Sudden Death, Round II
Original Air Date: Feb 21, 2013
Patricia Morris Buckley — Sr. Staff Writer
It’s Sudden Death Part II with the first group of guys at the Mirage in Vegas. As with the women on Wednesday, 10 contestants sing, then only five are chosen to go on. As the judges could split the vote, the tiebreaker is producer/vocal coach Jimmy Iovine.
The crowd of 1,500 sure enjoyed the show because of the 10 singers, many were dramatic performers. Several received huge rounds of applause. But in the end, it was a singing competition and those who showed strong or interesting vocals were the ones that moved on.
Contestant: PAUL JOLLEY
Backstory: His grandfather just recently passed away.
Song: “Tonight I Wanna Cry”
Impression: He’s not bad, but didn’t hit the last note. He takes a big risk singing Keith’s song. KEITH thought he had a great voice, but he compensates for lack of confidence by over performing. NICKI said he’d done better. RANDY disagreed with other judges and applauded his range. MARIAH liked it, but felt he had work to do.
Contestant: JOHNNY KEYSER
Backstory: He was cut last year in Vegas.
Song: “I Won’t Give up”
Impression: He sings so passively, it’s hard to get excited about him. He’s good, but not great. KEITH thought it was the best he’s sung but he could see moments of nervousness. NICKI did not see nervousness but praised his hygiene more than his vocals. RANDY didn’t think he had the greatest voice and he didn’t have enough moments. MARIAH praised his commitment to music.
Backstory: He’s a cross dresser.
Song: “Rumour Has It”
Impression: He’s very, very dramatic and entertaining even if vocal wasn’t the strongest. The crowd loved him. He openly admitted he’s gay. KEITH applauded his originality but it was obvious that he had memorized his movements. NICKI said he’s a superstar performer, with emphasis on the word “performer,” but felt his vocal was a bit whiny. RANDY thought he was so keyed in on the performance the vocal suffered and felt it had no originality (??). MARIAH felt his confidence level was major and his brand of masculinity was wonderful.
Contestant: KEVIN HARRIS
Backstory: He’s a dad of two sons.
Song: “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”
Impression: The song doesn’t really show much range. He’s just a smidgen off on several notes and he’s not that engaging. KEITH thought it was solid. Nicki praised every decision he made and she loved everything about it. RANDY was bored and it was karaoke. MARIAH said it was obvious he is a born singer, but didn’t like the song choice.
Contestant: CHRIS WATSON
Backstory: The guy with the big headscarf.
Song: “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”
Impression: He works the stage, but not sure this is the right song for his high, thin voice. KEITH thought the vocal wasn’t his best, but loved the way he carried himself. NICKI called him the prettiest man she’s seen in her life and wanted to marry his vibrato. RANDY thought the song went nowhere and he didn’t give enough – he was bored. MARIAH was surprised by the choice of song, but liked his charisma and connection with the crowd.
Contestant: DEVIN VELEZ
Backstory: He’s 18. He grew up without a dad.
Impression: He has a beautiful tone. He switches to Spanish mid-song and it works. He’s obviously going through. Crowd goes wild. KEITH thought he just had to sing. NIKI liked the Spanish verse and said he had a nice voice. RANDY loved him and thought it was amazing. MARIAH thought he was critiquing himself at the end, but can’t wait until he makes an album.
Contestant: ELIJAH LIU
Backstory: He’s an 18-year-old college student of Mexican-Chinese descent.
Song: “Talking To The Moon”
Impression: I’m not very impressed. KEITH thought it was shaky performance, but felt he looked like a pop star. NICKI called him her new favorite boy and she would sign him today because he is so marketable. RANDY said it wasn’t a great vocal, but he liked him and know that he’s capable. MARIAH liked his mid-range and also thought he is marketable.
Contestant: CHARLIE ASKEW
Backstory: He says he “glorifies weirdness.” He’s my personal favorite.
Song: “Rocket Man”
Impression: His hands are shaking he’s so nervous and it shows up in his voice. Too bad. He crashes and burns. But the crowd loves him. KEITH loved his unpredictability and fearlessness. NICKI thought he made the strangest song choice of the night and she loves him. RANDY loved him and his wild way, but felt it was a bit stage school. MARIAH lives for his song choices, but felt he’s done better. I am surprised the judges praised him so much, but I’m happy because I want him to make the Top 10!
Contestant: JIMMY SMITH
Backstory: He sings country and Keith is his inspiration.
Song: “Raining on Sunday”
Impression: His voice is soft and timid, without a lot of power. This song is rather boring. KEITH said it’s tough to critique someone singing his song but he thought he did a good job. NICKI said she was bored. RANDY agreed that it was boring and it didn’t come together. MARIAH didn’t think it was his best vocal, but felt there was something about him America needs to see.
Contestant: CURTIS FINCH. JR.
Backstory: Raised in a church, so gospel is in his blood.
Song: “Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)”
Impression: Great falsetto note and charming stage presence. Is he this year’s Joshua Ledet? He blows away the competition with his control and effortless singing. KEITH thought it was beautiful even though he over performed a few parts. NICKI thought that every time he steps on the stage, he takes the competition to another level. RANDY said his voice is unparalleled. MARIAH said she wouldn’t begin to critique him and he moved her to tears.
YES: Curtis Finch, Jr., Elijah Liu, Paul Jolley (tiebreaker), Charlie Askew (yay!), Devin Velez
NO: Jimmy Smith, Kevin Harris, JDA, Chris Watson, Johnny Keyser
There was one tie and so the decision to keep or lose Paul Jolley rested in Jimmy Iovine’s hands. Jimmy thought he saw a good singer do the wrong song and voted to keep Paul.
I agreed with all the choices but one. I thought Elijah had a terrible performance and while JDA’s contribution was more about show, I thought his voice was also strong enough to go on. Plus, he definitely make the competition more interesting!
Did you agree with the five singers who went on? Did one of your favorites get cut? Are you sick of hearing Nicki say she’s obsessed with a singer – over and over again? Give us your TwoCents below.