Elijah Liu -- Ewwww, so far. We'd met him briefly during the Hollywood Round and I hadn't realized what a little Bieber bugger he is. It'd be fine if his rendition of "Talking to the Moon" wasn't so pitchy and awful. Every time he went up into that "falsetto" (which sounded to me like just a tinny, directionless version of his middle register), the first note was way wrong. Also: the second, third, fourth, etc. notes. Nicki Minaj's super-helpful note to Elijah was that he was a "little star" and that she wanted to have his babies. He's 18, so it's okay. Classy, even. Legal. She'd sign him today, based on his "most marketable face/voice combination." Gag me. What is this, The X Factor?
Devin Velez -- Finally, a performance worth remembering because the person involved was SINGING. Eighteen-year-old Devin made a smart move switching to Spanish midway through Beyoncé's "Listen" -- what could have been a cheap ploy coming from a more gimmicky contestant played out like an appropriate and natural surprise from this good-natured kid. You could tell right from the first few notes (this song gets down low!) that we were dealing with an actual singer. Mariah noticed how Devin critiqued his own performance with tiny tonal changes and facial expressions during the last verse -- I loved that she pointed that out in a sort of knowing, braggy way. Good work, Gumshoe Glitter.
Charlie Askew -- Tonight, at least, I was apparently in the mood to be delighted by the outlandish "rocker" antics of a socially awkward child who looks straight out of the '70s -- like "Freddie Mercury's love child from Woodstock," according to Keith. Major high praise from Keith, whoa. Anyway, yeah, Charlie's kneeling, lurching, altogether ridiculous cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man" legitimately drew me in. He just seemed to be having such a blast with it, like there was a natural order at work amidst all these crazy moves that somehow belied his nervousness.
Does that even make sense? I'll try again: Charlie's performance was really more like a thrilling home video -- something he'd have done in his garage with that golf club as a mic. It would have been the greatest performance in the Askew family's garage in history. Definitely. But can it sustain itself on the Idol stage longer than a couple more tries at best? Doubt it. I'm already sick of the way he keeps talking back to the judges. It seems an inevitable recurring symptom of Charlie Askew Syndrome is not knowing when to shut the f--- up and listen.
Curtis Finch, Jr. -- Okay, for me Curtis' rendition of "Superstar" was the prettiest vocal of the night, with Devin's running at a close second. The problem with Curtis is that he seems so fundamentally arrogant, and nothing annoys me about arrogant people more than when they pretend they're actually really humble. When Mariah told him he "didn't even have to perform for us" considering his voice and musicality spoke for themselves and Curtis gushed "Bless you for that," what he really meant was "Obviously you are correct." Church boy is gonna have to tone down the holier-than-though haughtiness. Also, his performance was a bit too orchestrated and fake for my tastes. At some point vocals cease to matter and you need to like the guy under them first. GREAT voice though.
Did you see any potential frontrunners on Thursday? Is Idol saving the best guys for next week? Doubt it!
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