kicks off its live Hollywood auditions tonight, featuring performances by each of the top 12 guys. This is where the men (and women) separate themselves from the boys (and girls). Hopefully, we'll have some good performances tonight, although I do think the crop of girls is a lot better than this group of guys. Here are my quick thoughts from the episode.
- Hello, live band.
- The guys are introduced, each mugging into the camera.
- Ryan tells Randy that he's been taking heat for being meaner this year. Why hasn't Ryan asked Paula about her taking heat for being drugged up? Oh, wait. She isn't on drugs. She doesn't drink either. According to her publicist.
- Montage time. We see a brief recap of how each of the twelve guys got here to the final 24.
- Jeff Foxworthy is hosting a game show about how dumb we are as a country. This is not in any way depressing.
- Rudy Cardenas is up first. Rudy is a little upset about how Simon seems to dislike him. He comes out performing “Free Ride”, by the Edgar Winter Group (I think it's by them, it might be “Slow Ride”). His performance is a little annoying, with his voice cracking once. He's a confident performer, though, could end up being a fan favorite. Randy thought it was really corny. He's absolutely right.
- Are we on Oprah? Ryan sits down with the guys in a circle of plush, blood red couches. Chris Sligh talks about how pretty everyone looks.
- Brandon Rogers, the former backup singer for Christina Aguilera, is up next. He sings “Rock with You”, by Michael Jackson. He starts the song off slow, then gets into it. It's a silly arrangement. He's a pretty good performer, but seems a little nervous.
- My God, Paula is making no sense.
- Randy and Simon think Brandon is better than the song he just sang.
- Sundance Head is up next. He had a couple of bad performances during Hollywood week, but is still here, mostly as a result of his great initial audition. He's singing “Knights in White Satin”, by, I think, The Moody Blues. He still seems a little shaky and I hate this song. The judges all agree that the performance was lackluster.
- Paul Kim takes the stage. He likes to perform barefoot. I don't know the song he's singing. He sounds kind of like he's lost his voice. He breaks into falsetto for a second, and just butchers it. Pretty weak performance, I think. Oh, it was a George Michael song. Simon really gives him the business, calling it a third rate rendition of the song.
- Chris Richardson is up next, who I like because he sang a Leon Russell song on his first audition. I don't know this song, but I like it. It should be noted that Chris's dad is trying to clap along, but ends up looking like the middle-aged white man he is. This is easily the best performance of the night so far. Maybe a little out-of-tune at times. Simon says the vocals were bad, but he still likes him.
- It looks like Simon wants to punch Paula in the head.
- Nick Pedro is up next and Seacrest tries to psyche him out by asking him about the 30 million or so people who are watching. Nick is a crooner, and he starts off the song pretty well. A good start is key, I believe. I'm not familiar with this song either, but I do know that pretty much every guy has been singing out of tune tonight, which is disconcerting. Nick has been better than most, however. Randy calls the song boring. Paula also didn't like the song. Simon defends Nick, chalking the shakiness up to nerves.
- Blake Lewis, the beat boxer, hits the stage. I really like him, thinks he brings something different to the table. He sings a Keane song, and he has some good moments, but it gets really weak at times too. I think he had trouble with his words, but I'm not sure. Randy likes the performance. Simon tells him he was the first performance to sound like he was in 2007 and that it was by far the best performance of the night.
- Sanjaya Malakar, the seventeen year old whose sister got eliminated in Hollywood, performs. He sings a Stevie Wonder song, but it's not very good. Weak voice. Randy tells him the song was for too big for him. Simon tears him to shreds for an extended period of time. Sanjaya is kind of buckling under pressure.
- Chris Sligh, the Ruben-esque jokester, is up next. He says that his humor plays a big role in his success. You got to sing to, and he does just that during the song. I don't know who it's by. He seems comfortable out there. His voice was strong, more powerful than I remember it.
- Simon and Ryan get into it on live TV. Simon tries to call out Seacrest for making things uncomfortable. A weird moment.
- Jared Cotter takes the stage. He's the guy who got fired for auditioning. He wasn't really featured at all during the auditions. He sings a slow jam and is easily the best singer of the night. It's not even close. He's got a great voice that he's in control of. Or maybe not. He struggles at the end a little bit. The judges are all lukewarm on Jared, but they like him in general.
- A.J. Tabaldo is up and I don't remember him it all. His voice is annoying, reminding me of all the terrible R&B that saturates the radio these days. The judges might like him though. Paula, making an ass of herself, starts dancing. She needs to be put out to pasture. Simon calls it a theme park performance, whatever that means.
- Phil Stacey, the man who missed the birth of his daughter, is the last guy to perform tonight. He starts off soft, but when the chorus kicks in, Phil gets stronger. The man's got a good voice, and I think the judges are going to enjoy it. Randy calls it the best of the night.
Simon's right. This was really a poor night of performances. Really, I cannot envision any of these guys doing much of anything. I'll be back with a recap of the episode tomorrow morning.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer