It was the final solo auditions for the guys in Vegas. We started with 43 with a goal of getting down to 20. That’s not quite how it went down, but it’s nice to have dreams.
Paul Jolley, who reminded me of a Canadian version of Adam Levine, was having a total freak out both backstage and in front of the judges, but he actually sounded just fine on Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.” That’s a very scream-y song to begin with, and Paul was screamy, but controlled. NickiMinaj busted on him for his public freak-out and she asked him for “one minute of professionalism,” because the negativity was “such a turnoff.” Agree. Nicki was clearly over him, but it seemed like the other judges were willing to fight for him.
LazaroArbos did “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga and it was very lounge singer. Curtis Finch, Jr. is giving me Cowardly Lion Realness. He did “Jar of Hearts” and it was mid-tempo and schmaltzy, but also beautifully sung. He’s Joshua Ledet Part 2. The question is: do we need another?
Curtis, Lazaro, and Paul were all through. I have to say, I really don’t think Lazaro has the vocal ability to compete on the same level with many of these other singers.
Devin Velez oversang the ever-loving shit out of “What a Wonderful World.” Child: just hold a note. Don’t try so hard. Just sing the song. Devin has a very nice voice, and he doesn’t really need to show off -- he’s got it. But there’s more than a hint of pretension there.
Gurpreet Singh Sarin picked up a guitar and did a livelier version of “George on My Mind” than I would have expected from him. Cortez Shaw sang ar’n’b classic I’m not familiar with, but he’s one of my favorites for this season. Just a great clear voice, look, presence.
MatheusFernandes did “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, which was a bad idea -- it started out too low for him. He also really overdid it, turning it into this…I don’t know, dirge or something. It was a little embarrassing. Nicki told him to stop marinating in his personal issues and stop trying so hard -- she felt like he kept trying to milk his height issues in his performances for a de facto pity party. I think she’s actually right on the money there. She told him to be great and just let the rest go. Unfortunately for Matheus, that was his final performance, as he was cut. Again, based on that moment, I cannot disagree with the judges’ call.
Nicholas Mathis did “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and it was basically karaoke. He seemed oddly checked out of the first half of the performance, and then for the second half he dropped to his knees and did some stunt-squeen theatrics. He kept talking about how he wants to provide a better life for his two kids. Eh. Keith had some excellent points when he told him that it seemed less like he was chasing a dream and more like he was chasing the song.
Papa Peachez went with Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” which immediately turned off NickiMinaj. It really was a terrible fit for his voice, which is so low and borderline monotone. Nicki told him that the flame has been sucked out of him by this competition -- I don’t think anything could suck the flame out of Papa Peachez -- and she told him that she was disappointed in him. Damn!
Jimmy Smith (I think, I missed the last name) did a really lovely version of “Landslide.” Mariah loved him, but said that the rest of the “opinionated” group had to make their deliberations.
From that group, Nicholas and Papa Peachez were cut. Papa Peachez realized that this competition is not really his bag, while Nicholas just fell apart outside. Eyeroll!
Nick Boddington has been on this show in previous seasons. I didn’t like him then, I didn’t like him last night, but I did like what he did with this audition, where he played the keyboard and sang a really lovely ballad. It fit his high, thin voice so much better than what they normally make him sing.
The incredibly odd Charlie Askew did Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know.” He had a long intro to the song and then got all pinchy and screamy and it seemed very drunken frat-house party at 2 a.m. catharsis to me. No thanks, weird little man. Nicki, however, loved it, and said she was “obsessed” with him. She said that today he became an artist in her eyes. Charlie’s response is that he “glorifies weirdness.” Again, trying too hard. Not half as clever as he thinks he is.
In the end, Nick and Charlie made the cut from that group, as did Mathanee and trans flower JDA.
Burnell Taylor did “Jar of Hearts.” I picked up on this last night, and felt it again tonight -- Burnell is the most boring performer I’ve ever seen on this show. Burnell himself seems to be falling asleep as he’s singing. He has a good voice, but he is WAY too low energy.
Marvin Calderon ALSO did “Jar of Hearts” and it was good, I suppose. After hearing that song FOUR TIMES in an hour I became incapable of discerning good from bad.
Micah Johnson did “I Told You So” by Randy Travis. An unconventional song choice for him, and possibly not the best pick for his voice. But he sounded great on the big notes. Lots of soul in that voice. And then suddenly, he was cut. That was surprising -- the first big surprise of the competition thus far.
Also cut: Dave Brown, Sonni, Nate Tao.
The guys who made the cut were all called back on stage. There were 28 then. The judges explained that they have to go through the girls next week, and then next Thursday we’ll all discover who makes Top 20.
Next week: the girls, and lord it looks dramatic. And Zoanette takes to the drum set! YES!