American Idol 7: Top 10 Male Performances Live Thoughts
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Voting out American Idol's red-headed stepchildren was a good start, but last week proved there's a lot more empty filler on the men's side this year that needs trimming. Tonight is the second opportunity for these Top 10 men on American Idol to sing for your votes, and judging by the photos released earlier today by FOX of the performers, we're in for not one, but two guitarists! Will Paula Abdul see all the colors of the rainbow once again? Will Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest have undeniable sexual tension? Will Randy Jackson use the phrase “Pitchy Dawg” at some point?

THIS…is American Idol!

The guys are introduced. Once again, Danny Noriega is the stand-out,rocking a Mr. Rogers-style sweater.  It's fierce and fabulous, as he always is.  Meanwhile, Robbie Carrico is dressed like an extra from Interview with the Vampire.  This week, we move up one decade to songs from the 1970s.

Michael Johns is first, and we learn he's an avid tennis player.  Once again, no songs are listed, so my friends Google and Wikipedia will be helping me to identify them, so apologies for incorrect artists.  Johns takes on Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way."  It's fine, but my ears aren't that pleased.  The t-shirt and jeans look is a bit too casual for this show, like he's trying to look younger than he is.

Second is Jason Castro, aka my personal hero.  The stakes are higher, because last week he gave such a great performance that he needs to match.  We learn he hates doing interviews and we see him mess up a bunch of times.  Man, I didn't think anything could make him awesomer, but that did it.  He's got his guitar again and is strumming along to The BeeGees' "I Just Want to Be Your Everything."  It's not as good a performance, but I think it's a better vocal for him this week.  He's showing some range, which I like.  But the judges hate the vocals and want him to try performing without the guitar.

Luke Menard's secret is he's an a cappella singer.  I actually think that's cool.  He's trying "Killer Queen" by Queen.  This is one heck of a complicated song to do, but he actually does it pretty well.  Color me impressed.  But I can definitely hear the a cappella now that he mentioned it, and it's not very American Idol-esque.  He may make it further than I expected.  Technically, he already has.  Ryan makes a funny, calling Luke "Dawson's Creek," I'm assuming a joke on the fact that he's trying to look like a teenager when he's really in his late 20s.  I suspect this is going to be a theme this season, old dudes trying to look younger.

Lestat (aka Robbie Carrico) is a drag racer.  He sings "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner.  All I can think of is the Foreigner Belt from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  That episode is 100 times more entertaining than this performance, which enforces Simon's belief that he's a faux rocker.  He's like a wussy rocker, a poser.  It's like when Sebastian Bach starred on Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde.  Robbie would probably be great in that role, but this competition is not for him.

Here comes Danny Noriega, the divisive little pixie who you either love or hate.  As a lover of all thinks campy and kitsch, I adore him.  He used to be in a punk band.  Ha, he's totally Marco from Degrassi: The Next Generation.  He sings "Superstar" originally by Luther Vandross, covered by The Carpenters.  It's a straight vocal that's pretty good, and it takes away everything the haters complained about.  It also strips him from everything the lovers (like myself) enjoyed.  The judges are OK with it, but I prefer my Danny to be fierce.

David Hernandez' secret is that he used to do gymnastics.  He sings "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," made famous by The Temptations.  It's a little funky, which he can't quite pull off, but it's a very, very good vocal.  I have to agree with my fellow writer Oscar Dahl: this guy is Phil Stacey.  A great voice, but such a bland personality that I can't ever get excited about him.  They claim his personality came out, but I still don't see the appeal.  Still, like Simon said, it was the best vocal of the night.

Jason Yeager's secret is that he plays multiple instruments.  That's about as boring a secret as I could imagine, which I'd expect from this guy.  He sings "Long Train Runnin'" by The Doobie Brothers.  Even if I was high right now, I would not like this.  It's the pinnacle of bad karaoke, cruise ship, and every other metaphor Simon has.  Also, he looks like the lovechild of Lance Bass and Matt Damon, which creeps me out a whole lot.  Randy agrees with me, calling it pitchy and karaoke.  Paula struggles to find any compliments.  I'd be shocked if he's still here next week.

Chikezie Eze is, thankfully, not wearing a hideous orange suit or whatever that monstrosity was last week.  His secret is that his name is Nigerian.  Right now, Hillary Clinton is using that fact to try to undermine his campaign to be the next American Idol.  He sings "I Believe" by Donny Hathaway and does that annoying thing where he puts his own name in the song.  This performance is infinitely better than last week, since it's square in the middle of his wheelhouse.  It's fun, a great vocal, and all around good.  I don't like that all the people who sucked last week are doing good this week.

David Cook is a word nerd who loves crossword puzzles.  This instantly makes me fall in love with him, because word nerds are so cool.  He busts out the electric guitar to jam on "All Right Now" by Free.  It is sublimely excellent, infectiously, authentically rock 'n' roll.  I'm trying to use big words as is appropriate for a fellow fan of vocabulary, but all I can think to say is: best of the night, probably my favorite male performance so far this competition.  Simon hates on David for being a word nerd, thinking it will hurt him.  I think Simon has a bit of an inferiority complex, because dudes who do crossword puzzles are awesome.

The piercing squeals of teenage girls can mean only one thing: it's time for David Archuleta to perform.  His secret is that he once met Kelly Clarkson and sang for her (that song from Dreamgirls, you know the one).  Um, I already knew that.  Jesus Christ, he's singing John Lennon's "Imagine."  Is this even fair, to let him go last and get this song?  He sings it very well, but it's hard for me to separate my contempt for the way he's being groomed to win.  Randy tosses him a softball question to make the audience "aww."  If you saw the Saturday Night Live sketch with the Clint/Obama debate from this past weekend, you know exactly what happens when the judges speak.

Tomorrow night: The Top 10 Women perform.  Not that it really matters, since the judges and producers of American Idol have already filmed the final episode where David Archuleta is announced to be the winner.

-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of FOX)