‘American Idol’ Top Eight Men: What They Need To Do

Todrick Hall and Aaron Kelly appear to be on the bubble of this year's top 12.

For the most part, the ladies brought it on Tuesday night’s “American Idol” and early front-runners are definitely emerging in Crystal Bowersox, Siobhan Magnus and Lilly Scott. On Wednesday night (March 10), it’s the guys’ turn again, as we speed toward Thursday’s elimination, when season nine’s top 12 will be determined.

Last week’s switcheroo due to Crystal Bowersox’s illness didn’t throw the guys off, though a few of the men turned in performances that were barely enough to keep them in the running. So what do the rest of the men need to do to win 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, starting with those who need the most work.

Aaron Kelly
Being cute will only get you so far. Though he has the Archu-dorable factor, teen Kelly is proving to truly be this year’s unripe banana. His “My Girl” was instantly forgettable, and he’s turning into one of those semifinalists who doesn’t really have a musical portfolio. He’s tried country and old-school R&B, but if Kelly wants to make the top 12, he needs to show the panel he’s got a lane of his own. How about a killer Simon & Garfunkel cover (since most of this year’s Idols seem stuck in the past) or something by Kris Allen?

Tim Urban
Unless this kid has been taking voice lessons from the ghost of Jeff Buckley all week, it doesn’t really matter what Tim does, because he’s just killing time at this point. He might not go this week, but he’s further proof that being adorable can get you into the semifinals but not much further. Urban is the weakest male link, so he might as well blast off with a blaze of glory with something ridiculous like “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Todrick Hall
With Jermaine Sellers gone , dancer Hall remains as the loose cannon in the bunch. His confidence hasn’t yet meshed with a breakout performance, and though his sedate take on Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” was interesting, Hall has been the judges’ punching bag to date. Unless he kills it, say with a seductive Usher throw-down, Hall could be the next to go.

Casey James
Speaking of cute, James is still trying to shake off the whole cougar-bait thing, but his limp rendition of the too-frequent “Idol” cover “I Don’t Want to Be” didn’t exactly show off his rock chops. Regardless, assuming he doesn’t completely tank, Casey will likely make the top 12. He should, however, soar by proving his grit this week with something edgier. How about an unplugged Kid Rock tune?

Lee Dewyze
He’s the token rocker, which is a good place to be this year, because he’s got virtually no competition. Dewyze is on a hot streak, and he’s got Simon on his side, so he should play it safe this week to ensure a top 12 berth. He’s done well playing his acoustic guitar, so maybe a Kings of Leon song would work for him.

Andrew Garcia
What happened to you, man? Garcia seemed a shoo-in for the top three, but he’s gotten steadily diminishing returns thanks to sleepy song choices, like James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something,” which find him fading into the pack. He needs another “Straight Up,” pronto! Now’s the best time to wow the judges again with a clever (re)arrangement of a classic — perhaps a folky version of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing”?

Michael Lynche
He’s not blowing anyone away, but slow-and-steady Lynche is getting it done every week. He’s likeable, solid and very comfortable onstage. Big Mike is almost certainly going to advance, so a bit more of what the judges already like, perhaps a touch of Maxwell on acoustic guitar, could ensure his spot.

Alex Lambert
Either Lambert is pulling a rope-a-dope and is planning to emerge as a camera-ready superstar from his mullet-duckling persona, or we’re reading too much into his phoenix-like rise from the ashes of two twitchy weeks ago. He nailed John Legend’s “Everybody Knows” last week, and a command performance of a Robin Thicke tune might cement his blue-eyed soul bona fides.

What do you want to see from the guys on Wednesday night? Who do you hope steps up their game this week? Let us know below!

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