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HomeAmerican IdolThe 5th Judge - American Idol's Top 20 Hits & Misses

The 5th Judge – American Idol’s Top 20 Hits & Misses

American IdolWelcome to my new weekly piece where I give my review on all things American Idol for the current week. It’ll include reviews of each performance, opinions of some songs I’d like to see them try next, and predictions on who will go.

What’s my musical experience and what makes me qualified to give relevant feedback on music? Well, nothing professional at all. Call me the ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ of American Idol. I listen to every single type of music out there and sing constantly. I dare anyone to take my iPod, put it on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs straight without attempting to skip a song. I can do it. I bet you can’t.

Opens Apple iTunes, clicks ‘shuffle’, hits ‘play’:: Let’s see what you’d think about these 10 songs? 1) John Mayer – “Dreaming With a Broken Heart”. 2) Dierks Bentley – “What Was I Thinking”. 3) Fergie – “Glamorous”. 4) Carrie Underwood – “Jesus Take The Wheel”. 5) Hanson – “This Time Around”. 6) Genesis – “In Too Deep”. 7) Joe – “I Wanna Know”. 8) Brad Paisley – “Whiskey Lullaby”. 9) Jay Z – “99 Problems”. 10) The Toadies – “Possum Kingdom”. So, that’s contemporary, country, pop, country, classic rock, r&b, rap, and modern rock. There’s even some dance, opera, and classical in there.

[adinserter block=”1″]I’m a fan of music; ANY music. I’ll listen to anything and give anything a chance. Most of the time, I’ll like what I hear. I’ve seen every single Idol season from beginning to end and have paid attention religiously. So, I’m no Simon Cowell, but I am about as well-rounded musically as they come. I’ll go through each performance after it airs via the DVR. I’ll fast-forward through the judge’s comments as to avoid being swayed, give a little feedback, rate it on a scale of 1-10, possibly mention what I’d like to see that person sing next week, and list the hits, misses, and predictions of who America will send packing at the end. With that said, here’s what I saw on this weeks’ Top 20 Edition of American Idol.

Michael Lynch sings “This is a Man’s World” by James Brown – In what might be the best performance yet on this season, Michael tore the house down with this rendition. His vocals were spot on, he commanded the stage, and sang the exact song that he would release if he were a singles artists. I’ve liked him since he auditioned and I’m glad to see him excelling and even gladder that he didn’t get the boot from the show as previously rumored. I feel bad for the guys who have to follow him tonight. Score – 8.5 out of 10.

John Park sings “Gravity” by John Mayer – If there is one artist that is very difficult to pull off, it’s John Mayer. He has a very unique voice and to conquer one of his songs, you must change it up and make it your own. Park didn’t do that and, instead, put me asleep. Aside from being a way better performance than last week and a song genre more like he belongs in. With there only being 10 men left and only 6 going into the big show, I can’t imagine John staying making it much further. After all, the people that would vote for him are now asleep after this performance. Score – 3.5 out of 10.

Casey James sings “I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw – Gavin is one of my favorite artists and I love this songs. The song has been done many times in recent seasons, including last season when 10th place finisher Michael Sarver did it. Casey chose to strap on the electric guitar for this performance. The first thing that can be pointed out is that he is great on his guitar. As far as the song, it didn’t do anything for me. This came off to me as a karaoke performance. This song was no different than the Gavin performance. It’s tough to bounce back from the performance he put together last week, but he was just an average Rock Band-esque singer. He has nothing to worry about, however. He’s too popular to go home. Score – 4 out of 10.

Alex Lambert sings “Everybody Knows” by John Legend – This performance was way better than last week. It’s night and day. He even made it through this broadcast without cursing on live TV a la last week’s results show. This performance should be good enough to get him through this week; however, I just can’t see him making it into the Top 12. The most important quality of a contestant on this show is to connect with the audience. Aside from possibly being the underdog, he comes off as extremely bland and boring. Maybe a more upbeat song that causes him to move around next week would fix that. Score – 5.5 out of 10.

Todrick Hall sings “What’s Love Got to Do With it” by Tina Turner – I must admit, I’m not a fan of Todrick at all. I must say, however, I enjoyed this version of this song. It was so different from the original and was modernized here. I didn’t think his vocals were that bad, but my worry is that the different arrangement of the song was so much different than the original that it almost comes off as a completely different song. Pair that with his awful performance from last week, and Todrick could be in danger of being handed his walking papers on Thursday night. Score – 4 out of 10.

