Thoughts On American Idol: Top 13 Men

February 28, 2012

Image edited from original by Maks Karochkin on Flickr, used under Creative Commons

It’s time to get venomous and vindictive on a show I love to hate. This is American Idol!

Notes: We’re off to a good start – the judges aren’t dressed like shit! I have nothing mean to say about any of their looks.

Theme: Contestants can pick any song.

Here are the Top 13 male performers in order of appearance on the show.

1. Reed Grimm – “Moves Like Jagger” Reed opens with some generous eye fucking of the camera on this gratuitous lounge lizard rendition of a song made famous by the coaches on that other show. Reed’s performance had tons of cheese, scatting, bad dancing, and a drum solo on a stand-up kit like he’s in The Stray Cats. However, it was still kind of fun. His singing was totally in his range and he gave the performance a full commitment. Seriously there was zero irony there. Props for kicking things off with something different and sounding good, dude!

2. Adam Brock – “Think” OK, nobody can be Aretha, but Adam had a good run on this song. For the most part he stuck to his range and didn’t oversing too much. He stuck the big notes and seemed to really show a solid mix of self-assurance and empowerment, which you need for a song like this. It was a somewhat rough start for him, but I could see myself rooting for this guy in spite of his Steelers fandom. Please don’t be Danny Gokey Part 2.

3. Deandre Brackensick – “Reasons” …Aaaaannnnddd things grind to a halt on this EWF ballad. This actually could have been cool if Deandre had used his full range instead of staying flat in his falsetto. The high notes only work if there is successful mid and low-range singing. He sounded clunky for most of the song, and gained his composure for the big finish. If he stays after this week, he needs to work his vocal control, lest he blow his voice out on a Bee Gees song.

4. Colton Dixon – “Decode” This spot belonged to your sister, you freeloading chotch! It’s tearing your family apart. See if she gives you a kidney when you need it. Now to the song. Colton tries to go for the high power singing over the nu metal power chords, but he’s out of his league. There was no genuine emotion. Whether it was on the belting or the piano mount, he couldn’t touch a lesser alum like James Durbin, let alone a killer like Adam Lambert. That was painful to watch. And that haircut looks like shit. It makes the mullet look classy. Fuck off, you skunky charlatan!

5. Jeremy Rosado – “Gravity” This guy seemed like a nonentity in Hollywood and Las Vegas. Jeremy goes for restrained and understated, which is admirable on an intimate song like this. The orchestral arrangement kind of buried him in the mix, which is a shame since he seemed like he had a grasp of the emotional component of the material. Of course he had to have the big cathartic finish, which felt messy, but it’s one meh spot on an otherwise decent performance. Frankly I was a little bored with the song choice, but I respect what he did. Just don’t do it too much.

6. Aaron Marcellus – “Never Can Say Goodbye” Once again I’m not so ok with jumping to the Motown catalog so early in the show, but that aside this was pretty good. Aaron showed good vocal control throughout the performance and he was just upbeat enough to convey coolness without overdoing it. I love that cool professionalism, especially when there’s some boppin’ within. And that super high ending? I think Aaron just took Deandre to school.

7. Chase Likens – “Storm Warning” Unlike last year’s country boy who shall not be named, Chase displays his solid tenor with ease. Like Aaron, he showed good command of a stage and some personal investment in the song. Way to use those theater chops, dude! When he was smiling it conveyed fun, not playing around. He blew a lot of the big notes at the end, but he might tighten up if he sticks around. I don’t listen to country music much, but I’m not sad by this performance.

8. Creighton Fraker – “True Colors” It’s tough for me to root for this guy because I don’t like his face. He makes things worse by singing “True Colors.” Look dude, if the Glee cast couldn’t make this sappy claptrap interesting, you shouldn’t try. That performance felt empty and forced like so much inspiration bait. His singing was halfway decent, but it was quickly overshadowed by the rest of the bleaty shitshow. Get off my TV.

9. Phillip Phillips – “In The Air Tonight” A low-key white guy with an acoustic guitar? Ladies and gentleman, your season 11 American Idol winner! Demographic predictability aside, this was a good song for Phil to do. I give him props for doing an alternative take and he did a good job singing, but the arrangement just sucked. It was grungy and hoary, and the song is supposed to be quiet and resigned. The matter-of-fact dread and self-hatred in the piece comes from the emotion and the minimal instrumentation. There was a little too much naked anger and bad sax playing. Show me “haunting,” you demographic bait!

10. Eben Franckewitz – “Set Fire To The Rain” I should be down on this Lil’ Justin Bieber, but he seems too nice and self-deprecating for me to root against him on principle. However, I will root against him for this underwhelming karaoke car wreck of a performance. The song choice did him in. He’s singing notes he can’t yet hit for emotions he hasn’t felt yet. He’s a small child and there’s a good chance he’ll develop both vocally and emotionally. One day Eben’s power might rival Adele’s, but it is not this day. Sidenote: notice the judges trying their best not to sound critical of this probable chosen one. Remember when people made fun of Paula Abdul for being too nice to the bad contestants? Now it’s like that for all three judges most of the time. But I digress.

11. Heejun Han – “Angels” I’m disappointed that Heejun picked another slow ballad, since they seem like such a departure from his offstage persona. I’m not familiar with the Robbie Williams original, but Kathy says that Heejun’s version just wasn’t as good. He just couldn’t make those big vocal moments count. Ballads like this tend fraught with emotion and vocal acrobatics. I felt some of the emotion and conviction in Heejun’s delivery, but his vocals just didn’t match. Kathy played the original for me, and yeah, it’s better. Robbie Williams’s soaring highs on the chorus were damn impressive, so I can understand her disappointment with Heejun for failing to deliver the same.

12. Josh Ledet – “You Pulled Me Through” Josh is taking on Jennifer Hudson and he’s throwing everything but the kitchen sink at this song. It’s a good demonstration of his raw vocal power, but there were a lot of times where the big oversingy moments felt unearned at best and screechy at worst. He can’t handle the power yet. This plodding yet overindulgent performance style can lead me to only one conclusion: Josh Ledet is Jacob Lusk without the sibilant “s.” ZZZZZZZZZ………..


13. Jermaine Jones – “Dance With My Father” Wow! They brought the talented bass singer back! I did not see that coming. I thought he came off as pretty good in the Las Vegas round. The producers actually made a good decision! This sentimental grinder made famous by Luther Vandross isn’t my favorite song, but Jermaine sure makes good work of it though! He had great conviction in his singing and in how he came across onstage. There was tender emotion and some fabulous low note holds. Way to do us low-voiced guys proud, Jermaine!

And what would I have sung? I’ll admit that I’m not a very good singer overall. My voice tends to be in the lower range and I love to perform slightly alternative, uptempo songs in karaoke and Rock Band. The focus in this fairly open round is to make a good impression on the audience, many of whom are turning in for the first time. I suppose I would kick things off with one of my karaoke staples – “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. It’s one of his better-known songs and when I’m warmed up I can stay in my vocal comfort zone and still pull off some the song’s builds and held notes. If was lucky I’d come across like Taylor Hicks.

My Top 3 Performers
1. Aaron Marcellus
2. Jermaine Jones
3. Reed Grimm

My Bottom 3 Performers
1. Colton Dixon
2. Creighton Fraker
3. Eben Franckewitz

Tune in tomorrow when the women take the stage!


One comment

  1. […] Winner I think we all saw this coming. I said as much back in Top 24 Week. One low-voiced white guy with an acoustic guitar passes the guitar to another low-voiced white guy […]

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