We're back in Las Vegas for the sudden death semifinals to determine who goes and who stays for the chance to become America's next top Idol
. We're so close to finally moving into the portion of this show where America decides the winner, instead of letting Nicki Minaj choose who'd she'd most like to hang out with.
Another day, another two hour song-fest. To call these Idol installments bloated would be an insult to bloating. It's a lot of contestants to hear all at once, until at some point in the epic two-hour proceedings you realize Nicki Minaj is starting to make sense to you.
At this point, unlike me, you should take a break and go hug someone you love. Get some fresh air. Forget you heard the phrase "ladybug" in Wednesday's installment 50 times
. Escape ... escape while you still can!
Once again, your usual recapper Bill King is out this week and I'm subbing in. As a reminder from last night, it's been a long time since I've checked in with the good folks and Coca-Cola enthusiasts at American Idol. Unlike the judges, I really am coming at these performances with no preconceived notions. So if I like someone that everyone else has hated for weeks based on one strong performance, that's probably why.
Anyway, once again the contestants can pick whatever song they fancy and use whatever instruments they want to play. The name of the game is going to be song selection tonight, as some of these guys are going to bury themselves by choosing a terrible song.
Who will blow us away? Who will squeak by into the next round because of a colorful personality? Will Nicki Minaj hit on someone? Will Mariah Carey say anything of substance? Let's find out.
Mathenee Treco Opens With Elvis
It's time to meet Mathenee in his video, and it turns out he works in the Bahamas so I hate him already because I'm so tired of winter. He's singing "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis and while he's really performing, it doesn't seem to be the right song for his vocal range. Whenever he hits the high notes it just...really doesn't connect. FOX Announces Season Finale Date for Idol >>
Keith Urban says he has a huge range vocally and immense power. He especially loves how much Mathenee loves entertaining. Unfortunately he thinks he's hiding behind his big voice instead of making a connection.
Nicki Minaj says it didn't feel current and then goes into a weird British accent for no reason. Randy Jackson once more awkwardly tries to make a joke and then hits him about the song choice. Your Idol drinking game word for this performance is "entertainer".
Mariah would invite him over to her house to "have fun", which doesn't sound quite right. She says she felt a disconnect between the reality and her expectation, 500 Days of Summer-style. Wow, Mariah is really tan. Like Snooki in Jersey Shore tan. I feel like she wasn't even that tan yesterday, was she?
Gurpreet Singh Sarin Stumbles
Gurpreet explains his turban and his religious beliefs in his pre-performance video. He wants people to judge him for his voice instead of by his appearance. He comes onstage singing "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You" by James Morrison. He's fine on the verses, but his voice starts to get lost in the chorus. It just seems like his voice isn't really suited to carry this song. I do love his yellow pants though. Matching is my kryptonite, what can I say?
Nicki looks hilariously puzzled and is throwing some great shade even when Keith is talking. Keith agrees the song choice wasn't right and thinks Gurpreet works better with an acoustic style. Nicki liked the intimate feeling he had earlier in the competition. She says this wasn't the right day to take a big chance like that. Then she drops both a "honey child" and a "hell no" which...is a bit much.
Randy Jackson says his first "dawg" of the night, and my heart sings. I feel like I'm back to the Idol I once knew. But it's a bad "dawg" because Randy thinks the performance was so terrible he's mostly speechless. Meanwhile, Mariah was pretty disappointed she didn't hear his softer voice. Gurpreet keeps asking people to let him through to the next round, probably because he understands how much he dropped the ball here.
Vincent Powell Really Starts The Night
He's sung background for tons of huge artists like Whitney Houston, but now Vincent is ready to step into the spotlight. He sings "Cause I Love You" by Lenny Williams, which causes Randy to make some really weird facial expressions at the judges table. He wails so long on the last note it sounds like he might actually need an inhaler.
Keith says the screaming crowd is summing it up and he absolutely loved the performance. Nicki says Vincent has an old soul, but today made old fashioned sexy. She imagines poor Vincent getting hit with the panties of 50-year-old women, apropos of nothing. Nicki's feedback is not always helpful.
Randy says he felt like tonight's show started at this performance. Vincent is really lucky everyone before him was so terrible. He thinks Vincent is a complete package because he's a real singer and a real entertainer. Mariah's useful contribution is the word "finally."
