"American Idol" kicked off its live broadcasts Tuesday with a two-hour telecast that showcased the 12 (OK, 13) male vocalists, though perhaps "showcased" was too strong a term. Because while a select few turned in standout moments, most of the guys seemed to struggle beneath the spotlight.
While we'd probably chalk it up to opening-night jitters, it's not like a second performance is assured: Only five guys are guaranteed to make it through to the top 10 (though, since this is "Idol," there's probably a judges' save in there or something). With so much on the line, who delivered the goods? Here's our grades for the guys — the good, the bad and the ugly — on a very full first night for "Idol."
Joshua Ledet: His version of J. Hud's "You Pulled Me Through" was as remarkable for its scope as it was for its superiority over everything else Tuesday night — seriously, watch the show again and try to find anything that comes close. As a result, he's already been dubbed "Man-tasia." Let's not go there just yet, but damn: Grade: A
Aaron Marcellus: His thrilling take on the Jackson Five's "Never Can Say Goodbye" would've been a show-stopper on any telecast, though he drew a tough slot at the midway point of the show's two hours. Hopefully, his full range and subsequent standing O won't be forgotten by voters. Grade: B
Heejun Han: The judges may have derided his song choice (Robbie Williams' "Angels,") but what do they know? Han owned it, and turned in a workmanlike effort that was equal parts butter and balls. He'll stick around. Grade: B
Creighton Fraker: He started off his take on Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" sounding like Ernest P. Worrell, yet recovered splendidly, and, in the end, turned in one of the most gut-busting performances of the night. It might not have connected with viewers and didn't get a lot of help from the judges' middling comments, though. Grade: B-
Jermaine Jones: The so-called "Gentle Giant" earned a second chance, thanks to the judges. Good thing, since radio can't get enough of ginormous dudes singing baritone these days. Still, he did Luther's "Dance With My Father" and did it well, but, really, this spot couldn't have gone to David Leathers Jr.? THANK YOU SO MUCH. Grade: B-
Jeremy Rosado: This ultra-bland crooner took on ultra-bland ballad (Sara Bareilles' "Gravity") with predictably bland and breathy results — good enough for a passing grade on this night! Thank God J.Lo branded him the "Jer-Bear," or else this dude was toast. Grade: C+
Reed Grimm: First out of the gate, he delivered a soft-core Cinemax version of "Moves Like Jagger." As far as highlights go, overzealous network censors bleeped him. Oh, and at one point, he picked up his in-ear device. The performance was like a Vegas revue, minus anything and everything that makes a Vegas revue thrilling (nudity). "Woo!" all you want, Reed, you get a Grade: C
Adam Brock: Lest you forget, he has a whole lot riding on this. Brock claims someone once told him he had "a large black woman trapped inside of [his] body," and decided to dishonor her anyway with a mumbly, milquetoast take on Aretha's "Think (Freedom)." White Chocolate, indeed. Grade: C-
Phillip Phillips: This psychotropic acousti-bro turned Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" into a dour dirge. The pacing was so slow he almost chopped and screwed it, and he sang the tune like he was hiding a pinecone in his throat. Whenever Randy starts talking about "indie artists," you know things didn't go well. Grade: C-
Deandre Brackensick: Brackensick tried his hand and hair at Earth, Wind and Fire's "Reasons," but it was off-key from the very get-go. Still, his performance (and heartthrob histrionics) earned rave reviews from the judges. "I understand," J.Lo said. OK, well at least someone did. Grade: D
Chase Likens: We learned he can whistle, which is officially the most interesting thing about him, aside from the fact that he can somehow attend Marshall University while also owning horses. Byron Leftwich couldn't even pull that off. He did a wallpaper-intense version of Hunter Hayes' "Storm Warning," and should blow out of the competition faster than a Gulfstream hurricane. Grade: D
Eben Franckewitz: Boy, Adele was a bold choice. The teen crooner might have found his footing mid-song, but he could never quite handle the chorus of "Set Fire to the Rain," and as such, oof, this one was a dog. There's no reason to assume he'll advance, except for the fact that he's cute. See you in the Top 12! Grade: D-
Colton Dixon: This McMansion-dwelling poet spent a portion of his intro package explaining his hair. Good call. He took on Paramore's "Decode" (told you), and was summarily swallowed by Hayley Williams' precedent. At least you've got a big bedroom back home, dude. Grade: F