Tonight, it’s the Top 10 Guys turn to take the stage and perform for a spot in the Top 10. WILL YOU BE SUPERVOTING? Ha. We’ll be following all of the action right here. Stay tuned.
Now that we’ve seen both the girls and the boys, I can say, definitively, that the girls totally pwn the boys. If a girl doesn’t take the crown this year, then we’re stuck with boy winners forever.
Honestly, I can’t even pick out 5 guys that I care enough about to move on. But, before I get to that, I want to talk about Charlie Askew.
Charlie had no business being part of this competition in the first place. American Idol is a reality show, full of manipulation. Contestants who get that can handle what happens on stage during a critique. Those who can’t are doomed. I don’t think Charlie grasped that the judges critiques were about advancing him to the next stage. The boy has had vocal issues throughout the entire competition. Some performances have been better than others, but his singing has always been problematic.
I took another look at Charlie’s Top 40 performance, and I’m actually kind of pissed right now. “Rocket Man” was an absolute HOT MESS, but there was Nicki, going on and on about how awesome he is and how obsessed she is with him. You could just see Charlie soaking up the judges comments, and even letting it get to his head a little bit. I don’t think he has the ability to parse the things people say to him. He takes comments at face value. How shocking it must have been for him tonight, when the panel suddenly began criticizing him. And for a performance that was an IMPROVEMENT over the “Rocket Man” trainwreck. No wonder he was crying on stage. I’ll bet he had every expectation to receive more love from the judges. The performance order death spot he received (3rd) was a big clue that–just like Zoanette this week–the producers are done with Charlie. The joke may be on Nigel and company. Charlie’s very genuine reaction to the judges negative comments may have earned him a slew of pity votes. Considering there were no real standouts tonight, Charlie may just skate on in to the finals. Personally, I hope not. Although Ryan initially exacerbated the situation when he prodded Charlie on his song choice, once he saw that the kid was upset, he handled it really well. Actually, the situation could have been so much worse.
Now that I got that off my chest. On to the other performances. Technically, the best tonight was Curtis Finch, Jr. But I’m just not feeling him DAWG. He’s got such an air of superiority when he sings. It’s like LOOK AT MEEEEE HITTING THESE HIGH NOTES! NOTICE MY AWESOME RUNS! I don’t feel him connect to the emotion of the song. Nevertheless, he’s a lock for the finals. Devin Velez has a good voice, But I’m not down with this Spanglish thing he’s doing. Admittedly, I know nothing about Spanish music, but are there teenagers out there digging Perry Como covers sung in Spanish? Enlighten me, please. There’s nothing current or interesting about Devin. Elijah Liu improved big time this week, but he’s hopeless fodder, at this point. Cortez Shaw, who felt like a producer’s favorite earlier in the competition, obviously is not. That pile on from the judges was too obvious. Yes, we get it! You don’t want him in the finals. Nick Boddington, as the only instrument playing HAC dude left, may advance to the finals because he fills a HUGE void. His song choice was very clever. As the only boy singing pop rock at this point, he could be a dark horse. Paul Jolley may label himself pop country, but he’s an adult contemporary singer at heart. Keith’s advice to dial it back and “de-cabaret” his performances is good, but I’m not confident Paul can pull it off. I feel really sad that Vincent Powell kinda blew it tonight with an overbaked performance. He was so good last week! Nabbing the pimp spot may have saved him. Lazaro Arbos is in the pole position right now, and is the only boy at the moment offering serious competition to the girls. He lost the flop sweat this week, but I’m still not impressed. My favorite boy right now is Burnell Taylor. I love his vocal tone and phrasing. But he’s got to reveal some versatility and ability to sing out of his comfort zone for me to stay on board.
Eh. Whatever. I’m all about the girls this year. Kree Harrison, Candice Glover and Amber Holcomb can pretty much wipe the floor with any of these boys.
Performance Order: Elijah, Cortez, Charlie, Nick, Burnell, Paul, Lazaro, Curtis, Devin, Vincent has the pimp spot.
