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'IDOL' WATCH: The Top 8 Men

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"Idol" tonight saw the last separation between the men and women, with the top eight gentlemen performing before learning to the top twelve. The guys gave a solid show, showing versatility and an ability to adapt songs to their personal styles. It seems that, tonight, the guys as a group gave an overall better performance than the women did last night, in a surprisingly strong showing.

Lee Dewyze sang first, going with the most recent hit we've heard so far on the show, Fireflies by Owl City. This is an interesting choice since the song is currently right around the peak of its popularity. But, he did an excellent job changing the song in a way that made it feel new. DeWyze added more of a rock-feel to the song and had a number of fresh and interesting runs. Kara gave him an incredible compliment, saying he "made the song a better song with [his] interpretation." An overall great start at the top of the night.

Alex Lambert has the same confidence issues each and every week, but his vocals are almost always spot on, as was the case again tonight with Ray Lamontagne's TroublE. Lambert has the talent to go far in this competition, but he still looks as though he feels out of place in front of the cameras. Each of the judges echoed their opinions from previous weeks, praising his unique voice, but saying he must learn to take himself out of The Situation and simply feel the song. Lambert will succeed if he can accomplish this, but he has yet to show much progress.

After a rocky first couple of weeks, Tim Urban finally hit the mark with his performance of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah. The song, as Kara said, is all about emotion, and it really came across that Urban was feeling what he was singing. Whether it was his emotions outweighing the vocals or the fact that his performance was just better tonight, Urban's voice did not sound as weak as it has in past weeks. After tonight's performance, he may have found a spot for himself in the top twelve.

Andrew Garcia attempted to go back to his biggest success, Straight Up, by performing another out-there choice, Christina Aguilera's Genie in a Bottle. Garcia was unable to match his stand out performance and may very well have cost himself the major lead he had coming out of Hollywood. Simon called the performance "a little desperate," since it seemed clear Garcia was attempting to gain the same success he had in Hollywood. This may have proved a costly move for the once-leader.

Next up was Casey James, who performed a rather safe choice in You'll Think of Me by Keith Urban. The song fit James' vocal style and range, but didn't show anything new from him as a performer. It didn't seem James was really able to connect with the song until the latter half, when he seemed to be the singer we're used to. Ellen said he was in his element singing from the stool with his acoustic guitar, while Simon said the performance wasn't memorable. James is a talent, but doesn't seem to have the star quality an "Idol" winner needs.

The youngest performer, Aaron Kelly, sang I'm Already There by Lonestar and gave, as usual, a solid performance. The song was a big song, but Kelly was able to live up to the challenge. His performance was a bit showy for my taste, but it was his vocals that carried him through. Kara called the song a poor choice, saying it didn't fit him. Thankfully, Simon pointed out that every song a performer sings doesn't need to embody their age and personality, and that a performer can simply sing "just a nice song." Kelly should have no problems tomorrow night.

Todrick Hall chose a big song in Somebody to Love by Queen (a personal favorite of mine.) Hall obviously doesn't have the range that Freddy Mercury brought to the song (but honestly, who does?) but gave an excellent performance vocally. Hall made it clear he has a background in theatre, performing the song in a very presentational manner, but it was enjoyable, nevertheless. Simon said it was clear that Hall has a background in musicals and Kara said the song could have come straight out of Godspell or Glee (wouldn't he be an excellent guest star for next season?) Hall really gave himself a bump with tonight's performance, as it was his best since Hollywood week. He may have given himself enough of an edge to make it to the top twelve.

Rounding out the night was Mike Lynche, singing This Woman's Work by Maxwell in a performance that literally brought Kara to tears. Lynche was able to outshine the competition tonight with his incredible rendition and may even have The Edge over the women. Lynche's performance was pitch-perfect, emotional, and heartfelt, and showed why he belongs in the competition. Each of the judges praised his performance, with Simon going so far as to say he "one hundred percent nailed it." Lynche is the clear leader of the gentlemen after tonight's performance.

Tomorrow night will feature the results show, sending home another two men and two women. Unfortunately, my favorite performer, Andrew Garcia, seems most likely to go home after three weeks that failed to live up to his work in Hollywood. It seems Hall will likely join him, who, although he had a great performance tonight, seems to have had too many poor weeks in a row to be able to recover. Each of the gentlemen tonight, however, was great, and it seems that any could unexpectedly receive the bad news tomorrow night.

The next episode of "American Idol" airs Tuesday, March 11th, at 8PM EST on Fox.

"American Idol" is a reality competition to find new solo musical talent, created by Simon Fuller. It debuted June 11, 2002 on the Fox network and has since become one of the most popular shows on American television. It is currently the #1 TV show in the Nielsen Ratings and is one of only three that have been #1 for five consecutive seasons. The cast of "Idol" includes judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen Degeneres, and host Ryan Seacrest.

The program aims to discover the best singer in the country through a series of nation-wide auditions, and subsequent viewer voting. Through telephone voting, America has chosen past winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Kris Allen.

Several "Idol" contestants have been seen on the Broadway stage, including Barrino (The Color Purple), Hicks (Grease), Clay Aiken (Spamalot), Diana DeGarmo(Hairspray), Josh Strickland (Tarzan), Tamyra Gray (Rent, Bombay Dreams), and Constantine Maroulis (The Wedding Singer, Rock of Ages).

"American Idol" airs on Tuesday and Wednesday nights on Fox at 8PM EST

Photo Credit: AmericanIdol.com


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