'American Idol Top 13 men: Phillip Phillips hot, Eben Franckewitz not

idol-top-13-men.jpg "American Idol" kicked off its Top 24 with the 12 men (plus a mystery extra guy!). It's really throwing us off having the Top 24 be in the big theater and not the tiny one with the Coca Cola dungeon up top.

We also miss seeing them walk awkwardly towards the camera with finger guns and winks and whatnot, though there was plenty of creepy weirdness as Ryan introduced them down the line. Please don't do that ever again, Heejun Han.

1. Reed Grimm, "Moves Like Jagger," Maroon 5

If you close your eyes, this is great. Not that Reed is hard on the eyes, because he's not. But his sound is nice, he actually sounds a lot like Levine, only jazzy. Just when we were thinking it was a tad boring, he takes to the drums and gets bolder, but the excitement mostly comes from the seizure-inducing lights. And after the drum solo, the vocal isn't as strong. Hmm. Not my favorite way to kick off the show, but Reed is good and we hope he sticks around.

Randy's outfit can be explained - cool kids J.Lo and Steven Tyler tricked him into letting them keep layering clothes on him, a la Joey in "The One Where No One's Ready" and Randy rolled with it because he desperately wants to be liked by them. And that's why he looks like that. Anyway, the judges compliment his stylizing of the piece.

2. Adam Brock, "Think," Aretha Franklin

Um, Adam has a sweet house. He's not one of those live-in-a-tent stories, just sayin'. Anyway, this is not the song we would've picked for him. He may have a big black woman trapped inside of himself, but he has not chosen to let her out this evening. We were really looking for the deep "way on way back when" part and he cheats on that, then the big parts weren't quite big enough. It isn't ... bad, per se, but it isn't that great either. One big ending does not a great performance make. Judging by the crowd and judges reaction, this must be one of those that came across way better live than it did on TV.

3. DeAndre Brackensick, "Reasons," Earth Wind and Fire

So, this is one of those finalists we've barely seen up to now. Poor Kenny G. Oh, but clip of him singing along with the "Music Man" actually made me exclaim right out loud. How adorable. And then his song starts. Ooof. He does not have the breath support behind that falsetto. It's better when he drops out of it, but that falsetto is pretty weak, y'all. And this song is sozzzzzzzzzzzzzzz whoa, high note. OK, that's fine that you can do that, but one really high note and a lot of hair flipping will not get you through, fella nobody knows so far. Sorry, DeAndre fans - there is no way he's going through.

The fact that J.Lo calls his voice perfect makes us wonder if she's deaf. He may have the chops to attempt that falsetto, but it needs major work.

Also, if you are someone who has had very little screen time up to now (and they would know, they can watch these at home before they come to Hollywood for the Top 24), you have to blow it out your first time up, like Paige Miles did two seasons ago. Randy calls him so "commercial." Um, what? Maybe his Jason Castro looks will keep him, but that performance was not that strong.

Frankly, none of these first three have been that good so far and a judge like Simon would've totally called out the rest of the boys to step up their games.

4. Colton Dixon, "Decode," Paramore

Over/under on the cuts to his sister in the audience - 4. Odds are that she looks either happy or murderous? Even, could go either way. So Colton's at the piano, doing his Coldplay-Rob-Thomas thing, which we really like, but it's nice when he gets up to let loose. You know, we hear shades of Adam Lambert in his voice. If he could work on his stage presence/showmanship, he might become a favorite. But just as we type that, he jumps up on the piano. That'll work. First great performance of the night. He has work to do, but that was solid. The judges loved it. (But they love everything, so it's kind of pointless to even listen to them. More nip slips! Randy's aureoles are probably the size of cereal bowls.)

5. Jeremy Rosado, "Gravity," Sara Bareilles

It's funny how a judge from "The Voice" and a judge from "The Sing-Off" both have songs performed tonight. Also - Jeremy is the "spirit stick"? That's a weird thing to call the upbeat person. But that may also just be us flashing back to the four days of hell that are Cheerleading Camp. But we digress. This is ....zzzzzz again. This guy has not earned enough goodwill to sing a song this boring. If you're going to sing a song this milquetoast, you have to be center stage, spotlight, bare minimum accompaniment, Stool of Sensitivity, the whole bit. You have to have A Moment, you can't just be boring with it. Sorry, Jeremy. Again, one big note (that isn't even that good) is not going to save you, spirit stick. The judges say something stupid. Whatever. We've caught up with the live DVR, so I can't even fast forward them. Blerg.