Elijah Liu – “Stay” by Rihanna – He reminds us again that he “loves the ladies” NOT THE WAY TO EARN VOTES ON IDOL. His plan is to “Poor my heart into [my song]…and connect to all my ladies.” Alrighty. OK. This isn’t half bad. Way better than last week, for sure. He needs to avoid his falsetto. It was his downfall last week. But Elijah has an interesting mid-range. I may be judging him on a curve, but that performance was sort of sweet. Keith loved that he did the song, thought it suited his voice and good control. “I think I would be willing to stay,” says Nicki. She thinks he’s very marketable. She name checks all the merchandise his face could grace. Backhanded compliment? Hm. Randy liked him more this week and also feels he is marketable and current. But, he tossed off one of hit typical complaints–that the song didn’t “go anywhere.” He’s actually got a point. I was waiting for a bigger emotional commitment in the last verse. For Mariah, it was one of his better performances. 1-866-436-5701
Cortez Shaw – “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars – Cortez has also improved since last week. He chose a contemporary song that fits his style. He throws in a few little dance moves. He’s still underpitch in spots, but it’s not last week’s trainwreck. Keith asks why he chose the song. He didn’t like the song choice. Nicki doesn’t like his styling. She doesn’t realize that these kids are styling themselves right now. She barely critiques his vocal, only to say he strains some on the high notes. Randy feels he’s straining and is a little under some notes. Wow they are busing him, totally. Mariah likes his ballads. She also feels he was straining, and that maybe he should have taken it down a step. Ryan informs the panel that the kids are doing their own styling now. They’re all “ohhhhh.” geez. The thing is, that wasn’t a killer performance, but it wasn’t terrible either. The judges really piled on him in a way that felt deliberate. Dissing his wardrobe? REALLY? 1-866-436-5702
Charlie Askew – “Mama” by Genesis – Well that was…interesting. Charlie performs a very intense version of the song. He’s wearing a camouflage colored tank top with his hair pulled back. He actually looks a little scary. By the end of the song, he’s screaming. This performance might work in a rock or punk band, but it’s not cutting it here. Keith noted the “varied” look on peoples faces in the crowd. I can just imagine. Maybe Charlie belongs in a band, Keith says, and adds that there was something about the performance that was not genuine. Ouch. But that’s pretty spot on. Nicki is also not pleased “Who stole my little kid.” She’s upset that he’s in a tank top? LOL. “I want my cute cuddly Charlie back.” Are you going to critique his vocals Nicki? I guess not. The front part was terrible, says Randy. And the screaming was not good. “I didn’t get it,” he says Mariah doesn’t want to pile on him, but blah blah blah blah…she says pretty much nothing. Ryan, who can’t let well enough alone, prods Charlie–asking him to explain why he chose the song. On the verge of breaking down in tears, Charlie said, “I needed to vent,” he added, “A lot of people think I’m a very happy buoyant person a lot of the time and the only reason I smile so much is that …the message that I was really trying to send was that I feel like I have to.” His lip trembles. He’s literally falling apart on stage, and it’s very uncomfortable to watch. Ryan immediately softens up, “We appreciate your courage, honesty, and there’s nothing easy about having those feelings inside and standing up here and having to do that tonight.” After Ryan reads his numbers, it’s too much for Charlie, and he leaves the stage. The boy obviously has some emotional issues. He may be too fragile for this competition. Hopefully, that fit of emotion doesn’t prompt a ton of pity votes. Charlie needs to go home. – 1-866-436-5703
Nick Boddington – “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls – Nick gets a little sit down in the red room with Ryan. Oh. He admits that male pattern baldness has driven him to hats. TMI maybe? Nick is back at the piano performing a changed up version of the song. He puts a very sweet, romantic spin on this 90s classic. Now I remember why fans were so crazy for this guy. His voice cracked at one point, but his phrasing is nice, and he emotes a very sweet vulnerability. He really hit his stride in the last verse. Keith thought it was perfect. He loved his vulnerability. Whoa. That’s one of Nicki’s favorite songs? Who da thunk it. So, she wanted him to keep the melody. Disagree! He made it his own. “I don’t know if it’s going to get billions of votes, but it’s you.” Randy thought it was a good solid performance, but not one of his best. Mariah felt he kicked in at the end. I’m on Team Keith here. 1-866-436-5704
