March 07, 2013 04:30 AM by Melissa Stavarski
The American Idol semi-finals continue in Las Vegas, with the Top 10 Guys singing for America’s votes and a place in the finals. Practically everyone involved with American Idol, including judges Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj, has said season 12 belongs to the girls. Will the guys prove them wrong or crack under the pressure?
Elijah Liu‘s take on Rihanna’s “Stay” bores me to tears. Keith praises Elijah’s control. Control? Or maintaining the same exact sound for two minutes? “I think I would be willing to stay,” Nicki says. “I could imagine seeing your face on blankets, posters, and cups.” Randy Jackson tells Elijah that his vocals never left first gear.
Cortez Shaw sings “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars with the most annoying background singers ever. All I hear is what sounds like “yep, yep, yep” from the Sesame Street aliens. Keith doesn’t think it’s a good song for Cortez. Nicki compliments his charisma and confidence but disses his style. Mariah Carey and Randy agree that Cortez needs to bring his high notes down half a step. Personally, I think Cortez constantly tries too hard.
Charlie Askew‘s rendition of “Mama” by Genesis disappoints the judges. Charlie seems very angry; it’s uncomfortable to watch. Keith says it felt “disingenuous” and “disconnected” and thinks Charlie would better off as part of a band. Nicki tells Charlie that she’s upset with him. “I’m not upset. I’m just a little worried for you,” Randy says. “It didn’t connect at all for me tonight.”
On the verge of tears, Charlie says, “I needed to vent a little bit. The only reason I smile so much is because I feel like I have to.” Ryan handles the awkward situation extremely well and sends Charlie offstage.
Nick Boddington sings “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, which is one of my favorite songs, and sounds amazing. “What a perfect song for you,” Keith says. “There’s a vulnerability about your tone – I feel it every time you sing.” Randy tells Nick that it’s not his best performance but good and solid. Mariah doesn’t think Nick came alive until the end of the song.
Burnell Taylor revisits his audition song, “I’m Here” from The Color Purple, and impresses the judges. Again. Keith and Randy love, love, love it. Nicki says she’s happy that Burnell is on American Idol, adding, “You were born to do this. That struggle and that pain in your voice is undeniable.” Burnell’s performance brings tears to Mariah’s eyes.
Paul Jolley‘s take on Christina Aguilera’s “Just a Fool” and creates confusion among the judges. Keith asks where Paul sees himself in the industry. Paul answers pop country, adding that he’d like to be the male version of Taylor Swift, and just like that Paul becomes Keith’s project. Mariah and Nicki both like Paul’s performance but tell him to listen to Keith’s constructive criticism. “I like Paul,” Keith insists. “I just think he’s better than he realizes he is.”
Lazaro Arbos sings Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and the audience goes crazy. This song is so over-done on American Idol, but I really like Lazaro so I’m trying not to hold it against him. Keith says, “If the audience is a good indication of America’s vote, we’ll be hearing from you real soon.” Nicki likes that Lazaro put some attitude into the song. Randy announces that Lazaro is in it to win it!
Curtis Finch Jr.‘s rendition of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” brings the judges to their feet. Personally, I’m not a Curtis fan, and I hope his arrogance does him in sooner rather than later. “We just had us a sermon in Vegas, baby!” says Keith. “You just ooze everything good and light and godly.” Nicki begs Curtis to make a gospel album. Mariah thanks Curtis, saying, “That was what I needed in this moment in my life right now.”
Devin Velez sings Perry Como’s “It’s Impossible” and impresses the judges. Devin reminds me of Clay Aiken. Keith says Devin is a very good singer, though the beginning was a little shaky. Nicki says he’s a Spanish Ken doll. Randy finds Devin to be mad young and mad cool, adding, “Your tone is a tone I really, really like.” Mariah thinks Devin has the potential to reach an international audience.
Vincent Powell‘s take on Boyz II Men’s “The End of the Road” is mostly a let down. “I feel tonight nerves got on top of your talent,” Keith shares. “I so hope America puts you through, because I’d love to hear you sing again.” While Nicki and Randy harp on the negative aspects of Vincent’s song, Mariah says, “There were moments of brilliance in that performance whether we want to nitpick certain things or not.”
My personal top five includes Nick, Burnell, Lazaro, Devin, and Vincent. That said, I’m not as confident about those choices as I am with my top five girls. My gut tells me that this race is wide open. I’d love to read which contestants make up your ideal top five, so please leave a comment below!
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Photo Credit: FOX