Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ranking American Idol's Top 12 Guys: Jason Castro Makes Quite a First Impression

Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe 60's music as a theme just didn't work. Maybe the guys were nervous. Whatever the case may be, tonight's Top 12 guys on American Idol just didn't blow me away.

Don't get me wrong -- there is a lot of potential in this group, and some of the guys were actually quite excellent. Even better, there's only one potential Sanjaya in the bunch (we'll get to Garrett Haley in a bit). But all in all, I think I expected a bit more from what many (including myself) have referred to as the best group of finalists ever. I'm willing to cut them some slack, however -- it is the first week, and as far as first weeks go, it definitely could have been much worst.

I do think the theme was at least partly to blame for the lack of fireworks on the stage. Usually in the semi-finals the contestants can choose any song they'd like, giving us the chance to see how they view themselves as artists. Gina Glocksen singing an Evanescence song, for example, defined her as the "rock girl" for the season, while Chris Richardson's performance of "Geek in the Pink" let us know what kind of artist he aspired to be. Restricting the contestants' choice of song so early in the competition is a bummer, and their choice of mostly ballads even more so.

However, many overcame those obstacles; others -- not so much.

As for the judges -- Simon was mostly right on, Paula was puffier than usual (sober? pilled up? I'm not quite sure), and Randy was, well, Randy. That about covers that.

As I will do throughout the season, here's my rankings of the Top 12 guys:

1. Jason Castro
Where did this kid come from? Having not heard him sing a single note so far this season, I didn't know what to expect, but he came out with and performed with originality and such effortless charm that I was instantly won over. He looked like a natural with the guitar, and though he's certainly no vocal powerhouse, he definitely posseses a distinct style. Does he have the chops to survive week-in-week-out of this competition? I'm not sure. But for now, I'm happy with what we've got.
Grade: A-

2. David Archuleta
How freakin' adorable is this kid? I just want to squeeze his cheeks! "Shop Around" was an interesting choice for young David, and it took me a minute to get used to seeing him bop around the stage, but he ultimately pulled it off with aplomb. And that voice! Sounding much more mature than his 17 years, the kid showed he's really got the goods. Expect to see much more of him in the next three months.
Grade: A-

3. Michael Johns
This guy's good. I knew he was good going into tonight's performance, and I believe he was good having seen it. Unfortunately, he chose to sing a song we've seen him sing before. Why, Michael, why? This was his chance to really set himself apart from the pack, and although it was very well sung, it was the same song we saw sung last week about a dozen times, at times better than Michael sang it tonight. He's still a frontrunner, but he lost some originality points in my book.

4. David Cook
There's an understated charm to this guy, and his unconventional take on "Happy Together" brought a refreshing dose of originality to the stage. And while his vocals aren't perfect, he's a credible rock singer with what seems to be a pretty versatile instrument. I dug it.
Grade: B+

5. Colton Berry
I can't quite put my finger on exactly what it is, but there's something about this kid I really like. His voice is great, and he's got a soulful stage presence that, at least for the moment, is on the right side of too theatrical. But more than that, there's a lightness and genuineness to him that I find quite endearing. I hope he sticks around a little while.
Grade: B+

6. Robbie Carrico
This performance was pretty good, however, while I can't say anything bad about it, I can't say it was particularly memorable either. What's special about this guy? He may tap into the Bo Bice/Bucky Covington fanbase and ride that wave for awhile, but American Idol? I don't see it.
Grade: B-

CONTINUE READING FOR #'s 7 through 12

Who was the best of the Top 12 guys? Who will go home? Take the polls now!


Anonymous said...

What's the writer smoking here?

Ranking David Cook at #4 and giving him a B+. Arrrghhh, this guy is terrible. He has no range, mediocre voice and is very dull, not to mention that he's scurvy looking. He never should have even made it through the initial round of auditions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous! David Cook turns me off totally.

I think David A. will probably run away with it this year, IF a boy wins.

Michael J. blew it last night, but he is nice to view!!

David H. stepped up his game, and I liked him a lot better.

Don't care for Jason Castro's look, and I don't think his vocals are up to par. Cut the hair, and I will listen again!!

Can't take Daniel at all, and the other nice looking Jason with the son is probably leaving too. The rocker was only average also.