"American Idol" top 12 guys: (Front Row, L-R) Andrew Garcia, John Park, Tyler Grady, Joe Munoz and Jermaine Sellers. (Back Row, L-R) Lee Dewyze, Aaron Kelly, Tim Urban, Michael Lynche, Todrick Hall, Casey James and Alex Lambert. CR: Patrick Ecclestein / FOX.

By Gina Carbone
gina_carbone@comcast.net

Simon Cowell has never looked so ready to check out.

“Grumpy” doesn’t begin.

The short-timer said he watched the poor beleaguered top 12 guys rehearse their “American Idol” season nine debuts and he saw a lot of nerves.

He told the guys — deadpan — that if they lost it Wednesday night, or forgot the words, their careers would be over.

Gulp.

At least he didn’t say they have to do well because the girls really “blew it out” last night. That was Randy Jackson’s assessment.

Not sure about you, but I watched the top 12 girls last night. And they did nothing the guys should worry about.

In fact, I think the ladies guaranteed another guy will win “Idol.”

Three seasons in a row. I predict it now.

I also predict this season is going to continue to suck like a dirty plunger.

Even with Casey James as “eye candy”/”ear candy.”

***

PREDICTION

Which two guys will go home tomorrow? I think Tim Urban is going back to wherever he was before replacing Chris Golightly. And … maybe Jermaine Sellers or Joe Munoz.

***

1. Todrick Hall, 24, Arlington, Texas

“Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson

He walked out, did some major performing. Seemed comfortable and confident. I didn’t even recognize the song, he changed it so much. No nerves here.

The guys are already 100 times better than the girls.

Ellen DeGeneres: He’s a dancer so he has that natural performance ability and made it his own. The chorus wasn’t great, though.

Randy Jackson: Talked about how he’s a big fan, but it didn’t even sound like the same song. You never want to take a song and completely obliterate it.

(That makes no sense!)

Kara DioGuardi: He’s a strong enough singer he doesn’t need to change the arrangement that much. But he’s a performer and he took a risk, so maybe next time pull back.

Simon Cowell: “I think you came over as a dancer trying to sing…” rather than the other way around. He thought it was a “crazy arrangement.” He’s all for taking risks, but he completely “murdered the song.” “It was verging on stupid what you just did.”

(NOT TRUE AT ALL)

To vote for Todrick, call 1-866-IDOLS-01

***

2. Aaron Kelly, 16, Sonestown, Pa.

This kid is one of the youngest on the show, but he forgot the words to his song in Hollywood. (How did he get through?)

“Here Comes Goodbye”

I just learned this: This song was written by “American Idol” season 6 finalist Chris Sligh and Clint Lagerberg. It was recorded by Rascal Flatts.

This guy is OK. Again, better than the girls last night.

Simon: Bearing in mind that it was his first live show, that was actually a good performance. But he looked embarrassed and not confident. He has to take control of the song. Simon called him “cute” but this song was not as memorable as “Angels.” It’s all about self-confidence with him. He’ll be there next week.

Kara: He’s her favorite kind of contestant because he has no idea of his raw, natural talent. She likes the pop/country lane for him. “I think we’re going to see incredible things from you.”

Randy: It was a big song but he’s got “all those pipes.” There were a couple of pitchy moments, but if he believes in himself he can do it; 16 with that voice, wow.

Ellen: Ditto to all that. She loves how humble he is. “You’re just going to get better and better and better.”

Ryan Seacrest said Aaron does have the confidence, he’s been flirting and winking at the ladies in the front row. Or something.

I’m still having trouble telling Aaron from Alex and Tim.

To vote for Aaron, call 1-866-IDOLS-02

***
3. Jermaine Sellers, 26, Joliet, Ill.

“Get Here” by Oleta Adams

Soft voice at first. He did seem to make the song his own, but not so much that the song was unrecognizable.

The audience loves when the singers hit the big notes. He did some yelling there in the middle. Not sure about his high notes.

Love his look, though, with that hat and jacket.

I preferred the soft, breathy parts.

Nice attempt, but I’m not hugely impressed.

