Idol Rich: Evaluating North Texas' Four American Idol Finalists...

OK, so I watch a lot of reality TV and, clearly, I don't hide this fact.

And while the Metroplex has enjoyed (and I've enjoyed slamming or celebrating) a contestant on various shows in modeling, music and fashion fields here and there, North Texas has hit the motherload with a whopping four dudes on this current run of American Idol

Unfortunately, with two broadcasts of live performances, our boys in the Top 24--Casey James, Alex Lambert, Todrick Hall and Tim Urban--just aren't doing so hot.

But, hey, they won't all be kicked off at once, so we have the opportunity to watch for a few more weeks, which is fortunate no matter your penchant--Billboard karaoke or schadenfreude. 

Allow me to recap last night's episode...

This week, Fort Worth's Casey James--also known as Kara DioGuardi's faux-rugged wet dream--attempted to amp things up after last week's just OK acoustic rehash of Bryan Adam's "Heaven." He strode on stage with his shiny blue guitar, a wah pedal and flowing blonde locks to tackle the earworm that pretty much every "rocker" or guy with a raspy voice has done on AI: Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Wanna Be."

It's great that he can play the guitar and all but, um, yawn. Send it back to One Tree Hill and get in line behind all the other "soulful" rockers. And a sawbuck says Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights' album is somewhere on his iPod. Anyway, judge Randy Jackson liked the Hendrix/SRV/Bramhall vibe from a producer's prospective... not to mention the chance to name-drop some guitar players. Ellen DeGeneres thought he was stiff (I agree). Kara, still a fan, essentially said Casey just showed off being a guitar player when it's a singing competition. Simon Cowell said what I--and my watching buddy--had said during the performance: "This week, you turned into somebody you will see in any bar across America. Somebody trying to be a rock star."

Alex Lambert of North Richland Hills admitted that he throws up before shows and has his own language, which helps him write songs. He demonstrated--and I did a spit take. Then he talked about how, last week, he was so out of sorts that he didn't even know where to put his hands during his performance, and his version of James Morrison's "Wonderful World" indeed suffered a great deal. But it was hard not to feel for the little guy: He was literally shaking. 

This week, he tackled John Legend's "Everybody Knows" with a more confident performance, but with that weird and annoying exaggerated enunciation thing that seems to be exceedingly common amongst the singer-songwriter set. His tone was nice but slightly Mraz-y, though in the AI world, that's probably considered a good thing. Randy called it "way legit" and Ellen thought he'd ripened from the young banana he was last week and said he had the "most unique style" out of the contestants. Regarding the latter? She's just wrong, sorry. Kara complimented his improvement from last week and Simon told him to stop with the nervousness and start aiming to win with his song choices. I told him, via talking to my TV, to cut off that farm boy mullet post haste.

And then there was Arlington's Todrick Hall. The professional dancer got his ass handed to him (for the most part) last week after he totally rearranged Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" into something barely recognizable. He's an excellent performer and is probably the most likeable guy of all of the Texas singers, but he's just too much for the show that tells everyone to "make it your own" but really means "change up two notes so it looks like you're original but so it won't be a creative problem if we give you a contract later."

He went overboard again this week with a strange, slowed down "What's Love Got to Do With It." Yeah, he went Tina... 1980s Tina. Not awesome, to say the least. Randy wanted him to "just sing a nice song and just sing it. Don't change the arrangement, don't change the beats, the accents. Just sing it." Ellen said that, while she liked him, it was the wrong song for him. Kara parroted Ellen's other comment that he does a better job when he let's himself dance. Simon said to "move but don't sing." He compared it to a theme park revue performance and added the song was too old and had no relevance. Rightfully, Todrick called them out a touch, saying that he realized had taken it too far even though he'd heard them repeatedly say to change up songs to, ahem, make them the contestants' own... but he appreciated the criticism and. if there's a next time. he says he'll just sing like he did back home in church. Amen.

The Jo-Bro look-alike from the giant family, Tim Urban of Duncanville, wasn't supposed to be on the show at all, but due to another contestant dropping off, he was added back. After his heinous effort last week with One Republic's "Apologize," Simon said they made the right decision the first time. Ouch. And true.

But he made it back this week and played guitar during his performance of Matt Nathanson's "Come On Get Higher." Gotta say, I'm not familiar with the song--and it sounded like a strange Christian-seduction hybrid. He didn't pull it off, missing notes, sounding uncomfortable and making me feel equally uncomfortable. Randy called it karaoke, and Kara liked the song choice but felt "it didn't all add up." Simon thought he had made vast improvements from last week and had a remarkable work ethic considering the changes he'd obviously made based on the criticism. (I can see the point, and he seems to want it, but I'm not sure that makes me hope he stays on.) Ellen, however, took out her bitch card for the first time. "Can you act? You should act. Like, if you were on Glee and all the sudden we heard you sing as well as act, girls would love you... But there's no charisma, there's no stage presence and the voice isn't even strong enough. But you're so adorable, and if you act, you've got it made 'cause then you can also sing a little. But I don't think the strong point is the singing." And she's totally right. Sad thing is, the clip from rehearsal used at the end of the show for a voting prompt was much stronger.

Still only Glee-worthy, but stronger.

So, DC9ers, those are your North Texas Idol bros. We shall see who makes it through on Thursday night. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say Todrick and Tim are most at risk, even though Tim's Bronas looks could help him with the tween vote.

Oh, and "Big Mike" Lynche's "This Is a Man's World" blew them all out of the water, just so you know.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin