The Top 12 male semifinalists kicked-off American Idol's seventh-season during last night's Fox broadcast, singing songs from the 1960s.
Some semifinalists distinguished themselves from the rest by performing current and unique renditions of songs that are more than 40-years-old, while others fell into the trap of delivering forgettable performances.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 12 male semifinalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.
Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT on Fox, the Top 12 female semifinalists will also perform songs from the 1960s during a two-hour broadcast. On Thursday night beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following this week's performance episode broadcasts.
David Hernandez, a 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ
Song: "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett
Randy said: "This is cool man. I like that you sang it with a whole kind of gospel vibe in the front, because I was like, 'Yo, man. I remember this guy from the auditions. He can definitely blow.' You definitely proved it in front of that. I think you did a really good job. It fell a little apart at the end, and the only thing I'll tell you is just watch the long phrasing -- because you've got all the short [Stevie Wonder]-kind of stuff -- just add some long notes. But baby, the way you started it off, yo, the competition's on!"
Paula said: "It's always unnerving when the first contestant comes out because I feel for you. But you've got brilliant vocals to rely on, and what you do with them and how you color them up and go into your falls, it's lovely. You've got perfect vibrato when you need it. It's really cool, really cool. Good job."
Simon said: "David, it actually was better than I thought it was going to be, to be honest with you. I felt the beginning of the song was terrific. Middle part was a little bit like rabbit in the headlights. End, I didn't like. I think that you lost the note. I think you've got to loosen up a bit, to be honest with you. Very stiff, very nervous. My only criticism -- once the song got going -- is I didn't hear anything distinct particularly in your voice. But then again I loved the beginning of it, so it was better than I thought it was going to be."
Additional Info: During a video package prior to his performance, David said he comes from a "pretty broken family," which includes being raised by a singly mom and living in low-income housing... David said he felt "challenged" by Simon's comments when he was accepted into the Top 24 and hopes to prove him wrong... After his performance, David said he was glad to get his first performance over with.
Chikezie Eze, a 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA
Song: "More Today Than Yesterday" by Spiral Starecase
Randy said: "Chikezie is in the house. So yo man, it was pretty good man. You know... The only problem for me is that you're a little kind of an old-fashioned singer, right? So this kind of thing -- the 60s -- you've got to always remember for you, what's going to help you is make it new and fresh, young... You can definitely sing man. It was alright. It was alright."
Paula said: "Chikezie, nothing makes me happier than to see you here on the stage. Really, you've come a long way and you're here. You are here. You look great. People may not know it, he lost a lot of weight. I love Chikezie singing. You're a throwback to great R&B, and you're infectious. Your smile's infectious. I think you did a very nice job."
Simon said: "Here's my problem Chikuzie... Chikuzie, Chikezie... Okay, forgive me. But I absolutely hated the whole performance (boos from the studio audience). The suit is hideous... Let me finish. The suit was hideous. The wink was hideous. The woo was hideous. It was all old-fashioned, corny, cheesy. To be honest with you, this could have been something we filmed 40 years ago, 30 years ago. It was so old-fashioned."
Additional Info: Chikezie made it all the way to the end of Idol's sixth-season Hollywood Round before being cut, which made him work harder for this season's auditions... Chikezie wore a red suit during his performance... Chikezie tried to defend his wardrobe and vocal rendition of the song after Simon bashed both... "I understand I need to do more current music, which is difficult to do on 60s night," said Chikezie.
David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK
Song: "Happy Together" by The Turtles
Randy said: "So check it out dawg, check it out. This is kid of funny for me because when is started I was like, 'Dude, what song is this? Oh my God! No!' So you started it and it was a little weird for me, but dude, you know what, you worked it out and made a rock joint out of 'Happy Together.' Dude it was crazy! I was like, 'If he can pull this off, he can do anything.'
Paula said: "I couldn't agree more. I have to tell you, it was a bit 'worthy.' It's worthy of great praise. You rocked it. You made something original. If it was wordy, that's not your fault, it's the writer's fault."
Simon said: "I can't remember if I said 'wordy' or 'worthy.' I genuinely can't remember. So, I won't be able to answer that. I thought it was good. I thought you shouted the song a little bit in the middle... It was a weird song to choose because I've never heard that song sung like that before. You almost made it believable."
