American Idol, It's All in the Song

After many weeks of auditions around the country and the infamous "Hollywood" rounds, American Idol finally got down to business this week with its primary competitions. The top 12 male finalists took the stage one by one, hoping their singing would be enough for you to save them until next week.

And finally, we have control. Their fates lie in our hands. Or more accurately, on the tip of our texting fingers.

Ryan Seacrest informed us that, for the next three weeks, four contestants would be eliminated each week -- the two men and two women with the lowest vote totals. Once it's down to the top 12, we'll see people go bye-bye one at a time.

I think if I were an Idol contestant, getting cut in this round would hurt the most. They've made it through so much to get here, but haven't been around long enough to be burned into our memories yet.

I believe folks like Jennifer Hudson, Daughtry and Elliott Yamin still had a shot at a career because, even though they didn't win, they got cut late enough in the process that everyone knew who they were. (Yes, and because they're very talented too!) But I'd guess that just about anyone eliminated in this round will simply fade out of our collective memories.

For their first real performances, the guys had to sing something from the sixties. Imagine, a whole decade of songs to choose from. Yet somehow, most of the contestants seemed to have really missed the mark. And for a few, choosing the wrong song will probably be the reason they're sent packing.

So how'd they do? Here's my take.

The Top 3:

David Archuleta: The 17-year-old sang "You Better Shop Around," which I thought was a strange choice because it took a while to even recognize the song. But it was

terrific, and the judges all loved it too. Simon called it the best performance of the night by a mile. I think David's weakness might be his age, though. He looked uncomfortable and

embarrassed receiving praise from the judges afterwards. And was it just me, or did Ryan seem to be almost flirting with him? Leave him alone, Ryan! He's underage for

goodness sake.

Jason Castro: The only contestant to use an instrument all night performed "What a Day for Daydream" while playing guitar. Really top-notch. Brought the Idol backing band in about half way through to jazz things up. I know this is just a "singing" competition, but everyone out there should give him extra points for having the cajones to play guitar while he sings, especially in the first round.

David Hernandez: David sang "In the Midnight Hour" and I thought he nailed it. Randy complained (as usual) that he was a bit pitchy, but Paula called it "lovely," and

Simon said better than expected. Coming from Simon, that's a rave.

Middle of the Pack:

David Cook: Sang that song "Happy Together," and I thought he did a nice job. This is the kid Simon previously said would look "naked" on stage without a guitar or prop in front of him, and I think Simon's right. David kept picking up the mike stand and twirling it. He needs something to do with his hands.

Robbie Carrico: Ladies and gentlemen, meet this year's Bo Bice. Robbie sang a little Three Dog Night number, which earned him praise from Randy and Paula, but skepticism from Simon. Is this too cool for school get-up just an act? Robbie swears he's a rocker, not a popper.

Garrett Haley: The kid who looks like Leif Garrett did an okay job singing "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," but it was completely forgettable. (I swear, that's what I was thinking before Simon said it!) His voice was nice, but the whole performance lacked energy. Pick a peppier song next time, Garrett.

Jason Yeager: Sang "Moon River." Huh? Forget peppier, Jason, just pick a song somebody knows. Like Garrett, this didn't rock the house, but it wasn't gosh-awful

either, so I think Jason will live to sing another day.

Michael Johns: If there's one male artist I'd never try to sing on Idol, it's Jim Morrison. Nobody, and I mean nobody can do "Light My Fire" better than Jim

and the Doors. Period. And I think you end up looking dumb when you try a song like that and fall short. But what do I know? Paula and Randy loved it, and Simon said Michael has

"natural charisma."

Chikezie Eze: Sang "I Love You More Today than Yesterday." I think viewers will do just the opposite. Started rough and didn't get much better if you ask me. Chikezie

wasn't the worst of the night, so I doubt he'll go home, but he's not an Idol. I don't think he'll last more than a couple of weeks.

The Bottom 3:

Colton Berry: If there's another male artist I'd never try to sing on Idol, it's Elvis. What was Colton thinking? "Suspicious Minds" is a total karaoke choice. And you know Simon is going to pounce on you for it, no matter how well you sing it. And frankly, I've heard better karaoke renditions than what Colton pulled off.

Luke Menard: Sang "Echoes of My Mind." You know, that song from Midnight Cowboy. What was he thinking? Luke earned the trifecta of poor judge responses. Randy: "Pitchy." Paula: "Not the best song choice." Simon: "Forgettable." Three for three Luke. Three for three.

Danny Noriega: Okay, the only Elvis song that is more karaoke than "Suspicious Minds" has got to be "Jail House Rock" (or maybe "In the Ghetto," but I

digress...). Give Danny points for starting at the top of the stairs and trying to add some flair to his performance, but I think it was the worst of the night. Paula said she could see

Danny's "colors" in his performance. I don't even know what that means. Simon called it "grotesque." Hate to say I agree with Simon, but....

Next up, the ladies take the mike Wednesday night. Then we find out which two men and which two women get the boot on a special Thursday elimination show.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.