Matt Farmer, 26, delivered a "raw and real and beautiful and heartfelt" (according to Mariah) cover of "A Change Is Gonna Come," but the real story here was that he survived an IED explosion and traumatic brain injury, defied the odds of near-certain sterilization due to the medication he had to take, and now has adorable 3-year-old daughter Cadence (awww, good Idol name!) to show for himself. Keith Urban, naturally (and by direct instruction from his cheat sheet) drawn to Matt's tattoos, asked immediately what the deal was re: Matt's military experience. Anyway, he's good -- a somewhat safe choice, though, seems like the perfect WGWG prototype who could capitalize on what Keith called "that Gavin Degraw-esque thick thing at the back of your throat." I like what Matt's face does while he sings -- it makes the viewer all cheerful and anticipatory of the next note. This all appears to be my long-winded way of telling you Matt Farmer is cute.
I'd love to see Jesaiah Baer, 16, stick around for awhile -- Kimbra's "Settle Down" was the perfect song choice for her jazzy, moody, over-punctuated vocal. And she's only 16! All her talk of being the ship's captain (due to her jaunty hat) got a little repetitive, but I can't blame her for that because she had to split segments. "FIRE ALARM!" yelped Randy Jackson in his most intellectual line of the night. The gapers' delay didn't seem to phase the confident Jesaiah at all, and she breezed right through her second try as Keith giggled delightedly at her rawwwr talent. "We're sharing this nautical thing on the Queen Mary today," announced Randy. You know what that means. Four yeses!
Some ghost dude was following Seacrest around the ship. Snooze button.
Best sob story of the night: Micah Johnson, 24, was left with a speech impediment after a doctor hit some nerves while removing his severely overgrown tonsils. Like Lazaro Arbos, he strained to speak but as soon as he set his voice to melody-mode, everything came out beautiful. "I can be an inspiration. Why give up?" Micah explained after Randy bellowed "So can you sing? Should you be singing now?" Good set up, Dawg! "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band was a total crowd-pleaser and a much more flattering invocation of peaches than the aforementioned "Papa." I'm not sure Micha's voice is much better than most of the ones we've seen move on, but Mariah assured him, "Even if you didn't have that story, I would have been moved by your voice and the fact that you put it into that song." This was pretty much her longest critique to date -- still a whole lotta nothing, but sweet.
NEXT: 'I'm just enjoying you as an entity.' --Boob Jewels