Additional Info: Prior to David's performance, fellow semifinalist Colton Berry said from certain angles, he looks like Ellen DeGeneres... David said he was "legitimately nervous" during the Hollywood Round after going into the competition with no "preconceived idea of how things were going to go"... David said he was still confused about Simon's audition comments that his performance was "worthy," perhaps thinking he meant "wordy"... Randy reiterated he loved the song's "whole rock edge" of the performance.
Jason Yeager, a 28-year-old from Grand Prairie, TX who currently resides in Branson, MO
Song: "Moon River" by Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's)
Randy said: "I think you definitely did a pretty good job with that song. It's a tough song to sing, tougher than you probably even thought right? ('Yeah, absolutely,' answered Jason.) Because it's a simple song, great melody, made famous years and years ago. But the thing is, I must say I'm really impressed with all the boys I've seen thus far because all you guys can definitely blow. You had a couple problems with that song just pitch-wise. Make sure you never lose your concentration while singing a song like that, you know what I mean? In the middle of that, it felt like you went somewhere a little bit in your head. Stay in it man, stay in it."
Paula said: "I have to say that's very good advice Randy because the simpler the song is, it's very difficult to sing and staying on track is important. But I have such sentimental value to that song -- I did my first ballet recital to that song."
Simon said: "I bought my first puppy to that song (the audience laughs). David, how old are you? 28. You came over much older on that song. I'm going to be honest with you, I think it was very cruise ship, the whole performance (boos). I do. And I think there are going to be a lot of young people watching this performance at home with a huge question mark over there head... You can cover 60s songs, the problem was, it was neither here nor there. You didn't go the kind of Frank Sinatra route with it, which would of been great. It was just very, very middle of the road. You're like a dependable, old dog aren't you? We can rely on you, but it's not going to be exciting."
Additional Info: Jason said his son was "blown away" when he met Ryan Seacrest during the Dallas auditions... Jason added he'd love to win to show his son that dreams are achievable... Jason's dad and son were in the studio audience, and he dedicated his performance to his grandmother, who taught the song to him as a child... Randy professed his love for dogs after Simon's comments... David said he was aware he was walking a fine line with his performance being too old-fashioned.
Robbie Carrico, a 26-year-old from Melbourne, FL
Song: "One" by Three Dog Night
Randy said: "Nice one Robbie, very nice one man. I love that song, it was one of my favorite Three Dog Night joints right there. A nice version you did of it, you had me rockin out. I was like, 'Yeah... I like this!' So you moved me baby!"
Paula said: "I think you picked the perfect song for you. You're authentic, you really are, and you stay true to who you are. You look fantastic tonight. You know what, the vocals weren't over the top, but they were right in the pocket, the way they should be."
Simon said: "I would say it's the only performance we've seen tonight which has any semblance of making sense. It's the only current performance. It was. I thought it was a good performance. I'm struggling a little bit with what Paula said about the authenticity. I'm not quite sure yet whether you're very comfortable in this rock thing. Is it really you? I mean you're a pop singer."
Additional Info: Robbie mentioned his Boyz IV Girlz boy-band background, but said he truly is a rocker now... After his performance, Ryan commented Robbie looked like Justin Timberlake. Robbie scowled and shook his head... Paula added she thought you could hear Robbie's rendition of the song "as a hit"... Robbie told Simon he's "definitely not" a pop singer and professed his love for rock... Simon said he still wasn't buying it, although Randy and Paula were.
David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT
Song: "Shop Around" by The Miracles
Randy said: "David Archuleta, dude how old are you man? You know look man, I'm a big fan. I thought that was really brilliant, and what I love dude is you were just born with this gift. Because I'm saying -- you sang that song so mature for someone who's 17 -- I'm like, 'Yo man, this kid is ready to go.' I loved it. I loved it."
Paula said: "I feel it was a very brave and bold choice of song for you. We've never seen that side of you, and what's interesting is I forget all about how old you are. I just look at this unbelievably confident older soul, that just knows what's best for you. You really did a great job David. You really did a great job."
Simon said: "When you've got it, you've got it. David, that was by a comfortable margin, best performance of the night so far."
Additional Info: David sees his Idol journey as a "huge opportunity"... His parents were in the studio audience for the performance... David appeared to be in shock following the judges' comments. "I wasn't expecting that," he said while looking wide-eyed... "You can only vote for him," Ryan reminded home viewers. "You actually can't adopt him." This brought "awwws" from the crowd. "I'm 17, man," David told Ryan. Ryan answered, "Yeah I know, but the ladies love you, and you love that they love you."
