'American Idol' Recap: The Top 10 Guys Perform
'American Idol' Recap: The Top 10 Guys Perform
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Jeez Louise, a guy goes out of town for a week and the whole American Idol landscape falls apart. After having to watch Isabelle and J'DA get the shaft in favor of screechy Tenna Torres and awkward Charlie Askew, the Idol judges decided to one-up themselves and make even more horrible choices before turning the vote over to a more responsible, trustworthy group: America (Yikes!).

Somehow, Zoanette Johnson and her Lion King mane advanced to the finals, leaving poor Jett Hermano, who I think had the absolute best performance of the week (Candice Glover's choice was too safe), wondering what the heck she did wrong. I loved Juliana Chahayed's voice, and the judges admitted she was the only singer who already had a unique sound locked down. But somehow, Breanna Steer (who I ranked seventh) moved on instead. Candice and Jett were the only locks in my book, though, so I was fine with the other choices based on the muddled middle. Cristabel Clack and Melinda Ademi were easy cuts.

You guys could have gone a little easier on Morgan, especially since she said she hadn't watched show all season. Believe me, I am no Zoanette fan, and I have spoken out as much. But I will admit that her semifinal performance was her best, by far. I don't know about ranking her number one, but clearly judge influence played a role. Sadly, I think you could make a case for her being top 5 of the night, but the circus sideshow is just too much for me. I think her Tina Turner impression captured that sentiment well.  

On the guys' side, the judges somehow sent home David Willis, who justified the high ranking I gave him before Vegas but still didn't make the cut. The guy had the second best performance of the night in my book, and let me say, he looked about 10 years younger once he got rid of the high top. Dude got robbed.

I also thought Bryant Tadeo deserved to move on, but I guess like female country singers, there was only enough room for one Asian-Spanishy-looking guy in the finals. And they already sent Elijah Liu and his marketability through. But hey, at least we get to see more of too-big-for-his-voice Cortez Shaw (The guy has ZERO control and tries to belt every note out. I think he puts on a wig and goes on stage as Zoanette.) and singing-cures-all-disabilities Lazaro Arbos. I was also sad to see Josh Holiday go, but I think he got confused as to whether he was auditioning for American Idol or the 98 Degrees reunion tour.

On the bright side, I didn't have to watch and comment live on two performances from Zoanette, which I can only hope will be her last. But on the down side, you have no idea what it's like to get home from vacation and have to watch six hours of American Idol in one day, just so you can watch two more hours that night (which is why you had to read my quick summary above). Thankfully, Idol remains the best show EVER to watch on DVR. Thanks, filler!

So now it's up to us (not me, really, as I've never bothered to vote for an American Idol) to make sure we get the eliminations as right as can be. It seems like Idol is going very fast this year, cutting the field in half at every turn. Forty became 20, which will now become 10(ish) just that quickly. Judges' save, anyone? Then again, this IS episode 16.

While there might be some singers who deserve to be here but aren't, we can sure as heckfire (Needlenose Ned reference) make sure there aren't any in the contest who don't deserve to be. And if the top five girls aren't Candice Glover, Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb, Kree Harrison and Janelle Arthur, we've got issues. But that's Thursday night's article, because on Wednesday, it's all about the guys.

Let's find out who of Curtis Finch, Jr., David Vincent and their ragtag bunch of merry misfits should be moving on and who should be packing their bags. And in the immortal words of the incomparable (not a compliment) Bill O'Reilly, "We'll do it live! F**k it, do it live! I'll write it, and we'll do it live!" 

Feel free to comment as we go along, and I'll do my best to keep up with them. It's 2013, so keep those interactions coming!

Who Do You Want in Your Top 10?

Just like the ladies, 10 boys will enter, five men will stay. But first, Ryan Seacrest has to ask the judges some ridiculous question about listening to the same song but hearing different things. Randy explains that music is, in fact, subjective to the listener. Thanks, Dawg!

I can only assume there's no theme for the week, so it looks like it's an every-man-for-himself free for all. And Elijah Liu is getting it started.

Elijah Liu, the Ladies Man

The always-marketable Elijah Liu is singing "Stay" by Rihanna, and he makes sure we know that he's single and doing it for his female fans. It's just alright, really. Definitely not a moment, and possible straight-up forgettable. But at least he's not singing Bruno Mars.

Keith Urban likes his shoes and thought the song fit Elijah's voice. Nicki Minaj has to think before she speaks, and decides she would be willing to stay (like the song directs). She can see him on blankets and cups and T-shirts, because he's marketable. Randy Jackson likes it better than last week, but doesn't think it ever hit second gear. Still, he adds that Elijah is current and marketable. Mariah Carey calls it one of Elijah's better performances, which has to be true since he's never wowed me. She calls him "sale-able," just to mix up the word choice. Like me calling him "not rememberable." 

