Tuesday, February 19

AI7 Semifinals - Top 12 Men (2/19/08)

This year we have themes already in the semifinals (a necessary tie-in to the new offering of everyone's audio & video performances being sold on iTunes); this week it's the 60's!

Fortunately everyone gets video intro clips, & for the guys who've had basically no screentime thus far, we finally get to see some of their earlier singing! Thank you, show.

Now, for the past 2 years, I've had a fairly strong favorite coming into the Top 24. They've been ballad-ish singers who unfortunately chose rock songs to show "versatility" which hurt them because they really hadn't had tons of screen time yet and much of the audience didn't know how they 'normally' sound. And they had the dreaded first spot. And they left on the very. first. night. (Well, in S5 I did like Will Makar more, but I liked Patrick Hall an awful lot!) With that said, it's only fitting that tonight the first spot goes to...

David Hernandez! At least he made a decent song choice with "In the Midnight Hour," which started out all gospel-y and then got a faster r&b-ish feel for most of the song. I thought it did a pretty good job of showing David's strong vocals while containing a little variety of style. The judges like it. (I gave him 50 votes. Last year's 100 weren't enough to save Rudy but I think David has a little stronger positioning coming in... and I think there are more likely cannon fodder later, at least for this week.)

Chikieze sang "I Love You More than Yesterday" and it was just ok other than a couple of glory notes. Simon hated it but R & P liked it. Chickieze talked back way too much but hey, he's the only black guy in the top 12 so I doubt he's going anywhere.

David Cook surprised everyone by singing "So Happy Together" and he definitely put his own twist on it! (And what was that short clip of his Hollywood song? Loved it!) Judges liked it. I did have to laugh when he did the requisite 'rocker carrying mic stand' bit.

Jason Yeager sang "Moon River" and it was nice. Um, yeah. Cannon fodder, sorry.

Robbie Carrico sang "One (Is the Loneliest Number)." To his credit he gave full disclosure in his intro clip (was in boy/girl-band that opened for Britney). We got a tiny clip of the Fuel song he did in Hollywood (cool!). This song was decent except for the high notes. The judges liked it well enough.

David Archuleta sang "Shop Around." Interesting song choice; he's obviously not old or experienced enough to make the lyrics believable, but the vocals were (of course) very good (except for a few low notes). All the judges love him, and Simon said it was the best in the first half of the show. Ryan really egged on his cuteness but I doubt many viewers minded.

Danny Noriega talked in his clip about how he wanted to really bring his personality and attitude to his performance. He sang "Jailhouse Rock" and definitely did just that! It didn't showcase his vocals, but it was a good performance. He didn't get great comments from R & P and Simon really laid into him & the judges went back & forth for a while. To Danny's credit he held it together but you could tell it hurt. Honestly I still think he has one of the best voices in the competition & has great versatility. Hopefully he's already built a strong enough fan base to stick around a while.

Luke Menard did "Everybody's Talkin'" and wow, was that pretty! Um, yeah, the song too. ;) It wasn't groundbreaking or anything, but it was a very good performance and I love his voice (reminds me a bit of Kenny Loggins- *swoon*!). However... Randy called it pitchy, Paula said it was a poor song choice, & Simon said it wasn't memorable (well, to a blind person, maybe). We shall see.

Colton Berry sang "Suspicious Minds." I love this song, and surely someone else could have done it better, but really no one jumps out from this group as having the perfect voice & style for it (ah, if only Bucky were back...). Colton did a good job and though his voice was mostly soft he showed a little power at the end. Judges were mixed; Simon said it wasn't relevant (ie current) or recordable. In other words, cannon fodder.

Speaking of cannon fodder... Garrett Haley is definitely not a rocker, despite the Leif Garrett/Peter Frampton-like hair. He sings "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and does a decent job, considering he's probably never sung in front of a crowd this big before. He told us in his video clip that he auditioned on a whim when he & his family were vacationing in San Diego & heard about the auditions. His lack of experience showed and the judges said it was boring. He had a good attitude though about taking the constructive criticism & learning from it. If only he were going to be around more than a week so he could actually do that. ;)

Jason Castro, yay! Well, I wasn't quite so excited as I thought I'd be (here I was building him up to everybody after watching the YouTubes, but tonight? notsomuch). He hasn't had much performing experience either, at least not singing (he was a drummer for his band). He played guitar while singing "Daydream" and did an ok job; I think he definitely has potential. Rather quirky/goofy looking though (like a Muppet??); I could only imagine how many ways Simon would say that he hated it. Randy said he was pitchy, and then Simon gave me the biggest shock of the night... he loved it!! He called it 2nd best of the night & said he has charisma, among other things. Well, hopefully people don't assume from this that he's safe & think they don't have to vote!

Last is Michael Yawns, I mean Johns. Seriously, I'm so over this guy already. He sang "Light My Fire" - again! And wasn't that great. (Plus it's super repetitive, so it's not like he had much to remember.) However, the judges are still in love. Simon said he's the most consistent and Randy actually compared him to Michael Hutchens (who's now rolling in his grave, even if he hasn't heard the song-stealing story yet).

An interesting start!! Several surprised me; I'll have to say my favorites were David C. and Luke, while my least favorites were Chikieze and Michael. I put lots of votes in for local boy Luke and several for David H (come on, break the pattern!!), plus a few to bolster Danny as I'd really hate to see him leave on that sour note (the judges' comments, not his singing!).

My prediction to go home: Jason Yeager and Colton. But I don't expect Garrett to be far behind.

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