Oh boy! Wednesday night's live episode of "American Idol" had this season's Top 10 boys fighting for their lives in Vegas, but it took a heartbreaking turn when contestant Charlie Askew had a teary breakdown in front of the judges. And Charlie's mini-melt was just the beginning of a night that featured a bevy of bland performances that make it all too clear that the judges are doing everything in their power to crown a female winner this season.
After the boys' Vegas lounge act, we could use a shocking twist. As in, get rid of the five guys and five girls Top 10 rule, and just go with the Top 10 contestants who get the highest number of votes, regardless of their gender. (We suspect there would be more than five girls making it through.) At the very least, toss us a wild card slot.
Here's the breakdown on the Top 10 boys.
Elijah Liu -- "Stay"
The Mexican-Chinese Justin Bieber wannabe took on Rihanna, and while his performance didn't have judge Nicki Minaj offering to birth his babies (yes, she really did say that last week), it did have her marketing his face on blankets, posters and cups. Too bad Randy Jackson was a bit of a buzzkill. He told the 18-year-old his performance "laid there flat and never left first gear."
Cortez Shaw -- "Locked Out of Heaven"
Wrong song, wrong outfit. While Cortez Shaw tried to channel Bruno Mars, (and he did do it, in a lounge singer kind of way) Judge Nicki laid into him for his decidedly un-suave ensemble. "A jean vest?" she dissed, telling him to hook up with Elijah's stylist. (Note to Nick: These kids style themselves, thank you very much.)
Charlie Askew -- "Mama"
We like the fact that Charlie Askew is the only kid in this crowd who would ever sing Genesis. But this dark song was way too big (and inappropriate) for his britches. And speaking of his britches, what was up with Charlie's new look? Gone were the over-sized suit and wavy, flower child 'do. Nicki didn't like seeing his hair in a scraggly ponytail and his arms in a muscle shirt and begged for her "sweet baby boy" to come back so she could cradle him some more. But as the judges critiqued -- and, unfortunately, laughed at -- his screechy Phil Collins impersonation, Charlie's expression changed and he began to tremble. Saying his darker persona was needed so he could "vent," the self-described misfit added, "A lot of people think I'm a very happy, buoyant person a lot of the time and the only reason I smile so much is because I feel like I have to."
Uh oh. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Ryan Seacrest came in for the save, telling the socially awkward teen "you've got some friends here" and applauding his "courage" and "honesty." Check out Charlie Askew's performance here.
Nick Boddington -- "Iris"
Say hello to the piano man. Hat-donning returning "Idol" contestant Nick Boddington tickled the ivories and did the Goo Goo Dolls justice. Keith Urban told him, "What a perfect song for you. I love you playing the piano and singing. There's vulnerability about your tone. I feel it every time you sing."
Burnell Taylor -- "I'm Here"
The New Orleans native did a show tune redo (he also sang this song from "The Color Purple" during his "Idol" audition), but it was enough to muster a standing O out of Keith. Funny how his acid washed jean jacket, Urkel glasses, and backwards cap didn't get called out by Nicki.
Paul Jolley --"Just a Fool"
Is the world ready for a male Taylor Swift? While we wish Paul Jolley had kept that career goal to himself, the contestant with the great "instrument" (Jimmy Iovine's word) belted out a Christina Aguilera song which just confused us more. Nicki Minaj thought the performance was "solid," but questioned if Jolley was believable.
Lazaro Arbos -- "Feelin' Good"
This Miami ice cream scooper came out with a "Miami Vice" vibe and a played-out tune, but the audience ate it up. "If the audience here tonight is a good indication of America's vote, we're gonna be hearing from you very soon," Keith said, while Mariah Carey told him, "It impresses me how you just throw yourself into whatever song you're doing. Whatever adversity you've had to overcome, you put in your music."
Curtis Finch Jr. -- "I Believe I Can Fly"
"We just had us a sermon in Vegas!" Keith Urban said of Curtis Finch's R. Kelly cover, while Nicki Minaj praised the big-voiced gospel singer and told him he has a higher calling. "I don't care how many votes you get for the rest of your life, you have a calling on your life to bless people and to do so much good," she said, as a humbled Finch blessed and thanked her.
Devin Velez -- "It's Impossible"
Seriously, it is possible to move on in this competition by singing a Perry Como song when it's not big band crooners' night? Not only that, but Devin Velez pulled the Spanish card again, going all bilingual on us mid-song like he did last week. Luckily for Devin, he has a good, smooth voice so we'll overlook the predictability. Mariah noted he has international audience appeal. International Idol? We like it.
Vincent Powell -- "End of the Road"
Another big voice, another overplayed song choice. We're thinking with only five guys' slots available, there's only room for Vincent Powell or Curtis Finch Jr., not both of them. Unfortunately for Vince, his over singing of this Boys II Men classic may be his demise. We don't want to say it's the end of the road for him, but….
The next episode of "American Idol" airs on Thursday at 8/7c on FOX.
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