Last night on ‘American Idol’ the top 10 boys performed and we saw once again why we are probably looking at getting a female winner this year. Most of the boys can’t hold a light to most of the girls, and poor Charlie Askew reall can’t handle the pressure of live shows. That much was obvious.
Elijah Liu was first up, singing Rihanna’s “Stay.” The producers have really been promoting him lately so it was a bit of a surprise to see him first out of the bag on the first live performance show for the boys. He gave one of the most current song choices and deliveries of the night, I thought but I may be giving him extra credit for having to go up first…and for singing a woman’s song. “It hit me in the heart and that’s what I wanna do,” Elijah told Ryan about the song choice. This guy’s brand of cheese is really sincere. Keith thought the song suited Elijah’s voice and showed control and Nicki loved it and still wants to have Elijah’s babies. But I’d agree a bit with Randy who felt the performance was flat and didn’t really go anywhere compared to his performance last week. It didn’t show off his range. I can’t see how Mariah could call it one of his better performances but it was a good opener.
Cortez Shaw sang Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” and sorry to say it but I found his performance really off-putting. Way too much dancing around and thrusting his pelvis. The judges commented that he should have gone a key or two lower, which is probably true, but Nici also had a pint when she incredulously asked, “And a jean vest?” He really does need to find a new stylist. But that doesn’t really matter, because as she also said and Randy agreed, he seems to be straining to hit the notes. Wrong key, wrong outfit – just wrong.
But the real carnage occurred when Charlie Askew walked on stage to sing Genesis’ “Mama.” I don’t even like thinking about this one now. He even looked terrible, with his one dangling earring and arms so thin and pale that he should be banned from wearing a tank top ever again. Yes I know I keep saying it should be more about the singing than the outfit, but when the outfit is so bad you can’t take your eyes off it even when you’re dry heaving, it has t be mentioned. Sorry. So – the singing. That was bad too. Nicki voiced my own feeling of loss at seeing this happen to Charlie when she said, “I feel like someone stole my kid. Now it’s like a darker thing – I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m upset.” Me too. Keith even noticed how he freaked out the audience and that there was something “not truly genuine” about his performance.
That seems to be what triggered a Charlie Askew meltdown. To him, music is an escape. He was in a way trying to be who he wanted to be. Almost in tears, he confided to host Ryan Seacrest,
“A lot of people think I’m a happy, buoyant person all of the time, and the only reason I smile so much is because I feel like I have to.”
Awkward! It was heartbreaking to see and I for one hope we don’t have to see this played out again and again on our TV screens.
Keith called him disingenuous and said he believes he’d be better as a singer in a band. Nicki, who isn’t known for her sensitivity and seemed to miss the point completely here said he was trying too hard to be a different Charlie. Randy felt the song and the performance were disconnected. Mariah tried to be nice and said she enjoys him as a person and the diversity he brings to the group.
But a reality TV talent show isn’t the kid of therapy Charlie needs. So yes, I guess I’m hoping he will fail, and not be voted through. That makes me feel bad, but not as bad as I’d feel thinking Charlie was putting himself through this week after week. He doesn’t need multiple televised pity parties.
Nick Boddington sang the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris.” The judges weren’t that into the performance but I kind of liked all the little runs he did on it. Nicki wanted to hear the original melody as it’s one of her favorite songs but how was he supposed to know that? Normally the judges are all about contestants putting their own stamp on a song and that’s what Nick tried to do here. At least Randy gave him credit for that. I liked him being at the piano too. I was with Keith on that, loving the vulnerability. I was a bit confused by Mariah saying she hoped America will look at all of his performances when they decide to vote. I didn’t think Nick needed that kind of a boost as this was easily my favorite performance at that point in the show.
Burnell Taylor was up next with “I’m Here” from “The Color Purple” which he had auditioned with earlier. It was really disappointing to hear a repeat performance on the very first live show for him. He blamed the show’s editing, saying we didn’t see much of his first go at this song and he wanted us to hear him sing it as it’s one of his favorites. I stick to my earlier point: show us you know a variety of songs and we’ll be more impressed. He has a unique sound, though, which Randy liked. His range and control are good, and so it disappoints me all over again that he repeated a song so early.
Paul Jolley sang Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton’s “I’m Just a Fool.” Keith wanted him to tone down his exaggerated stage performance so we listen to his voice more, which I think was a good point because this was one of the best vocals of the night. I’m digging his rock-country vibe. Randy said he has great moments in all of his performances and he’s waiting for them all to come together. So am I.
I wanted Lazaro Arbos to be so much beter than he was singing Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” but that’s probably me being naive. He articulated his words much better this week although their were a few dodgy notes thrown in again. Keith acknowledged the way the audience lights up when Lazaro sings which was nice and I hope it gives Lazaro confidence, because he needs that for us to feel more comfortable watching him perform. Randy’s sure he’s “in it to win it” but if he’s to do that he’ll need to find the “sweet spot” Mariah talked about more often. Take your minds out of the gutter, people, there were a few “sweet spots” in Lazaro’s singing.
Curtis Finch, Jr. sang R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” may be one of my favorite songs (I got that in before Nicki could) but I don’t quite understand the religious conversion it seems to have affected on the judges. “We just had a sermon in Vegas, baby!” raved Randy for some unknown reason. He was on-pitch, though and I sort of liked his energy, although I didn’t quite believe it. Mariah clearly did, though, telling him, “That was just what I needed in this moment of my life right now…. There’s so much bad energy, for no reason, at times!” Nicki said his talent came from a higher power.
Devin Velez gave us a bilingual rendition of Perry Como’s “Somos Novios (It’s Impossible)” and I feel a bit mean saying I don’t like that. I know there’s no reason why Spanish speakers shouldn’t be serenaded on “American Idol,” even if I can’t understand a word of it. I even think it’s smart that people can sing in two languages. But it just seems try-hard and sickly to me. Sorry. Randy was right, though, in saying the singing seemed effortless. Unfortunately it was a little too old-fashioned and lounge style for me and somehow the Spanish contributed to that. But Keith loved everything about it, as did Nicki. Randy and Mariah both called it incredible. So I guess I’ll have to get over myself and look forward to Devin’s next performance.
Vincent Powell sang Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” and as Nicki said, “You wasn’t sittin’ on it right tonight.” Vincent reeeaaally didn’t like being told that. I didn’t like it because I rarely like song written for groups being performed by solo artists. They just seem too thin. Keith thought Vincent’s nerves got the best of him and that seems to be the case. Nicki thought he picked a bad song and Randy thought he overshot everything. Mariah noticed moments of brilliance but I didn’t.
So, based on these performances Curtis Finch, Jr. and Burnell Taylor seem shoo-ins for the Top 5 boys. Hopefully, Charlie will be put out of is misery, but we’ll find out tonight as the Top 10 contestants, guys and girls, are revealed! Who do you think deserves their place?