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American Idol recap: St. Pete's Michael Lynche gets some Simon love as boys improve



Top10idolguys2010 This is where American Idol turns into an endurance test.

The not-so-great singers are pushing hard, fighting through ill-suited performances to avoid the ejection vote which will surely come -- if not this week, then sometime soon. The soon-to-be-great singers aren't quite there, trying on personas and attitudes and techniques to find that magic combination which will unleash their talent and impress the judges.

It's an ugly process. Which explains why, as I write this, I still haven't watched all of Tuesday's show, which featured the 10 remaining guys duking it out over reworked Tina Turner covers and bad James Morrison impressions.

Forced to take the stage unexpectedly tonight due to the last-minute hospitalization of singer Crystal Bowersox -- is there some reason why they didn't just tell us what her medical condition was? -- the guys had precious little time to prepare for a night aimed at proving that last week's awful performances were mostly growing pains.

The one contestant I saw best work out his performance issues was St. Pete's own Michael Lynche, who started his segment with a shout out to his time studying musical theater at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School -- complete with video clips from a stage show!

Then his blistering take on James Brown's It's a Man's Man's Man's World stunned the judges, inspiring former skeptic Simon Cowell to announce that Lynche had transformed form "a pussycat into a lion in one week." In fact, Lynche just chose a conventional R&B song that fit his vocal strengths to a tee (given that his Web site once described his music as a cross between R. Kelly, Outkast and Gnarls Barkley, I'm wondering when we'll get to see THAT side of him).

In the succession of guys who followed -- John Park doing another downer ballad, Casey Jones playing lead guitar so expertly he forgot to actually sing, Todrick Hall covering Tina Turner (did he really think Simon was going to let that pass?) -- viewers saw nerves, continuing stage fright and a profound misunderstanding of what might move the judges.

Take Andrew Garcia. The judges panel raved so much about his early audition, when he reinvented Paula Abdul's Straight Up as a soulful acoustic guitar and voice workout, you'd think he'd take the hint. Give 'em simple melodies wrapped in your whisky-fied voice with a gentle twist, and you're home free (you never saw Adam Lambert ease off those crystal-shattering high notes once people started raving)

Instead, Garcia ditched his guitar and tried singing slumped on a stool, like a weird cross between Joe Cocker and Michael Buble,  warbling a Morrison tune while moving awkwardly around the stage -- looking mostly like a sheepish kid trying on an ill-fitting suit.

When the guy who looked like he might tinkle on himself last week turns in one of the better performances this week (Alex Lambert, seated in a stool with a guitar crooning John Legend), you know there's a problem.

My predictions haven't exactly worked out, but I'm thinking Hall, Park and, of course, Tim Urban are in trouble. Speaking of the floppy-haired Zac Efron clone, have we found the new Sanjaya already in this mop-haired kid who doesn't really deserve the spot he's got?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:06pm]


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