The boys sang one last song Thursday night on “American Idol,” a final shot at escaping Hollywood and making it to a joyful world of viewer voting and Ford commercials — every young artist’s dream.
The show opened Thursday night with the promise of “meltdowns,” and though there were some dudes letting out a few too many tears, I wouldn’t go as far as to call them meltdowns. More like—sensitivity.
The show also promised to eliminate “half” of the remaining 43 contestants, which somehow they think adds up to 20, though that math is fuzzy. Instead, however, they left us with 28, with the final final elimination before semi-finals taking place after the girls perform, next Thursday. B- in arithmetic.
The plan tonight was for each contestant to sing from a list of songs from the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, accompanied by a band. Playing their own instrument was allowed, although very few actually went that route. Instead, we got lots of “Jar of Hearts” and not enough of much else.
As far as the judging went, Nicki Minaj gave some criticisms that were unlike anything we’ve ever heard on this show before. Like telling Paul Jolley, whose speaking voice was shaking with nerves leading up to his performance, that his fear was “such a turnoff.”
“Just give us a minute of professionalism,” Nicki told him.
Nicki also gave some hard knocks to Papa Peachez, whom Wednesday night got a stern talking to for being “too complacent.” After his performance of Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” Nicki told him she was “disappointed…I can’t believe you would allow this competition to suck that flame out of you.”
It was harsh, but true, in both cases. And it wasn’t done in a Simon Cowell funny-comparison way. It was like Nicki was ripping the band-aid off of these guys’ shortcomings and showing everyone in America the wound.
When little guy Matheus Fernandes sang that he could “stand a little taller” in “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger),” Nicki told him that his internal struggle with his height went from “inspiring to pity party.” That had to sting for the 4’9” performer.
But Nicki’s sway with the rest of the judges could go either way. For Paul it was a pass to the next step, while for Peachez and Matheus, tonight was the night we said goodbye.
Other continuations are Lazaro Arbos, Curtis Finch, Jr., Devin Velez, Gurpreet Singh Sarin, Cortez Shaw, Adam Sanders, Nick Boddington and JDA. Charlie Askew, who came out in an oversized shiny gray suit with blue sneakers, impressed Nicki with “Somebody That I Used to Know,” and got this response from the expressive judge: “I’m gonna eat him.” That, I believe, is an endorsement.
Some of the night’s rejects included baker Gabe Brown, Nate Tao, and Micah Johnson.
But no one can rest easy just yet. Next week, after the girls go through their Hollywood, then we find out which eight guys are still getting axed before America votes, and the possibility of winning the chance to star in some really bad car commercials comes ever closer.