Deep-voiced Jermaine Jones returned to the 11th season of "American Idol" Tuesday night, rounding out the top 13 male semifinalists. When the guys performed, the show was almost entirely devoid of negative feedback from the judges.
In their defense -- slightly -- some of the performances were pretty good. But many of the other performances deserved more realistic critiques. Here's how I'd rank Tuesday's contestants. The top three and bottom two are set in stone. The ones in the middle are pretty interchangeable.
1. Joshua Ledet, "You Pulled Me Through"
2. Jeremy Rosado, "Gravity"
3. Phillip Phillips, "In The Air Tonight"
4. Creighton Fraker, "True Colors"
5. Jermaine Jones, "Dance With My Father"
6. Colton Dixon, "Decode"
7. Reed Grimm, "Moves Like Jagger"
8. Aaron Marcellus, "Never Can Say Goodbye"
9. Heejun Han, "Angels"
10. Deandre Brackensick, "Reasons"
11. Chase Likens, "Storm Warning"
12. Adam Brock, "Think"
13. Eben Franckewitz, "Set Fire to the Rain"
The top 12 women will perform Wednesday. In the meantime, here's a full recap of Tuesday's show:
Reed Grimm, "Moves Like Jagger": Hmm...a slightly odd song choice. He makes a jazzy version of this song and inserts his signature goofiness. Think Casey Abrams, but quirkier. He also gets bleeped on a verse. Oh yes, there is drum playing involved. Full disclosure: I'm not a Reed fan, but I won't deny that he brings some uniqueness to the contest. It just always seems like he's trying a little too hard.
Randy: "Great choice...You're definitely a very musical guy."
Jennifer: "Good job."
Steven: "I love your voice, you can do anything with it."
Adam Brock, "Think": Really, an Aretha Franklin song?!? Adam takes another chance to remind us that there's apparently a large black woman trapped inside him. Yes, he really said that. Groan. I'm not a fan of this performance. My biggest criticism of Adam is that he seems too dated for contemporary audiences, and tonight doesn't change my mind. The whole thing borders on cheesy. I'm not impressed.
Steven: "That was brilliant."
Jennifer: "I loved that big finish...you definitely delivered right there at the end."
Randy: "I love the whole kind of throwback thing that you've got going on."
Deandre Brackensick, "Reasons": I'm surprised he takes on an Earth, Wind & Fire tune. Things are a little rough at the onset. It's like he's stretching his falsetto too far. He gains some serious momentum toward the middle of the song and busts out some stellar big notes. I enjoy the end much more than the beginning, though I wish he would've picked a more contemporary song.
Steven: Says he picked a perfect song
Jennifer: "Your voice is so perfect to me."
Randy: "You're one of the most commercial guys that I've seen."
Colton Dixon, "Decode": He starts this Paramore tune at the piano, and then gets up and navigates the stage. It's a little riskier than what I expected out of him tonight and he hits some nice big notes during the performance. He definitely delivers emotion on stage, but I wonder how much he'll really connect with the audience. He kind of seems to be in his own world at times.
Jennifer: "When you sing, you really sing from your heart...You're a relevant artist."
Steven: "You are truly a relevant artist today."
Jeremy Rosado, "Gravity": I'm initially a little skeptical of the Sarah Bareilles song choice, but this performance is actually pretty good. That's saying a lot...I wasn't a Jeremy fan going into tonight's show. But wow, he does a really nice job with this tune. It's very controlled and he hits some good power notes without over-singing. Wow...with one song, my opinion totally changed. Way to go, Jeremy.
Steven: "That was beautiful. You couldn't have picked a better song."
Jennifer: "You open your mouth and just immediately, I am drawn in."
Randy: "I was so impressed with the tender moments and the big booming vocals."
Quick diversion...Steven just made fun of Jennifer's wardrobe maybe-malfunction at the Oscars. She promises there was no nipple. Good times.
Aaron Marcellus, "Never Can Say Goodbye": OK, Aaron...make Atlanta proud! Or maybe not. This performance is just OK. He adds a few big notes to the tune, but doesn't do much to make it his own. The end is much better than the beginning. No major flaws...but I wonder if the song choice, plus his mid-show placement, might put him in danger. He delivers a pretty amazing big note at the end. The judges give him a standing ovation. I'm divided.
