'American Idol's Top 12 male semifinalists take to the stage live
By Reality TV World staff, 02/25/2010
American Idol's Top 12 male ninth-season semifinalists finished the season's first round of live performance shows by performing Top 10 hits from Hot 100 chart during last night's special two-hour broadcast on Fox.
A few semifinalists distinguished themselves by performing current or memorable renditions, however many others appeared to fall into the trap of delivering old or forgettable performances that were roundly criticized by the judges.
On Thursday night beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male semifinalists who performed on Wednesday night and two female semifinalists who performed on Tuesday night will be eliminated based on home viewer votes.
Ellen said: "See, that's what you're looking for after singing a song, is to get that kind of [crowd applause] reaction, and you do that because you're such a great performer. You're a dancer so you already have that stage presence. I love that you took the song and you did something different with it. The chorus was a little rough... I don't know, I liked everything except when you hit the chorus. The singing wasn't the greatest but you were such a great performer and I loved that you took a chance with that song, that's what you're looking for. It was great."
Randy said: "Oh well, okay. You know I'm a fan of yours. Loved you in Hollywood Week, I think you're mad talented, I mean you can dance. Ellen just said you're an amazing performer but what was crazy was it didn't even sound like the same song! I mean I didn't even know what song it was, I kept going like, 'What song is this?' Even though I knew the title. You never want to take a song and completely obliterate it so that you don't even know what song it is, because it was great, that's why it was a hit. So I still want to see you sing man. You've got mad chops vocally so you don't have to go all over the top with the performances and completely change the song to give us who you are. You know what I'm saying?"
Kara said: "I agree with Randy. I think that you're a strong enough singer that you don't have to change the arrangement that much, you're going to just change it naturally by taking it to another place. But it's undeniable that you are a performer and you took a risk. And the way that you learn in life is by taking that risk. So maybe next time just pull it back, you know you don't have to go that crazy."
Simon said: "Todrick, I think you came over as a dancer trying to sing rather than a singer who can also dance. I thought it was a crazy arrangement of the song. I'm all for, as Kara said, taking risks, providing you can improve it. [But] what you did was completely murder the original song... so therefore I think it was verging on stupid, what you just did."
Additional Notes: "You can boo all you want, nobody will buy it," Simon remarked after the audience booed his comments. Ryan called Simon's "murder" term a "strong statement," causing Simon to suggest "torture" as an alternative. "Equally as strong. Same world," replied Ryan.
Simon said: "You know what, bearing in mind it's your first live show, it was actually quite a good performance. The problem you have at the moment is you look at the moment as if you are embarrassed to be there and you're not even confident enough to know why you're here. So you've got to get that into your head that you're here for a reason. You're a good singer, very likeable, very cute. But you have to take control of the song, right? I don't think the song was as good as 'Angels' [in Hollywood Week], it's not a memorable song like that. But with you it's all about self-belief and confidence. But I think absolutely, 100% you'll be here next week."
Kara said: "You're my favorite kind of contestant, because you have no idea how great your raw, natural talent is. And a competition like this is going to make you better every week. The more confident you get, the more you get feedback and people saying 'Aaron, you're really good' -- what you do naturally you can't teach people that. You just know it and you feel it. and I actually like the pop-country lane for you. And especially a song like that, that Gary LeVox sang and he's got that soulful spin on it. So I think you did a great job and I think we're going to se incredible things from you. I do."
Randy said: "The guys are right. When you first came on I was thinking, 'Wow, this is a big song for him.' But I forgot you got all those pipes. You got a huge voice, right. So when you started singing and you hit the chorus -- even though there were a couple of little pitchy moments -- I was like 'Dude, believe in yourself.' You can definitely do this, you just heard the two of them say that and I'm a big fan man. Sixteen, what a voice dude, wow."
Ellen said: "Yeah, ditto to all that. I think you're going to be here a long time and you're going to do very well. I love how humble you are. You do need to gain that confidence without changing who you are, but I mean you're just going to get better and better and better. And I love Rascal Flatts, good job."
Ellen said: "I am a huge fan of yours. I love your look and I love that song. And I felt that you were singing the song more as a performance than rather feeling the song and getting into the lyrics, because it's such a beautiful song, and I felt you were pushing a little too much. There were a couple of times out and off and... but you know, I really like you a lot and I like the song. I thought it was a good choice for you but I felt you were trying to hard. Just relax into the song."
