Solo Round II, The Men
Original Air Date: Mar 6, 2013
Patricia Morris Buckley — Sr. Staff Writer
Finally the men get a chance to sing live. Not an easy task, yet several of them definitely made it look easy. But within 24 hours, only five of them will be left. So this couldn’t be more critical because the judges no longer have the last say.
Contestant: ELIJAH LIU
My Impression: He did a much better job than last week, but the song was a bit boring. He still doesn’t come close to hitting all the notes. Will his cute looks get the tween girls voting and give him a chance to stay in it? It’s a strong possibility.
Judges: KEITH thought he showed good control and range. NICKI again thought he has a marketable face and she liked the song choice. RANDY liked it better than last week and said he’s current, but he thought it never left first gear. MARIAH thought it was one of his better performances.
Contestant: CORTEZ SHAW
Song: “Locked Out of Heaven”
My Impression: Even with an uptempo song, he has major pitch problems. Are his nerves getting the best of him? He didn’t do much better last week.
Judges: KEITH loved his voice but wasn’t sure it was the best song for him. NICKI felt he needed to look sexier in how he dresses, but felt like he was straining. RANDY said when he hits high notes he strains and is a bit under the note. MARIAH enjoyed his ballads most but felt it needed to be down a half step so he didn’t strain for the high notes.
Contestant: CHARLIE ASKEW
My Impression: He has his hair in a ponytail and is wearing a tank top and feather earring. He’s never looked more awkward. I don’t like the song choice, but what can I say? He’s still my favorite contestant. He looked like he was going to cry during the judges’ comments. He explained that he feels forced to smile all the time. Maybe that will get him the sympathy vote. The truth is that he’s too immature and young for his kind of pressure (me, on my soap box about teen contestants again!).
Judges: KEITH said he had a huge range but thought he felt disingenuous, as if he’s putting on an act. NICKI want her cute cuddly Charlie back, now he’s going for a darker thing (she pouted). RANDY is worried about him and didn’t like the scream at the end. MARIAH said it’s up to America if they love him and his ensemble.
Contestant: NICK BODDINGTON
My Impression: He is better at the piano. They showed pics of him with hair. Too bad his 20s caught up with him, as he said. I think he has one of the most soulful and pretty voices in the competition. He did a beautiful job with this song, giving it passion and a pure melody.
Judges: KEITH called it a perfect song choice for him, thought he was nervous in spots but showed a beautiful vulnerability. NICKI wanted him to keep it as originally written, so she’s not sure if it will get him votes. RANDY didn’t think it was his strongest but it was a good solid performance. MARIAH was happy to see him at the piano and felt he kicked in at the end.
Contestant: BURNELL TAYLOR
Song: “I’m Here”
My Impression: This was his audition song from “The Color of Purple,” the one that made Mariah cry. His diction isn’t perfect, but his tone is exquisite. He went from a tailored suit to a jean jacket and backwards flowered baseball cap — I prefer the suit. What a great ending money note.
Judges: KEITH gave him a standing O and said he believes everything he says, praising his “signature” voice. NICKI said she loved him and he was born to do this. RANDY said the urgency in his voice grabs the listener and he was great. MARIAH said he made her cry again and matched his original.
Contestant: PAUL JOLLEY
Song: “Just a Fool”
My Impression: In his interview, he presents himself as “good old boy.” Last week Keith said he was too theatrical and you could see him pulling back on his performance. He still did a good job, very straightforward. He said he wants to be the guy version of Taylor Swift.
Judges: KEITH thought he still underestimates the power of his voice, so he pushes it. NICKI thought it was a solid performance. RANDY thought the beginning was amazing but he pushed it later on. MARIAH thought the crowd enjoyed it and that he has a strong instrument.
Contestant: LAZARO ARBOS
Song: “Feeling Good”
My Impression: I’ve always had a problem with how strong his accent is when he sings. Sometimes I can’t understand his lyrics. He dressed in pink again — is that a thing for him? He sounded really good, although he’s still not the best. The audience went wild for him.
Judges: KEITH loved how he connects with the audience. NICKI asked if his favorite color is pink (yes) and said it was a very strong vocal. She liked that he put some attitude in it. RANDY said it’s obvious he loves to sing. MARIAH said she’s impressed at how he throws himself into a song but felt the song was too low for him.
Contestant: CURTIS FINCH, JR.
Song: “I Believe I Can Fly”
My Impression: His ensemble is much hipper, although the lighter color point out that he’s a big guy. This is how a finalist should sound. So masterful. The judges stood before he even finished the song.
Judges: KEITH said he believed he could fly and thanked him for the performance. NICKI said he sets the bar every single time and he makes people feel good and powerful. RANDY said he felt the competition started with Curtis. MARIAH thanked him for the performance and he gave her the positive energy she needed at this time.
Contestant: DEVIN VELEZ
Song: “It’s Impossible”
My Impression: What a gorgeous tone he has, so so sweet. He does the second verse in Spanish, like he did last week. He’s gained some nice confidence. My husband says with his hairstyle, Devin looks like Tintin.
Judges: KEITH said the beginning was shaky, but it got stronger and stronger. He said he is so gifted. NICKI thought it was perfecto and congratulations as he steps into his own. RANDY really, really liked his tone and vibrato, that his singing is effortless. MARIAH called his performance “incredible” and he has the potential to reach to an international audience.
Contestant: VINCENT POWELL
Song: “The End of the Road”
My Impression: This isn’t as good as last week, but it was sure solid.
Judges: KEITH felt his nerves got on top of his talent. NICKI said he wasn’t sitting on it right tonight and his voice didn’t come alive in that song. RANDY thought he overshot it a big and the song wasn’t a great fit, but he’s still a great vocalist. MARIAH said there were undeniable moments of brilliance.
My Top Five: Burnell Taylor, Lazaro Arbos, Curtis Finch Jr., Devin Velez, Vincent Powell. I’d rather see Nick Boddington go in place of Lazaro Arbos, but Lazaro is very popular and probably will pull the vote his way.
Thursday night we find out the Top 10, and probably one or two wild cards. Perhaps Charlie might have another chance?
Did any of the performances make you tingle? Do you still believe the women are so much stronger this year? Are you worried about any of the contestants?