadowed by the arrangement at points. But it’s a peppy reworking that needs to be done for an opening number. Ellen didn’t like the chorus, but liked the risk. Randy got confused by the song’s new arrangement. Wait, he’s too original now? Kara agrees with Randy. Simon sums him as a dancer that wants to sing. He declares the new version as verging on stupid. What a pack of hypocrites. They talk about being original and making a song your own, but somehow they can’t deal with funking it up their princess’s hit. You can’t please these jerks who care more about a contestants’ earning potential instead of their real creative talents. Although this might be the judges giving Todrick a kiss of death so he can be yanked off the show without too much fuss. It’s a conspiracy in progress!

Aaron Kelly feels so pushed on us. Has the show explained that he won the American Idol Experience at Disney World? He didn’t stand in line at a stadium. He went straight to the judges’ table. He goes country with Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye.” He hasn’t enough character in his voice to sell this song. He’s squeaky like mouse. On too many moments, he sounds like Peter Brady when his voice changed. He does the big long run that gets cheap applause. Simon loves him. He calls this his first live performance. The kid was on the American Idol Experience stage. Kara gushes over his natural talent. Randy jams the idea that Aaron has a big voice. Ellen loves how humble he is. Are they all on crazy pills? Or was this part of the winning deal at Disney? This is like a Rupert Pupkin fantasy sequence from King of Comedy when Jerry Lewis loves his lame jokes. This is another conspiracy moment.

Ryan reminds us of the kid’s songs being on iTunes. Is anything heard over the last two days worth 99 cents?

Jermaine Sellers is from Joliet, Illinios. That’s the town with the prison featured in The Blues Brothers. Will he get sprung with “Get Here” by Oleta Adams. The song is extra soft and plugs Trailways buses. His microphone is mixed really low. He’s supposed to be doing to soft soul, but it’s coming off extremely soft. The high notes don’t have an impact. It’s verging on caterwauling. I’m not sure why anyone wants to get to where he’s at. It’s just elevator Muzak. Ellen loves the way he looks and the song. She feels it was more of a performance than coming from the heart. She soft pedals the bad notes. Randy thinks the song is too old. He needs current music. Kara makes note it’s a range song with the runs, but the moments weren’t meaningful. Simon rules it as a cocktail bar request and nails him for screaming. Simon senses he’s blown his opportunity. Ellen defends him as being back. Simon doesn’t agree, but won’t make eye contact with Ellen. The scene ends with him promising the band leader to never throw him under the bus.

Ryan exposes the fact that Tim Urban was originally cut and brought back to be part of the 24. Although there’s no mention of Chris Golightly. They give us the clip of Randy cutting him and his lonely walk down Hollywood Blvd. There’s actual video of the producer inviting him back. How was that captured? Urban’s comeback starts with “Apologize” by One Republic. He does the head down walk toward the camera. I can’t help but think this guy is an Adam Samberg character. He hits nasty sharp notes on the chorus. Why did they bring him back? I don’t think his mom will be paying to download this song off iTunes. Way to make the producers waste a long distance phone call. Simon congratulates him for coming back and then cuts him down by saying they should have stuck with cutting him. Simon fears he’ll be brought back on pity. Kara feels the music swallowed him. Simon goes queeny by saying people were standing up during the song in order to leave. Randy declares none of this worked. Ellen points out he’s adorable. When did this become America’s Next Pick a Puppy? He defends himself by saying he changed songs because he couldn’t butcher his first pick. You need a short song, do something by the Minutemen. How about the Clash’s “White Riot?” That’s under two minutes. Or maybe a Ramones number? Be creative people! Can we get another shot of Tim Urban making a lonely walk down Hollywood Blvd and crying on Pia Zadora’s star?

Ryan reminds us that tomorrow night eliminates 2 guys and 2 girls. Why must they limit the bloodbath? This is torture that no government attorney could explain as necessary.

Joe Munoz fingers froze on his guitars on his first day in Hollywood. He seems ripe to crash and burn. He’s doing Jason Mraz’s “You and I Both.” He is in complete local telethon mode. He’s overshadowed by his huge scarf. He quivers when he holds notes. Ellen swears he’s comfortable on the stage. She likes him. Randy hates the song choice. He thinks he did a good job of it. Kara likes the song. She has issues with his chorus. He’s the best of the night which says how bad this group has became. Simon doesn’t think he can sell songs around the world. He shall forget this performance in 10 seconds. “It’s all been limp and forgettable….like our host,” Simon says while pointing at Ryan. There’s no retort. Instead Ryan talks to Ellen about her input.

Tyler Grady has been pegged as the retro rocker. He needs that ‘70s style to make us not notice he has a chin that looks like fellow Bostonian Jay Leno. He starts his version of “American Woman” like the Guess Who, but tilts it to a remix of Lenny Kravitz’s cover. He loses energy during the chorus. The last minute has him repeating “American Woman” until she issues a restraining order. Simon pluses him for a memorable performance, but for the wrong reasons. He suggests the guy is going through rock star motions, but isn’t dedicated to his vocals. Randy demeans as style over substance. Kara and Ellen sense he’s a poser. They somehow want him to be an original. He swears he rehearsed the song a lot. This guy has no business here.

