After being wowed by the likes of Candice Glover, Kree Harrison, Breanna Steer and other female standouts during Tuesday night's edition of "American Idol," the prospect of watching the boys tonight feels a little like an arduous homework assignment.
Ah, mom, do we have TO?! Can't we just stick toothpicks in our ears, instead?
We've moaned about it before and we'll moan again: This gender-parity approach by "Idol" really is a bummer, especially in a season where the girls clearly have more talent and depth. And it doesn't help that our occasionally clueless judges decided to boot some solid male singers last week while allowing weaker contestants (See: poor Charlie Askew) to advance.
But trudge on we must. After all, we have a Top 10 (maybe more with a wildcard or two) to establish. And, maybe, just maybe, the guys will surprise us. Maybe someone will be worthy of all "50" of our "Idol" app votes. But probably not. Either way, here we go: Elijah Liu (Rihanna's "Stay"): So does Nicki Minaj still want to have his babies? Maybe not after this wimpy, nasally performance. We keep waiting for a big "moment," as the judges say, but it sounds boring to us. Nicki does indeed think it's a fine effort, but Randy Jackson is right when he says, "It never left first gear. It just laid there flat. It didn't really go anywhere." Zzzzzzzzzzz. Cortez Shaw (Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven"): What's this? An actual upbeat song? They've been way too rare this season, so this current chart-topper is refreshing. Still, Cortez is no Bruno and he certainly doesn't have the same kind of stage presence. So this performance doesn't exactly take us to paradise. Keith Urban questions the song choice. Nicki and Randy thought he was straining. Mariah Carey feels he sang it in the wrong key. Charlie Askew (Genesis' "Mama"): Uh-oh, little Charlie has shown up with a tank top, a feather earring and his hair in a ponytail. What's this all about? The song seems too big for him and he's kind of screechy. "It doesn't feel fully genuine," Keith says, adding it felt "disconnected." Nicki wonders what happened to her cute, cuddly "little baby." Randy says he's "worried" for Charlie after this "terrible" song. By now, the guy appears ready to cry, so Mariah wisely goes easy on him. In addressing his look and song choice, Charlie says, "I needed to vent a little bit" and goes on to explain that he's not the buoyant, smilely person that so many people think he is. He's baring his soul and the tear ducts are welling up. It's one of the most uncomfortable moments we've ever seen on "Idol." Please, make it stop. Nick Boddington (Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris"): Nick is back
at the piano, his apparent comfort zone. It's a little sleepy and there are some pitch problems, but Keith calls it "beautiful." Nicki felt it was "pretty" and "true to you." Randy's not blown away, but deems it a "solid" performance. Translation: We'll forget it in 10 minutes. Burnell Taylor ("I'm Here," from "The Color Purple"): We don't always like it when a contestant repeats his original audition song, but then again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Burnell clearly connects to this number and he delivers it with a confident ease and grace. It's the first rousing performance of the night. "Just in the nick of time," Keith says. Nicki calls him "one of a kind." Randy and Mariah, of course, love it, too. Paul Jolley (Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton's "Just a Fool"): The guy who survived a sudden-death tiebreaker is back with a solid, if forgettable performance. He says he wants to be the "guy version" of Taylor Swift, but Keith thinks he needs to "ease it in a little more." Randy felt there were very good moments, but the song overall was uneven. Mariah compliments his "instrument." Lazaro Arbos (Nina Simone's "Feeling Good"): Based on his sudden-death performance, Lazaro shouldn't even be here. But, hey, he looks good and people love his story, so here we are. He doesn't exactly blow this song, but there's nothing vastly distinct about either. In fact, it has a mechanical, go-through-the-motions feel to it. The crowd loves it, though, so what do we know? Curtis Finch Jr. (R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly"): Oh God, can we please get an "Idol" moratorium on this overdone, cheesy song? But we have to put those feelings aside and admit that the worship leader probably has the best pure voice among the guys. That, and plenty of energy and power. He draws a standing ovation from all four judges. "We just had us a sermon in Vegas!" Keith raves. Nicki says Curtis has raised the bar and has the power/ability to lift peoples' spirits. Randy says the competition has just started. Devin Velez (Perry Como's "It's Impossible"): OMG, this is really old-school. Perry Como on "Idol"? And Devin's rocking a v-neck sweater and bow tie. And then he breaks into Spanish once again. I feel like I'm listening to one of my dad's old vinyl albums out in the den. But darn if it isn't lovely and soothing. Keith loves it. Nicki praises it in Spanish. Randy praises the tone and vibrato, and Mariah calls Devin's performance "incredible." Vincent Powell (Boyz II Men's "End of the Road"): Vincent is in the pimp spot, but does he deserve it? Sounds a bit wobbly to us. Says Keith, "I feel tonight nerves got on top of your talent." Randy agrees. "I think overshot it just a little bit," he says. Still, Mariah points out, "there were moments of brilliance."
Cortez Shaw performs in front of the judges during 'American Idol' on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. (Michael Becker / FOX)
And that does it for a generally dull night of "Idol" action. By Thursday night, we'll have our Top 10. Who do you think deserves to be there?