American Idol – Episode 9-16 Review

Crystal Bowersox was rushed to the hospital for complications related to diabetes. The producers have decided to swap the girls for the boys on tonight’s episode so she’s not eliminated for medical reasons.

Is there any reason we should be optimistic that tonight’s second semifinals boy’s round will be a major improvement over the first night? That was the worst two hours of network television ever to be watched by 22 million people. It was beyond amateur hour with only a few mediocre performances amongst the painful renditions. Every critic that demeans the show as a dumb karaoke show was proven right. How can Simon declare these are the cream of the crop? Was he secretly dumpster diving at those stadium tryouts to kill the series on his way out? The good news is there’s only ten male contestants. The bad news is the Vote for the Worst favorites survived the first cut so they can devastate another song. The producers had better spent this last week having these kids polish up their songs instead of going to premieres and other media events.

Ryan has them standing in a row like they’re part of a police line up. More than one of them should be arrested for assault and battery on the ears of America. The assuring thought is that two more will be eliminated on Thursday. The sad part is they’ll get to sing their losing song one more time. Ryan explains that Crystal is at the hospital and the doctor won’t let her perform tonight. The judges table now goes Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon. They must have heard enough about Ellen and Simon being on opposite ends. The duo have been shunning each other. They are the definition of zero chemistry. Ryan asks Ellen if she’s ever missed a show. She talks about missing American Gladiators and Bewitched. She gets serious about the time she did her show from a hospital bed. Ryan was her guest. She’s a trooper. Then again, she hosts a talkshow and doesn’t have to worry about bad notes. Kara thinks the guys are “going to bring it.” Simon’s asked who is leading: the girls or the guys? He says a smidge goes to the girl. Nobody is winning at this moment.

Big Mike Lynche gets to share his love of musical theater and football in high school. He’s like an episode of Glee. He wants to be a main event and not a supporting. He does James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.” He has it unfunkied. It’s more like what I’d expect from a Michael Bolton concert. He’s lacking passion and stress. He’s not sweating. He’s just not selling me it. There’s no strain which is needed to go with these lyrics. He’s lucky James Brown is dead cause he’d be chased around the studio by the Godfather of Soul. Randy declares Mike has the fire in his eye. He gives him a standing applause. Ellen likes his song choices. She thinks it’s the song to beat. Kara didn’t get it until tonight. She thinks he owned it. Even Simon gives him a glowing review. They’re pushing hard so that we think it’s great. But it was meh. Although last week, meh could dominate the evening.

John Park is back. Why did I think this guy had real talent? I feel cheated by those crafty editors that made him look talented during the audition process. He’s going to focus on his “honesty” this week. Was he being dishonest with those clunker notes? Turns out English is his second language since he was born in Chicago, but moved to Korea. Is that really an excuse? The language issue didn’t hurt Abba. He’s going to strangle “Gravity” by John Mayer. He starts the song while sitting on a stool. He’s keeping in it the safe range. He does look beaten on the stage. He’s very restrained even during the passionate ending. It’s not a complete trainwreck like last week, but a bowl of unflavored Jell-0. Randy doesn’t think he brought any spice to the song. Randy heard pitch issues. Ellen thought it was much better. She noticed the lack of the soul in the performance. Kara didn’t feel a connection between him and the lyrics. She smelt him being safe. Simon thinks John is marked for death. It was a “so what” performance. He plans on forgetting it in 20 minutes. Ellen likes the way he looks, but he needs a wow-ness.

Casey James never watched American Idol before he auditioned. He missed the Taylor Hicks era. He grew up without a TV, but used his time to repair his house. They do a weird bit about his pre-show ritual involving a mysterious box. Is Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in the box? He breaks out the electric guitar for Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be.” His guitar work overshadows his voice. He also keeps his range tight. The background singers hit the high notes. The end of the song is a solo. That’s nice, but this is a singing contest and not a guitar competition. Randy likes the Stevie Ray Vaughn guitar licks. He sees him making these kind of records. Ellen thinks you can’t go wrong with the song. She thinks he’s still a little stiff on stage. Kara thinks he took two steps back. She thinks he wasn’t upfront and honest. He was missing notes. Simon thinks Casey didn’t return Kara’s calls. Simon is with Kara. He declares Casey doesn’t have authentic grit in his voice. He’s just any guy playing at a bar. Guess people will keep him around to find out what’s in the box.

Alex Lambert is back with his mullet! He threw up before last week’s song. Before? He goes on about how he came up with his own language that sounds like bad Spanish. He’ll have his guitar so there will be no “where do my hands go” issues. He wants to love being on stage. Here’s a tip from Dean Martin: Scotch. He’s not as dysfunctional on John Legend’s “Everybody Knows.” He’s keeping it also tight on the range. There’s just way too much safety. He does one high note at the end and it’s rather hollow. It was an improvement from last week, but still not worthy of network time. Randy thinks it didn’t sound like John Legend. Ellen keeps going with the unripe banana. She wonders how he improved so quickly. She likes him. Kara says he has a recordable voice. Huh? Simon thinks it was a million times better than last week. He still doesn’t believe the kid is playing to win. The judges are being extreme charity cases this week. Maybe they need to forget last week since they’re obviously grading on a curve.

