Tonight is boy’s night and speaking of, Ryan Seacrest seems to have achieved some maturity this year. He seems more at ease, more informed, and less likely to follow a bad script without question. His quips with the judges seem more comrade-like and less forced than last year. It’s a new improved Ryan with no more “Seacrest Out”, thank goodness. It’s an improvement and nice to see him grow into his role graciously.

Tonight Taylor Hicks is leading off. It must be that the last one the previous week goes first this week. He’s singing Lionel Ritchie’s “Easy”. It’s a Taylorized version of this song, but I don’t think Taylor has the versatility required of an Idol. It’s just average. I think he’ll be a great live act and maybe make a couple of records, but he won’t be the next American Idol. He has his own style and he’s very different for Idol, but it’s not a mold that fits his personality. An interesting act, but not an American Idol performance. If he makes the final twelve, it’ll be because of his differences as much as his talents.

Elliott Yamen is next. He is singing an interesting song, James Moody's "Moody's Mood for Love". Several jazz greats recorded this song, most recently perhaps by Queen Latifah. Elliott may not be the most handsome or stylish contestant, but he is one of the best singers. It’s straight jazz, almost like it is big band night already. This is a perfect song for Elliott's style. He may never be a rocker but he’s a great singer. I hope he makes it to the makeover episode and he will if viewer votes are based on talent.

Next is the pretty boy, chosen one Ace Young. He is singing Daniel Bettingfield’s “If You’re Not the One”. Girls can love him, but I don’t like this type or his beanie. He’s got that boy band thing way too much for me and his falsetto seemed false even. He’s got that look that too many people have told him he’s cute and talented, and he believes it. Go on girls and gush. Guys are not interested in this type of Idol unless they’re marketing him and stand to make a buck off him. It all comes off as too prepared, too sweet, too sure, and not that talented. Boring in fact.

Gedeon McKinney is singing, “ A Change Gonna Come”. Gedeon is an old school soul singer. He doesn’t mess with too many vocal tricks. He jumps right into the melody and tells the story like he was testifying. I think he’s great. Right on key, proper build, and hits the money ending perfectly. He reminds me of Otis Redding when he was young. He’s great in my book. The judges seem to like him also. Simon even likes him. Amazing.

Geek boy Kevin Covais with the big voice is taking on Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it Through the Grapevine”. As unlikely as he looks, he can sing on key and on the beat. He looks like someone’s little brother that was a hit at the karaoke party. Truly, some of his singing was mediocre overall, but it had interesting parts and his interest factor makes it fun enough that I want to see him again. I REALLY want him to go through to the makeover part.

Sway Penala is singing Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" tonight. He has a sweet smooth voice, but it’s not original in any way. He is singing it as close to how Stevie sings it as possible, but not nearly so great. It suffers because it becomes a comparison instead of a critique of an original style. It was boring and not memorable. He better hope someone is worse than him tonight besides pretty boy Ace or he could be going home.

Will Makar is going to do something slow and soulful he says. Kenny Rodgers, “Lady”. OK, if he thinks so. This is one of my most disliked songs. They will play this loudly when they finally have to flush me out of here someday. It sounds like the choirboy fell in love with a well-pronounced Lady. It’s an old fashioned song, sung in an old fashioned style. On key, but just icky. Icky. Icky. Clean cut, sweet, and icky.

Bucky Covington is doing Garth Brooks’ “Thunder Road” tonight. He is a country boy come to the city for sure. There’s nothing wrong with that. I looked and talked a lot like him when I was 15. He looks better with his hair pulled back, but he doesn’t sing a lot better. Garth may not be my favorite performer, but he is one of the best singer/performers when he is at it. Bucky is just a weak, watered down version of that. He doesn’t have the energy or the vocal ability of a star. I think Bucky is sincere, but out of his league.

David Radford is finally crooning tonight after all we’ve heard about it. “Just the Way You Look Tonight” is not doing it for me. Not my kind of music and not exactly a rousing rendition. The high notes are strained and his cheeks go pink when goes there. It was like a high school talent show. It bored the heck out of me. Not new, not exciting, not interesting. Not final twelve talent. He’s just too immature a singer for now.

Chris Daughtry is doing Fuel’s “ Hemorrhage“. He is sticking to his hard rocker roots. I still don’t think a rocker has a chance at this contest. They are not stand-alone acts and neither is Chris. I’d like to see him with his band, but alone, he seems well, lonely on stage. He is a powerful singer. This is why X-factor is replacing Idol in the UK. They allow individuals of all ages and bands. More varied entertainers and acts work to keep a wider audience more interested. Chris should have waited for Rock Star. He’s good, but not the American Idol type.

All in all, the boys were more interesting than the girls. They didn’t play it quite as safe and mostly stuck to their usual styles. Best for me were Elliott and Gedeon. Going home would be Will and David if I were choosing. We’ll see tomorrow night.