Jermaine Sellers sings “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye – At this point, Jermaine could possibly perform like the next Michael Jackson and I’ll dislike it just because of his horrible attitude. This is the guy who “threw the band under the bus” in Hollywood week and then last week gave the judges dirty looks as they picked apart his performance. The bottom line is that Jermaine isn’t that great of a singer. He over-sings every song and he did it once again with “What’s Going On” by adding runs and not changes too many times. There are the people who need to go out of the realm and add things to a song and then there are the people who need to tone it down and just sing. Jermaine is the latter. He needs to just sing. Score – 3.5 out of 10.

Andrew Garcia sings “You Give Me Something” by James Morrison – I like Andrew so much and it’s mostly thanks to two things. First, when I first saw a leaked list of the Top 24 over 2 months ago, I saw a bunch of his work on YouTube. Go YouTube ‘Andrew Garcia’ on YouTube and watch some of his performance, specifically, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Second, his Hollywood Week performance of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” was off the charts. His problem since that performance has been living up to that “Straight Up” masterpiece. It was that performance that got him into the Top 24 and now he’s struggling to meet the expectations that everyone has of him. This week’s performance was just average. It was no different than Morrison’s version and Garcia played it rather safe. With next week being the last week of the season where contestants can sing whatever they want without being limited by one of Idol’s theme-weeks, I’m hoping he pulls one of his awesome YouTube performances out of his bag-o’-tricks and WOW’s America again. He’s too popular to go home already, but this performance didn’t do him any favors. Score – 4.5 out of 10.

[adinserter block=”2″]Aaron Kelly sings “My Girl” by The Temptations – I’m curious where this song ranks on the list of songs performed most times in the history of Idol. With that said, I felt that Aaron nailed this song. His voice was terrific and he added enough to the song to make it unique and original. If you close your eyes and listen to him sing, he sounds identical to Nick Jonas. To all you men that just rolled your eyes and are cursing me for naming a Jonas Brother, sorry. Just like Nick Jonas, Aaron can sing. His confidence poured through this performance after coming off as extremely shy last week. Teen girls around the country will be texting and calling their little fingers off tonight for Aaron Kelly. Before tonight, I’d have said that he could have possibly been in danger, but I think that he helped himself a lot. Score – 6 out of 10.

Tim Urban sings “Come On Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson – I love this song. Unfortunately, Tim didn’t do anything different to this song. It sounded exactly like Matt’s version. Aside from the long note in the center of the song, his entire version was forgettable and just average. Tim actually was booted from the show back in Hollywood but got back on when contestant Chris Golightly was disqualified. I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t a better person out there that they could put in Chris’s place. This version was leaps and bounds better than the cringe-inducing “Apologize” by OneRepublic performance that he put out last week. With that said, he took the judge’s criticism and worked at it. He could stay Thursday or he could be booted; either way wouldn’t be a surprise to me. Score – 5 out of 10.

Lee Dewyze sings “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder – The guy who was my favorite overall after last week’s performance of “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol, he showed up again and rocked the house with a song that I have gotten sick and tired of hearing on the radio. That’s how you know if a contestant is legit or not; if they can make a song that’s been played to death sound great, than they’re good. It worked here for Lee with “Lips of an Angel” and it didn’t work for Tim Urban when he sang “Apologize”. Lee does look extremely nervous on the stage without his guitar, but I’m hoping that he picks it back up and doesn’t put it down. Lee needs to stay true to himself and be the guy that America likes. America likes Lee; the guitar-playing rocker. Scott McIntyre got pretty far last season by sitting behind the piano and Kris Allen won the show while barely setting down his acoustic. I think he did the second best performance of the night (behind Michael) but still has shown that he is the early favorite from the men and possibly everyone to win this whole thing. Score – 8 out of 10.

Now, for the “Hits” and “Misses” for this week.

Hits (People that are 100% safe based on their performances) – Michael Lynch, Lee Dewyze, and Aaron Kelly

On The Fence (50/50 chance of going home) – Casey James, Tim Urban, Andrew Garcia, and Alex Lambert

Misses (The people that have the best chance of going home) – John Park, Todrick Hall, and Jermaine Sellers

That concludes the Top 10 men for this week. I’ll be back tomorrow with reviews of the Top 10 females.

Brett is 26 years old and from Millville, NJ. He has is a life-log fan of the Philadelphia sports teams as well as the Boston red Sox and Cincinnati Bengals. Brett is also a big fan of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. If you would like to comment on one of his stories, please e-mail him at

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