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American Idol: The Top 12 Guys Kick Off the Semifinals

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I have to be honest, the Top 12 guys made me fairly excited for this season of American Idol. After the show ended tonight, I felt better about this show than I have all season long.

The guys, who pre-taped their performances on February 25, brought a lot to the main stage, including big stage jitters and, every so often, some talent.

Up first was the Hollywood round bad boyhimself, Clint Jun Gamboa. Gamboa chose to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” This song needs to locked away with Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now),” and Elton John’s “Dont’ Let The Sun Go Down on Me,” and never be allowed to be performed on Idol again. “Superstition” has not done any favors for contestants in the past couple seasons. AMERICAN IDOL; Top 24: Paul McDonald performs in front of the judges on AMERICAN IDOL airing Tuesday, March 1. ( 8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX

Gamboa’s vocals were nothing special. At this point of the competition, the contestants should be showing the audience why the judges picked them. I think Gamboa failed to prove the judges’ point with his performance. Of course, based on their praise of his performance, one had to wonder what concoction had been mixed in their Coca Cola cups.

Gamboa picked an overused song that I believe will send both him and his Harry Potter eyewear packing. He will be the boy who didn’t live to see the finals.

Next up was Jovany Barreto, who performed Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” For someone who exudes so much personality on his Twitter account, this was such a boring song selection.

I must say for the most part Barreto had an okay voice; I did really like his final note. He was met with a divided judges’ panel. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez loved him, whereas I sided with Randy Jackson, who found the song to be “karaoke.”

I am not entirely sure what possessed Jordan Dorsey to pick one of the most obnoxious and auto-tuned songs to sing in the semifinals. His performance of Usher’s “OMG” made me just cringe. From his vocals to his outfit, OMG indeed.

Like me, the judges were not in favor of his performance. Even Dorsey admitted that the song wasn’t a good representation of who he is as a singer. If the rumored Wild Card judges’ picks turn out to be true, I have a feeling that Lopez might possibly use her pick to put him through to the finals.

Following that hot mess was Tim Halperin who sang Rob Thomas’ “Streetcorner Symphony (Come On Over).” I completely forgot that this song existed, until Halperin’s performance. (Sorry, Rob!)

I am a Halperin fan from the Vegas round of the competition, and I know he can do better than what he put forward tonight. He’s obviously not entirely comfortable performing without an instrument. I felt like he rushed the song just a little bit, but he did his best to work the stage and the crowd. Overall, I thought Halperin pulled off a decent vocal and the parts where he went up into his falsetto were actually really nice.

I agree with Tyler when he said he preferred Tim performing behind a piano. However, that’s tricky when Idol is tightening the reins on using instruments this season. If Halperin had tried out last season, where Idol was battle of the singer-songwriters, he would sailed through the competition.

Sassy ginger, Brett Loewenstern performed The Doors’ classic song, “Light My Fire.” To be honest his performance just kind of made me laugh. Between the weird pronunciation of “fire” and the hair whips, this kid is just a character. He seemed to be having fun on stage, and the judges seemed to like him. Personally, I’m ready to pass on him. I didn’t find that there was enough substance to his performance.

James Durbin and his Adam Lambert likeness took to the stage performing Judas Priest’s “You Got Another Thing Comin’.” I’ve made it no secret that I think Durbin is just a Lambert knock off, and tonight’s performance really didn’t change my mind. In his defense, the music was so loud during his performance that I could barely make out the lyrics.

However, he really needs to find his own identity and maybe consider putting that rather large screech of his that he tends to favor in his back pocket. But what do I know as of course, the judges loved him. Although a word of fashion advice: lose the tail. I don’t know who told Durbin that was the way to set himself apart from the crowd, but he looks ridiculous.

I really wanted Robbie Rosen to do well, but his version of Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of an Angel” was really pitchy. It is really unfortunate, because I have enjoyed Rosen since his initial audition. I just don’t know if that performance is going to help him advance to the finals.

Scotty “baby lock them doors” McCreery sang “Letters From Home” by John Michael Montgomery. McCreery had an amazing vocal. And I am saying this as someone who is not a fan of country music. I really thought he nailed his last note. He sounded incredible. I think if an older demographic started voting, McCreery could run away with the competition.

Stefano Langone channeled his inner-Bruno Mars during his performance of “Just The Way You Are.” I really hope Langone stays away from the internet, because he will find out that the judges completely glossed over the off-key note that made myself and apparently my entire Twitter feed recoil.

Paul McDonald followed up with his performance of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.” I really enjoyed this performance. McDonald picked the right song that showcased his voice perfectly. The quirky, raspy quality of his voice fit this song fantastically. He has great stage presence and a great Crest white smile. What I really enjoyed about his performance is that he seemed genuinely enthusiastic about being on stage. I loved how he addressed “TV land” at the top of his performance. It showed a lot of personality that went along with a great vocal performance.

The judges and the audience really gave it up for McDonald at the end of his performance. I’m not about to call winner quite yet, but I think McDonald is officially a contender.

Not going to lie, I am not sold on Jacob Lusk. His performance of Luther Vandross’ “A House is Not a Home” just didn’t do it for me. I’m not saying that it wasn’t good, but I would have appreciated a more controlled vocal from him. To me he comes off as a second rate version of season three contestant George Huff, with tendency of over-singing his songs.

I am all for the contestants giving their all and leaving it on the stage, but I think Lusk is aiming to give a repeat performance of “God Bless the Child” every time he’s on stage. And to put it simply, it’s just not going to happen. That was a shining, standout moment, which could also be construed as peaking a little too soon in the competition. I think trying to recreate that magic is going to hinder him, and not allow him to grow as a contestant.

Wrapping up the night was Casey Abrams, who sang Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You.” I think Abrams is full of personality, which makes him fun to watch on stage. As much as I really liked his performance, I felt that he really is going to need to tighten up his vocals. At times, he came across shouting. I have no doubt that Abrams will do well in this competition. The judges and audience just ate him up. I just think he needs to clean up his vocals, and he could truly give McDonald a run for his money.

Overall, I was left feeling pumped about this season of Idol. I am intrigued to see what the Top 12 girls bring to the table.

Alright Idol fans, who were your favorites out of the Top 12 guys?

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of artists and creatives, including Oscar-winning actor and 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto, BAFTA-winning actor Andrew Garfield, singer-songwriter and Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.
  • Butch

    Truly an awful night. I can’t stand Clint Jun Gamboa’s personality, but honestly he was one of the best. Yes, overused song. But his vocal was energetic (a little too much screaming, but he does it better than Durbin) and right on target, pitch-wise.

    I liked Scott McCreery. I love his understated style and personality.

    A few of the more boring people (Jovany, for instance) stood out simply because they didn’t embarrass themselves.

    On the negative side: Paul McDonald – he sounded very much like a bad impression of Jimmy Fallon’s Barry Gibb impression.

    James Durbin – I agree with Kirsten on him.

    Jacob Lusk – this guy has a lot of spirit, but I agree with Kirsten. I’m not sold. I honestly don’t even like the sound of his voice when he’s not oversinging. Then when he oversings….oh boy. He belongs in a gospel church, not the Idol stage.

    Casey Abrams – I liked this guy in his audition and Hollywood rounds. But he stalked around the stage yelling in mock anger. I honestly felt like I was watching a Jack Black imitator (though far prefer Black’s voice). If anyone suffered from a lack of instrument, it was this guy. That stand-up bass is half his appeal (at least).

  • pinkbanana

    I really liked Jacob Lusk’s performance last night. Can’t wait to see who doesn’t make it. I guess it will be the OMG performance I kinda found it out of tuned.