'American Idol' Recap: The Top 13 Guys Perform
'American Idol' Recap: The Top 13 Guys Perform
Let's hear it for the boys! Tonight is the first of many nights of live performances for American Idol's eleventh season. Tonight more than ever, song choice is crucial because their numbers will be cut in half on Thursday. Unless we're going to continue playing so loosey-goosey, because some mystery 13th gentleman will be revealed tonight and it's probably Jermaine Jones. I mean, anyone but Richie, please.

But it's probably Jermaine, because he had the most heartbreaking goodbye, and the coolest mom. If you have any early favorites, you'd better hope they got half as much camera time as Heejun Han, who could sing "She Bangs" in the style of William Hung and we'd still vote him through. Yes, I love him that much and I'm not ashamed to say it. I want him on this show to make it enjoyable for me for as long as possible!

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To kick things off, Ryan walked next to each and every contestant in the Top 25 and they looked at him adoringly. Did you catch Heejun mouthing out "this is American Idol"? I still can't tell whether or not this is a joke to him, nor do I care. Also, what are the odds that Ryan will bring up what happened on the red carpet at the Academy Awards tonight? And what about Jennifer's maybe-maybe-not nip slip? There was a bit of a nod to it in the way Ryan introduced her.

The guys will perform on this new stage that "in a few short months" will crown a new American Idol. A few short months? More like an eternity. And Ryan couldn't be bothered to button up a little bit? Whatever.

Ryanlazybutton.jpgHey, guys, I had to change my suit jacket at the Oscars!

Reed Grimm is up first, and we learn that he's from Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Ellsworth is famous for its cheese curds, and now, cheesy singers! I thought it was weird that they inserted a clip of Steven Tyler laughing after Reed made a dirty diapers joke in his intro package. So Reed is singing "Moves Like Jagger," which is perfectly hot right now and has the ability to be skat-ified. Oh, and they provided a little drum set for Reed so that he could remind you that he is incapable of standing still. He said "sh*t," possibly accidentally, and it got bleeped, and then his mic pack fell out, but other than that it was a good vocal performance. I don't care for his style of singing, but I won't deny that he glided through the thing that he does quite well. The judges liked it, and Steven said "ass," which the bleep patrol didn't make it to in time. What a mess.

Adam Brock is the next singer we will have to tolerate. Aw, that was mean, I'm sure he's a nice guy. Adam has his degree as a chef, and calls himself a Renaissance Man. And, to celebrate "the large black woman trapped inside" him, Adam is singing Aretha Franklin's "Think." Hmm. I think we are supposed to like Adam, but I'm finding this performance a little flat. He's hitting all the notes, certainly, but the energy is off and I feel weirdly embarrassed for this dad with a towel in his back pocket singing this karaoke favorite.
whitechocolatekaraoke.jpgAdam's just a few seasons too late in the game, maybe. But hey, people can use all kinds of Brock/Rock puns on their signs for him. Steven loved it, Jennifer liked "the big finish," and Randy likes the "throwback thing" he has going on. Alright, I see how this is gonna go.

Deandre Brackensick is here to go all falsetto on us next. We don't know a lot about Deandre's personality, but his voice is buttery and, in my opinion, preferable to white chocolate. He's already ahead in my book for not giving himself a nickname. Sometimes that falsetto is so perfect and lovely, and I love when he dips back and forth over his break, but I don't know that this is the best, most memorable performance that it needed to be. His voice is so stellar, I'd like to hear more of it, but the performance needs some work. Like when he hit that high note and kept side-eyeing the camera instead of just being into it.

Deandrelikebutta.jpgJennifer tried to start talking, then Steven interrupted without seeming to know he was doing it. They both just loved him. Randy says Deandre is "out of the box, ready to go now." Lovin' you, Deandre!

"This moment has been 2 years in the making" for Colton Dixon. Wow, a whole two years. He even talked about his terrible hair in his clip package. "People are used to seeing me with a piano," Colton says. I'm not used to seeing him at all. He starts out on a piano, so I'm not shocked yet. He sounds a little less like Gavin Degraw/the One Republic guy this time. He seems nervous once he came from behind the piano. Once he jumped on top of it, he continued to shock no one. I couldn't tell what Jennifer was thinking when they cut to her mid-performance, but it didn't look good. Randy loves that Idol has an Indie alt-rocker singing Paramore, dude, and Jennifer told us what she was thinking: she wasn't thinking, she was FEELING. I'm less enthusiastic, but then again, I'm not a judge, just judgmental. I do not care for Colton, just based on personality. I don't like when people pander to the audience or ask, "what did YOU GUYS think!"

Jeremy Rosado chose a Sara Bareilles song to sing. I like this guy because he loves everyone and everything, it seems. It's an admirable quality in a person, and I wish I possessed it. The judges seem to have a taste of it. Jeremy works at the Infectious Diseases Clinic, but the only thing that's infectious is his enthusiasm! And he's singing "Gravity," which is one of my favorite songs right now/ever. Alright, maybe he has a lot to lose singing such a powerful song. He is running it all together, and it comes across as weak and forced. Does he have a cold? It was not his strongest vocal performance, and I hope someone says something about it. But no, the judges loved it. Jennifer said she forgot she was judging--it was just music. "America, meet Jeremy! America, you guys need to know about Jeremy," Randy declares.

meetJeremyRosado.jpg"Oh, sorry, I'm so bad with names," -America

In the ill-fated sixth spot, it's Aaron Marcellus! But first, Steven says he's "as confused as a baby in a topless bar," and then made a joke about Jennifer's nip slip! Wow, what a waste of time! Just before they cut to Aaron's clip package, Jennifer says, "there was no nipple!"