Cortez Shaw Proves He Doesn't Have to Scream

Wow, what a positive change from Cortez, deciding to work on himself based on the judges' criticism and improve on his weaknesses. He chose Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven," probably just so Elijah couldn't sing it. He keeps it toned down, which avoids the pitfalls of his normal screaming. It's more solid, but keeping it in the park also reduces his showmanship and standoutedness (we're following Mariah's lead and making up at least one word for each contestant).

Keith loves Cortez and the song, just not together. Nicki likes him, but criticizes his khakis and jean vest. She wants Elijah's stylist to work on him, because she loves Elijah. Randy likes that he changed his tone, just doesn't like the way he changed it. Mariah misses the belted-out ballads, but she thinks the audience liked the up-tempo performance. She is surprised he avoided the higher register, but she wanted it even lower. She hits all four points on the compass without actually saying anything meaningful. This guy just can't win (and likely won't).

Charlie Askew Grows a Tiny Stache

I don't even know how to describe the moustache. It's half gym teacher, half pedophile uncle. He's also rocking a turtle necklace for his fans, apparently called "turtles," as well as an Indian feather earring. He's singing "Mama," by Genesis, with lyrics that seem to match his creepy stache. The screaming parts are the highlights, but it still took me halfway through to understand enough lines to Google what the song was. It's just not good, and sadly the act has gotten a bit stale.

Keith says Charlie could front a band with his huge vocal range, but he doesn't really see him in this competition anymore. He calls it disingenuous. Nicki hates the moustache, the tank top, the earring, the pony tail, everything. She's gone from obsessed to upset. Randy thought the front part was terrible and the ending was too screamographic (Charlie, check). At this point, Charlie looks like he's legitimately about to cry. Mariah takes the nice route and says she enjoys him as a person, but now I'm sad for Charlie. He was in over his head from the beginning. Poor little turtle. 

Charlie gets dark with it, saying that everyone thinks he's such a happy-go-lucky person, but he only smiles all the time because he feels like he has to. Dude is falling apart on live TV, and it's tough to watch. Ryan tells him he has friends, and everything will be OK. At least he has the troubled makings of a gifted songwriter. 

Nick Boddington Makes Us Happy Again

First by showing pictures of himself with a full head of curls before admitting he indeed thinned out a bit in his 20s, then by sitting down at the piano and singing "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls. He slows it down and has a nearly flawless vocal performance reminiscent of his final song in Hollywood. A real goose-bump moment, and I've got chills. The crowd goes nuts, and this guy is moving on.

Keith loved the song choice and thought it was beautiful. Nicki didn't like that Nick changed the melody and thought that while it was pretty, she didn't like that he stayed in his comfort zone. Randy didn't think it was Nick's best performance, but called it solid. Mariah felt like it was unfair because Nick didn't "kick in" until the end, and she hopes that voters will remember his other performances and not this one when they vote. These judges are CRAZY. I don't know what's going on. This is high on the bothersomeedness scale. 

Burnell Taylor Gets Nerdy

I was a big Burnell fan after the audition, but for me, he's failed to maintain any momentum. He barely squeaked into the top 5 of his group, so he really needs to wow this time. Apparently jean jackets are back in style tonight, because we've seen several. He's slowing it down with former American Idol winner Fantasia's "I'm Here," which was also his audition song, and it's pretty boring at first. But the second half is spectacular, and his last note gives me goose bumps. He's going to be right on the border again, but he probably did just enough to get by, especially considering who went before him.

Keith says this song came just in the nick of time and felt like Burnell was singing about himself. Nicki feels the struggle and pain in his voice, and she's happy they brought him to America's attention. Randy loved the beginning, which apparently made the audience want more. I wanted less until I got more. Mariah says Burnell did it again and achieved another tearrific moment. The judges are apparently pissed they can't pick the winners anymore, so they're doing their best to shape your vote.

Paul Jolley and the Battle of the Country Nerves

Paul is so clearly nervous during everything leading up his actual singing, nearly shaking during his pre-song interview. Nicki called him out on it before, and he's also been criticized for being too theatrical. He's planning a "Tennessee shindig" for all his yokums back home, so he's going really ho-down with Christina Aguilera's "Just a Fool." Wait, what? 

He's nice and smooth and hits all his notes, but it stops short of goose bumps. Again, right in the middle of the pack.