Danny Noriega, an 18-year-old from Azuza, CA
Song: "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley
Randy said: "Danny what's going down man... Just a little Idol Season 7. You know what I love about you, you know how to have a good time. You don't care what's going on around you, you're going to have Danny's good time, right? ('I bring the house down everywhere I go,' replied Danny.) Well yo man, I actually thought it was pretty good. The vocals, I thought they were okay. It was an interesting song choice for me for you. It didn't allow you to do your thing. But you had a good time, so I loved the performance out of you. That was cool man. It was kind of hot..."
Paula said: "It was very warm -- almost scalding -- one of the most amazing vocals, especially when we saw you in San Diego. I love hearing how your voice goes in and out of these beautiful colors. This was in some ways a safer song that allowed you to just be the performer, which is very important too. I think there's going to be a lot of colors with Danny, coming out."
Simon said: "I don't understand a word of what you just said. Not a word. What color was that? Danny I thought the performance was verging on grotesque (gasp from Paula, boos from the audience)... If you're going to take on Elvis, at least do it well. I mean the whole performance was hideous, and I'll tell you why I say that Danny. If this was the first time anyone tuned into this show by accident, and saw that -- which is somebody destroying an Elvis Presley song -- they're not going to believe that this is the most talented group of kids in America. It was awful."
Additional Info: Danny was cut from the first day of Idol's sixth-season Hollywood Round and added he spent the following week "bawling"... He hoped to bring his "swagger and attitude" to his performance... David's mom cried in the audience as he performed... Paula disagreed with Simon's comments and said she loves his "performer side," but he didn't care and disregarded it as "nonsense"... Ryan joked that he liked the judges' "difference of opinion," adding, "Kind of hot, colorful, grotesque. That's American Idol!"... While he liked the song, Danny admitted it might have been a bad choice since "some people weren't liking it."
Luke Menard, a 29-year-old from Crawfordsville, IN
Song: "Everybody's Talkin'" by Fred Neil
Randy said: "Luke man, for me this time dude that song... It was very pitchy for me all the way through. I know that's like a word Paula and I use a lot, but it was almost consistently sharp the whole way through the song, meaning you sang the note higher than the actual note went. It never settled for me. It wasn't great for me dude. Was not great (boos)... Just keeping it real."
Paula said: "I'm going to agree in the sense that I don't feel like this was the best song choice for you and I'm really grateful to have heard amazing auditions for you -- when you sang Grace Kelly, when you sang your earlier auditions. I can tell you're range is unbelievable. You have a Kenny Logins tenderness to your voice, and I hope you'll be picking better songs."
Simon said: "What color was it? ('Well it wasn't black or gray, I'll tell you that,' answered Paula.) Luke, even though I'm not sure whether you're pitchy or not, your problem was, it was forgettable. No one is going to remember that as being either a great performance or a great vocal. You fell into the absolutely worst trap you could fall into, which is no one's going to remember you. It's true. (boos) Luke, you have to stand out. You have to put your stamp on this stage of the competition, and you didn't."
Additional Info: Luke auditioned in Memphis for Idol's sixth season but didn't make it through to the Hollywood Round... He added that gave him the drive to improve... Luke disagreed with Simon's "forgettable" comment and was glad it's now in home viewers' hands. "I think people are going to remember this tomorrow," he said. Simon fired back, "No one's ever going to admit to being forgettable."
Colton Berry, a 17-year-old from Staunton, VA
Song: "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley
Randy said: "Colton you had a good time. You were jumping at the end, I love that man! You were really feeling that right, you love this song right. Well listen, you did a pretty good job on it. It started a little rough for me, but by the end you started feeling yourself and finding your way with it. So all in all, I actually thought it was pretty good."
Paula said: "It was nice to see a different side of you, because we've heard the ballads. It was nice. You were having fun out there. I don't feel it's your best performance, but I do think you gave it an eager and fun attempt. I really do."
Simon said: "Colton it was okay. It wasn't quite as bad as the other Elvis song. But I'll tell you where I have a problem with what I just saw. The whole idea of this show is to find a recording artist, so what did I get from that performance? Nothing. It's just a young kid who might have a career in musical theater. But you have no relevance in today's chart or in the music industry. It was just young kid singing an Elvis song quite well. I'm not listening to a recording artist. That is my issue. You didn't represent yourself. It was just a complete waste of time."
