At the latest tryouts for a new revival of Hair, all auditioners were required to strip to the buff during tryouts. Meanwhile the Idol boys were deciding what to wear for their auditions.

Tonight on American Idol is the night that separates which male contestants can sing and entertain from those that just got lucky. Though tedious due to their length, these shows are interesting, as they are all pre-makeover, without voice coaching, and not choreographed. I’m not sure I want to see Taylor Hicks dancing to Boogie Wonderland later in the series. I DO want to see him sing, but those dreadful choreographed numbers they start working up are embarrassing to most of the performers. Anyhow that’s all speculation until later. Tonight it’s sing up or get out.

Patrick Hall chooses “Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge, and I have to say he’s good, but Melissa’s version is more masculine and a lot more rocking. This was more sweet boy band version. The scruffy face hair didn’t fool me. He’s just not gritty enough, too sweet for a song like this. I could see him singing Kenny Loggins “Celebrate Me Home” effectively, but this was the wrong song for him. He needs to sing pretty songs, at least here at the beginning where first impressions count the most. He’s not a rocker and that came off as fake.

David Radford is another of those young crooners. The next generation must be more interested than mine as that was the music of my parent’s generation that we mostly rejected. Linda Rondstadt made it interesting and Harry Connick is a historical extension of his environment and still makes it interesting, but most of the rest is just bad imitation. This is a prime example. Only, instead tonight he chooses the Queen song, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. This is the weakest version of this song ever performed. Freddie Mercury would eat this kid for breakfast, literally, then throw him out and tell him to shut the hell up. Too much high school talent show, and not enough talent or uniqueness to even be in the top 24. Cute does not equal talent. Ever. Maybe it works in acting, but not in singing; it’s a very limited career scope. Ask Paula.

Bucky Covington has problems remembering the words to the songs (and other things I bet). I would bet he knows all the words to all the Skynnyrd songs. Ha! That’s exactly what he is singing, “Simple Man”. Such candor! Do we really need another vocalist for Skynnrd? We have the excellent VanZant brother filling in and Bo did a good job last year. It’s certainly not progressive, new, or interesting in many ways. Kind of like the kid that gets up at the bar on Saturday night after having a few and sings a Skynnyrd song. It was boring and I’d bet Bucky is going back home to the country soon. If Bucky becomes the next American Idol, I’ll appear in public naked carrying a large “I Love Bucky” sign. I’m that sure.

Will Makar sings like a choirboy turned pop singer. He decides to do Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back”. It is looking more like a high school talent show with each performance tonight. He sings flat and with one tenth the energy that baby Michael had way back then. It looks like talent night at the Frat Party. Paula says he’s adorable. He looks like Bobby Brady. Blah Blah Blah. Simon cuts him back into the average cloth that he was. Cute is OK, but it doesn’t mean you are a talented singer. Girls might love him, but music lovers won’t remember him.

Jose “Sway” Penala forgot all his lyrics at auditions, but tonight he’s singing a song that his parents sang to him as a baby. Surely he’ll remember the lyrics. It’s Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Reason. Just goes to prove you should sing a song for logical reasons, not emotional ones. His falsetto can’t stay on key mostly. At times he is interesting, but overall it was a mess. Not a great song for an individual singer. Randy loves him. Paula loves him. Simon agreed with me. He thought it was a third rate pimped out version. He has talent, but he needs direction.

Chris Daughtry of the shaven head and hard rocker look is up next. His song choice is “Wanted: Dead or Alive”. He sings it in full rocker style. It’s like watching someone who has sung with a band for a long time. I’m not a big Bon Jovi fan, but he does a good job. I don’t think rockers generally make good stand-alone acts on Idol. They add some interest along the way, though. Randy loved him. Paula gushed. (She is man hunting aided by Dr. Phil. Watch out Chris). Simon said he was the first interesting performer so far and I’ll give him that. I’d prefer to see him again over any others so far.

Next up is this year’s geek boy contestant, Kevin Covais. He is singing a Brian McKnight song. He can actually sing pretty well for a baby chick. Do you think Foghorn Leghorn coached him? OK, he’s cute as a new puppy and can sing damn well. Geeks rock. Randy says, “Dude that was the bomb”. I agreed and imbibed when he said it. Paula drones on, “sheer joy, awesome, very proud”. Simon hates him. He says he would appeal to those over the age of 90. No one is agreeing with Simon this time. The kid will go through to final twelve I think. I can’t wait for his makeover!