Randy: "That's how you sing some vocals, man."
Jennifer: "You can sing anything."
Steven: "You raised the bar for yourself."
Chase Likens, "Storm Warning": Woo hoo! Time for some country music! Chase takes on a Hunter Hayes tune. He's very much toward the traditional end of the country music spectrum. This performance is actually a lot better than I expected. Chase has potential, but he comes off as a bit boring at times. I don't think he connects with the crowd like Scotty McCreery did last year. He's not too far off...maybe.
Steven: Says Chase looks like Brendan Fraser
Jennifer: "You sounded great tonight...you've grown so much through the competition."
Randy: "You've got skills, you've got range...you're ready."
Creighton Fraker, "True Colors": I'm surprised...I expected Creighton to do something a little riskier tonight. Creighton's a good singer and I've criticized him for being too over-the-top at times. So I guess I should appreciate seeing his more restrained side tonight. Still...I wanted something a little more extreme. I love the big notes toward the end. Ultimately, I'm glad he held back a bit tonight.
Jennifer: "That was so beautiful...I don't want you to go home."
Steven: "That was stupendous."
Randy: "You can definitely sing."
Phillip Phillips, "In The Air Tonight": I'm sure lots of my Columbus readers are rooting for this Leesburg, Ga., singer. He takes the stage with his guitar and delivers a slow, haunting rock cover of the tune. I wish he would have picked up the tempo a bit more at points, but overall I'm impressed. So far, he's one of the few singers to actually take a risk tonight and do something creative. That goes a long way in my mind.
Jennifer: "There is no doubt that you are one of the most special talents we found this year."
Steven: "Man, you've got a crazy kind of voice."
Randy: Says he wasn't jumping up and down about the melody, but "I'm a huge fan of you and I'm pulling for you."
Eben Franckewitz, "Set Fire to the Rain": Yes, Eben is really singing an Adele song. Ouch. He seems a little awkward at the start of the performance. This song is just too mature for him. He lacks the emotional depth to make this successful. Not to mention the fact that he sounds flat throughout almost the entire song. Not. Good. But I'm a little worried that teenage girls will still vote for him.
Randy: "It wasn't all perfect, but at the end you really brought it home."
Jennifer: "You really, really held on...It was really good."
Steven: "You've got a really, true, straight beautiful voice...all in all, it was pretty good."
Heejun Han, "Angels": In his pre-performance interview, Heejun says he wants to show America that Asian people don't only get high SAT scores...they can also sing. He covers this Robbie Williams tune with mixed results. Like many performances tonight, the end is much better than the beginning. He delivers some good power notes. The beginning, however, comes off as slightly sleepy. That said, he's still extremely likable, so I can see him advancing.
Jennifer: "You have a voice that's smooth as silk," but she adds that the song didn't entirely show off his voice
Steven: "I'm not sure it was the right song...but I still love your voice, man."
Randy: "You're a mad talented guy."
Joshua Ledet, "You Pulled Me Through": I'm a little nervous when I learn he's doing a Jennifer Hudson song, but Joshua reassures me almost immediately. It's an incredibly solid performance throughout the entire song. With his gospel-inspired vocals, Joshua is in a league of his own tonight. When it comes to delivering emotion, he's miles ahead of the other guys.
Randy: "I love you...this is what singing is about."
Jennifer: "You are just amazing...you are so insanely talented."
Steven: "You are the voice the world's been waiting to hear."
Now, the big reveal: Who will return to the competition? The answer is...JERMAINE JONES!!! Yes, I'm so happy. Woot woot. Take that, Johnny.
Jermaine Jones, "Dance With My Father": This is a perfect song choice for Jermaine's signature deep vocals. He delivers a standard deep-voiced Jermaine performance, packed with emotion. And he's so happy to be back that you almost HAVE to like the performance. I still wonder about Jermaine's contemporary appeal, but I guess we'll worry about that later. Standing ovation. Jermaine even gets to bring his mom up on stage after hearing the judges' comments.
Randy: "You're so different and so unique."
Jennifer: Says he has a special sound
Steven: "What a beautiful thing."