Randy said: "I loved the song, it was a weird choice for me because it's such an older song and you kind of got these big pipes. I see you more as Maxwell, Ne-Yo, in that [space], trying to be current. You've got a current look on, the look is hot and I like the jacket... but you were trying too much vocally with it, dog. You know, sing the melody, it's good. The melody actually works, that's why it was a hit. So sing that and go off. But you've got this big ability so just sing sometimes, you don't even got to make so much out of it. You know what I'm saying, pull it back."
Kara said: "I think you wanted to show everybody what you can do. You know you went from the bottom of your range to the top and you know, not everybody can do that. But I think it's about when you do those runs making them meaningful so that they impact the audience. It's not just running here and running there and all over the place. It's, you know, special. And again, you're young and it felt a little old to me. You can sing."
Simon said: "A little [old]? Look, it's the kind of song, if you're playing piano in a cocktail bar, somebody in their 50's is going to ask for that as a request. It's that kind of song. And then in the middle when you were you were trying to oversing it, it actually sounded as if you were screaming. It was so over the top. It just didn't work. I think you're totally blown your opportunity with that, if you want my honest opinion. I do."
Additional Notes: Kara, Randy and Ellen all disagreed with Simon's closing remarks. "No, I don't think so," Kara said. "I disagree with that," Randy added. "I think people will vote," Ellen told Ryan.
Simon said: "Tim, well look, congratulations for coming back. Having said that, we absolutely made the right decision the first time around by not putting you through, based on that performance. No, I'm being serious. Because there was just nothing, nothing to take from that. The vocals were weak. The version was weak. You didn't come over as a natural performer. And the truth is I just don't think you're voice is good enough. I don't. Look, you may make it through just based on the fact that people are going to feel sorry for you and you look good -- it's true -- and if you do, you've really, seriously got to get this together, because that wasn't good enough."
Kara said: "Tim, the music, it just overpowered you, you kind of swallowed you up. and when we saw you in Hollywood Week and you had your guitar and it was acoustic and it was more organic we could get a feel for you and what you're about and your tone and kind of how you would treat song. Here, you were just buried under the beat and instrumentation and you couldn't get out of it. That being said, people [in the audience] did stand up for you because you're likeable, you're cute, and you're current. So if you go forward -- which I hope you do -- and you get another shot, you got to listen to the notes [you're getting from us] here.
Randy said: "Dog, it just was really the wrong song. It was such the wrong song for you. You don't even have that falsetto that he does that you were trying to do. The arrangement. Just none of it worked. Honestly, none of it really worked. I mean I personally think that you're better than that, because I remember you from Hollywood, and none of it worked. It was just all wrong."
Ellen said: "Yeah, this song, I think you chose it because it's a popular song and I think it's smart to choose a song people like and know but you couldn't hit those hit notes and that was hard. And I think if you just close your eyes and just hear that, it didn't sound good. But looking at you, if the sound was down and we're looking at you, you're adorable. And I think people will want to vote for you because you're adorable. You may get a lot of votes just because of that. But you've got to choose the right songs and step it up and not just count on just the fact that you're adorable. Because you're adorable."
Additional Notes: Prior to Tim's performance, American Idol aired a clip explaining how he was a late-minute replacement for (unnamed) disqualified semifinalist Chris Golightly. "Yeah, it's not a joke," Idol producer Ken Warwick told Tim as he called him on the phone. After hearing the judges' comments, Tim said he kind of agreed with the feedback and "Apologize" was a "last-minute switch." "I was going to do a different song but I didn't want to cut it down as much," he explained.
Ellen said: "You are so comfortable on stage aren't you? You start singing and you can just see it in your eyes, that you are just right there in that song, singing that song and present. And great stage presence. I thought you sounded really, really good. I liked it."
Randy said: "Not quite the perfect song choice, again, for me -- for you. But, I'll tell you what man, you got a great voice and I love the sound of it, and I love that you can do all that. Singing Jason Mraz is really thought because he's such a stylized artist, but I think you did a good job with it, dog. I think you worked it out."
Kara said: "I liked that you picked a song that I never would have thought you would sing. I kind of like that about you. And when you started singing you were up front and center, which is what I've been missing the whole night, is really hearing a voice. And when you got to the chorus you had a few issues. But I have to say tonight, in terms of the singing, I think you've been the best. So far. I mean I'm not saying it's great because there's a long way to go but you were the most consistent in there. When you went off it wasn't the whole song."
Simon said: "Look, I kind of agree but you know, it's very -- with this show, you have to get out of the bubble, okay, which is this show. This competition can actually find stars who can sell records all over the world. Based on that performance, I don't believe you're that kind of artist. I think it was an okay, safe, forgettable performance. And what you failed to do was to come out here and take your two or three minutes and show us and everybody else that you have the potential to be a star. Because in 10 seconds time we're going to forget that performance."
