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'American Idol' Recap: Top 10 Boys Go for Glory

It was the boys' turn as Rush Week continued, with the judges sending five hopefuls home.

Idol season 13 Emmanuel Zidor L
Michael Becker / Fox
Emmanuel Zidor

With the initial shock of American Idol’s Rush Week in the rearview mirror, it was the guys’ turn to find out which vocalists made it to the top ten.

“We already know that five great singers are not going to get to sing,” said judge Keith Urban, who admitted that the evening’s choices went “down to the wire” in Jennifer Lopez’s dressing room.

Lopez seemed confident that the judges made the correct decisions, and promised that the program is showcasing a “new breed of musician and singer.”

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Also on hand was Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry, again offering pointers on staging and building dynamics of songs in Randy Jackson’s Idol Workshop.

Urban pointed out to the five boys going home that neither mentor won their season, but are sterling examples of how a career can thrive in face of adversity.

“They didn’t get the yeses either,” he said.

So who made the grade?

Caleb Johnson got the first acceptance of the night. In his mentoring session, he told Jackson that he wants to bring rock and roll to the show, and he does in full force with his choice, “Stay With Me” by The Faces. Daughtry’s advice to Johnson? “You don’t want your intense face to distract them.”  I see Caleb as fun with a capital “F."  “That was killer, dude,” said Urban, while Urban noted Johnson had something “real rock star-ish right there.”

CJ Harris’ initial auditions with his laid back guitar playing endeared himself to the judges, but was a distraction to Daughtry, who told him to ditch the guitar. Harris promptly ignored this advice and instead rendered “Shelter” by Ray LaMontagne straight from his heart.  “You make me smile,” said Lopez, while  Connick told him to watch his intonation and  Urban compared the singer as having a “great mix of Doby Gray and Johnny Lang.”

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Emmanuel Zidor went big with a flamboyant pick: The Emotions “Best of My Love.” Zidor struggled with the high notes in rehearsal,  but joyfully gave his performance everything he had live, shaking his booty the entire time. However, Connick felt he forgot to sing. “It started to get a little out of control,” he said.  Lopez gave him another (possibly unfair) second chance asking him to sing “I’m Going Down” to prove to America that he does have chops. “You belong on a stage,” she said.  

Sam Woolf, however, doesn’t need to dance, but he does have to stop looking at the floor when he sings, according to Jackson. His choice of “Babylon” by David Gray was a perfect first choice for the teen, which showcased his clear, sweet vocals. “Your voice is just money,” Urban said. Lopez praised his “sweet quality” and “perfect pitch.”  Connick, however, was concerned about some “little tiny tweaks” he needs to do to “gain small degrees of confidence” in performance.

George Lovett’s intensity on Bruno Mars “Grenade” may have been a bit much for Idol viewers at home. Lovett started singing the song a step lower than the song’s original key. He  was also nervous,  lurching at the camera while over singing the vocal runs. “It spun out of control,” said Connick while Urban noted that he didn’t  “think that was the right song to play to your strengths.”

Dexter Roberts is one of the season’s most consistent performers, according to Connick. Roberts is a dyed in the wool country singer, and showcased exactly who he is with Craig Morgan’s “This Ole Boy.” While Roberts was clearly in his lane, Connick is concerned that he isn’t doing anything that is going to set him apart “outside of Idol?” Urban then said  “there a thousand guys just like you in honky tonks all across America.”  If this is how they feel, why did he get a spot?

Alex Preston is definitely the Casey Abrams of Season 13--a consummate musician who plays 12 instruments! For his performance, Preston chose Damien Rice’s “Volcano” which Idol audiences already saw when Phillip Phillips covered the same song in Season 11. Preston is an interesting, dynamic vocalist, and Urban called his musical decision the “best song choice of the night” while Connick admired that he  ended the song “on the nine,” then asked him to play the root key when Ryan Seacrest asked for a demonstration.

Malcolm Allen told Jackson that he needed to work on his stage presence, and to be honest he should have listened a lot more to Lambert, who is the king of working the camera and the stage. Allen’s vocals on Anthony Hamilton’s “Her Heart” suffered from a case of nerves, and Connick was annoyed that he sang the “exact same run over and over.” “You have to sing in tune,” he scolded. Lopez seemed disappointed. “I should have got goosies on that one,” she said.

Ben Briley, who won America’s votes the night before, was invited to the stage once more, and he went with “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers. Briley is a great throwback to ‘70s southern rock singers, and it is commendable that he did the song with an electric guitar and joyfully ripped into a solo. “That’s got to be the first shredded solo on American Idol,”  Urban said.

Spencer Lloyd earned the final spot of the night, and judging by the screaming in the audience, he is destined to be the heartthrob of Season 13 if he survives Thursday night’s cut. At first, he considered doing The Fray’s "Love Don’t Die” with a guitar, but ditched it in rehearsal, prompting Lambert to proclaim “It’s very rock and roll...very star.” Did it work live? Connick didn’t think so, and gave Lloyd advice to stay behind the piano (shades of Angie Miller?).   “Stick to what you know,” he said. “This was not good.”

Going home: Ethan Harris, Jordan Brisbane, Casey Thrasher, Briston Maroney and Maurice Townsend.

So what do you think Idol Worshippers? Who is going home tomorrow night? Who should come back as a wild card?

Twitter:@MicheleAmabile, @Idol_Worship