'American Idol' Top 8 men: Michael Lynche alone saves the night

michael-lynche-320-top-8.jpg Michael Lynche absolutely killed it in the final spot of the "American Idol" Top 8 men. Everyone else paled in comparison.

There were a few decent vocals, but overall the men (save Lynche) were as subdued as the women this week. Is someone spiking their food with Valium and the only reason it didn't take with Lynche is because he's the size of a small elephant?

Here's our list of the Top 8 men from best to worst:

No. 1 Michael Lynche

Big Mike gave a stunning vocal on "This Woman's Work" by Maxwell. Kara being brought to tears was only like 2% Kara being weird and dramatic and needing attention. The other 98% was legit. Michael picked a very difficult song and pulled it off effortlessly. His falsetto and his one big note at the end were particularly stellar. It's actually a shame that at this point they cram eight performers into an hour because I would've liked to hear more of Michael on this song. The snippet we heard wasn't nearly what he could've done with it if he could've built it up and really told a story. It's exciting to think about what he'll do with the theme nights.

No. 2 Todrick Hall

Todrick finally proved why he's still here. I haven't been as down on his switcheroos with the Kelly Clarkson and Tina Turner songs as others, but his vocals still never really blew me away before. He finally got it right on Queen's "Somebody to Love." Like Big Mike, Todrick pulled off some sick falsetto and Ellen was spot-on with her gospel vibe assessment.

Interestingly, Simon was wrong with his Broadway comparison -- it was way more gospel than Broadway. After his comments to Jermaine about his singing not being church music, it really makes you wonder if Simon has any idea what African-American church or gospel music is? Anyway, easily the best so far from Todrick and hopefully it saved him.

[ big gap]

No. 3 (tie) Casey James, Tim Urban

Casey James' "You'll Think of Me" by Keith Urban got him back on track. He may have wicked guitar skills, but he doesn't have the vocal chops to be a rock star. It's good he recognized that and got back to his groove. This vocal was actually quite good, if very understated and not risky at all. He played it safe, though you can hardly fault him for that after how poorly last week went. What was also nice is that he didn't go straight-up country. There was a touch of a rock-y vibe in there, so it wasn't a completely blah performance (not that the country version is blah, but Casey doing a Keith Urban sound-a-like would've been).

As far as versions of "Hallelujah" go (this one the Jeff Buckley version of the Leonard Cohen original), Tim Urban was mediocre. He hit all the notes -- but that's because he didn't reach for the low note AT ALL and he changed the melody so he didn't have to go for the high notes. On the one hand, it's good that he knows his strengths. On the other hand ... that's kinda weak.

However. If Tim Urban and his Tiger Beat good looks can survive two weeks that weren't very good, he'll probably be the highest vote-getter on a week where he actually gives a good performance. He is the only one other than Michael Lynche who can rest easy about the Top 12.

No. 5 Lee Dewyze

This performance was forgotten by the end of the show. There was nothing spectacular about it. By the time the montage played, it was like, "Oh yeah, I remember him." It's the sort of performance where Lee should be worried. He wasn't so bad that the judges reamed him, thereby launching his fans into a frenzy. But he wasn't so good that he'll get voters from outside his fan base to vote for him. The vocal itself was fine -- very current, which the judges should've talked up even more than they did, after all the harping they do on being contemporary. But there was absolutely nothing memorable about it. 

No. 6 Alex Lambert

This was a weird performance. It was very much like Lilly Scott singing Patsy Cline. The tone of the voice did not match-up with the song. "Trouble" by Ray LaMontagne is about a roughneck guy who is saved by a woman, it's very guttural and country. Coming from a Jack-Johnson-Nickelback-Third-Eye-Blind type vocalist -- the dichotomy was weird.

The problem was that the song wasn't believable, which is what Kara was getting at with Aaron Kelly but she did not properly convey (more on that in a minute). Alex put forth a competent vocal without any emotion behind it because he doesn't connect with the song. Chances are good he's barely kissed a girl, let alone been "saved by a woman." It just didn't really work, while still being a fine performance musically.

No. 7 Andrew Garcia

Andrew might have just played his way out of the Top 12 with Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle." This was not good. When Ryan Seacrest first announced that Andrew was doing this song, I thought to myself, "Well, Andrew could have a career covering female pop hits from the '80s and '90s, I guess." Then he sang and it was weak. He had bum notes (because even the most simplistic of Xtina songs are never that easy) and Simon nailed it with "desperate." Andrew is scared after the past two weeks, so he went back to the Paula Abdul well. Except it didn't work.

Also, the lyric "gotta rub me the right way" does not translate to a guy singing it. It becomes gross and creepy. Don't even pretend like you weren't all thinking that too.

No. 8 Aaron Kelly

Talk about an unripe banana. Aaron has very little control over his voice and he picked a song that is WAY too big for him in Lonestar's "I'm Already There." The vocals themselves were incredibly messy and the bad spots outnumbered the good. But there are three other issues that need to be addressed.

First, his stage presence. What was with the rocking back and forth and putting up his hand like he was at Brother Love's traveling salvation show? That was weird and off-putting and kinda made him look like he needed to use little boys' room.

Secondly, Kara's nonsense about a 16-year-old singing that song. It's not about age, Kara. It's about connecting with the song. There are 16-year-olds who could sing this song with emotion and believability. I understand what she meant, but she shouldn't have generalized. It's not about age, it's about this particular teenager not connecting.

Finally, Simon's namby-pamby coddling of Aaron Kelly. Simon, that was a terrible performance. If that had come through the judges' room during the audition round, you would've called it "rubbish" and Other Door'd him. Simon actually commended Aaron for "trying hard." This isn't kindergarten tee-ball -- trying hard is not the point. I can only hope this was some Simon double-secret-probation-voodoo where he didn't want to criticize Aaron Kelly too much, lest the Aaron fans go crazy and keep him there.

Who should go home?

Aaron Kelly and ... gosh. It's between Andrew Garcia and Tim Urban. Andrew Garcia is on a downhill slide since "Straight Up" (which, btw, was fun and neat but not the best vocal ever like the judges keep making it sound), while Tim Urban is steadily increasing in his abilities.

To be honest, most of the guys aren't wowing anyone. Even the weakest girls (Paige Miles, Katie Stevens, Lacey Brown) are better than about half the guys. It's a shame this year the Top 12 can't be the reverse of last year and have eight women and only four men. It will be interesting to see who goes home because Todrick may not have done enough to save himself and Lee may have been too forgettable, keeping Andrew and Tim safe for another week.

Also, did you hear? We know what the first theme for the Top 12 finalists is.

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Photo credit: FOX