The pressure is on the top 10 "American Idol" men. After a series of roundly derided performances last week that had experts and fans questioning if this season's talent is the weakest in the show's history, Andrew Garcia, Casey James and the rest of the men will take the "Idol" stage Tuesday night (March 2) after a last-minute switch with the top 10 ladies (word is Crystal Bowersox is suffering from unspecified "medical issues").
So what do the men need to do to win back the hearts — and ears — of the nation? How can they get enough votes to avoid landing in the bottom two? Here's what we do (and don't) want to see from these "Idol" hopefuls.
We've already heard Garcia remix versions of tunes from Paula Abdul, Adele and Fall Out Boy. And we've already seen how what we at first took for wild originality has come to seem like remix-by-the-numbers blandness. Garcia needs to forget about reinventing a tune and wow us with his vocals instead of his musical tinkering.
That this cowboy kid had the best men's performance of last week said more about the show's overall weakness than it did about his rendition of Bryan Adams' "Heaven." We'll be looking to see James expand on his chilled-out singer/songwriter vibe and deliver a bit of old-fashioned rock and roll, à la ex-"Idol"-er Bo Bice. And we'll especially be looking for the awkward Kara-and-Casey-sitting-in-a-tree love fest to finally take a backseat to an honest appraisal of the singer's undeniable talent.
Park has nowhere to go but up after last week's narcoleptic take on the Billie Holliday jazz standard "God Bless the Child." We've seen Park's winning personality in taped segments. Now we want to see that persona transported to the stage. He needs to sing something that's actually playing on pop radio these days, something that gets folks out of their seats, something that gives us a reason to vote for him beyond some funny quips about cougar-rific Shania Twain.
Big Mike's big challenge might reside not in his song but in his post-performance interaction with Ryan Seacrest and the judges. Lynche came off heavy on ego and light on humility last week — not a good combo so early in the competition. He should ditch the guitar, step up to the mic, and show us what kind of recording artist he hopes to be. Because we're still not sure.
The Texas native bombed big time last with OneRepublic's "Apologize." If his Tweety Bird falsetto wasn't enough to send him home, it's hard to imagine anything will this week. That's why we encourage Urban to flash that aw-shucks smile and stare into the camera as if he's making eye contact with every teen girl watching at home. He's not going to stick around on the strength of his voice or his song choices.
Some mocked Dewyze's coffeehouse-style version of "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol, but we promise you there's some potential. He'd be wise to take the judges' suggestion to embrace his rock side in a similar fashion to David Cook. Why not Daughtry's "No Surprise"?
The 24-year-old took a big risk with his nearly unrecognizable reworking of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." Two thumbs up for effort, two thumbs down for butchering a contemporary classic. Hall can clearly wail — he performed with Fantasia in "The Color Purple" — so he should forget about arrangement trickery and pick a song that lets him show off his pipes.
For some reason, the judges love this 16-year-old, despite delivering arguably the worst performance of last week. His take on "Here Comes Goodbye" by Rascal Flatts sounded like nails on the chalkboard of a high school math class he should be sitting in instead of crooning on "Idol." Our advice to Kelly? Keep doing what you're doing. It's clearly working, so what the heck do we know?
In stark contrast to Kelly, Sellers made clear he possesses a lovely falsetto. What remains unclear is his song-selecting smarts. Sellers' directive? Out with the Oleta Adams, in with someone the youth of America actually knows. Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake would be savvy choices.
Our guess is that Lambert actually gained fans after his bleeped-out and endearingly honest reaction to making it through last week. So there's a plus. On the negative side, Lambert's version of "Wonderful World" by James Morrison was one of those so-horrifically-awkward-you-can't-look-away performances we see at least once a season. If the 19-year-old can overcome his nerves and return to the Jason Castro-esque vibe he displayed during his ukulele-led take on "I'm Yours," Lambert might have the judges applauding him for bouncing back. Emphasis on "might." This kid has a steep road to climb if he wants to make it much further.
What do you want to see from the guys on Tuesday night? Who do you hope steps up their game this week? Let us know below!
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