The top 12 men performed Tuesday on "American Idol." This season, viewers can vote for their favorite finalists online via Facebook. Click here to vote. I voted online Tuesday night and the process was 100 percent painless. Online voting closes two hours after the Hawaii broadcast of a performance show.
Here's how I'd rank Tuesday's performances (best to worst):
1. Casey Abrams, "I Put a Spell on You"
2. Jacob Lusk, "A House Is Not a Home"
3. Paul McDonald, "Maggie May" (Note: Paul is an Auburn University alum.)
4. James Durbin, "You Got Another Thing Comin'"
5. Scotty McCreery, "Letters From Home"
6. Brett Loewenstern, "Light My Fire"
7. Clint Jun Gamboa, "Superstition"
8. Stefano Langone, "Just The Way You Are"
9. Robbie Rosen, "Angel"
10. Jovany Barreto, "I'll Be"
11. Tim Halperin, "Streetcorner Symphony"
12. Jordan Dorsey, "OMG"
A few notes:
I struggled with the rankings in my top five for nearly an hour. My biggest issue involved Jacob Lusk. Yes, I think he has one of the best voices this season. But I honestly can't imagine him winning. I'm not sure if "Idol" is the best avenue for his talent.
I ranked him No. 2 because he chose a more challenging song than Paul, but I think Paul might have more longevity in the competition.
I also struggled with James Durbin's ranking. He didn't seem as good as the final three singers, but that could have just been a performance order issue.
Who was your favorite singer? Post your rankings in the comments section. Check out a full recap of the show:
Wow, the new stage is...interesting. Looks like we'll get a top 10 Thursday night. As expected, the judges will pick three wild cards. Randy calls this season "the remix." Steven Tyler gets an "American Idol" sign to place over his mouth if he curses.
Contestants can sing any song this week. Let's get this party started!
Clint Jun Gamboa: "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
Groan. This is one of the most overdone songs in "Idol" history. Clint should have chosen something that allows for more vocal uniqueness. The band seems to overpower Clint at times. He pulls out a few Adam Lambert-inspired notes toward the end of the performance, but they seem a bit manic.
Steven: "You started out strong, you ended strong...That was brilliant."
Jennifer: Says it was good, though he had some jitters
Randy: "There's no karaoke singer in the world that's got that kind of vocal talent."
Jovany Barreto: "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain
Wow, another really overdone song. He sounds really off-key at the performance's onset. There's something odd about the acoustics in this new stage. I'm not too impressed. It's just hard to stand out with this song. He has a couple nice notes toward the end, but they don't save him. He looks a bit uncomfortable at the end of the performance.
Steven: "That was beautiful...I loved it."
Jennifer: "I'm happy right now...You did it."
Randy: "I didn't really get it...It was just OK."
Jordan Dorsey: "OMG" by Usher
OMG. This is awful. Jordan can't hit the notes and his dancing makes things even more awkward. Hands down, it's the worst song choice so far. It does absolutely nothing to expand his fan base. At risk of embracing an expired "Idol" analogy, the whole thing seems like a karaoke performance. Jordan's falsetto? NO. Painful. I miss Jacee right now.
Steven: "You had the moves, but it wasn't my favorite performance of yours."
Jennifer: Asks if that's who Jordan wants to be as an artist. He says no. Haha. Then why did you pick that song?!?
Randy: "It pales in comparison to the original."
Tim Halperin: "Streetcorner Symphony" by Rob Thomas
Hmm. Well, at least he's not singing an overdone song, right? That said, Tim sounds a bit flat. It's like he's trying to give this song more energy than it deserves. Bottom line: He played it too safe tonight. He should have tried something much more challenging.
Steven: "I've heard you sing so much better."
Jennifer: "It just didn't show America who you are as an artist."
Randy: "It wasn't the best try today, dude. I don't know."
Brett Loewenstern, "Light My Fire" by The Doors
OK, this is much better than the earlier performances. At least Brett Loewenstern has personality. The effort starts a bit shaky, but he redeems himself by the middle of the song. Is it life-changing? Not entirely. Still, Brett deserves to advance. My major gripe: Brett goes a bit overboard with the rocker guy thing at times. Quit the hair tossing, dude. This isn't a Pantene commercial.
Steven: "You are on fire."
Jennifer: "I like that you are who you are."
Randy: He says there were 14 hair shakes. "You're definitely fun and definitely bold...I appreciated that."
James Durbin, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" by Judas Priest
This is actually pretty entertaining. I was initially skeptical, but James is a good performer. And yes, his vocals are pretty stellar, too. Of course, the challenge is avoiding a tendency to compare him to Adam Lambert. I imagine this will be one of the night's more divisive performances, thanks to song choice as well as James' signature "glory note."
Steven: "That was $% crazy good."
Jennifer: "I love the way you sing."
Randy: "This is how you do it...That was great, dawg."
Robbie Rosen, "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan
Ouch. Robbie is pretty off-key at the song's start. Fortunately, he hits some better notes as the song progresses. But I don't know...this performance is dangerously close to entering sleepy lounge singer territory. I'm not sure this was the best song choice for the first voting night of the competition.
Steven: "That was beautiful."
Jennifer: "When you sing, you feel every single word."
Randy: "I just don't think this was a great performance."
Scotty McCreery, "Letters From Home" by John Michael Montgomery
I know Scotty has his critics, yet I give him points for at least having a musical identity. He's consistent and this performance doesn't deviate from the country identity he's delivered so far this season. Will "Idol" fans embrace his brand of traditional country music? We'll have to wait and see.
Steven: "I don't think you could have picked a better song..."
Jennifer: "You're born to sing country music."
Randy: "I'm a big fan."
Stefano Langone, "Just The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars
Ouch. Parts of this song are somewhat painful. Stefano nails the chorus, though, and picking a fairly popular song should earn him some votes. As an added bonus, Stefano is seriously likable. That carries a lot of weight during this stage of the competition.
Steven: "I loved it, man."
Jennifer: "You're so consistent...You're a beast up there."
Randy: "We believed you...Very good."
Paul McDonald, "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart
Man, I love this quirky guy. Again, he's probably another singer who will divide viewers. I appreciate his sense of musical identity, though. And he seems to actually have fun on stage, which is actually somewhat rare at this stage of the competition. One of my favorites so far.
Steven: "You've got a real character about your voice and I love that."
Jennifer: "It was a good performance. Congratulations."
Randy: "You are just so unique and different...I love you. I'm a fan."
Jacob Lusk, "A House Is Not a Home," Luther Vandross version
So it was pretty easy to predict how this would turn out. Lots of big notes and emotion. Vocally, Jacob is clearly in a league of his own. But I'm starting to wonder if "Idol" is really the best avenue for his talent. I think if he advances, it'll become more apparent that he belongs on Broadway.
Steven: "I am honored -- honored -- to be in your presence."
Jennifer: "(Luther Vandross) is gone, but now we have you."
Randy: "I'm so proud of you."
Casey Abrams, "I Put a Spell on You"
Oh man, this is awesome. I'm not even a die-hard Casey fan, but he sounds great tonight. In addition to his vocal uniqueness, he just has so much attitude. He really seemed like the one who "wanted it" the most tonight. Not bad for a guy who reportedly spent some time in the hospital last week.
Steven: "As good as it gets."
Jennifer: "You're sexy, Casey...Casey wants it bad."
Randy: "You're so different, so unique. I love it. I applaud it."