Ray Mickshaw/PictureGroup
Lorenzo Benet
March 02, 2011 04:00 PM

American Idol contestants listen up: When Jennifer Lopez talks, she is just as likely to offer expert advice from a pop super star as she is to pay a compliment or critique. As for her male colleagues, well, they just want to pair contestants up.

Lopez’s approach to judging cements her status as a mentor to the final 12 ladies who, for the first time, performed before a live audience for Wednesday night’s show.

After one singer wowed the panel with a nice rendition of an upbeat country tune during the taping, Lopez praised the singer’s voice but urged her to not hold back. For another singer, who got mixed reviews for a pop song, Lopez suggested she take her lyrics to heart during the performance.

But the critiques weren’t always so gentle. With one contestant, Lopez bluntly asked if she wanted to be a contemporary recording artist or a Broadway musical singer before offering a gentle reminder about first impressions.

Meanwhile, Steven Tyler played matchmaker on Wednesday: The judge was so blown away by one female singer’s performance, he swung his chair around to where the guys were gathered and suggested she sing the song with Jacob Lusk, whose version of “A House Is Not a Home” on Tuesday won him praises.

“You are one of a kind,” he told the female contestant. “You should get with Jacob and sing it with him.”

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