American Idol: Top 12 Guys, Performance Grades
I think it's safe to say that last night's American Idol was a disappointment.  The performers knew it, the judges knew it, and if the audience was paying attention, they knew it too.  I'm hoping that this was all a result of nerves, that the top 12 guys who sang last night are going to improve by leaps and bounds each week.  To be honest, however, I didn't see the potential. 

One interesting aspect of the Top 12 Guys performances that we saw last night was the venom being spewed both by Simon and towards Simon.  Ryan Seacrest was visibly miffed by Simon's “negativity” during the show, which is something that continues to baffle me.  Let the man speak his mind.  Isn't it hypocritical to encourage Simon to be brutally honest, which helps ratings, only to have your host berate him for it on live television?  I'm looking at you, FOX.  I agreed with Simon most of last night: the performances were bad. 

Here are my grades for each of the twelve men who sang last night:

Rudy Cardenas: C+

Starting is always difficult, so I'm giving him some extra points for that.  However, his rendition of “Free Ride” is really cheesy.  He's a good singer, but overdoes it while performing.  His voice isn't too powerful, but he;s got some room to grow.

Brandon Rogers: B-

The judges didn't like this as much as I did.  Brandon might end up being the best singer of all the guys.  His voice has some good texture, but his version of “Rock with You” last night was typical.  Should've been better. 

Sundance Head: D

Sundance should be the best.  His initial audition was incredible, but he's been a deer in headlights since he got to Hollywood.  So, what does he do to try and get out of his rut?  He sings a damn Moody Blues song.  A mediocre performance of a terrible song choice.

Paul Kim: D-

Paul sings a George Michael song and pretty much butchers it.  He must be really nervous, because he sings out of tune a lot.  His falsetto was horrendous.

Chris Richardson: B

Chris is Justin Timberlake look-a-like and gives the most energetic and fun performance of the night.  Out of tune at times, voice wavering, but still a solid first performance.  If Chris can grow from here, he could be someone to watch.  His voice might not be good enough though. 

Nick Pedro: C

Pedro can sing, but he didn't show it last night.  Boring the hell out of everybody, his smooth voice from the auditions was nowhere to be found.  Simon, weirdly, defended Nick, saying that nerves were the reason for the mediocre showing.

Blake Lewis: B

Not well sung at all, but Lewis (the beat boxer) shows that he can perform.  There were some good moments, but he was mostly shaky.  Blake has some potential, though, and I hope he improves singing and starts staying in tune.

Sanjaya Malakar: F

Simon ripped Sanjaya to pieces last night, and for good reason.  Probably the worst performance of the night, Sanjaya's voice wasn't good enough.  Soft and weak.

Chris Sligh: B

Chris Sligh is becoming a fan favorite, mostly as a result of his humor, but also because it turns out he can sing.  His performance last night was helped by a good, energetic song choice, but it wasn't his best vocal performance.  He'll be around for awhile.

Jared Cotter: B+

I liked Jared a lot more than the judges did.  I thought he was maybe the only one who stepped up to bat and sang like he knows how to sing.  His voice was strong and he seemed unfazed being in the spotlight. 

A.J. Tabaldo: C+

The judges really loved A.J., but I didn't at all.  He annoyed me, reminding me of any of the two-bit R&B acts that are out there today.  The crowd ate it up (as did a tipsy Paula Abdul), but I really hope he doesn't fool everyone and make it far into the competition.

Phil Stacey: B

I like Phil, but he needs to work on starting his songs better.  His audition suffered from a poor start, and the way he began his song last night was abysmal.  The rest was good, and during the chorus he showed how strong his voice can get.

Let's all hope that the girls turn in a better performance tonight.  America needs it.

-Oscar Dahl BuddyTV Senior Writer