(LAS VEGAS) — American Idol’s top 10 guys sang for America’s votes Wednesday night, with live performances at the Beatles Love Theater at The Mirage in Las Vegas.
The top 10 girls performed Tuesday night. The results will be announced on Thursday, with five male contestants and five female contestants advancing.
Judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban were on hand for the men’s performances to offer their critiques. Here’s what happened:
Elijah Liu got things under way with a soulful version of Rihanna’s “Stay.” Keith liked Elijah’s control and thought that the song suited his voice. Nicki offered that she’d “be willing to stay,” adding that Elijah was marketable. Randy thought Elijah had improved on last week’s performance, but it “laid flat.” Mariah thought it was one of the 18-year-old’s better efforts.
Taking last week’s judges’ feedback to heart, Cortez Shaw livened up his act with a take on the Bruno Mars hit “Locked Out of Heaven.” Keith liked the spirit of the delivery but was not sure it was a good song choice. Nicki loved to see the charisma on display but thought the Dallas native was straining with some of the notes. Randy seemed to agree. Mariah noted Cortez’s high register might have been a little too high.
Wild kid Charlie Askew has a very unique style. He chose to cover the Genesis song “Mama.” He squeaked and screeched his way through it, bringing an ironic smile to all of the judges’ faces except for Nicki, who had a deadpan expression. Keith thought Charlie might be better suited to fronting a band, and that he gave a disconnected performance. Nicki simply asked “What happened?” She was shocked to see the change from the “cuddly Charlie” she loves. Randy didn’t appreciate the screaming and didn’t get it. Mariah tried to be kind but Charlie was already showing signs of tears. Charlie broke down in his interview with Ryan Seacrest and tearfully said that he only “smiled all the time” because he felt “he had to.” Seacrest told Charlie that he was brave and said, “You have friends here.”
The judges recently told Nick Boddington that they liked to see him perform at the piano. He obliged and sang a slowed-down version of “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls. Keith loved the perfect song choice but noted some pitch issues, which added to the vulnerability. Nicki thought the performance was pretty and said the song was true to Nick. Randy called it a “good, solid” performance. Mariah was glad that Nick “kicked in” toward the end after a sleepy start.
Burnell Taylor, a Hurricane Katrina survivor, sang “I’m Here,” from the musical The Color Purple. It was a repeat of his original audition song. Keith gave him a standing ovation. The country star said he always believes what Burnell sings. Nicki loves Burnell and appreciated the struggle and pain in Burnell’s voice. Randy said it was “great.” Mariah said she had shed a tear and told him she was proud.
Paul Jolley had survived last week’s sudden-death round by way of a save from music mogul Jimmy Iovine. He sang the Christina Aguilera/Blake Shelton song “Just a Fool.” Keith was unsure what kind of artist Paul wants to be and told Paul to believe in himself more. Nicki thought it was a solid performance. Randy thought he detected a change in tone halfway through the performance, a change for the worse. Mariah also seemed confused as to where Paul was heading with his style.
Overcoming his stutter when he sings, Lazaro Arbos has proven extremely likeable so far this season. He took on “Feeling Good,” originally by Nina Simone. He got an extended round of applause from the live audience, along with plenty of “whoops” from the girls. Keith said that the audience always connects with Lazaro. Nicki loved the performance and called it a strong vocal with attitude. Randy unleashed his catchphrase and said the 21-year-old was “in it to win it.” Mariah advised him to stick with songs that suit his register.
After what he calls an “epic” sudden-death round, Curtis Finch Jr. had all of the judges on their feet. Keith called Curtis’ version of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” “a sermon in Vegas.” Nicki said Curtis had pushed the bar higher again and that he had a calling “from above” to sing. Randy said the competition started with this performance. Mariah was moved by the St. Louis singer and praised him on high.
In some of his previous performances, Devin Velez mixed English with Spanish. He repeated the model again with a version of “Somos Novios,” made famous as “It’s Impossible” by Perry Como. Keith called him a “good, good singer” and loved his vocal runs. Nicki called it a “perfecto” performance. Randy liked Devin’s tone and called him effortless. Mariah called the 18-year-old’s performance incredible and powerful.
Another strong performer from sudden-death week was Vincent Powell. He tried to bring his “A” game again for a run-through of “End of the Road,” by Boyz II Men. Keith saw some nerves in the performance, and Nicki said he “wasn’t on it” this week. Randy said Vince “overshot it” a little bit. Mariah seemed to agree that there were just a few moments of brilliance from the oldest of the male contestants.
American Idol returns to Fox on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time with a live results show.
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