Additional Notes: Kara argued that the judges should give Joe "time to get his bearing," following Simon's feedback, however he disagreed. "No.. you've got to have what I call that steel in your eyes," Simon replied.
Simon said: "Okay, plus side: People are going to remember that performance. Down side: Partly for the wrong reasons. My issue with you is that you come over a lot is as somebody who has gone to 'Pretend to Be a Rock Star' school. It's all a bit cliqued, it doesn't feel natural. It is a singing competition and I don't think you're spending enough time concentrating on your vocals. You know kind of what your style gimmick is, but you've got to start changing it up a little bit. You have to. Otherwise it's going to become too predictable."
Kara said: "Yeah, I feel similar to Simon. It's like Jim Morrison is all up in your room, all over the walls or something. There's an obsession kind of with the 70's and it's kind of playing too true to it as opposed to adding something original to it. You have a frontman personality. You can be a star in front of a band. But you've got to do something more than the shtick and the whole 70's vibe. I want to see you do something like Phoenix's "1901." Bring it into this decade."
Randy said: "Exactly, who are you going to be right now? I mean it definitely was style over substance and I think you've done this every time we've seen you so it's now time to change the game and say, 'I'm Tyler, this is what I'm bringing from the 70's into 2010' or whatever, you know what I'm saying?"
Ellen said: "Yeah, I felt what's great about the people that your attracted to is that they had so much stage presence and so much charisma and I feel like you've got the poses and you're copying those poses but you're lacking the charisma and your lacking that kind of excitement. Your kind of just going through all of the motions without really being that person. So I feel like you got to work on the singing and really not just make those poses but just get into that performance."
Additional Notes: "Yeah, be an original," Randy added following Ellen's comments.
Ellen said: "I thought that was a really good song choice for you except when you kind of started screaming it a little bit, then you went off a tiny bit. But I love the tone of your voice, I think you have such a great sound and such distinctive sound. And I thought it was, like I said, a really good song choice until it got a little too pushed. But I sure hope people vote for you because I think you should stay here."
Randy said: "Oh, dog. I've got to disagree with E, man. I didn't like the song for you. I'm a fan for your voice. It's a little too range-y for me and it's a little bit more of a pop-rock song and you're more of a harder kind of rocker for me. Someone was saying earlier, they kind of put you in the mind of a David Cook, you're more of a rocker. And that's not really a rock band, it's more of a pop kind of fusion-y kind of rock kind of thing. So it didn't really quite work for me. I would chose a little bit more harder kind of thing that you can sink your teeth into, you know what I'm saying? Like Kings of Leon or something, I see you doing that. Not something as soft as 'Chasing Cars,' you know what I mean?"
Kara said: "Randy, you make a point. The song has a really small range so what happened was you tried to change it up to get to that sweet spot in your voice where [there's] that rasp and that edge that we love about you. But you almost made the song unrecognizable at parts. Take a song like 'Bad Company,' something with a soul but blues but rock and attack that and strip it down."
Simon said: "Okay Lee, I am going to completely disagree with Randy and Kara because I thought this was the best performance, by far. By far. Totally. This guy is a naturally good singer. And I fought for you to be here, I still believe in you. My suggestion would be not to do a Bad Company song but to do what David Cook did which is to find a song and turn it into 'your version of' [like] when he did the Lionel Richie song and he turned it into something interesting. You've got just an authentically good voice and I think you're going to do really well in this competition."
Additional Notes: "I don't know," Randy replied when Ryan asked him what Simon and Ellen had heard that he and Kara had not. "I don't think we're saying we don't like his voice, we're saying he needs to change it up in a way" Kara added.
John Park, a 21-year-old from Northbrook, IL who currently resides in Evanston, IL
Song: "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday
Simon said: "John, you have got to have an incredible voice to take on that song and you haven't. You haven't gotten an incredible voice. It came over as very flat and interestingly, zero emotion. I've heard people sing that song and it's a very emotional song, and it didn't come over that way at all. I thought it was kind of a pointless performance really. I don't think it pointed out what kind of recording artist you're going to be, it's kind of like a copycat Michael Buble. But no, [it] left me flat, I'm going to be honest with you. Didn't get it."
Kara said: "I actually agree. I agree with Simon. The thing is you have a really big voice in there but there was no connection and it got a bit lounge-y at times, a little sleepy, and almost indulgent. And the thing is I can't figure out where you go, what your lane is, in terms of today's music industry, and I think that's something you've got to think about. But you can sing, you've got a voice there."