Keith asks him what type of artist he sees himself as, and Paul says he wants to be the pop country male version of Taylor Swift. This shocks all the judges, who had no idea he had any idea who he wanted to be. Keith wants Paul to "ease it in a little more," and I'm leaving that one alone. Still, he wants Paul to be more believable and use less (more?) effortlessnicity. Nicki has nothing negative to say, calling it solid (Nicki and I agree on something!). Randy liked the beginning but thought Paul fell apart on the pitch at the end. He found it less than pleasant. Mariah believes Paul has "a very strong instrument" and that the audience "felt what he was giving them." I forget what we're talking about.

Lazaro Arbos Gets Emotional

But not in a Charlie Askew kind of way. He's so happy to be here that he brought back the bright pink shirt and white sport coat. He hopes his story is an inspiration to someone, somewhere, and he's "Feeling Good," like Michael Buble. I didn't think he deserved to advance past the last stage, but this is probably his best performance to date. I'm still moderately worried about how much he sweats on stage. Somebody get that kid a water bottle.

Keith thinks that if the audience reaction is indicative of America's vote, Lazaro will be back. Nicki loves that pink is both of their favorite colors, and thinks he delivered a solid vocal performance with attitude. Randy drops his first "in it to win it" of the night, saying you can see Lazaro's heart light up, which when paired with the sweating, probably means he needs a doctor. Mariah is impressed by Lazaro's dedication and how he throws himself into the music. Her only critique is that this song was way too low for him. Still, she thinks he's stutterific. I may have gotten in over my head with this made-up word thing. 

Curtis Finch, Jr., Keeps Up the (Lord's) Good Work

Curtis has been the clear favorite among the guys all season, and he's yet to have even a shaky performance. Some people are turned off by his seemingly smug demeanor, but he strikes me as such a nice guy that I don't see that as much. He tackles R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," and I can't believe Michael Jordan is 50. That's a "Spacejam" reference. While solid yet again, I don't think this is Curtis' best. Based on the judges' reactions, all smiles and head bobs, I can tell they're going to disagree with me. The audience disagrees, too, with many offering a standing ovation.

Keith believes Curtis actually can fly and says he delivered a sermon in Las Vegas. Then he thanks Curtis for singing. Nicki says he always raises the bar and that this is beyond American Idol. No matter how many votes he gets, she says he has a calling to make this type of album and inspire people. He gets a little choked up, blesses her and thanks God. Randy says let's all praise God, because he is good like Curtis is. The night started for him right here, which means the last 90 minutes was a waste of all our time. Mariah says this song is what she needed in her life right now. Holy hell, it was GOOD, but let's not go insane here. Did Curtis just raise Jesus? Is the apocalypse here? I need to go to confession, stat. I think it would be sacrilegious to make up a word right now. Or would it be sacrilicious? I'm hungry. 

Devin Velez Knows Spanish

Devin has a spectacular voice, but he constantly slips out of big notes. He's singing "It's Impossible," which required a little research to figure out who sang the original. It was first recorded in English by Perry Como, but Armando Menzanero gets the credit for the pre-translated "Somos Novios" that Devin dives into. He keeps the vibrato together and for the first time in my opinion, nails it. 

The judges go nutso over his bilingualality, and Keith practically drools over the performance.. Nicki calls him a Spanish Ken doll, and Randy praises his tone, calling him mad young and mad cool and mad handsome. Mariah calls his performance incredible and adds that it was "a big deal." Again, I thought it was one of the best of the night, but I'm not as impressed over the fact that he sings in Spanish as the judges are. Actually a big annoyed the more times I hear it. For some reason, I feel like it's easier. I still had more of an emotional connection with Nick. 
Vincent Powell Gets the Pimp Spot

Vincent thinks his last performance was his best ever, and he's determined to "bring it" again. Nicki is more concerned with bringing women in their 50s to toss panties at him. As if to prove her point, he's singing "End of the Road," by Boyz II Men. There are parts that are near perfection, but there's a couple shaky areas that prevent it from being a real "moment." His range is crazy, though, so the talent is there. Just too up and down this time.

Keith felt like nerves got the better of Vincent, and then he gets bleeped by a sad man in the sound booth. Nicki says he wasn't "sitting on it tonight," and felt like he overcompensated with a less than stupenawsome song choice. Randy doesn't think it was his best, and Mariah says there were undeniable moments of brilliance, but there were also moments to nitpick.

So that's it for the top 10 guys, and the field is as muddled as ever. Even a couple of the guys at the bottom of my rankings have a shot to move on, so I don't know if anything could surprise me when it comes to the eliminations. Who were your favorites? Who do you think came up short? Do you think any of these guys stand a shot against the girls? Thanks for watching along with me, and I appreciate all your comments and feedback. Tune in Thursday, and we'll do it all again. And then again and again and again and again until we're desperate for a finale that may never come. It's the simple beauty of American Idol.

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