Meanwhile, Zoanette really needs to take a chill pill because I'm afraid she's going to shake Ryan Seacrest to death. She is as energetic as her hair and that is far too energetic. I'm starting to get why everyone is already tired of her.
Nick Boddington Finds A (Tiny) Moment
Nick's pre-performance video explains he's a bartender in New York City and has been performing his whole life. He also seems to be a big fan of hats. You have a fedora or a newsboy cap? Nick will rock it.
Like Gurpreet he chooses to sing a James Morrison song, this one called "Say Something Now". At least his voice seems more suited for this style than the last Idol guy who took this artist on. Still, it seems like James Morrison is just Idol kryptonite tonight.
Keith loves the timbre in Nick's voice and thinks it's easy to listen to. Unfortunately, he didn't feel connected to Nick as a person. Nicki loves the warmth in his voice and thinks it's truthful, but she didn't think this performance was a 10.
Randy drops another dawg, so once again it feels like old times, but he doesn't think the song choice was right for Nick. He mentions it's sudden death and he just never had a shining moment. Mariah, however, thought he did have a moment and she's been enjoying Nick's performances. She tells him to keep going forward in his career, which sounds like a preemptive breakup.
Josh Holiday Gets Original
Josh grew up on a cattle farm and now lives in Nashville, which means he's friends with Rayna James
in my mind. Josh is choosing to perform an original song he wrote while sitting behind a grand piano. Halfway through the song he gets out from behind the piano to rock it out a bit more on this R&B ditty. His falsetto range doesn't really impress me much, but he's really giving the performance his all.
Keith says he wishes Josh would just cut lose and shred it. He says Josh is skillful with his voice but wants to see his heart and passion. Nicki wanted to see Josh stay on the piano and felt Josh was trying too hard to please the judges. Then Nicki nearly beats up someone from the audience.
These judges! They yelled at Jett last night for not getting out from behind the piano and now it's a problem that Josh did? How do you please these judges? I suddenly feel bad for the contestants.
Randy thought he took a big risk performing an original song. He wasn't wowed though, and then he tosses it over to Mariah. Way to not make a decision Randy! Mariah was impressed by the audience's response to the original song.
Mariah also agreed he should have stayed at the piano, than pseudo breaks up with him by saying some of the most successful people in the industry are the song writers. Mariah is giving a lot of people the kiss of death tonight in her feedback.
David Oliver Wells Gives Us Fever
David grew up in a foster family and his adopted parents are super old, so his style is grandpa chic. He sings "Fever" while playing the guitar and he has the audience clapping along on their feet. His voice is pretty good although his outfit is...not. It looks like something out of Saturday Night Fever, so I guess at least it's on theme?
Keith says right at the end of the song there was a big vocal moment, but thinks it wasn't the right song for David. Nicki says it felt very amateur and then does a weird robot dance. Not the robot dance! That is some cutting criticism. Her point is that he doesn't feel like a current artist.
Randy likes him but didn't like the song choice. However he is intrigued by seeing a new side to David. Mariah is more intrigued by David's back story and how many artists he's inspired by. She says he could have done more vocally but the crowd seemed to love it.
Bryant Tadeo Brings A New York State of Mind
Bryant is from Hawaii and I'm once more jealous of any place where it's sunny and beautiful all the time. He's singing "New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel at a single microphone. He chose very simple staging for this performance, which may or may not hurt him with the judges. Who knows with this panel?
Keith thought it was a really good song choice for him and keeps mentioning how the audience got on their feet. Don't they always though? It's not like the studio audience is really discerning.
Nicki loved the last note, which he actually added at the last minute. But of course Nicki didn't like anything else.
Meanwhile, Randy loved the beginning and pretty much nothing else. So at least everyone agrees the middle was crap? He kept waiting for it to go somewhere and it never really connected for him. Mariah thought he sounded professional and had a great tone. She thought there were a couple moments where he got lost in the song, but thinks he has raw talent.
Burnell Taylor Captivates The Judges
Burnell Taylor has apparently already lost 40 pounds. Take that Weight Watchers! If you want to lose weight, just go on American Idol instead. He's singing "This Time" by John Legend and his hands are going crazy. Is he also singing this song in sign? Because otherwise that is too much hand action. I feel like he's trying to cast a spell on me.