Gedeon McKinney is from Memphis. He was a strong contender all the way through the auditions. He is going to be singing “Shout” and if done correctly, this can be a winning song. He sings with energy and on key. All right, Ladies and Gentleman we have a soul singer contestant. He’s got it. It isn’t just lots of practice, it’s natural talent. He’s uninhibited and free wheeling on stage. I liked it. He could develop into a great singer. Randy and Paula love him. Simon doesn’t like him and is even bothered by Gedeon’s smile. Like we care. Shut up Simon. Get an adult shirt (there are millions of interesting shirts in the world) and stop acting like a prick. You desperately need a prescription for happy pills. Can’t Paula hook you up with her old doctor?

Elliott Yamen is “the rebel” of the group, (if you don’t count the other two rockers. Yada yada yada). He is singing, “If You Really Love Me” by Stevie Wonder. He sings it at karaoke back in his hometown. He is a good singer, but I’m not sure how likeable he is. He does have the vocal chops to make singing look easy. He just stands and sings the song. Simon’s meds must have finally kicked in because he goes way out on that limb (he doesn’t have a half-way mark) to say Elliot may be the best male vocalist in the past 5 seasons. I’m sure it’s the meds. He was good, but not that good.

Bobby Bennett is singing Copa Cobana for his dead grandma. Like I said, sing a song for logical reasons, not emotional ones. He needs the hook. I mean swear to god; in the Catskills they would throw tomatoes at this guy. He is off-key, over the top, and a parody of a singer. He certainly makes it easy to know who should be going home first. Please, let it be him. He might have been a comic in 1962, but he’s out of time, place, and can’t sing worth doo. He might have done it for Gram, but she must have known that home was the best place for him just now. It was awful. Nice guy, but awful.

It’s yet another commercial break. Billy and Foxy, the cats, haven’t been around at all tonight. I heard something about “maybe when it’s down to final twelve” earlier, so I guess their tender ears couldn’t take it two nights in a row. It is a bit much, like an overlong elementary school play that you feel like will never end. Even my comfortable chair is not enough to make up for the overly long show. Now we’re back.

Ace Young is the next youngblood up to the mike. He’s got that scruffy, alternative look about him. Wonder how he sings? Ace doesn’t dress up for anything. He’s wearing the same t-shirt he wore in auditions. Must be his lucky shirt. Hoped he washed it. It’s not that attractive, Celtic design on a brown background. Finally, he’s singing “Father Figure“. Its kind of fake, boy band performance tainted with cute alternative boy overtones. I didn’t dig it or his oh so serious stare at the end of it. Randy thinks he really got it going on. Paula loves him. Simon thinks he has the X-factor. That means he is easily manipulated and quite saleable on the young girl Pop market. Yeah, it might sell, but it bores me. This sort of BS crap is what made Rock Star so much more enjoyable. Less hype and more singing is what I want. It seems to me the producers have decided to have a boy Idol this year, being as the last two have been female. All those girls 15-24 girls are wasting good money on non-Idol males at this time. Got to have a male Idol. Count on it.

Last is the one everyone wanted to see tonight; the first grey-haired Idol contestant in my memory. He doesn’t fit the mold, but definitely has unique talents. Taylor Hicks is singing “Levon” by Elton John and Bernie Taupon. As good as you hope for him to be, you can already see how the format does not fit an individual like Taylor. This song doesn’t really suit Taylor’s style. It was OK, but a bit of a bore. It was like Christmas with all the expectation, then all you got was another boring sweater from Aunt Clara. Maybe Taylor could have used the choreography after all. I hope Taylor can figure out how to show his style in a more effective manner than tonight.

If anything good comes of this year, it might be another boundary broken for individuality. There are several styles and stylists represented, but who will get through is anyone’s guess still. Tomorrow night we send home the first two girls and the first two boys. The sooner we get to an hour show, the happier I’ll be. Idol is fun in smaller doses, but as said before, 5 hours of any show is too much for one week. It’s hard to not burn out before it gets to the good parts. Hurry final twelve!