caleb johnson american idol xiii 'American Idol' XIII: The Top 10 boys much stronger than the girlsThe “American Idol” Season 13 live shows have started and, well, the Top 10 girls gave us some serious pause about the talent this season. We know these girls can sing — we’ve seen it in audition and Hollywood Week clips. But you wouldn’t know it by Tuesday’s (Feb. 18) performances.

Thankfully (spoiler alert) the boys do a better job.

1. Caleb Johnson, “Stay With Me,” Rod Stewart

Well, this is already 1000 percent better than the women were. Great song choice, solid use of the whole stage and he sounds good. It’s not the most vocally demanding song ever, but you also gotta build on this show. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so he can work his way up to the bigger stuff. Plus, Caleb really nailed the ending. Terrific.

2. C.J. Harris, “Shelter,” Ray LaMontagne

Interesting song choice. We’re enjoying this immensely but is it too obscure for the voting “Idol” viewers? If you pick a song that isn’t as well known, it needs to be flashy and this is not flashy — it’s bluesy and raw and gritty, but not flashy. Hmm. We liked it, though. What a textured voice he has. He goes sharp just a little at times, but it wasn’t bad.

3. Emmanuel Zidor, “Best of My Love,” Emotions

Hmm. Big props to Emmanuel for being a big ol’ ball of energy and hip swivels, his stage presence is a lot of fun. Vocally? This is missing the mark. It’s very karaoke, there are more than a couple bum notes and this just isn’t a singer’s song. It’s terrific that he’s having so much fun, but that was not going to get him into the Top 10 finalists.

J.Lo actually makes him sing a snippet of “I’m Going Down,” which shows off a markedly better voice than we just heard. That’s a shame.

4. Sam Woolf, “Babylon,” David Gray

Good choice for his voice and the guitar, though he’s gotta watch the pitch. He’s off-key nearly the entire way in the verse, though he finds the right spot on the chorus and we like what he does switching up the melody line slightly. The problem with this song is that it’s just … nice. It’s like he’s doing a set at the local coffeehouse. It’s not a pump-you-up crazy performance, but it’s not some having-a-moment ballad either. It’s in that weird middle ground where it just kind of lies there. He has a lovely voice, but the performance was very milquetoast. If he goes through this week, it’ll be because the girls think he’s cute — which could very well happen, as we all know.

5. George Lovett, “Grenade,” Bruno Mars

Whoa, talk about cannon fodder. This is terrible. Not only is this slowed down like Bruno Mars on Valium — which then loses all of the fun of this song — but he’s off-key and making really weird faces at the camera. This is a performance that would be right at home last night with the girls and that is not a compliment. Next!

6. Dexter Roberts, “This Ole Boy,” Craig Morgan

This isn’t bad — he’s handling the rapid-fire lyrics with aplomb and the a capella breakdown at the end is nice. However, he’s sharp a lot of the time. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. It was very middle-of-the-road, which might get him lost in the shuffle tonight. It wasn’t a complete trainwreck, but it was not enough to put him through, we suspect.

7. Alex Preston, “Volcano,” Damien Rice

Terrific song choice. This guy has one of our favorite voices of the competition, it’s so distinct and very current. We also love his talent on the instruments he plays. He’s not learning a few chords just so he can hold the guitar or sit behind the piano one week. Alex is a legitimate musician. We hope this quietly awesome performance doesn’t get lost in the No. 7 spot. We have to see more of him, so if he doesn’t make it through on voting, the judges need to pick him for a wild card.

8. Malcolm Allen, “Coming From Where I’m From,” Anthony Hamilton

Malcolm has a nice voice but this is a mess. Total mess. He’s rushing the beat terribly, is off pitch for a lot of the song and is pacing around and looking down at his feet. Plus, not a great song choice because it’s repetitive and doesn’t show off his vocals very well. You know, you hear some choices and you wonder, “Who let him/her out on stage with that piece? Why did no one step in and say — you can pick a better song.”

Oof. That wasn’t quite as rough as George Lovett, but it wasn’t pretty.

9. Ben Briley, “Soulshine,” The Allman Brothers

Another talented guitar player, nice to see it’s not just a prop. Also, we’ve been fans of Briley’s voice all along, so we’re glad he was chosen to perform. He has a nice Southern rock voice — Allman Brothers, Doobies, Lynyrd Skynyrd, there are a lot of bands we’d like to hear him cover. That was a lot of fun.

10. Spencer Lloyd, “Love Don’t Die,” The Fray

We don’t want to like this guy, what with the “Twilight”-werewolf thing he has going on but there is absolutely no doubt he can sing. This is a fun song to end things on and Spencer brings it. We like him better with the guitar or piano, honestly, but this is solid. Plus, he’s super cute, so he should make it to at least the Top 3 this season.

We disagree with HCJ that this was “not good.” It wasn’t his “Say Something,” to be sure, but it was good. It’s nice to try something new, too. Don’t act like without an instrument he’s devoid of talent or something.

First thing’s first — we’re sad that Casey Thrasher, Maurice Townsend and Ethan Harris didn’t get to perform. There were several guys who really blew it tonight and Casey, Maurice and Ethan have some beef.

However, this group was way more solid than the women the night before. Our faves are Caleb Johnson, Alex Preston, Ben Briley and Spencer Lloyd. Who gets the fifth spot from the votes? Sam Woolf for sure. But hopefully C.J. Harris and Dexter Roberts can be wild card spots. The women barely deserve one wild card, but they do not deserve two.

What do you think, “Idol” fans?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."