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Song choice, song choice, song choice

Last night, the guys on American Idol had the same problem as the women the night before -- mostly underwhelming performances that were blamed largely on choosing the wrong song. Amusingly enough, Ryan opened the show listing off a number of artists whose songs would be featured, and I thought, oh yeah, I know who is singing what. (I thought Taylor would sing Sam Cooke again, Bucky would do Willie Nelson, maybe Sway for Marvin Gaye.) The only one I got right was that Chris would sing Fuel.

Actually, let's start there, at the end, because Chris Daughtry brought the house down with the closing performance, singing Fuel's "Hemorrhage." I've heard the original live in concert, and he more than did it justice. (I actually listened to his performance twice, I liked it so much. And, um, on second viewing, I noticed Kevin and Will up on the balcony with looks on their faces that said, "Oh, crap." They recovered and rocked out later in the song, but I had to mention that little moment.)

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David Radford returned to his totally affected crooning voice, singing Sinatra. He works so hard to make that tone (on the nasal side, in my mind); I wish he would just let it go and sing in his voice. It was boring and -- as Simon noted -- uncomfortable to watch.

Bucky Covington sang Garth Brooks' "And the Thunder Rolls" and got props for his song choice, but I was pretty nonplussed by the whole thing. (And he copied Kellie's hick act down to the topic -- food -- saying he didn't recognize anything on the menus in L.A. except for vegetables and rice. Yawn. What about the spinach salad?)

Will Makar made me feel 875 years old again when he mentioned meeting Justin Guarini (second-place finisher in season one, in case you've forgotten) and how excited he was because he remembered "when I was 12 years old watching him on TV." This reminder of just exactly how young he is was not what you wanted just before he busted out with Willie Nelson's "Lady." I thought his voice sounded good (though I wasn't watching the screen), but the performance was staid (or "safe," if you're Paula, and "like an audition for Cats," if you're Simon).

Sway stayed mostly out of falsetto and sang Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Randy and Paula said they didn't feel his energy and thought he was better last week, while Simon called it straight karaoke. I don't know, I liked listening to this performance a lot more, though part of it might have been relief he didn't go falsetto like last week.

Oh, Kevin Covais. Part of what makes me like him so much (at least as a person, maybe not always as a performer) is how totally unaffected he is. But then he had to start talking about how it's "kind of like I'm a sex symbol now" after mentioning the 200 or so emails he has gotten from 11- and 12-year-old girls. I am sure he was kidding and that it was largely fed to him by producers, but I hope it keeps being a joke to him. (Also, being loved by tweens is possibly the exact opposite of being a sex symbol.) Anyway, the performance. He sang "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" with a ton of energy. Judges? Randy: "I really thoroughly enjoyed that. ... Good job." Paula: "You are just infectious." Simon: "I really do like you ... but the reality is, if I heard that on the radio, I'd turn it off. I'm just trying to put a tiny bit of reality back into the show."

Gedeon McKinney, who is super-intense in interviews, sang Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come," and it was pretty great -- all the judges agreed, though they all called him a throwback, which might come back to bite him further along in the competition.

Randy is obsessed with falsetto, because he liked that part of Ace Young's performance of Daniel Bedingfield's "If I'm Not Made for You." Paula also liked the performance. Simon read my mind, though: "I think you struggled on that, and you're going to be very disappointed when you hear your vocals back."

Elliott Yamin sang "Moody's Mood for Love," and did a phenomenal job. All the judges loved him, even Simon, who said it was apparent his confidence is growing.

Taylor Hicks opened the show with "Easy," which drew mixed remarks from the judges. Randy said he had some pitch problems but that it was generally still good, Paula said she loved his enthusiasm, and Simon said it didn't work for him. I am still liking his voice, but I don't get all the random leaning. It's distracting.

Remember what I said yesterday about whether they would ask the guys the same questions about fashion? Apparently at least a couple of them got that topic, but they mainly only talked about hats (Taylor talked about hiding his hair in a toboggan, and Ace talked about his beanies that are his "comfort"). Some of the guys got to talk about some other issues (well, I already mentioned Kevin and his sex symbol talk), including Sway mentioning that he hadn't seen his parents together in years until last week's show and Elliott talking about his mom going into the hospital just as he headed to Hollywood, and how it was to go through both of those at the same time. (No wonder he stayed away from the fake drama of the Brittenum twin he was saddled with for group auditions.)

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