Ellen: She’s a huge fan and loves his look. She felt he was singing the song more as a performance than feeling the song. He was pushing too much. She likes him and thought it was a good song, but he should relax into the song more.

Randy: He loves the song but not for him. He sees Jermaine more as Maxwell or Ne-Yo. He was trying to do too much vocally with the song. Just sing sometimes, you don’t have to make too much out of it.

Kara: She thought he just wanted to show what he could do — the extent of his range. But you should do that with purpose, not just because you can. Make it special. It made him seem old.

Simon: It was an old piano bar song. He thought there was screaming in the middle. “It was so over-the-top it just didn’t work. I think you’ve totally blown your opportunity with that.”

(Lots of boos.)

Is this guy in trouble now?

To vote for Jermaine, call 1-866-IDOLS-03

***

4. Tim Urban, 20, Duncanville, Texas

He got here after they kicked Chris Golightly out.

They talked about how Tim had to keep his return to the show a secret.

Poor Chris. This must be hard for him to watch.

“Apologize” by One Republic. I’m a big One Republic fan and this is not good. Not good.

WHY did they let this kid back in? They never should’ve cut Chris, but since they did why let this guy in and not Matt Lawrence, or someone else?

It’s not too late to apologize at all. Tell Chris you are sorry and let him back. Tim seems sweet but he’s not up to par.

Simon: “Congratulations for coming back. Having that said, we absolutely made the right decision the first time around by not putting you through, based on that performance.” (Ouch!) There was nothing to take from that. The vocals were weak. The performance was weak. He doesn’t think his voice is good enough. People might let him through because they feel sorry for him or he looks good. But that wasn’t good enough.

Kara: The music overpowered him and when they saw him in Hollywood week with an acoustic, organic performance they got a better feel for him. Here he was just buried under the beat. If he gets another shot, he has to listen to the notes.

Randy: It was such the wrong song. He doesn’t have the falsetto. The arrangement, none of it worked. He thinks Tim is better than that.

Ellen: It was smart to pick a popular song but he couldn’t hit those high notes. Looking at you, if the sound is down, he’s adorable. He may get a lot of votes for being adorable.

(Hey, they chose him, so if you need to bash someone, bash yourselves for picking an “adorable” guy over a “talented” guy.)

To vote for Tim, call 1-866-IDOLS-04

***
5. Joe Muñoz, 20, Huntington Park, Calif.

“You and I Both” by Jason Mraz

I like Joe a lot as a person and he got through that OK, but the song didn’t wow me with anything original.

He doesn’t seem to have a lot of range, either.

Ellen: He looked comfortable on stage. She liked it.

Randy: Not quite the perfect song choice “for me for you.” But he loves Joe’s voice and he did a good job with a tough song.

Kara: She liked that he picked a song that she wouldn’t have expected. She liked that he was up front and center with it. She thought he was the best singer of the night, so far.

Simon: “I kind of agree, but it’s very, with this show you have to get out the bubble. This competition can actually find stars. … based on that performance I don’t believe you’re that kind of artist.” He thought it was an OK, safe, forgettable performance. He didn’t show potential to be a star. In 10 seconds time they will forget that performance. It was limp and forgettable.

(I agree with Simon on this one.)

To vote for Joe, call 1-866-IDOLS-05

***

6. Tyler Grady, 20, Nazareth, Pa.
I’m so sick of how much everyone talks about this kid’s “style.” It’s retro. So what. We’ve seen it.

“American Woman”

He does come out and do the Jim Morrison stuff, though. In a way, with the level of talent we’re (not) seeing, this is comparatively good.

He may be the closest thing this season has to an Adam Lambert.

Everyone, CRY WITH ME ABOUT THAT. It’s truly sad. I hope you know that.

He can’t sing, but he has stage and star presence. I know about 10 girls who would drool over him. For the record, I’m not one of them.

Simon: Plus side, people are going to remember that performance. Down side, partly for the wrong reasons. He comes over a lot as somebody who has gone to Pretend To Be A Rock Star School. It sounds gimmicky and put on.

Kara: It’s like Jim Morrison’s all up in his room and on his walls. He’s playing too much to the 1970s thing. He has to do more than the schtick of the 70s. He has a front man vibe. Bring it into this decade.