Keith thinks Burnell looks great and really liked the performance. He was thinking about all his critiques, but instead decided to throw all that out because Burnell is so original. Sure, don't critique the singing on a singing competition show. I think Burnell bewitched him with his flapping hands. .
Nicki says she would pay to see him sing today. Apparently losing weight means Burnell has been overtaken by the spirit of music? She says Burnell was the best by far, which considering the rest of the competition, is pretty faint praise.
Randy likes how original he is and how much he connected with the audience. Mariah agrees with Randy and then mentions how she cried the last time she saw him. I think the drinking game for tonight is how many times Mariah mentions crying, bringing the attention off a contestant and back onto her.
Lazaro Arbos Takes on Keith Urban
Lazaro lives in Florida, has a stutter, and wants people not to give up, no matter what they're going through. He's singing "Tonight I Wanna Cry" by Keith Urban which is pretty bold. Seriously, singing a song by one of the panel seems to just be asking to get murdered at judging.
However it goes pretty well for Lazaro, Keith even thanks him for singing the song. Then he laughs and admits he doesn't think his song was right for Lazaro. Despite that, Keith thinks he has a great spirit that burns through his vocals. Nicki likes that Lazaro has his own style and played to his strength.
In case you're keeping track at home, and you're not, Randy Jackson's dawg count is now at three! Randy loves the way Lazaro hit the chorus and thought he really relaxed into that section of the song. Mariah says he could have done a stronger vocal but there was a lot of emotion behind his song.
Cortez Shaw Slows Down Titanium to Bring Us Home
Coretz talks about his single parent home in his pre-performance video. He's singing a song I actually really adore, "Titanium" by David Guetta featuring Sia. It's a much slower arrangement of the song, which seems to be on trend for all of these semifinal performances. He does wail on the last note though, which Mariah seems to be feeling.
Keith agrees with me that he loves the song and thinks it was a brave choice for Cortez to turn it into a ballad. He thought the ballad version was incredibly unforgiving, but when Cortez hit the high notes it really hit the mark. By the end, however, Keith felt there was total redemption.
Nicki is totally hitting on Cortez in a way I haven't seen since last night with Aubrey, her little ladybug. His attractiveness has apparently rendered her incapable of actually critiquing the singing. Useful!
Randy says his range really surprised him and was impressed by his high notes. Randy thinks he looks current and could be a good artist for today's scene, always a good sign in Idol-land. Mariah of course loves him.
Who Stays and Who Goes?
The judges deliberated and it's time to find out who is moving forward and who is staying behind.
David Oliver Wells is up first and Mariah loves how much he loves music. Unfortunately he'll be moving his grandpa chic wardrobe off the show. Next up is Bryant Tadeo and although Keith loved him, it's majority rules and Bryant is going home.
Now it's Vincent Powell's turn and he looks absolutely terrified. But he has nothing to fear, because Vincent takes the first of the five stools to go into the finals. Mathenee Treco also looks like he's dreading the verdict, probably because he knows which way the wind is going to blow. That really was a lackluster performance tonight.
Lazaro Arbos is up next, and considering how much the judges love him it should come as no surprise he's the second guy through to the finals. After Lazaro is Cortez Shaw, who Nicki might have put through just to oogle for the next several weeks. Keith tells Cortez he'll be moving forward in the competition despite an uneven performance. No one gets the point of "sudden death" on this show.
Josh Holliday, who sang an original song, is up on the chopping block next. Nicki thinks he's charming and will never forget when he ripped his pants off, but he's not moving forward. Maybe the original song wasn't the best choice. Maybe he should have ripped his pants off again tonight instead.
Burnell Taylor, he of the many spirit fingers, is up next. Randy says he loves that Burnell represents Louisiana and it seems pretty obvious from how much the judges loved his originality that he was going to make it through.
Only Gurpreet Singh Sarin and Nick Boddington are left to choose between. It's going to be tough for both of them, since they've become pals. So a James Morrison song is only going to pay off for one guy tonight. Unsurprisingly Gurpreet is on the way out and Nick and his many hats are sticking around.
Finally the final lineup is all set and American Idol is ready to move back to Hollywood, where democracy will once again rule the land and America will decide who moves forward.
What did you think of the performances tonight? Did you agree with the judges picks? Sound off in the comments!