Emily Rottler, 17, aka Mustard Tights (because how would you remember her name) sings a good but not outstanding "Valerie" cover to some pleasant yet exceedingly vague reviews. "Your voice is great, baby," says Keith. "It's a natural thing for you to sing and play that guitar," says J. Lo. "This is gonna be a really good year on American Idol," says Harry. Like I said: Mustard Tights.
You want Southern? Dexter Roberts, 22, will give you Southern. The 22-year-old good ol' boy from Fayette, Alabama drives a tractor almost all day and trains dogs to hunt ducks. Ducks! Everyone loves television about ducks. And in a wondrous nod of Idol contestant solidarity, Dexter Roberts sings "I Like to Drive," the tune of another contestant with a perfect name, Casey James (season 9). He gets the Harry Connick Jr. seal of authenticity -- "You seems like the kind of guy who sings to get through the day, and you happen to sing well and play well." Meanwhile, J. Lo can't fathom the phenomenon of singing not on the beat. She attempts to rub her tummy and pat her head at the same time. "Is it like dancing?" wonders a judge of this venerable singing competition series. (It actually is exactly like dancing, Harry concedes.)
Briston Maroney, 15, is a sweet kid from Knoxville, Tennessee who plays his great-grandfather's vintage Gibson… but doesn't remember his great-grandfather's name?! Dude, this is your one talking point. GET THE NAME. I want his singing style to match his gentle composure, but suddenly out pours an aggressive, way too affected yell on Briston's cover of "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Wait, really? Sing something else! Or really, sing some other way. It's clear the kid is a guitar pro and could sing like a real boy if he wanted to, so I don't get it.
Then again, I might just need to hear a different song. There are plenty of crazy voices out there that I've come to love over time. Maybe if I heard this voice on the radio, with no alarmingly disproportionate visual, I'd be into it. But as it was, this guy sounded to me like he was revving up for a severe temper tantrum.
Johnny Newcomb, 16, serves some straight-up David Archuleta vibes as a perfectly tiny cherub with fabulous vocal control. The judges immediately call him out on copying Eddie Vedder's vocal on Pearl Jam's "Last Kiss," thank God, but I'm impressed with how mature his voice sounds on "If It Hadn't Been For Love." Harry remains steadfast in his decision -- "It's more than nerves; I don't think you've had enough experience" -- but J. Lo and Keith overrule him. "He's too good to say no to," says J. Lo so loudly it forces Johnny to stop his second song. I don't see this guy making any bold, artistic moves. I do see little girls loving his face.
NEXT: Is Casey Thrasher too desperate for you to love?