Todrick Hall got heat for his changing of Kelly Clarkson’s song. Hasn’t he been getting enough heat from the bad press about his Oz musical? Now were given footage of being a dancer in the Nutcracker. He name drops Paula Abdul as an inspiration. For a show that didn’t want her, they sure use a lot of her footage. He’s going to not over change Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” It’s a major softy at the start. He keeps his feet planted in front of the microphone as if proving he’s not a dancer being a singer. The bridge allows him to release a little bit. His range doesn’t go too far as he wanders the stage. The final note isn’t a stick. Randy liked the falsetto at the end. He didn’t like the new arrangement. “Just sing it!” Ellen doesn’t like that he wasn’t moving during the song. She thinks it wasn’t the right song. Kara likes Todrick, but he was stiff. She wants to know where the Todrick from the first audition went. Simon describes this as a theme park performance when dancers have to sing. Once again it’s an argument about what these judges mean by making the song your own and not merely copying the hit.

Jermaine Sellers shows off his adult size onesie. It looks good. Although he’s really wearing feetie sleeper pajamas. A onesie has no leg coverings and a snap flap that goes over the crotch. He’s dressed in adult clothes to give us “What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye. This is a trainwreck in progress as he hits a few sharp notes in the light intro. This sounds like an AARP dinner version with his bowtie and Mister Rogers’ sweater. He’s just not selling this song. The big vocal strain is sounds like a hamster being strangled. An unmoving cover. Randy points out that it was better than last week, but not close enough to be great. Ellen starts positive with him rocking the onesie. The song didn’t work well for her. Kara begs him to look at the meaning of the song. Simon is frustrated and disappointed at him since he waters down the songs. He can’t be taken seriously as an artist. Jermaine invites Simon to hear him at church. Simon accepts. But why doesn’t he pick a quasi-Gospel song? He asks them what he should sing next week. Simon doesn’t think he’s going to be around. Jermaine knows God and he’ll be back.

Andrew Garcia discusses his breakdancing skills. He pops like Fred Berry. He’ll be tweaking James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something.” They bath him in blue light. It’s not a good look. The song is a downer. He’s working on the lower register. When he goes for the big notes, it’s rather like a bumping down the stairs. There’s no swagger on the chorus. He doesn’t land the swoon at the end. The song just doesn’t work and took his vocals down. Randy found him pitchy. He wanted him back with the guitar. Ellen disagrees outside of a couple pitch problems. She’s still waiting for him to top the Paula Abdul song. Quit bringing up Paula. She’s gone. You people didn’t want to pay her the big bucks cause you didn’t “need her.” Yet she’s on here more and more. Kara wants a surprise. Simon has become frustrated with Andrew’s song selection. Simon tells him to do something original with one of the billions of songs. Really? You just told a guy to not be so original with songs. Do these people listen to themselves? Also the show’s producers won’t pay the price for any of those billions of songs. Plus some people don’t want to be associated with the show and refuse to give performance permission. Next week Andrew Garcia should perform “Kung Fu Fighting.” That would rock the crowd.

Aaron Kelly exposes his love of photography. Simon was nice to him backstage. He promises more confidence with the Temptations’ “My Girl.” He does that weird head waggle on early notes that make him look like a bobblehead. He gives the strain motion, but the notes don’t sound so emotional. This is what you’d hear at a theme park. He gives a note at the end that sounds more countrified than last week’s country song. Randy liked the first half more than the second half. He rates it 200 percent better than last week. Ellen liked his stage confidence even if the song was forgettable. Kara really liked it. Simon didn’t like the song since it was all over the place. The whole thing was too old fashioned. Once again we’ve been treated to a safe performance.

Tim Urban has a large family that are best friends. He prays before each performance. He should have prayed last week that an audio technician would unplug his microphone before his first note. He busts out the acoustic guitar for “Come On And Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson. He’s free of the worst glitches from last week. This is going to depress the Vote for the Worst crowd since it’s not painfully embarrassing. Not too much range in the singing so he didn’t lose control of his throat. Randy didn’t feel it being very special. He found it pitchy. Ellen wants him to act instead of singing. Kara likes the song choice, but didn’t make it her own. Simon feels it’s a marked improvement. He’s impressed by his work ethic and attitude.

Lee Dewyze’s backstory was forgettable. He better make a mark with Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel.” He’s got the set gone to black with stars behind him. It’s the raspy tone I’d expect out of an Eddie Vedder guy. This sounds like a Nickelback tune. Not too bad on the delivery. Randy wonders if he misses the guitar. He liked him taking the chances even with pitch problems. Ellen felt the passion. Kara once more sees it as a big improvement. She can hear him on the radio. He’s very commercial. Simon wants him to raise his shoulders. He’s the top of the guys and the one to beat according to Simon. That’s not that high of a hill with this group.

The montage confirms my feel that tonight wasn’t that exciting. No need to rush over to the iTunes store to download any of the performances. They’re just so-so. If last week was a demotion derby, tonight was like old ladies on the highway going 25 in the 65 zone. Hard to really pick the winners from the losers since nothing gave me the tingles. Let’s grade this without the curve.

Lee Dewyze, Michael Lynche & Casey James

Andrew Garcia, Aaron Kelly, Tim Urban & Alex Lambert

John Park, Todrick Hall &,Jermaine Sellers

Of the bottom three, the two that should be slashed are Jermaine Sellers and John Park. But as more tales of Todrick leak out, he really needs to be slashed. American Idol doesn’t want to be the focus of the various entertainment news shows interviewing scammed munchkin kiddies. He might take the slash intended for John Park. Don’t use my picks for gambling purposes.

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