You can tell the producers really want a girl to win season 12 of “American Idol.” Thursday night’s last batch of boys facing the sudden death round was almost across-the-board bad. Two exceptions get immunity from any forthcoming complaints—Vincent Powell and Burnell Taylor. Everyone else, even the ones that made it through to the next round, were not semi-finals material. And the judges didn’t hide their disappointment.
Well, all the judges except Mariah Carey, who pretty much only had positive (and occasionally incomprehensible) things to say.
The last of the Vegas round was pre-recorded, like the other episodes, and I’m starting to wonder if, like “The Voice,” they were done on the same day. Nick Minaj’s white blonde hair with black roots, and Mariah’s poofy updo, were the same on Thursday as they were on Wednesday. Unlike “The Voice,” though, they got a clue and changed their outfits, so we didn’t feel like they’d been sitting in the same silk pajamas for weeks.
The show opened with Mathenee Treco, whose showy rendition of “A Little Less Conversation” Keith Urban called “assaulting.” Strangely, though, Mariah told Mathenee that he’s “a person I would invite over to my house.”
Gurpreet Singh Sarin, who explained to us that he is Sikh and that’s why he has a flowing beard and wears a turban, gave a weak sounding and cheesy performance of a James Morrison song, which Randy Jackson described as “terrible.”
Josh Holiday, a Nashville songwriter, sang an original, which was a huge mistake, because it was a goofy song that he penned after making it through Hollywood. Though it got off to a good start with him on piano, he loser-danced his way through the rest of the song and it was just a little too ‘90s coffeehouse to really enjoy. Nicki felt like Josh was just trying to please the judges. Mariah, looking on the bright side, told him that songwriters often do better in the music industry than singers.
By the time David Oliver Willis came out, it seemed that the Florida worship leader would be the antidote to the badness that had come before. BTW, his father was born in 1906—did I hear that right? I don’t totally know how that works. But anyway, David, with guitar, sang “Fever” as an old rock song, and I found it entertaining enough, if a little safe, but Nicki put a halt on his “Idol” journey the minute she told him that he performed like he had just gotten a guitar for Christmas.
Bryant Tadeo went into falsetto heights for “New York State of Mind,” but beyond the high note at the end, Nicki was not impressed, as she put plainly. Nor were the others. Although Mariah did tell him he that at the very least, he was “professional.”
Nick Boddington, whose delicate, pretty face and crazy blue eyes are totally mesmerizing, wouldn’t have made it through if everyone else weren’t so bad. The best he got from Mariah, even, was “consistent.” Randy was upset that he didn’t have a “moment” on another James Morrison song, “Say Something Now.” He does have some subtleties to his voice, and he’s oh, so tender, but he’s just a little too manicured to reach that oft-repeating teen girls’ desire for a gruff troubadour.
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Then again, he did have a tough act to follow: Vincent Powell. The former backup singer to Whitney Hosuton was so gospelly, so good, and he just brought…it…all. Zoanette Johnson, the meter for all that is good in the world on this show, was flipping out in the audience. “Get it Papa Smurf, get it!” she shrieked, after Ryan Seacrest told her she looked like she needed an ice bath. Nicki, Zoanette’s soulmate, had a similar reaction. “I could envision a bunch of 50-year-olds and 40-year-olds throwing their panties at you,” she said. “That hit me somewhere.”
Burnell Taylor, on the other hand, did not have a tough act to follow. In fact, he could have sung the alphabet after a streak of blandness and pitch issues. But he did so much more. I originally thought we’d never seen Burnell before, but then it turned out he had one of the best auditions this year, the one who made Mariah Carey cry when he sang a song from “The Color Purple.” But he’s been rendered unrecognizable. Since then, he’s shaved his beard and his hair, lost 40 pounds, put some decent clothes on, and got a pair of totally hip nerdy Urkel glasses. He also stopped smiling, which is weird. But it worked. His delivery of a John Legend song was a little nasal, but he had a great vibe, and was likable all around. Nicki gushed that she would pay to see him sing right now, and that losing the weight “signifies a different spirit taking over your life.” You have to admit, she doesn’t mince words when she knows how she feels.
Lazaro Arbos was an early favorite due to a stutter that magically disappears when he sings, but he lost some favor in Hollywood when he complained all through group night about the song choice, then made his team focus on helping him learn the song, and reigned victorious as everyone else in his group was sent home. Now, his super bright dress shirts and bowties are starting to get on my nerves. He chose “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” which was an awful match, though he did accomplish one thing—he actually made Keith Urban’s music seem complicated. Otherwise, it was pretty dreadful. He was off key, he was out of it, not even Keith enjoyed the sound of the cash register when his song was sung on national TV. “It never felt like you got comfortable with the song,” he told him, although he said he felt Lazaro’s “spirit.” I guess that spirit was enough to get him to semi-finals.
Closing the show was Cortez Shaw, and perhaps due to the fact that there had not yet been five good performances on before his, he was pretty much guaranteed to move on, even with some pitch problems on “Titanium.”
So those were the results, and Twitter-users generally tended to agree somewhat with the judges, all up until the final moment when the judges had to choose between Nick and Gupreet. When they delivered the final result, sending Gupreet home, the Twitter meter jumped for the first time to a majority negative reaction. Now, had a judge uttered, “Watching tonight’s slate of average to below average performers was a good use of my time,” the disagreement meter would have been off the charts.