Randy: “It definitely was style over substance.”

Ellen: He is copying the poses of his heroes, but he’s just going through the motions without really being that person. He has to work on the singing and not just make the poses.

To vote for Tyler, call 1-866-IDOLS-06

***

7. Lee DeWyze, 23, Mount Prospect, Ill.

“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol

Singing with the guitar.

Something about this guy makes me think “dark horse” to win.

Maybe it’s the David Cook vibe. I like.

Or maybe because out of everyone so far, he comes closest to having real talent.

But he’s still not distinctive. I don’t think I’d recognize his voice on the radio.

And stop shaking your head as you sing.

Ellen: She thought it was a good song choice for him until he started screaming a bit. But she loves the tone of his voice. She thought he had a distinctive sound until he pushed.

Randy: He disagreed with “E.” He didn’t like the song. It was a little more of a pop rock song and Lee is more of a rocker. He wants to hear harder things that Lee could sink his teeth into.

Kara: The song has a small range so he tried to change it up to get to his sweet spot, but he almost made the song unrecognizable. Pick a song like “Bad Company” with soul and blues and rock and strip it down.

Simon: Disagreed with Randy and Kara. He thought it was the best performance so far. “This guy is a naturally good singer.” He fought for Lee to be there. He doesn’t recommend “Bad Company” he recommends the David Cook route to find a song and reinvent it. He thinks Lee will do well in this competition.

(I mostly agree with Simon here.)

To vote for Lee, call 1-866-IDOLS-07

***
8. John Park, 21, Evanston, Ill.

Oh yeah, I remember Shania Twain hitting on him. Hard.

He said Shania is the most beautiful woman he has seen in person. If she would marry him he would propose to her.

GO FOR IT!

“God Bless the Child”

Why this song? Seriously. Two seconds in and I’m already wondering.

I love this guy and love his voice and I think he’ll be fine, but what the heck. This is not modern, this is not going to be on the radio. It’s an even slower version of the “jazz standard.”

Simon: “You have got to have an incredible voice to take on that song. And you haven’t.” It came over as very flat and interestingly, zero, emotion. “I thought it was kind of a pointless performance, really.”

Kara: She agreed with Simon. He has a really big voice in there, but there was no connection and it got a bit lounge-y and sleepy. “Almost indulgent.” She can’t figure out where his “lane” is in the recording industry. But he can sing.

Randy: When he hit the runs and the bridge he was the John that Randy fell in love with. The song made him old.

Ellen: She’s not sure why he chose the song because it’s not the kind of thing that will get young girls to vote for him. But she liked the performance and thought he sounded great. She just wishes it was a different song. She wants people to give him another chance because “I like you a lot.”

He said he loved the song and it meant a lot to him because of his parents and their lack of money.

To vote for John, call 1-866-IDOLS-08
***

9. Michael Lynche, 26, Astoria, N.Y./ St. Petersburg, Fla.
“This Love” by Maroon 5

Standing at the mic with a guitar. He’s making it his own, anyway.

This is pretty good from a vocal and performance standpoint, but I wonder if I’ll remember it. Where are the distinctive voices?

No one is wow-ing me.

Ellen: “You have so much personality it’s just bursting out of you.” He’s constantly smiling and happy. She thought it was a great song choice. There were a few little pitch problems he’ll hear later, but it doesn’t matter.

Randy: He likes Michael, he likes his persona. But Michael hurt Randy and Ellen when he picked them up after the top 24 announcement.

Kara: It was a little depressing in there until Michael showed up. If they had some better performances that night they would be more critical, because it was good but not great.

Simon: He is the support act before the main act. He delivered so little on that performance. It was like a vague jazzy version. He’s heard that performance so many times before.

To vote for Michael, call 1-866-IDOLS-09

****

10. Alex Lambert, 19, North Richland Hills, Texas

I seriously can’t tell him apart from Aaron. Tim is close, too.

“Wonderful World” by James Morrison

He has an amazing voice, actually, but the mullet has to go, for one, and he needs to develop some stage presence.

