American Idol
Season 7: Top 10 Boys Perform

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Jacob Clifton: B- | Grade It Now!
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Without Hype, Where Would You Be Right Now?

Simon, or as Ryan's now referring to him, "the genius brilliant amazing king of all media Simon Cowell," only liked three boys last week. I loved almost all of them, but it's Simon, I'm not going to start shit. Ryan's got that covered. Simon's only words of encouragement or advice: "Be better." Man, what if they were all totally awesome like last week, times some number? How fun. The theme: the 1970s. So I'm guessing next week will be the 1980s, which is whatever, but how exciting in mid-March when they start singing songs from the future?

Michael Johns goes on and on for a million years about tennis, which is just as interesting as it sounds, and then goes into Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way," with that warbly shaky thin vibrato he sometimes sports, but heading into the chorus it's not at all as high or powerful as you might think from the quiet, rough beginning. Normally I would think it was a key problem, but his technique isn't the problem, and he's got good pitch. I think he's got the sickness, which causes him to bell-curve it out to either shouty/pitchy or whispery/stupidy, with just a few really sweet parts that hit the middle and give you the wonderful feeling you usually get when he sings. He looks a little pale; it's interesting, because Randy and Paula completely ignore the giant jigsaw puzzle piece missing from his voice, as though it's beneath comment. Simon points out that it was his weakest performance forever, and that it was a dumb choice of song. I disagree with the latter, but only because I can imagine him rocking that song a lot harder; Paula disagrees because she wants to fuck Michael. I'm not exactly quoting directly, but I'm not really making things up either. I just don't see how that makes his voice better.

Jason Castro: Will he do the exact same thing, with the whiny thin reedy "I love you" voice, while playing the guitar? Because that would be just fine. His interview package uses a lot of words to say basically that he likes music, and smoking marijuana, and hates giving interviews. The end. His performance of the Bee Gee's "I Just Wanna Be Your Everything" is...well, he's consistent. If you like his shtick -- and against all reason, I really do -- then it's more of that. Confident, sincere in that broken-sounding Rob Thomas way, preternaturally aware of the cameras, and inoffensive while still being memorable. I do feel that he means it when he says he wants to be my everything, which is rare on this show that you can even pretend they know what they're singing about. I just like listening to him sing, which is weird on its own, but especially when, to look at him, he's like the male Amanda of everything I hate. Also nice: the guitar totally accompanies the performance rather than being shticky, like he's doing it because he's more comfortable doing it. No solos, no bullshit -- just another instrument of a well-practiced set. Even when the band drops out for a few bars and comes back in, it's not too bad. Randy tells him he sucks and can't sing; Paula says she wants to fuck him, but admittedly also likes the interesting arrangement. Simon hates him, the guitar, the silly performance, and calls it "uncomfortable." I dunno, I was weirded out by the judges last week too. I think my standards are just really low because normally it's torturous because they're dumb kids singing dumb crappy songs, and now it's likeable people singing cool songs like grownups, so I'll take whatever I can get.

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American Idol

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