Randy said: "I'm going to go a little bit the other way with it. I've been saying it all night about song choice, song selection, but when you hit the bridge and you started doing your runs and stuff, then the John that I loved in Hollywood Week came back into my mind. I just don't know why that song for you -- it made you feel old and like all out of sorts. So I mean you definitely got a voice there, it just doesn't suit this kind of thing man, really."
Ellen said: "Yeah, I don't know why you chose that song because that song is not something that's going to get a lot of young girls to, you know, pick up the phone and vote for you. But I think if it was a different song they'd see who we know you are. And I actually, I liked the performance. I thought you sounded great and I thought it was really, you know. I just wish it was a different song because we want to know 'Well, who are you, what kind of music do you sing best?' And I want you to be in this competition, I want people to vote for you and give you another chance because I like you a lot."
Additional Notes: When questioned by Ryan, John said he picked "God Bless the Child" because it "is just really important to me." "I means to me because of my parents, because money is something we have to worry about... it speaks why I'm here," he explained.
Ellen said: "Mike, you have so much personality it is just bursting out of you and I love that about you. That you just start constantly smiling and happy just infectious in that way, and I thought that was a great song choice. I thought there were a few little pitch problems that you're going to hear later but it doesn't matter because you've got such a great personality and I just love watching you."
Randy said: "Dog, I got to agree with Ellen this time. I like you, I like your persona. You brought the energy level up here, you know people jumping up and down [in the audience]. And you like being this type of gregarious, kind of fun, kind of character. But I got to tell you something man, I've got a bone to pick, right? When you picked me and Ellen up man, when you got through to Top 24, that hurt, didn't it Ellen? Dude, that hurt me."
Kara said: "It's true, it was a little depressing in here until he came up there and did his thing. And that was good. I think if you had a lot of great performances we'd probably would be more critical about this performance because there were some good things about it but it wasn't outrageously great. I think the thing that I love most about you is you're up there and you're moving and you're comfortable with you, and that really shines through. But you could challenge yourself more."
Simon said: "Michael, what they're really saying in a roundabout way is you that you were like the support act before the main act. I'm being serious with you. You know you're a big guy, big heart, but everything -- you delivered so little on that performance. I was kind of a like a very vague, jazzy version -- no, I'm being serious. You are somebody Michael, because of your personality, who we are interested in. So therefore when you get up there you've got to nail a song and you've got to make people listen to you as an artist. Because you didn't [tonight]. I've heard performances like that 10-20,000 times. There was nothing unique about it and you're better than that. and you're going to regret it back when you watch it back, I promise you."
Additional Notes: Michael challenged Randy's joke that he "hurt" the judges during Hollywood Week. "Come on, come on -- the Dog talking about being hurt?" he joked back. "Dude, I'm just saying, the Dog can be a little sensitive," Randy replied.
Alex Lambert, a 19-year-old from Fort Worth, TX who currently resides in North Richland Hills, TX
Song: "wonderful World" by James Morrison
Simon said: "I don't know who was happier for that to end, you or me, Because that was the most uncomfortable performance of the night. You were like staring into that camera in a very uncomfortable way because you'd been told to do it. I mean you've got a good voice, I've got to tell you. Naturally, a good voice. but if you can't get your nerves together on a night like this [then] this is never going to work for you. You don't have to call me 'Sir' by the way, it's 'Simon.' But seriously Alex, I really feel for you because I really like you and we've had this problem all along. but if it's uncomfortable for you it's uncomfortable for people who are watching. And somehow you've just got to get this back together again otherwise this isn't going to work."
Kara said: "I want to give him a hug right now, I feel like he needs a hug. You sounds so much like James Morrison and that is a problem but at the same time it's a huge complement. Your tone is crazy and you're trying to do things and you're getting there and you're giving it your all and switching up melodies. It's all there, it's just not completely together. But you have great potential you really do. I mean to have that thick, rich tone at your age? And you're adorable, you got to believe in yourself. Believe in yourself."
Randy said: "That's it man, do it with conviction man. You've got the voice, we said in Hollywood you sound like James Morrison. I mean you've got a great tone, it's my favorite tone of voice. Kara's right, just try and pull it all together. But I like you though man, I really do. I actually really like you so I hope you stick around."
Ellen said: "I like you too. I like that you're holding onto the mullet and you're not going to let it go. I support you in that. I think you're adorable, I think you've got a great voice and I feel like -- you know what, I love bananas, and sometimes a banana is not just quite ripe and you're like 'Ew, I wish it was riper, because I'd like to eat that banana right now, but it's just not ripe enough.' And I just feel like you need that confidence and I don't know if that comes from time, because you just need to ripen, because you have all of it. It's all right there, you just have to get there."