But man I’m shocked to hear that voice coming out of him.

A little bit pitchy on that higher note, but in his range he does have a distinctive sound.

But he needs major help on presence, star power and everything else. Funny, he has the opposite problem of most of the other guys.

Simon: “I don’t know who was happier for that to end, you or me. Because that was the most uncomfortable performance of the night.” (Boos) Simon said he’s got a good voice but he was staring into the camera in an uncomfortable way. He needs to get his nerves together.

Kara: She wants to give him a hug. He sounds so much like James Morrison and that’s bad in some ways but it’s also a huge compliment. It’s all there for Alex, but its’ not coming together. He has so much potential and he’s adorable.

Randy: Do it with conviction. He has the voice and “my favorite tone of voice” but he needs to pull it together.

Ellen: “I like that you’re holding on to the mullet…” She loves bananas and sometimes they’re not quite ripe and Alex just needs to ripen.

(OK. Not sure about the banana thing, but I think we’re all in agreement. Love this kid and I’m rooting for him.)

To vote for Alex, call 1-866-IDOLS-10

***

11. Casey James, 27, Fort Worth, Texas

Not gonna lie. I think this guy is Smoke Monster hot.

Kara, you are correct.

He’s like a mix between Halle Berry’s man, Gabriel Aubry, and Jason Lewis of “Sex and the City.”

They are clearly saving the Big Guns for the end, with dreamboat Casey and Andrew Garcia, the only lock for the top 10.

“Heaven” by Bryan Adams

What was that little titter of laughter before he started singing (and playing guitar, while sitting on a stool)?

Oh, OK, Randy and Kara are dancing at the judges’ table. Not very considerate for Casey.

He’s great, though. So much better than his first audition, which was just about him taking his shirt off.

Please please please don’t make me like this guy enough to actually get invested in his future on this show. Come on, Gina, he’s not that cute. Pull yourself together.

They make Kara start the judging.

Kara: “Casey, I don’t recognize you with your shirt on.” She’s married and she loves her husband. She thought he got a bit pitchy in the chorus when she was in his arms.

Ellen: “I could feel Kara undressing you with her eyes.” She apologized that there was so much going on while he sang.

Randy: “I know we’re both models…” It was a great song choice for him. He likes Casey’s whole swagger.

Kara: “You are eye candy, but you’re also ear candy.” His looks may be what they first looked at, but he’s got heart and soul and he can sing.

Simon: “One thing I do understand is that we were both cursed with good looks. And somehow you have to manage the talent thing as well.” Kidding aside, he chose the right song. It came off as honest and sincere and likable. “Obviously the cougar here likes you.”

(Rrrrrarrrr!)

Simon: This is the best performance he’s heard from Casey since he’s been in the competition.

I like him too, but enough with the Miss Prissy blushing and gushing. You’d almost think we’d never seen a hot guy before.

To vote for Casey, call 1-866-IDOLS-11

***

12. Andrew Garcia, 24, Moreno Valley, Calif.

Stay-at-home dad.

Maybe it’s the glasses, but he’s giving me a strong Danny Gokey vibe. If Danny Gokey is the frontunner of season 9, we are moving backward.

“Sugar We’re Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy

I’m not wowed by this either. So far the only one who wowed me was Casey — and that was half looks.

Yikes.

Simon: “I was looking forward to hearing you more than anybody else tonight. But I was disappointed with that, to be honest with you.” (I agree) It was too serious, too indulgent and not original enough.” His take on Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” was a risk that worked. This was a bit forgettable. Simon thinks Andrew has a great recording voice but he didn’t use it this time.

Kara: He did take a risk with this song but the song wasn’t meant to be acoustic. The “Straight Up” song bought him a lot of time. She likes him and hopes to see him again for many, many weeks.

Randy: The song, the arrangement was really strange. But he’s a fan of Andrew. What he did in Hollywood he still remembers like it was yesterday.

Ellen: Also brought up the Paula remake and she thinks that will still carry him. It was too serious and self-indulgent, but when he turned and opened up to his wife or girlfriend it was fantastic. But she thinks he will stick around.

To vote for Andrew, call 1-866-IDOLS-12

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