I wish they would stop overshadowing Aaron Marcellus, he is amazing from what little we've seen of him. He's singing "Never Can Say Goodbye," and he is just such an exciting performer, I wish he'd gotten more camera time. He's such a professional. I think he has the fact that Glee just recently covered this song to his advantage. And he hit that super high note at the end! Way to make the best of a crappy placement, Aaron. The judges rose to their feet, and they all agreed that Aaron can sing very well.

Up next, it's Chase Likens. Who is he? This clip package isn't going to help because it was boring as hell. He whistles, goes to college, and has a dog and horses that are all the same color. He's singing "Storm Warning," and it was about as powerful as a tumbleweed. The notes were not all there, and it made me wish I was watching "Storm Hunters" instead. Steven noted that Chase looks like Brendan Fraser. The judges think he's great, and worked hard to convince us that there's more to Chase than just the Storm Warning. I miss Simon.

Creighton Fraker sings next. He's funky! He didn't fit in in either of the Dakotas, so he moved to New York. Initially I didn't like Creighton, and I'm still not convinced that we would be friends because he's so focused on being UNIQUE, but I am liking him more and more. He's singing "True Colors," because he wants to show HIS true colors, which have not yet been introduced to the visible light spectrum because they are that unique. He's wearing a Pocahontas vest. I think it was an interesting song choice, but he pulled it off. He has a really refreshing ability to perform that some of the other contestants don't have tonight. The judges seem almost bored by how well the contestants are doing. Or maybe they're just relieved that they don't have to decide anymore so they aren't even going to help us?

Phillip Phillips (is he going back to Phillip?) is just so darling. He loves music and doesn't care about being famous for the sake of fame. And he's singing "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins, but kind of also a Dave Matthews version? Phil got weird with it. Phillip is one of those contestants who, like Casey Abrams last year, I both love and fear. Like, sometimes I think he will come through the screen to murder me.

PhilPhillipsmatthews.jpgBut I appreciate that he makes each song his own, or at the very least Dave Matthews's. The judges really cherish Phillip Phillips. He is unique, but not in your face about it. Randy wasn't nuts about the way Phillip changed the melody so much, but he changed the way he said things to confuse the audience so they wouldn't boo him so much.

Darling Eben Franckewitz! He describes himself as "funny" and "outgoing." He also does chores for his mom. I like that he seems respectful and young in a good way. Like, seriously, bless his heart. He's singing "Set Fire to the Rain," which is a big song for such a little boy! Alright, I like Eben's personality, but this song isn't really helping him very much. It was too mature for him, I think, and his voice is so sweet and delicate. I'm not sure, it didn't excite me. But guess who was excited? The judges! There must be uppers in the Coke. Randy noted, carefully, that there were some flat notes. But I'm sure he'll go through because he's just so cute.

sweetlileben.jpgHeejun Han is the Sacha Baron Cohen of this competition. WHAT IS REAL? Also, is he just for viewers like me, or can he appeal to the younger crowd? He wants to prove that Asian people can "not only get a high score on the SAT, but can sing their way into people's hearts." Yes. The performance was just OK. Jennifer said his voice is "smooth as silk," but the judges all agreed that it wasn't the right song. I hope his personality takes him through. Do we have confirmation of how to pronounce his name yet? Ryan is saying it one way and the judges are saying it differently. Same goes with Joshua Ledet's last name ...

Some fans have nicknamed Joshua Ledet "Mantasia," which is pretty great actually. I am a huge Joshua Ledet fan and I'd be surprised if this bonus contestant can top whatever he does next. He's singing "You Pulled Me Through" from Jennifer Hudson! Two amazing singers, my head could explode. He has such a great voice, he'd better make it into the Top 12 singers. Do you like him better than Jacob Lusk? Look at Randy just FREAKING out in his chair! Standing ovation for Joshua. Well deserved--that was the performance of the night. "This is what singing is about," Randy proclaims. He seems like such a sweetheart, too.

standingoledet.jpg"I just wanna ... punch you! I don't know what I want to do to you!" Jennifer cries. Steven was shockingly subdued in his feedback, and was then drowned out by Randy's demands that Ryan punch Joshua for Jennifer. I'm really glad Ryan didn't oblige.

So, can this mystery 13th person out-do that? Certainly not. And that final surprise person coming back for "an incredible second chance" is ... Jermaine Jones! It was just too sad to watch him go! Oh man, and it's worth bringing Jermaine back just to put him next to Ryan Seacrest.

talljermaine.jpgOh no, he's singing "Dance With My Father." That song is so ... overwrought. Still, Jermaine is so sweet and the song is weirdly working for him. His voice is so velvety and low, I'm glad the judges brought him back. Maybe, in a dream world, he could duet with Eben Franckewitz and it would be hilarious? He did a good job, maybe even better than some of the original 12. Good job everyone! And Jermaine's mom! This was a delightful way to end the night, it turns out.

So, who killed it and who is dead in the water? Some interesting renditions of some old favorites tonight, that's for sure.

(images courtesy of FOX)

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