American Idol 12: Better Late Than Never (Boys Top 10–Vegas Round)

Remember the snow I mentioned?  While it didn’t directly affect me, it snowed in the person who was supposed to run the board for Richmond Spiders basketball on WLFV-FM here in Richmond.  I was the backup… so instead of watching Idol live, I’m going to sprint through the recording and watch just the 10 performances, trying to completely eliminate Seacrest and the judges from my mind.  Here we go… live on DVR from Beatles LOVE in Las Vegas…

THIS! … is American Idol!

Up first…

Elijah Liu (Rowland Heights, CA)
”Stay” (Rihanna)
He wants to be a lady-killer, so he covers Rihanna.  Sure, I understand that… he’s got a good voice, but doesn’t seem to have the presence to go a long way here.  He’s pleasant, inoffensive, and completely forgettable in the Death Spot.  He’s going to need some other singers to fall over…

Fast-forward… (noticing that the judges comments are about twice as long as the songs – how come I missed that all these years?)

Cortez Shaw (Dallas, TX)
”Locked Out Of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)
Good choice, especially this early.  An uptempo, feel-good song is definitely more appropriate to the early part of the show.  Good voice, decent stage presence, very likeable… but it felt like he wasn’t fully committed to the choice.  Seems like he’s got the chops to get through, but he has to connect better.

FF I could enjoy the show this way

Charlie Askew (Little Rock, AR – VFTW pick)
”Mama” (Genesis)
At least the guys’ VFTW pick isn’t buried in the Death Spot… but he is very early on the card… and he’s doing a dark and moody early-‘80s Genesis song that most of the audience won’t remember and won’t care about.  Charlie… why are you trying to shoot yourself down?  I understand why he’s VFTW as he screeches his way through the song… he might have a good voice, and he’s kind of pleasantly goofy, but this was a colossal mistake.  He’s going to need every VFTW vote to get through…

FF after a few seconds of the only sane judge, Keith Urban… returning to our first visit tonight to the Bright Red Product Placement Lounge…

Nick Boddington (Memphis, TN)
”Iris” (Goo Goo Dolls)
He’s behind the piano, something the judges apparently thought was his strength.  He’s got a cool crooner vibe to him, and that’s how he casts “Iris”, stripping down a song that didn’t need a lot of stripping down.   An OK, if not great, performance – but one that should see him through to Los Angeles next week…

It’s amazing how much better the show is at warp speed…

Burnell Taylor (New Orleans, LA)
”I’m Here” (Fantasia)

This is the guy who dropped 40 pounds from auditions to Vegas… but doing a song from an Idol legend is a big risk.  I didn’t like the way the song started… he seemed to be mangling the lyrics a bit… he came around a bit toward the end.  Not quite my taste musically, but I think he has a chance to get the girls voting… might latch on to the Top 10, barely…

Only Nick really made an impression so far… Cortez and Burnell have a chance… but it seems that the girls were stronger overall… we get back to another Product Placement Lounge visit…

Paul Jolley (Palmersville, TN)
”Just A Fool” (Christina Aguilera w/Blake Shelton)
Paul’s a country backing singer by trade… apparently had a brush with fame with Carrie Underwood (let’s namedrop a bit, shall we?) before coming to Idol… and he’s doing a song from a pair of judges from that other show?   Interesting choice to do a pop/country crossover song, I suppose he wants to show his range.  Another likeable, serviceable, good singer – but I don’t see a star here, yet.  I do see someone likely to make the Top 10.

Loving the FF button… no Nicki Minaj tonight…

Lazaro Arbos (Naples, FL)
”Feeling Good” (lots of people – like Jennifer Hudson and Michael Bublé)

I think I remember this guy from the first audition shows… the stutterer who can sing… I don’t think he has to do a lot to get voted through tonight.   Doing a cover of a classic like “Feeling Good” might be enough.   He did a great job.  I think that in the long run, his Spanish-tinged singing style might hurt, but not tonight.  He’s in the Top 10.

So I’ve got Nick, Paul, and Lazaro through… three guys, two spots… bring it on…

Curtis Finch Jr. (St Louis, MO)
”I Believe I Can Fly” (R.Kelly)
I know this song’s been done quite a bit on Idol, but not with the restraint that Curtis used… which is a good idea.  It’s far too easy to turn up the vocal histrionics from the start – but he built up to the Idol Finish with a performance that showed there is something more to him.   I definitely want to see where he’s going to go.  I think he’s made the Top 10.

I’m starting to wonder about Nick’s odds… Paul, Lazaro, and Curtis look like locks.

Devin Velez (Chicago, IL)
”It’s Impossible” (Elvis and Perry Como, among others)

I’m not sure that two Latino singers can both get far – so between Lazaro’s sound and Devin’s decision to sing in Spanish, something has to give.  Devin’s OK, and in another year, might get far.  He’s got a good shot in the Latino market with or without Idol, and Lazaro has the bigger backstory.  If he misses the top 10, it’ll be because he split votes with Lazaro and lost.

One to go…

Vincent Powell (Austin, TX)
”End of the Road” (Boys II Men)
Due to a local screwup (possibly due to the show running long), Richmond came into this performance in progress… but from what I saw, the best part of his performance might have been the backing singers.  He’s not bad, but he doesn’t stand out the way some of the other performers did.  He might make it because he’s in the Pimp Spot, but it’ll be close.

The Recap

Going through: Paul, Lazaro, Curtis, Nick, Devin
Wild Card: probably nobody, but maybe Vincent if they go to 12 finalists.
Confidence level on my picks: low.  A lot of the guys are interchangeable, and I wonder if that means the results might be scrambled in ways I never expected.

The girls are definitely stronger, as a group… and with no obvious WGWG yet, a girl might just win this year.

The ridiculously-oversized 90-minute results show will take place while I’m elsewhere tomorrow, so I’ll wrap it up late tomorrow night.  I think I’ll be lucky if I see 5-6 of my 12 picks go through… America always votes in ways I don’t expect at the first cut.  But we’ll see tomorrow… see you then.


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