Lee Dewyze sells paint for a living. His weapon of choice is Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” It’s rather Dave Matthews in his approach. He has the raspy voice to scrape the high notes when he gets loud. His acoustic guitar keeps his hands busy. Did he pronounce a real word at the end? Ellen didn’t like the screaming, but appreciates the tone of his voice. She’s using “pushed” as her version of pitchy. Randy didn’t like the song. He wanted him to be more of a rocker. He name drops Kings of Leon. Aren’t the Strokes hot anymore with the middle aged dawgs? Kara suggests Bad Company. Simon views this as the best performance and Lee as a naturally good singer. Simon must be hypnotized by the goatee. Although so far, there’s not much competition to be merely mediocre.

John Park is my pick to win. We get highlights of when Shania Twain went nuts over his rump. Why wasn’t this guy in her hotel room? He will propose to her if she’ll marry him. Park does “God Bless the Child.” Why go so soft. This is painful. He hits a “Chocolate Rain” note. I’m taking back my pick to win. The longer he goes, the stranger this performance gets with the words going in and out of focus. I hope Shania watches with only Closed Captioning or she’s going to feel really bad. Simon thinks he hasn’t got an incredible voice and zero emotion. Kara agrees. She has no clue where he goes. Randy saw a little hope in the bridge, but the song was wrong. Ellen declares the song is too old for young girls to call. She declares he sounded great. Is Ellen secretly deaf? Is she rating them on lip reading?

Michael Lynche better bring the big guns. Once more we get a recap of the birth of his child. He’s chosen the poppy “This Love” by Maroon Five. He’s supposedly playing acoustic guitar, but I can’t hear a note. He does bring the soulful vibe in his voice with a funkier riff than the original. Ellen rates him on personality and smile. She notes pitch problems, but it’s a likable performance. Randy agrees. He complains how his back hurts from when Mike picked him up. Kara would be more critical if the other guys hadn’t stunk so much tonight. Simon sums him up as a support act before a main act. They need to filter up Ellen’s camera to smooth out her neck. Nobody pondered the point of the acoustic guitar.

Alex Lambert is not related to Adam Lambert. Is he rocking a mullet? He’s not scared. Although someday he’ll be frightened of his haircut in photos. His choice is “What a Wonderful World” by James Morrison. He just completely rubs me wrong with a bad Jason Mraz impersonation. He hits a clunk key. He clutches the microphone like a televangelist. Simon calls it the most uncomfortable performance of the night. He likes him and his voice, but he has no stage skills. Kara wants to give him a hug. Randy thinks he sounds too much like James Morrison (not to be confused with The Doors’ Jim Morrison). Ellen digs the mullet. She compares Alex to a banana that isn’t ripe enough. Turns out Alex has never played to more than a coffeshop crowd.

Casey James has Andy Gibbs’ old hair. He ponders how Kara likes him. He does Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” as an acoustic country song. Problem is the judges are goofing around he’s fighting a laugh. This is a serious business! He’s warbling and doesn’t take the song out of his normal. Kara swears she doesn’t recognize him with her shirt on. Turns out Kara is married. She gasps for words. Ellen couldn’t hear the song over Kara undressing Casey with his eyes. Randy likes the song choice. Kara calls him eye candy and ear candy. Simon declares he and Casey were cursed with good looks. Simon likes the song. He calls Kara a cougar. Casey comes off the stage unscathed.

Andrew Garcia gets a recap at how much he cried when he made the Top 24. He breaks out the acoustic guitar for Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” He sounds good, but the song is putrid. He’s got the glasses, why couldn’t he do something from Elvis Costello’s songbook. Simon announces that he was looking forward to Andrew and was let down. He’s written off as forgettable. Kara thinks the song didn’t work acoustically. Randy’s still a fan of Andrew based on his Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” Ellen is one of his fans. She wants him to smile like he did at his wife in the audience. Enough somber tones from him.

The montage recap really hits the bad notes for Aaron, Jermaine and Tim. It’s so hard to only pick two guys that need to be cut. Did anybody really win the night? No. This was a pathetic, underwhelming, forgettable mess. They had 100,000 people show up and these are the 12 guys that met with Simon’s approval. Is he trying to sabotage the show as he launches X Factor? Here’s how I’d split the mediocre from the painful.

Michael Lynche Casey James, Andrew Garcia, Todrick Hall, Joe Munoz & Lee Dewyze.

John Park, Alex Lambert, Tim Urban, Aaron Kelly, Jermaine Sellers & Tyler Grady.

The two that will end up cut shall be John Park and Todrick Hall. While Todrick wasn’t as painful as Tim Urban, he’s been marked for death from the bad press. Also Urban has been picked by Vote for the Worst as their favorite.

The highlight of tomorrow’s hour long elimination special will be Kris Allen. He better show up with his car to demonstrate the cool stereo.

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