Burnell Taylor – “I’m Here” from Color Purple. – Hm. Not sure how I feel about Burnell repeating his audition song. It makes me wonder if it’s the only song he’s got in his back pocket. If he makes it to the finals, he can’t sing it every week, right? Having said that, I love Burnell’s voice. In particular–he’s got a beautiful, burnished tone that really stands out. He can connect to a song. He’ll need to be versatile to get far in the competition. Keith is up on his feet. The crowd screams. Keith believes him and feels it. His voice is instantly recognizable, he says. Nicki believes he was born to do this, but doesn’t seem thrilled that he repeated his audition song. Randy loves the urgency in his voice. Mariah called it a “tearful moment” She feels he matched the first time he sang it in New Orleans. Burnell says he repeated it so he could include parts of the song that weren’t aired in the auditions. 1-866-436-5705
Paul Jolley – “Just A Fool” Christina Aguilera with Blake Shelton – In a sit down with Ryan in the Red Room, Paul reveals that he’s sung for a bunch of country acts and met Carrie Underwood at an awards show. The song begins well enough. It’s obvious that Paul has country music influences and can live in the genre comfortably, but by the end of the performance, he is at the top of his range and basically screaming at us. It’s not pleasant. Dial it back– loud isn’t necessarily good, and it’s not a very effective way to connect to a song. Keith wonders what kind of artist he is? Paul wants to be the guy version of Taylor Swift. Hm. Keith reminds him again to dial it back. He’s right. The last half of the song was at a 9 practically all the way through. Nicki asks Keith if he thought Paul was believable. “Sometimes” says Keith. Nicki thought it was a solid performance. But she admits that Keith may be in a better position to critique country acts. Randy didn’t care for the screamy chorus, either. Keith adds that Paul needs to “uncabaret” it. Mariah didn’t realize that he wanted to be pop country until he said it. But she felt the crowd really enjoyed it. Ryan has some time to kill, so he grills Keith some more on EXACTLY HOW HE FEELS about Paul’s performance. Geez. Is it jump on Keith night? 1-866-436-5706
Lazaro Arbos – “Feeling Good” – The audience goes NUTS. And to be honest, I don’t really get it. The vocal was miles better than last week, but I would not call him a gifted singer. Backstories for the win, I guess! I am glad Mariah called him out on his technical problems. There were pitchy spots, and his diction is often poor. I wouldn’t be so pissy about this, but the way the judges are pimping him into the next round is really annoying. Keith calls the performance “really good” and loves the way he connects with everyone. Nicki says, “I loved it, I love you.” She thought his vocal was strong. She likes that he added attitude. Randy, “HE THINKS HE’S IN IT TO WIN IT AND HE IS.” Ugh. Mariah says, “BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.” Seriously Mariah…could you say something? Oh. She says the song was maybe a bit too low for him. I’m glad she’s critiquing his vocals. The rest of the panel avoided pointing out his flaws. 1-866-436-5707
Curtis Finch, Jr. – “I Believe I Could Fly” by R. Kelly – I hate this song with a passion. And it’s so played out on Idol, I’m having a hard time getting on board here. Curtis is an expert singer. Years singing in the church has obviously taught him how to sell a song. At one point, he hit a sensational high note–part of a run. It would have been breathtaking if it all didn’t feel so stagey. Standing O from all 4 judges. “We just had us a sermon in Vegas,” says Keith. “You have so much hope in you.” Nicki thinks he raises the bar every time he sings. Nicki begins to lose her mind, GOD GAVE HIM THE POWER TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL GOOD, she says more or less. Calm the eff down Nicki. Randy wants to give mad props to R. Kelly. For Randy, the competition just started. Curtis is giving the girls a run for their money. Mariah is also having a religious experience. The judges raving like they just came out of a tent revival is a little weird. 1-866-436-5708
Devin Velez – “It’s Impossible” by Perry Como – Devin pulls out the Spanglish again–and it’s beginning to feel like a parlor trick. I’m over it. And Perry Como covers? REALLY? And nobody called him out on being old fashioned, because that was super-old school, with out even the slightest modern twist. Simon would have hated it. While he’s got a very nice voice and knows his way around a high note, that performance was a total Zzzzz. Keith liked the second half better than the first and was really impressed with his runs. Nicki begins babbling in Spanish. She thinks he’s stepping into his own. She compares him to a Spanish Ken doll. Randy really likes his tone. “I like this dude!” he says. “That performance was incredible,” says Mariah. 1-866-436-5709
Vincent Powell – “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men – A tired song choice, and Vincent oversang it. I wouldn’t say he choked–but I think the pressure of making it into the finals really affected that performance. The effortless quality is completely gone here. He’s trying way too hard with the fancy runs and high notes. He’s off key in spots, and not entirely connected to the song. That’s too bad, because I think Vincent deserves a spot in the finals. Keith felt that nerves got the better of him. I agree–Vincent was kind of all over the place. Nicki loves the song, but didn’t think it was good for his voice. Randy thinks he over shot it a bit Mariah thought there were moments of brilliance in the song. 866-436-5709