Apparently during the first live performance of this season of American Idol the theme was “fire”. From fiery hair to unleashing the fire to harnessing the fire the guys brought out the big guns and tickled our fancies for the most part. There were a few disappointments, obviously, but on the whole we were impressed. The point of the game during this particular live segment was for the top twelve guys to sing a song of their choosing, and, as usual, let America and the judges respond. Simple, right? Here’s the breakdown:

Brett Loewenstern’s rendition of “Light My Fire” wasn’t too impressive outside of his long, flowing red hair. Or rather, the first half was too subtle, at least for our general liking, and while the performance did pick up towards the end, it was the end. Lesson learned: disperse the enthusiasm a touch more, keep your audience. Or wave the hair ’round a little bit more. That’ll do it, too. And yet there’s only so much hair-shaking a person can do until it becomes a touch gimmicky. Our advice is that he tone it down and amp up the vocals.

Casey Abrams’ performance of “I Put A Spell On You” was definitely spellbinding, but the only thing we’d suggest would be toning down the maniacal factor a bit. A very strong performance from the man with a very strong voice, and we think a little practice will help tame the beast.

Clint Jun Gamboa really showcased his vocal talent during “Superstition“…there’s not really much more that we can say other than he knows he’s good, we know he’s good, he knows we know he’s good, and he’s going to be around for a while during this competition. (But we’ve been wrong before.)

James Durbin harnessed his fire during the song he chose, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest. His performance was stellar, pure rock and roll, metal, glitz, and a big bang without straining our ears and waning our patience.

Jordan Dorsey’s song choice wasn’t our favorite, only because when you choose an Usher song, you’re going to need to pull out the big smooth-dance guns, too. With most musical acts out there, there is the uber mating dance ritual going on as well. (It’s true. Just think about it.) “OMG” is that kind of song, and Usher is clearly that kind of dancer. While the song didn’t do much for showcasing his talents, he pulled it off.

Jovany Barretto’s performance of Edwin McCain’s popular bleeding heart song “I’ll Be” was definitely more than decent. It was a little lackluster towards the beginning, but boy did he ever sing for his life come the key change.

Paul McDonald’s choice of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” showed the versatility of his voice. It wasn’t the same ol’ booming or smooth as honey voice that we’re used to on the Idol stage, but it was actually chock full of personality. For a first performance under the hot lights in front of America, this? Was probably one of the best performances of the night.

We have to give a lot of credit to Robbie Rosen for tackling Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” — one of the most heart-wrenching songs known to man (or at least in the top 20) — although we wish he hadn’t gone the way of Mariah Carey toward its end.

We have to also keep reminding ourselves that Scotty McCreery is sixteen years old. John Michael Montgomery’s “Letters From Home” J.Lo made one of the most profound comments of the night; McCreery had to have been born to sing country music. The cock of his head, lift of his eyebrow, the slouch, the friggin’ voice, Jesus mother…tailor-made.

Stefano Langone “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars…now we may just be cynical but this has to be one of the most sappy sticky songs on the radio these days. That said, Langone actually made it tolerable.

And finally, Tim Halperin sang Rob Thomas’ “Streetcorner Symphony“, another song we haven’t heard much on American Idol, and a wise choice. A smooth rendition, not too much or too little. Just right.

That’s it for the guys tonight.Next, the top twelve girls will have their chance, and on Thursday your votes will be counted and will decide which two from each team will be going home.

See ya!