There's been a lot of buzz about this year's crop of American Idol hopefuls and it appeared that Steven Tyler, J. Lo, and Randy Jackson had rounded up the most talented Top 24 in seasons!  But, the one guarantee with Idol is that the "live" shows will always show you who can really sing and who just got lucky during Hollywood week!  Last night was no exception as the Top12 guys took the stage . . .

My favorite, without a doubt, was James Durbin.  His Adam Lambert-esque vocals are CRAZY!  Plus, he has a great backstory, he knows how to command the stage, and he just LOOKS like a rockstar!  Moon really liked Jacob Lusk and his soulful, soaring voice.  Jacob laid out Luther Vandross' "A House Is Not A Home!"  Who did our Idol expert Steve Thompson like?  His full review follows . . .

From Steve Thompson:  

The more things change on Idol, the more they remain the same.  For the past nine years, the judges have drilled a certain mantra into our collective heads: song choice is everything.  I'm afraid that the results of tonight's show will bear that bromide out once again.  I saw five of these twelve go down in flames as if the Red Baron himself had pulled the trigger.  (Historical note: this is a World War I reference and not a Royal Guardsmen reference.  You're welcome.)

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, these four are in serious danger of becoming a footnote to season 10...   (I generally rate these from worst to first...)

12) Jordan Dorsey If you sing a song called OMG, you should expect OMG in response.  This was so bad I half expected to hear Usher's house had fallen on the late news.  I find it interesting that some of the villains of the early rounds may have had their comeuppance based on what was heard tonight.

11) Clint Gamboa attempted to sing Superstition by Stevie Wonder.  Those of you who weren't reading these blogs at the last address-- and that would be most of you-- may have missed this note...  For the sake of all that you hold holy, never try to sing a Stevie Wonder song on a night America gets to call in and vote for you.  I have often wondered why wonder is thought to work wonders for these wunderkinds.  I was not impressed by this performance nor the comments of our panel.

10) Jovany Barreto massacred I'll Be by Edwin McCain.  This is another of those songs that seem to have been done to the proverbial death over the last few years of auditions.  Is this guy really thinking he can bring anything new to the table where this song is concerned?  (That's a rhetorical question, kids.)  Somewhere, Edwin McCain may have added a word to the phrase I'll be.... 

9) Tim Halperin.  What happened?  This guy sounded so good on Beatles night in Vegas and he goes and chooses the song Street Corner Symphony which was so irritating ABC used it in most of their promos last fall.  Unless his fan support is stronger than I suspect, Tim has only Rob Thomas to blame for his lack of time on Idol.

 A few of tonight's singers were in the middle for me. 

8) Brett Loewenstern sang a truly odd version of Light My Fire by The Doors.  Somehow, I was reminded of the Jose Feliciano version as if it had been recorded by the lead singer of Simply Red.  Brett is definitely an acquired taste-- I'm just not sure if he did well enough for America to bring him into the top five guys.  I suspect a wild card may be in his future.  ( has him as this year's poster boy.)

7) Robbie Rosen sang Angel by Sarah McLachlan.  Did JLo really say Robbie took chances on this song and was better than my beloved Sarah McLachlan?  In the immortal words of Brett Somers: "Good gravy Marie!"  This was neither inspired nor tepid.  However, he has done so much better on this show that I am thinking he may have enough fan support to trump some of the better singers.

 I have six singers for my top five.  It's true.  My math skills were never that great.

6) Stefano Langone sang a fair rendition of Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars.  Thing is, it was just okay for me.  Except for the fact that I understood the words more than I generally have, I didn't hear anything in that song that told me here was our next Idol winner.  Of course, I'm always disappointed that a singer sings a song by that title and it's not the Billy Joel song.

5) James Durbin has been described in some of the Idol blogs as the straight version of Adam Lambert.  While I've been trying to wrap my brain around that concept, James goes against the grain and chooses this heavy metal classic and sings it rather well.  Rob Halford, are you out there?  Yes.  In the words of Lt. Howard Hunter on Hill Street Blues: "Judas Priest!"  You've Got Another Thing Comin'.  This was much better than advertised.  I'll take songs that remind me of ex girl friends for $500, Alex.

4) Paul McDonald has a very interesting voice and stage presence.  Maggie May is a Rod Stewart classic and would not be my first choice for a singing competition, but I thought Paul handled the song rather well.  I find myself wondering if he might be a dark horse in this year's competition with all the focus that's been placed by the producers on some of the girls.  Maybe I'm getting a tad cynical.

3) Jacob Lusk apparently can channel Luther Vandross.  His version of A House is Not a Home surpassed Luther's take on the Burt Bacharach classic originally penned for Dionne Warwick.  (Unintentional laugh of the night.  Mentioning channeling the dead and bringing up a name from the Psychic Friends Network.)  I'm not a huge fan of this song, but I was very impressed with the way Jacob performed it.

2) Scotty McCreery made himself a few thousand more fans in old school country music by doing a fine job on Letters from Home by John Michael Montgomery.  A nice dividend in getting rid of Cowell-- these three seem to actually enjoy country music.  There are some who are naysaying that Scotty is in a very narrow genre of music-- but if I'm not mistaken, country music generally sells better than rock or pop.  I also enjoyed how Scotty seemed to have fun with that one particular line in the song telling how the soldiers make fun of the way the singer talks. 

1) Casey Abrams obviously went with the Screaming Jay Hawkins original version of I Put a Spell On You.  I'm a little scared of this guy turning into Taylor Hicks 2.0, but he does have a nice eccentric style and sounds like no one else currently in this competition.  I find myself wondering if he might be just as polarizing as James Durbin-- but to his credit, Casey seems like an old soul in a young man's game.

So, to paraphrase Joe Strummer, who should stay and who should go now?  I think everyone in my bottom six may be in major trouble.  This online voting might be the catalyst for some interesting choices Thursday evening, but I'm inclined to think most of these guys should pan out just about the way I've delineated it here.  Rumor has it that instead of a week of wild cards, the judges will pick three extras and make it a final thirteen. 

Tune in tonight for the girls.

 @March 1, 2011  Stephen W Thompson