Additional Notes: "You can boo all you want, it's fact," Simon said when the studio audience booed his comments. "Never!" Alex replied when Ellen noted he wasn't letting go of his mullet. When asked by Ryan, Alex acknowledged he doesn't have much experience performing in front of an audience. "Probably three times, in coffee shops and stuff. And the audiences are about 20 people," he said.
Kara said: "Casey, I don't recognize you with your shirt on, first off, you know last time with saw each other [at Hollywood Week]. Wow, it was hard for me to kind of listen to that because I was -- I'm married. Honey, I love you. I think you got a little pitchy 'when I was in your arms' at one point in the chorus. Can I say something seriously, now? Can I say one thing seriously? Seriously now, jokes aside. You are eye candy but you're also ear candy. You actually can sing very well. And you're looks may have been what we first looked at but you can play and you can sing and you've got a heart and soul. And I don't care what you look like, you're still good."
Ellen said: "It was very hard for me to hear, I could feel Kara undressing you with her eyes. I could not even focus. You sounded great. Seriously, I'm sorry that everything was going on, it was not fair, but I don't think -- you're going to get votes like crazy, it doesn't even really matter."
Randy said: "Listen dude. from one dude to the next, I know we're both models. But look, here's the deal, I actually really like you, it was a great song choice for you. I like your voice, I like the whole swagger you've got. I mean I know Kara, but listen, I like you too. Not in that way."
Simon said: "Yeah Casey, one thing I do understand is that we both were cursed with good looks. And somehow you have to manage the talent thing as well. And all the kidding aside for a moment, what I really liked about you today was you absolutely chose the right song. It came over as very honest, very sincere, you came over as very likeable. Obviously the cougar here loves you. But I don't actually think this was the best performance, singing, that I've heard from you since you've been in the competition. So you did great, well done."
Additional Notes: Casey had joked about Kara's crush on him in his introduction video and Ryan, the other judges and Idol's producers all also teased Kara about Casey before and during his performance. "What are you doing, get over here!" Kara said after all the judges pushed away from the judging table while Casey was performing. "Ellen, I think maybe Kara should start this one," Randy said once the performance ended. "Yeah, I think so," added Simon. "Yeah Kara, you start," Ellen agreed. Kara also took issue with Simon's "cougar" comment. "Cougar, who are you calling a cougar!" the 39-year-old said in an apparent reference to the fact that Simon, 50, is dating American Idol makeup artist Mezhgan Hussainy, 36.
Simon said: "Andrew, I was looking forward to hearing you more than anybody else tonight but I was disappointed with that, to be honest with you. It was too serious, too indulgent, and not serious enough. When you did the Paula song when we first -- I think it was in the Hollywood round, you did "Straight Up" -- that to me really made you stand out as being original, quirky, interesting, and I'd never heard it before. And it was a risk. I don't think that tonight you took a risk... and unfortunately a bit forgettable. Which is frustrating, because you've got a great story, nice guy, really, really fantastic recording voice. But I'm really, really disappointed about that. Andrew, you've got to do better. Sorry."
Kara said: "I think you took the risk but it was a really strange rendition of that song. It kind of isn't meant to be played acoustically. And I love that about you. I love that you stand up there and you take those chances. And he's right about 'Straight Up,' I mean that's bought you a lot of time in my book. To be able to do that, that was incredible. I really like you and I hope we see you again. For many, many weeks, that I can tell you, because you're great."
Randy said: "I agree with Simon and Kara, they're right. The arrangement was really strange for me. But listen, I'm a fan of you, right. Because I'm telling you something, what you did in Hollywood, I still remember like it was yesterday in my mind. Look, I love that dude. So go back to that, go back to being you. I felt this was little 'try hard.'"
Ellen said: "Yeah, I think doing that Paula song, 'Straight Up,' I think that is going to carry you for a little while because people really talked about it and you have a lot of fans and I'm one of the fans. I mean I really, if I'm at home watching, I'm thrilled that you're on the show. But I felt like when you shined is when you turned and looked at your girlfriend or your wife and opened up and started smiling and came out of yourself and that's what we want to see more of when Simon is saying it was too serious and self-indulgent. You were just kind of inside of yourself and then you turned and opened up and it was fantastic, and we want to see more of that. But you know, I think you're going to stick around, we like you."
Additional Notes: Andrew told Ryan he "had fun" with both songs so he was unsure how his approach differed.