Additional Info: Colton revealed he sings the Teletubbies theme song in his head when he gets nervous... He added he was in "complete and utter shock" when he made it to the Top 24... Simon further explained his comments, saying Colton didn't make his performance "current" and labeled it as "karaoke"... Simon also took a shot at Colton's hair, but Ryan stood-up for the semifinalist. "That's called hopeless, that box cut you've got," Ryan said to Simon, which drew a smile from the judge and a laugh from Colton.
Garrett Haley, a 17-year-old from Elida, OH
Song: "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" by Neil Sedaka
Randy said: "That's a great Neil Sedaka song. I mean I love the song. But the thing that struck me with this performance here is you didn't do anything with it. Don't be afraid to make these things your own. Just because wherever the songs from -- any song older than six months ago is old -- so you've got to bring something new and interesting to it. You had a couple of pitch problems... just kind of boring."
Paula said: "When you have songs like this, it's okay to get into [music director] Ricky Minor's ear and say, 'You know what, I'd like to split up the song. I'd like to start off slow and then I'd like the to grab the beat and change it up.' Because if you stay at that slow tempo, it brings the performance down... Don't be afraid to be courageous."
Simon said: "I think they've said it all. It was boring. Your voice sounded a bit whiny. You look terrified, and it looks like you've been shut-up in your bedroom (boos)... It looks like you've been shut-up in your bedroom for a month. You're verging on haunted. Pale... You need some fresh air and you need to make yourself young. Seriously... The problem here is that once again, you're not making yourself relevant, young, current."
Additional Info: "I too look like Ellen DeGeneres," Garrett told Ryan prior to his performance, before admitting people do tell him he resembles Leif Garrett or Peter Frampton... Garrett auditioned in San Diego while on vacation with his family... Randy and Paula found Simon's comments comical... "I'm going to take it as constructive criticism," Garrett said of the comments.
Jason Castro, a 20-year-old from Rockwall, TX
Song: "Daydream" by Lovin' Spoonful
Randy said: "I like the little accent with the whole guitar-vibe, with you strumming along with it. I love that. You tried to make some interesting things vocally with the melody and stuff. Little pitch problems, especially with that little high note there at the end -- it got away from you a little bit -- it went a little sharp. It was alright. It was alright. Didn't blow me away, but it was alright."
Paula said: "For me, you did blow me away. You got me right back hooked into when I saw you the first time. Given the song choices, you picked a song that was absolutely perfect for you. Your take on it -- it was so minimal and effortless and really joyful. The expression less is more, I really feel like you nailed that. I felt like you're a performer who's coming back and just getting up and playing something on his guitar."
Simon said: "Jason i thought that was in the Top 2 performances of the night. I'll tell you why. You -- like David [Archuleta] -- has just got it. You're great with the camera, very good choice of song. Actually, I wouldn't have had the band -- it would have worked better just you and the guitar. But you made it sound current, and it proves my point it doesn't matter how old the song is, it's what you do with it... It was effortless, you have charisma, I thought it was terrific."
Additional Info: Jason grew-up playing the drums, donned a guitar during that Hollywood Round, and was the only semifinalist to perform with an instrument during last night's broadcast... Like David Archuleta, Jason seemed shocked by the positive comments he received... Jason looked to exit the stage as quickly as possible after the judges' comments. "It's scary up here," he told Ryan... Following the performance, Simon asked Paula what color Jason was. She replied, "every favorite color that I know."
Michael Johns, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, CA
Song: "Light My Fire" by The Doors
Randy said: "What a way to end a great night. I'll tell you what man, I love you the day that I saw you. You just throw all caution to the wind -- you're always you. You sing great. I always feel like I'm seeing a true legend, rock performer. You're like a [former INXS frontman] Michael Hutchence, you don't care. You were the bomb tonight baby. That was hot man. I love that."
Paula said: "It was an excellent way to end the night, and you did set everyone on fire. This was a great, great ending. Really was. You are a great part of the show. You really are."
Simon said: "I would say Michael, you are the most consistent contestant we have. Everyone of your auditions I've loved. I didn't like it as much as [his Hollywood Round performance of] "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the way, because I think you were over-trying. But you have the natural charisma of a lead singer... You've just got it."
Additional Info: While he was born in Australia, Michael said he's lived his whole "adult life" in the States, meaning he's resided here for the last 10 years... Michael's wife was in the studio audience... Michael also sang "Light My Fire" during the Hollywood Round.