1. Caleb - There's a reason Caleb went first. They needed someone with that kind of energy to kick things off and give people hope that the show was going to be better than the girls' snoozefest. And it worked, for the most part. Caleb's not original, and there is no way he will ever win this competition, but he's not what they're looking for at all and I'll bet anything he's fully aware he's better off not winning anyway and doing this for the exposure and extra step into the business. This guy belongs in a band. He'll be fun to watch, and he's more polished and professional than some of the others so he should stick around for a while.
2. CJ - I liked CJ before last night, but as soon as the spotlight turned on him and I saw he had the guitar after he was basically told not to use it, I knew he was in trouble. I really think Adam and Chris have been giving the contestants some excellent advice, and when they choose not to listen to it, it's to the contestant's detriment. Compared to the girls, it was pretty good, but it was far from his best performance. Which is a shame because I really, really like him and what he could do.
3. Emmanuel - I'll just come out and say it. I fully believe this guy has only made it this far because the judges really enjoy his personality in person. Most of the time when he opens his mouth to sing, I cringe. Last night was no different. It was all over the place, and the fact that he kept running out of breath because he couldn't manage the physical side of the performance didn't help at all. I'll admit I got annoyed with JLo for giving him another chance to sing a snippet afterward to show why she loves him so much, because she didn't let any of the others do it. He had a chance to win us over. He shouldn't get another one.
4. Sam - He picked a great song, perfectly suited for his style and voice. As a vocal performance, it was well done, but as nice as Sam is, I find him a tad forgettable. I think that's a part of what Harry was referencing in hoping he gets more confidence. I remember the singing. I just don't remember him until he comes back on stage again.
5. George - I don't remember George at all before last night, and his performance of "Grenade" didn't help to get positive attention from me. I kept thinking of that line from Amadeus, "Too many notes." It felt shrieky and all over the place.
6. Dexter - Of the three country boys who sang together during group week, Dexter is and always has been my favorite. I'm not a country fan, but I could listen to him all day. He's got enough texture to his voice to be interesting without being too much. I want him to go through badly, but really, I think if he formed a country trio with Ben and Casey like they had during group week, he'd do a lot, lot better in the industry as a whole. They were great together, and there's not a glut of them on the market.
7. Alex - Ah, Alex. I really like this guy. A lot. He reminds me of Philip Phillips in some ways, just doing what he does because he knows who he is and not really caring about conforming to some unknown ideal. He lacks Philip's charm and ease, but I'm seriously hoping that he learns how to get more comfortable on camera because I want him to do well. He will never be a stadium performer - that's not who he is - but he deserves a long, solid career.
8. Malcolm - Another guy I don't really remember, and after this performance, wonder why he got picked over some of the others. He wasn't comfortable, the singing was all over the place, and even JLo told him he fell short.
9. Ben - There was no way they weren't going to put Ben in the top 10 after America voted for him. As a performance, it was fairly solid and more than welcome to see someone in better control than the guy before him. Ben's problem is that he's competing against Dexter and CJ for votes, pretty much. Of the three, he's my least favorite, and I'm not sure he's going to make it through.
10. Spencer - The camera loves this kid. It really does. When he picks the right material, like when he accompanied himself on the piano to "Say Something" during Hollywood week, he's gold. Last night? Not gold. I think he's still a sure thing for the top 10, though. He's pretty, he *can* sing for the most part, and the girls love him. People have built careers on less.
My top 5, based on tonight's performances:
I wouldn't mind seeing Ben or CJ take one of those spots, but George, Emmanuel and Malcolm just didn't cut it for me.