It's do or die time this week, as the guys fought tooth and nail to secure a coveted spot in the Top 12. Actually, they should have fought tooth and nail, but most came off doing the same boring, lifeless performances from the first week of the semifinals. At least twice during the show, Simon commented on how overall disappointed he was with the guys' performances, and I can't say that I blame him.
I'm going to use letter grades this time around to rate the guys since I think it worked nicely for the girls last week.
Blake Lewis started things off with a cool, hip hop/reggae song by 311. He did some of his DJ record-scratching thing with his mouth, which is great since that skill makes him stand out from the rest. All three judges praised him.
Chris Sligh ended the evening on a strong note. I agree with the judges in that it wasn't his best performance, but it certainly was the best out of the guys this week. Simon thought it was the wrong song, but added that he has a whole lot of potential. Count on Chris joining us next week.
Chris Richardson chose a ballad this week, and while it was pitchy at the start, he improved later on. Randy commended him for "switching it up," while Simon said it was nasally and cutesy, adding that it was a safe song but he sold it.
Jared Cotter sang a Stevie Wonder song, which was lively and overall okay, but I agree with the judges in that it wasn't memorable. Paula said, "You should color up the way you sing," while Simon remarked that at that point none of the performances produced a "wow factor".
Brandon Rogers was just as invisible as Jared. His performance was as lively, but off key in some spots. He totally messed up some of the runs near the end. Simon complained that it was an unmemorable song.
I have no idea what the hell Sundance Head was thinking when he decided to do Pearl Jam's "Jeremy". I know that the judges always encourage the contestants to take risks, but this was too much. Sundance pretty much screamed the whole thing, and many notes were not in tune. The judges were split in their opinions; Randy enjoyed it, but Simon thought it wasn't as good as last week.
As usual, Sanjaya Malakar picked the most boring song possible to sing. All three judges were not impressed. Paula struggled to say something positive, but all she could come up with was, "Keep trying." Regardless of how much he sucks, Sanjaya will be back next week because teenage girls like his pretty, pretty hair and his pretty, pretty smile.
However, I think that Phil Stacy may have just blown his chances of entering the finals next week. He picked a LeAnn Rimes song and was absolutely horrible, like he didn't know what he was doing. He had trouble hitting the right notes at the beginning, and when he got to the chorus he was screaming it with a strangled voice. Randy and Paula agreed that Phil should work on his lower register, while Simon felt that it was the wrong song.
I think that there are four guys who are a solid lock on the Top 12, while the other two will make it mainly because of fans supporting them.
Who will go home: Jared Cotter and Brandon Rogers
Who should go home: Sanjaya Malakar and Jared Cotter
There's nothing wrong with Jared and Brandon's singing. Both are very talented, but the problem is that they're boring. They don't have any defining physical or performance features. Blake and Chris R. are known for being very contemporary and can be counted on to bring something unique during every episode. Chris S. has that powerful, Meatloaf-style voice, a wicked sense of humor, and of course, that mop of hair. Phil also has a strong voice and can bring on a power note when he wants. Sundance's strength is in his southern jazz roots, while Sanjaya has great hair and a nice smile. Jared and Brandon disappear among the others.
A second problem related to this is that, as I mentioned last week, the fan bases have now been established. Phil has the Navy and probably other military branches rooting for him. Sundance has a strong following since he was prominently featured in the early audition episodes. Chris R. and Blake have the pop music fans, while geeks aplenty are rooting for Chris S. Sanjaya has the most powerful fan base of all — teenagers. And we all know never to underestimate this group.
Let's see how the girls fare tonight.