'American Idol' Recap: Another Five Guys Get the Boot
The judges complete the lineup of top 10 male semifinalists in Sin City following a performance night filled with cheesy song choices and few standouts.
American Idol revealed the top 20 semifinalists in Vegas on Thursday night, but not before cutting loose another five male singers during the fourth and final sudden death round.
Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.
Here's who got the boot: "Turbanator" Gurpreet Singh Sarin; earnest Bryant Tadeo; sweet David Willis; bro-y Mathenee Treco, and ambitious singer-songwriter Josh Holiday, who could totally be the physical and spiritual love child of David Cook and Kris Allen with his strategically gelled hair and courtly manner.
And here's who made the cut: vocal powerhouse Vincent Powell; sensitive Lazaro Arbos; clear-voiced Nick Boddington; judge favorite Burnell Taylor and, last but not least, the genetically blessed Cortez Shaw. Together they round out the top 10 dude semifinalists, joining Elijah Liu, Curtis Finch Jr., Charlie Askew, Devin Velez and Paul Jolley.
On Wednesday, judges completed the line-up of top 10 lady sing-testants (which includes the show-stopping Zoanette Johnson, who slayed her thrillingly bizarre and at times unintentionally hilarious rendition of "The Circle of Life.") The live voting shows roll out next week.
(Sidenote: This would never happen in a million trillion gazillion years, but we're dying for Idol to air the backstage footage of judges deliberating over the hopefuls. Remember when producers used to show Simon Cowell and company poring over contenders' photos and crossing names off various lists? What's the deal, Nigel Lythgoe? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? We demand to see evidence of Nicki Minaj fighting for one of her "ladybugs." Keith Urban butting heads with Mariah Carey. Randy Jackson asleep on the couch in Lythgoe's office.)
Moving on to more pressing matters at hand: Thursday's winners and losers. Let's assess!
Vincent Powell: As esteemed Idol Worship co-blogger Michele Amabile Angermiller stated on The Twitter, Powell bears more than a passing resemblance to music mogul L.A. Reid. (Yes, it's the black frame glasses.) The 29-year-old Houston-based youth minister, who has previously released a gospel album, wowed the panel with his impassioned, falsetto-laced cover of Lenny Williams' "Cause I Love You." Although it was a bit of a throwback, Minaj approved, gushing: "I’m very surprised because usually you come off old-fashioned. … Today it was a good old-fashioned. A sexy old-fashioned.” She then delivered the Nicki-ism of the night: "That [performance] hit me SOMEWHERE." Perhaps no one felt it more than Jackson, who swayed to the sound -- his eyelids drooped half-mast -- as if he were having some kind of religious experience in response to the singer's D'Angelo-esque sexytime vocals. Our next American Idol, everyone? Too soon, too soon.
Cortez Shaw: The Sexiest American Idol of Season 12 sang David Guetta's "Titanium" to mostly rave reviews from the judges and especially Minaj, who cooed: "Is it hot in here or is it just me?" Shaw, 22, has a strong tenor and his bold choice to ballad-ize the popular song paid off -- but those good looks don't hurt, either. If this Idol thing doesn't work out, and Shaw still wants to chase his Hollywood dreams, then he may have a future as an actor or male model.
Lazaro Arbos: Imagine how difficult it would be to perform in front of a TV audience of millions and be judged on everything from your singing voice to your sense of style. We would hide in our dressing room! For Arbos, 21, who stutters, the sense of anxiety must be overwhelming; indeed, he was sweating bullets during his rendition of Urban's "Tonight I Want to Cry" but still managed to get through it mainly without a hitch. The ice cream shop employee, whose emotional sensitivity bleeds through in every note, received some light criticism from Urban, who thought the song (his song!) was all wrong for Arbos.
Nick Boddington: The 27-year-old bartender sang James Morrison's "Say Something Now," and it was BORING. Given the gifted musician's successful past performances, we'll chalk up this snoozer to poor song choice (really, James Morrison?). The judges were "meh" but saved Boddington in the end probably because they needed to pick someone who looks like an extra on Portlandia.
Burnell Taylor: The Hurricane Katrina survivor reminds us of last season's Joshua Ledet in terms of his innate sweetness, soulful style and confident stage presence. Taylor, 19, lost 40 pounds following his slam-dunk audition, and, for the Sin City show, he donned a hipster-preppy jacket and skinny pants to perform John Legend's "This Time." Urban called Taylor "strikingly original" while Minaj declared: "I would pay to see you sing!" He's the guy to beat in a season marked by stiff competition from a handful of talented female singers.
Gurpreet Singh Sarin: Sporting a banana yellow ensemble, the 22-year-old failed miserably on Morrison's "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You," a woefully dated, '70s-ish tune that should be removed from the Idol songbook ASAP. Quoth Jackson: "Honestly, that was terrible."
Bryant Tadeo: The Hawaii native, 23, crooned Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" and if we had witnessed this tacky misfire at karaoke, we would have left the room immediately. The usually-astute Urban said he liked it though -- but then again, the "Tonight I Want to Cry" singer/judge is a sucker for sentiment. BUT THAT'S WHY THE LADIES LOVE HIM.
Mathenee Treco: A dancer-choreographer by trade, Treco's take on the Elvis classic "A Little Less Conversation" didn't go over well with the panelists who criticized him for over-singing and having bad taste. "It didn't feel current, it felt very cheesy and karaoke," sniped Minaj. Shockingly, Carey admitted she wasn't familiar with the song. And she also told Treco, in what could be misconstrued as a come-on: "I always felt that you were a person I would invite over to my house." Jealous. We want to see that famed Hello Kitty-themed bathroom with our very own eyes.
Josh Holiday: This would-be David Cook 2.0 was raised on a cattle farm and later moved to Nashville to make it in the music biz. Holiday, 24, busted out an original song for his last appearance, winning props for taking a risk and not playing it safe with a familiar crowd-pleaser. In the end, though, he may have been too bland to reach the next level.
David Willis: Strumming the guitar during his set, the 21-year-old worship leader fell flat on his peppy interpretation of "Fever." The general judge consensus: Willis and his choice of song bordered on dated and dull, although the singing was good. In one of her harshest critiques, Minaj likened Willis to a kid performing for his family on Christmas.
Questions, Idol-Worshippers: What do you think about the top 10 guys? Did the judges get it right? And if we're going to judge the judges, what's with Carey's awkward and stilted feedback of late? Should Zoanette be added as the fifth member of the panel? Yes? No? Maybe?