This is not an encouraging way to start the season.
After Tuesday's underwhelming ladies round, hopes were high for the men. Alas, the gentlemen were only marginally better, offering another round of mellow tunes that failed to catch fire.
The difference between the two nights for me was that the singers who were memorable really stood out, but not always for the right reasons. I liked more of the singers in general but still didn't love the performances.
The only person I liked without reservation was 16-year-old Aaron. I'm not a big Rascal Flatts fan but I thought the song was a great choice for his voice, he showed poise during the rough spots, and seemed to control his nerves pretty well.
I was more mixed on a lot of the others who I think are generally gifted but didn't bring their A game. Or were done in by nerves. Or bad arrangements. Or all three.
Although they were two of the strongest technically, I thought Casey and Michael were overpraised.
I'll admit there may be a scary-high-school-dance-flashback component to my reaction to Casey's version of Bryan Adams' "Heaven" but even though his pitch was near perfect, he just seemed too smiley and bland. (And I hated the creepy "Kara lusts after me" storyline that bogged down the judging.) Michael does indeed have bucketloads of sparkle but I think the starvation for someone to inject some snap into the night made it seem like his perfectly fine take on Maroon 5's "This Love" was better than it was.
Jermaine way overdid the high notes on "Get Here" but I liked the tender bits. Alex's "Wonderful World" was beyond awkward but showed a lot of promise vocally. Joe had lovely tone and a nice smile but his Jason Mraz cover was too wispy.
Both Todrick and Andrew sang well but suffered from poor arrangement choices that started well but didn't go to nearly interesting enough places. Todrick's slowed down, roughed up "Since U Been Gone" benefitted from his smooth stage moves but didn't feel tuneful. And I think Andrew sapped a lot of the potential for excitement by never kicking into a higher rocking gear on "Sugar, We're Going Down." Like Kara, I applaud them trying something different, I just don't think they should have done it during their very first performance.
I often agree with Simon but thought he was dead wrong about Lee's shaky version of "Chasing Cars." There were a lot of bad notes that seemed to stem from him not having enough breath support to sustain the ends of phrases. He was likable enough but the song was a yawn. Ditto for John's charisma-free "God Bless the Child."
Tyler's play-acting at the '70s was painful as was Tim's fruitless search for his falsetto. I think these two will be getting the boot.
I really hope that everyone shakes off the nerves and things improve next week or it's going to be a long season.
I'll be doing my first chat tomorrow at 10 a.m. so bring your thoughts, questions, and concerns. Until then predictions on which contestants are homeward bound tonight? Insight as to why things are off to such a shaky start? Fans/detractors of Lambert's not-exactly-a-mullet?
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsKatie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.