By Chaz Lipp
There were definitely some distinct highlights among the Top 12 American Idol guys as they took the stage last night at the Fillmore Detroit. As I write this, we’re only hours away from the Top 12 gals competing, so we’ll keep this brief.
These contestants need to remember that every performance could be their last. It was hard to feel strongly about most of the guys for this first week of voting. But the show opened and closed well, with Adam Ezegelian storming out of the gates with a fun, hard-rocking rendition of “I Wanna Rock” (by Twisted Sister). Ezegelian wore his presumed Tenacious D influence on his sleeve with a showy, energetic performance. He seems to understand the importance of putting on a show, but he’s savvy enough to not let the theatrics overshadow his vocals (which were great).
Also displaying boundless energy was show-closer Qaasim Middleton. His take on “Uptown Funk” (by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars) was extremely fun to watch, though he unfortunately did let the frenetic dancing compromise his vocals a bit. The song is more attitude than melody to begin with, so Middleton didn’t get to truly showcase his voice. Still, in a night dominated by mediocrity it was a true standout.
Third place goes to Mark Andrew, who scored points by taking the opposite tactic and underplaying. That’s always a risk, because subtlety can come back to bite you on Idol – you’re likelier to be forgotten. But Andrew’s take on “The Weight” (by The Band) was easygoing and charming. Choosing a classic rock chestnut probably earned some votes with the older viewers. He didn’t re-interpret the song, but he did a reliably solid version. And his whole persona is so likeable and unpretentious that he provides a good antidote to all the young egomaniacs on this show this season.
Which brings us to the not so good… I don’t want to dwell too much on who was “worst” because, by and large, the rest of the performances were at least generally competent. No one really fell flat on his face. But simply due to his galling display of overconfident arrogance, the turkey of the night was Trevor Douglas and his whole ‘geek chic’ persona. To make matters worse, his take on “Best I Ever Had” (by Gavin DeGraw) was easily one of the weaker vocals we heard. But his personality is unbearable. The way he smugly pointed at Keith Urban after finishing his performance… His retort of “You’re adorable!” to Jennifer Lopez after she (quite incorrectly) labeled him as such… The fact that he wished Ryan Seacrest “good luck,” adding “Stay awesome!” as he left the stage at the close of the judge’s comments… He can’t be voted off too soon in my opinion.
The judges were mostly irrelevant since the entire top 12 was crammed into one hour. The focus was, probably correctly, on the performances. Hopefully the three judges have a little more to say as things progress. Even Harry Connick Jr. was unable to muster anything but cheerleading (albeit slightly more reserved than the other two). So that’s our take on American Idol Season 14 Top 12 guys – kudos to Adam, Qaasim, and Mark for a job well done. Bring on the gals (though it’s still wrong that Rachael Hallack was cheated out of her spot).