Be warned American Idol – The South has risen

Howdy neighbor!

Howdy neighbor!

Compared to the Girls Top 10 night, last night was a walk in the park.

There wasn’t a lot of drama or surprise surrounding the 10 contestants chosen to sing on American Idol Top 10 Guys night. There wasn’t outrage on the Twitterverse. Everyone seemed content because from what we saw, whoever was left sitting on the sidelines had no chance because the elite guys put on a god damn show.

It sucks that Maurice Townsend, Briston Maroney, Ethan Harris, Casey Thrasher and Jordan Brisbane didn’t get to sing. They should have been afforded that chance just like the five girls left sitting in “The Chamber (Part II)” the night before.

My problem with people saying this person or that person should have been in rarely say who shouldn’t have sung. And it’s much easier to say it after the fact. But let’s look at the facts – it makes sense why each and every one of those guys didn’t get a shot.

1) Maurice Townsend
Everyone loved Maurice. He was the perfect story – a family man with a golden voice. I thought he was going to sing because it would make for easy TV. Here’s the thing – they weren’t going to let Malcolm Allen, George Lovett and Maurice in. The three had far too much in common. So they picked the two best, or at least the two they thought were the best.

2) Briston Maroney
Young and talented, but they weren’t going to have two good-looking TWGWG. It was Briston or Sam Woolf. So saying Briston should have sang means no Sam.

3) Ethan Harris
Kind of eccentric and a very good musician, but here’s the thing – his voice didn’t fit the show. He was a little too hippie and from what we saw from Alex Preston, had no chance to take that spot. Still don’t know what the judges saw in Ethan. He sounded a little too much like the guy from The Darkness without the glam.

4) Casey Thrasher
Another strange pick to get this far because of how many Southern-based rockers they had. If you put CJ Harris in his own category – because he’s not just a Southern rocker, he’s the black Southern rocker, a first for the show – that means the judges had Dexter Roberts, Caleb Johnson, Casey Thrasher and with his win in the vote-off, Ben Briley. At best he’s Dexter’s equal, but anyone with ears knows Caleb and Double B (not to mention CJ) are in a class of their own.

5) Jordan Brisbane
I wanted him to sing solely for entertainment purposes. He’s like the short guy in the Slam Dunk contest – you don’t expect much, so if he wasn’t good it’s OK, but when he does something phenomenal you lose your mind. The only person he should have been in for was Emmanuel Zidor, but Manny Z had a little something extra and was backed by the most beautiful 40 year old woman on the planet.

It’s really easy to say Emmanuel shouldn’t have been in after his performance, or George wasn’t ready and showed with his nerves, but the contestants aren’t picked like that. Personally, I was disappointed Jordan and Briston didn’t get to go out there; professionally (or whatever you call what this site is) it was a pretty solid night.
On to the recaps.

1) Caleb Johnson
Song: “Stay With Me,” The Faces

There isn’t a more entertaining contestant than Caleb Johnson. He makes you want to watch, reminiscent of rocker boy James from Season 10. He’s clearly not full of himself, coming in hot when Randy said “What else do you want to work on” and the large and in charge soon-to-be-rock-god smiled and said “dropping a couple of pounds.” He absolutely controlled the stage during his rendition of “Stay With Me” and was good enough that the spot of death might not be strong enough to kill him. Only question – what’s with the judges bagging him for overperforming? Some years they bitch about too many ballads and they want fun performances, now they don’t want them? Ridiculous. If he’s not Top 5 there’s an issue.

2) CJ Harris
Song: “Shelter,” Ray LaMontagne

The man is not made for Hollywood. He didn’t need a fancy rock star wardrobe or a stylist. Just give him a flannel, pants and a bucket hat and let the man play. He won the night out of the two hole, putting him atop the list of people who can win the show. He’s easily the most likable contestant. His smile melts hearts. There wasn’t one second of that performance that didn’t sound authentic and that’s going to carry him far. He’s in the Top 5 – and I mean of the entire show, not just the guys.

3) Emmanuel Zidor
Song: “Best of My Love,” The Emotions

This is a tough one for me because of my unabashed love for Manny Z. But here goes: he was bad last night. Marialle bad. The song wasn’t right for his talent and it frustrated me more than anything. Here’s what he tweeted to me last night:

Here’s the thing contestants don’t get – be an artist after you win Idol. American Idol is a game and sometimes you have to sacrifice your beliefs in order to win. If Manny Z would have come out and done an 80s R&B slow jam – Jeffrey Osbourne or James Ingram or Peabo – it would have showcased his voice and got him into the show. He’s out. And I’m sad.

