Ten out of the top 15 guys got their crack at singing live at Rush Week on "American Idol" Wednesday night, and like the women's night on Tuesday, five dreams ended before they even got started.
Generally speaking, the guys fared better than the ladies, who seemed to get tripped up by their nerves the night before. Perhaps knowing what they were in for calmed them down, as they came off more polished and ready for the spotlight.
That doesn't mean it's time to start forecasting winners; thankfully, judges haven't yet started talking about whether this is going to be a "guy's year" or a "girl's year," so I'll avoid any such proclamations as well.
Here are a handful of takeaways from Wednesday's episode:
Caleb Johnson Sets The Tone
Rocker dude Caleb Johnson was the first contestant to perform Wednesday, and he kicked things off on the right note with his version of the Faces' "Stay With Me." Johnson worked his mic stand like a pro and hit a series of glory notes at the end of the performance, opening the night with the burst of energy it needed after Tuesday's mixed affair.
"That was killer, dude," Keith Urban told him, complimenting his booming voice and flair for performance. Lopez took things a step further, telling him, "that was some real rock star ish right there. That was the real deal."
Alabama Boys Make Their Mark
C.J. Harris and Dexter Roberts — two of the three Alabama boys in the top 15 — held it down for their home state during their performances. Harris sang a moving version of Ray LaMontagne's "Shelter" that was rich with feeling and understanding.
Later on, Roberts sang a good ol' boy rendition of Craig Morgan's "This Old Boy," which perhaps played it too safe. While solid, the judges questioned if it was enough to make him stand out. "There's a thousand guys just like you fronting country bands in honkytonks all over America right now," Urban said. "And what you've gotta do is figure out what makes you different from everybody else. If you really want to do this, that's what your job's gonna be."
Sam Woolf, Spencer Lloyd Battle For The Heartthrob Vote
During their performances, both Sam Woolf and Spencer Lloyd had the girls in the crowd screaming, and not just for their vocal talents. No disrespect to Caleb Johnson, but Lloyd and Woolf have this year's heartthrob vote sewn up.
Aside from the crowd's approval, Woolf received high marks for his version of David Gray's "Babylon." "There's such a sweet quality to you, it's no surprise to me that everyone's already fallen in love with you," Jennifer Lopez told him. Harry Connick Jr. commented he wished Wool's confidence would improve, but that shouldn't be a problem once he sees the playback of how fans reacted to him.
Lloyd closed the show by singing the Fray's "Love Don't Die," and while Urban didn't think it was great, he deferred to the crowd's reaction. "I don't know that that was your best vocal performance tonight, but sitting here watching everybody's faces looking up at you, it was undeniable," he said. Connick was more harsh, steering him toward his earlier performance of A Great Big World's "Say Something" and telling him, "This is not your strong suit. Stick to what you know. This was not good. When you're sitting at the piano singing ballads, it's good."
Ben Briley Rocks A... Guitar Solo?
Ben Briley, the Gallatin, Tennessee, native who was voted into the competition Tuesday over Neco Starr, performed the Allman Brothers' "Soulshine." And midway through the song he busted into a guitar solo, complete with an arsenal of John Mayer-style guitar faces.
Wait, this is still a singing competition, right? Urban, who knows a thing or two about guitar solos, made sure to knock Briley down a peg while critiquing his performance. "Ben, you've got a great voice man. I think that's your strongest suit, than perhaps the guitar-playing," he said. "It was cool, that's gotta be the first shredded solo we've seen on 'American Idol,' am I right?" Yes — and hopefully it's the last.
Casey Thrasher Gets The Boot
Casey Thrasher was considered an early front-runner in the competition, and he was also strong in Hollywood Week, when he performed as one of the Backstreet Cowboys, alongside Ben Briley and Dexter Roberts. But Thrasher was one of the five singers who was dismissed by the judges after his dress rehearsal performance, and he's left to try and come back next year and give it another go.
Also getting knocked out before they even had a chance to sing were Maurice Townsend, Briston Maroney, Ethan Harris and Jordan Brisbane. Farewell gentlemen, we hardly knew ye.
The top 13 will be determined on Thursday's episode, comprised of the top five male and female vote-getters, along with three wild card picks from the judges.
What did you think of "Idol's" male Rush Week? Let us know in the comments!