6. Aaron Marcellus, "Never Can Say Goodbye," Jackson 5


It's so awesome that he tap dances, what a lost art. So, look, if you're going to sing the Jackson 5, this is a pretty boring choice. Aaron does a pretty good job with the vocal, but a lot of it is him repeating the title in a slightly breathy voice and grooving in front of the mosh pits. Someone needs to tell him that the actual girls in the mosh pits are not the majority of voters. Interact with the audience at home, dude. The ending ... tries to be awesome and almost gets there. Hmph. The judges offer more platitudes. Seriously, they are worthless. Let's cut them and knock this down to 90 minutes. Just Seacrest to bring us in and out and some singers.

Am I being a Grumpy Gus tonight, guys? I'm just really underwhelmed with these guys so far, except for Colton Dixon. Let's hope the back half does better.

7. Chase Likens, "Storm Warning," Hunter Hayes

This guy kinda looks like if young Elvis and Blake Shelton had a kid. Or young Elvis and somebody else, we can't quite nail it yet. Anyway, this is the right idea for what he should sing, but it isn't working. It's almost too fast for him and he's not getting to show off his voice at all. He should've done some "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw, maybe. This guy is only sticking around if the girls think he's cute. He hasn't gotten enough screentime to skate through on past performances and this performance is bad karaoke. The end sounds like he might actually be dying on stage. Wow, he's a giant. He is like a whole foot taller than Seacrest, we don't see that often. We see taller, sure, but not, like, pick Seacrest up and rumble, "Don't worry little villager, I will not harm you" tall.

8. Creighton Fraker, "True Colors," Cyndi Lauper

Beautiful song. See, this is how you do a ballad. Piano, Stool of Sensitivity, the only thing we could do without is the technicolor background - little too on the nose. The vocal on this starts off very nice - pretty, restrained, some nice runs and then he breaks it open and we get goosebumps on that growl. That was great. Might be our favorite so far. Tyler calls it "stupendous" and we cannot disagree. Too bad all the warm and fuzzy comments the judges have given so far make all the comments worthless.

9. Phillip Phillips, "In the Air Tonight," Phil Collins


Mmm hmmm. Thank god this guy is 21, or we'd feel super dirty about this performance. He's totally dreamy, the vocal is smooth but still rough, the saxophone wails are hot. This is awesome, we really, really like this. It just feels so real, very authentic. A performance, not just somebody singing. Wonderful. We hope he came up with that himself, not too much vocal coaching or arrangement help, because we'd like to think he's just that good of a musician. Randy didn't like the "reharm" of the melody," but he's dressed like a Dior hobo, so what does he know?

Pawn Shop is the new Paint Store y'all. Mark it down.

10. Eben Franckewitz, "Set Fire to the Rain," Adele

This cutie - just wanna read him a story, toss the Nerf around, give him a Wether's Original and stuff. Bold choice, Adele, but as he's a guy, that makes it a little different than a girl trying to do Adele. However, we aren't in love with the way the song starts. He just sounds so young and weak. Maybe he's just really nervous? Then no, the chorus doesn't really get any better. Oh, Eben. This was a bad song choice. Also, the flame background needs to stop. It's called "subtlety," Idol. Obviously, this kid is not going anywhere because we all know how this show works by now, but this was not a good performance.

11. Heejun Han, "Angels," Robbie Williams


This is another terrible song choice. The verses are too low, so they're breathy and unsupported. Then on the chorus, when he should be really blowing it up, it's too quiet. He has a beautiful voice and we would love to see him get another chance, but we did not like that song for his voice. Not at all. J.Lo finally says something worthwhile in saying that the song didn't show off his voice at all. Nope.

12. Joshua Ledet, "You Pulled Me Through," Jennifer Hudson

We aren't actually that familiar with this song, but it doesn't really matter - Ledet is great. It is not a coincidence he's going "last" (other than Mystery Man, of course). He makes this sound effortless and he knows just when to pull back and when to push. Really, really great. There are just a couple spots where he could be a touch less shrieky, but overall, very solid.

13. Jermaine Jones, "Dance With My Father," Luther Vandross

Wow. We are stunned (seriously stunned) that it's not Johnny Keyser. But good for Jermaine. Anyway, this song is very much in his wheelhouse, though it's not perfect. For as deep as his voice is, he's not exactly nailing the low stuff. But the key change is really nice and the ending, when he goes higher .... chills. Really pretty.

So, who's staying? The Top 5 vote-getters stay for sure, then three wildcards of either gender. With that in mind, we would say Jermaine, Joshua, Adam, Phillip, Creighton and Colton. If the third wildcard is a man, then Reed Grimm. Though we also know one of those spots is going to Eben, and we think Heejun has a nice voice, so .... *shrugs*

It's really a shame we spent three darn weeks on Hollywood/Vegas instead of a Top 24 where only two go home at a time, so everybody gets more of a chance to show their talent before the Top 13. That was really stupid.


What do you think, "Idol" fans?
Photo/Video credit: FOX