American Idol has been on the air for 12 seasons. From the early days of Kelly Clarkson, the judges continually hounded the contestants on song choice. Simon Cowell (remember him?) would criticize contestants for being “cabaret,” “old-fashioned” and, worst of all, “boring.” Some of this season’s contestants have been watching Idol since they were in elementary school, which makes it all the more inexplicable that they still choose to sing songs like Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” which is 57 years old.
The show began with the 10 contestants rising from the floor, Hunger Games-style. Five of them will continue, while five of them met their end. Find out who made it through to the next round Spoiler Alert! The final picks for the Top 20 follow:
Cortez Shaw: His ballad arrangement of David Guetta’s “Titanium” was excellent – and it was a nice change to hear a song that was current and relevant. “Your range surprised me today,” judge Randy Jackson said. “When you hit those big notes, I was shocked.”
Burnell Taylor: He’s lost 40 lbs. since auditioning, and singing John Legend’s “This Time,” he brought down the house – despite oddly exaggerated hand movements. “I would pay to hear you sing,” said Nicki Minaj, sharing the best compliment of the night. Mariah Carey was also pleased, simply saying, “This was fantastic.”
Lazaro Arbos: After delivering an emotional performance of Keith Urban‘s “Tonight I Want to Cry,” the 21-year-old singer from Naples, Fla., was unanimously sent through to the next round. The Cuban-born Arbos has arguably the season’s most poignant backstory, with a severe stutter that vanishes when he sings. Minaj remains a big fan, telling him: “You feel it. You stay in it. Don’t change nothing.”
Nick Boddington: The New York City bartender performed “Say Something Now” by James Morrison and did a passable – if unremarkable – job. “I kept waiting for the feeling of being connected to you as a person,” said Urban. Carey agreed, saying, “I needed to feel you more connected to the song.”
Vincent Powell: Singing Lenny Williams’s “‘Cause I Love You,” he effortlessly broke into a falsetto that elicited cheers from the audience. After calling him a “sexy old-fashioned” singer, Minaj added, “I could envision a whole bunch of 50-year-olds throwing their panties at you.” Powell, who works his day job as a church worship leader, laughed nervously.
And yes, it was guys’ night, but finalist Zoanette Johnson made a cameo when she stood up and cheered Powell’s performance, prompting host Ryan Seacrest to run over with a microphone. (For a brief moment, It felt like a ’90s-era episode of Ricki Lake, which is actually a very good thing.) “Get it, Papa Smurf,” Johnson screamed. “You go get it.”
Leave it to Zoanette to steal the show on guy’s night.
Tonight’s finalists will join Charlie Askew, Curtis Finch Jr., Paul Jolley, Elijah Liu and Devin Velez – and 10 female finalists – to sing for America’s votes next week.
Who are you rooting for?