4) Sam Woolf
Song: “Babylon,” David Gray

Typical WGWG performance, but that might not be good enough. This was safe as safe gets and it was OK. It wasn’t bad enough that people won’t vote; but it wasn’t good enough that people will go out and vote for him. Woolf has the ability to do some outrageously good stuff, but he didn’t bring it out last night and he needed to. Safe is good in the first week of the Top 13, but not when you’re performing for your life.

5) George Lovett
Song: “Grenade,” Bruno Mars

He was dressed like Omar Epps in Higher Learning, had the Gumby High-Top fade with the gold rope to match. And then he sang Bruno Mars. I’ve never been sadder. I felt bad for G-Love because he looked nervous, that special kind of nervous saved for the day you get married or when you’ve been dating a girl for a week and really have to dump and don’t have time to get home. Nerves overtook him and it ruined the chances for a contestant I really, really wanted to see this season and not just because he looks like Brian McKnight.

6) Dexter Roberts
Song: “This Old Boy,” Craig Morgan

I hate judging country performers because good or bad, it all sounds the same to me. But you can’t not love this dude. His only mistake last night was wearing a tank top under a see-through white T that looked a size too small (as a big dude, you have to know tight isn’t right). I’m just going to assume what the Urbanator said was right – that there are a million guys who sound like him and he didn’t do anything to make himself stand out. And thanks to the performances of his homeboys, it’s gonna cost him a spot, which sucks.

7) Alex Preston
Song: “Volcano,” Damien Rice

This wasn’t the best performance of the night only because CJ Harris was so damn good. AP – a fitting nickname because just like the newspaper wire service, he always delivers – was brilliant. His performance is going to get compared to Philip Phillips because P-Squared nailed that song in his run to a title – which, by the way, was the first time I heard it – but it was just as good. If this is an inkling of his ability, you might as well put him in the Top 3 right now.

8) Malcolm Allen
Song: “Comin’ Where I’m From,” Anthony Hamilton

This was the best worst song choice of the night. It’s not that song or performance was bad – in fact, Malcolm did a heck of a job. Problem is, in a do-or-die situation, you need to pander to the crowd. And picking an artist that many voters don’t know or a song that isn’t regularly played on most Top 40 radio stations isn’t getting votes. Malcolm should be in, but I don’t know if the votes are going to be there. AI needs a singer like him because a Top 10 with no soul is no Top 10 at all.

9) Ben Briley
Song: “Soul Shine,” Allman Bros.

Still mad I didn’t put him in my Top 10 predictions. There was no way the producers weren’t letting the winner of the vote-off sing (and I have a suspicion that if Neco Starr won, George Lovett would have been sidelined with Casey Thrasher singing). Briley was electric, figuratively and literally, and likely did enough to get him into the Top 5. And if Idol has Double B, AP, CJ and Caleb on, we’ll soon be reading stories about how “Idol is back!”

10) Spencer Lloyd
Song: “Love Don’t Lie,” The Fray

Probably my favorite moment of the night, because the kid comes off as kind of a cocky SOB – don’t forget he totally screwed Megan Miller and Alyssa Siebken during Group Night and cared little about it – so it was great to see them make him sweat it out. His performance was safe, but that’s all it needed to be. He’s gonna cruise to the Top 5, but Spence needs to be warned: don’t sing without an instrument. He looked totally boy band and sounded like they do before the studio geniuses make them sound perfect. His voice isn’t good enough to win, so he has to package his looks, musically ability and charm – and there’s plenty of it – if he wants to survive.

As for the judges, I think we’re seeing a trend. J-Lo is the hottest woman on the planet. If that’s her wardrobe for the first two nights, I cannot wait for the finale. She might just show up naked. Urban is probably the best judge at this point because he seems fair and isn’t afraid to take potshots. Connick is slowly losing points because he’s being a dick. And not the funny, ha-ha dick that Simon was. Didn’t hear him quiz any of the guys about what their songs meant last night.

We’ll be live tweeting results tonight – click HERE for our twitter page – and an instant reaction right after we find out the top five. Coming in the next couple of days will be our predictions for who’s going to win and we’ll try and have content on other days as well.