American Idol Recap: Boys Do Cry [Updated]

devin velez idolIf God is an American Idol fan — and that’s a big “if,” considering where Jennifer Hudson, Ricky Braddy and Pia Toscano have finished over the years — then perhaps Nicki Minaj is the insane, mumbly-mouthed angel sent (ejected?) from above, here to drop harsh truths and a wacky kind of honesty that have been missing from the show for far too long.

Certainly, Nicki’s anti-sob story, pro-weirdness, “give us one minute of professionalism” stance injected much-needed energy into Night 2 of Season 12’s gender-segregated Hollywood Week, following a Wednesday night telecast that all too often blared like a giant neon sign proclaiming, “Sorry About the Guys! (But Next Week We’ll Have Some Really Awesome Female Singers Who Could Give Us a Kelly- or Carrie-Style Sales Boost”).

Which isn’t to say Nicki is always on-point — just look to Mariah Carey’s Clenched Jaw of Barely Suppressed Rage (TM) for confirmation — but at least you get the sense that Ms. Minaj is saying what’s on her crazy mind, rather than waiting for a producer to feed her an opinion from underneath the judges’ table. And during a quick, one-hour rundown that focused on a selection of the Final 43 guys’ solo performances, which were used to narrow their ranks down to just 28 singers, Nicki’s bon mots made for good TV.

Speaking of good TV, let’s break down the good, the bad and the inexplicably booted from tonight’s episode. As I often do on Thursdays — when I’ve got double recap duty on Idol and Glee — I’m gonna keep things to a Twitter-esque 140 characters or less (whenever possible):

Through to the Top 28
Paul Jolley, “Blown Away” | Can’t say I was blown away by the fashion in which Paul pushed his vocal on this Carrie Underwood ditty, even if I appreciated the risky song choice. [Side note: Was there anything more in tune than Nicki’s post-performance smackdown about being “really irritated” by Paul taking the stage on the brink of tears and with a decided lack of confidence? “Give us one minute of professionalism!” she grumbled, and then added he needed to take his insecurities off his face. Might I suggest he also consider hanging up that white pants/white v-neck/light gray vest combo from the Miami Vice collection? Just a thought.]

Lazaro Arbos, “Edge of Glory” | We only got a snippet and it sounded perfectly fine. Just don’t expect me to get out of my chair or anything, okay?

Curtis Finch Jr., “Jar of Hearts” | Big voice, but the face-pulling and vocal draaahhhmmaa seem as organic as a box of Cap’n Crunch. I’m already exhausted by this gent and we’re not even at the live shows.

Devin Velez, “What a Wonderful World” (pictured) | Tried to pack a few too many runs in the opening lines, but once he settled into the melody, he unveiled a voice full of character and nuance. Hate to use the phrase (thanks to Fox’s other singing competish) but the kid has the X factor.

Gurpreet Singh Sarin, “Georgia on My Mind” | Only heard a snippet, but his “Jah-jah” pronunciation of “Georgia” negated his solid grasp of pitch. Let’s call this round a draw.

Cortez Shaw, “Sunny” | He’s a clear and present danger when he doesn’t try to do too much with his clear and polished pipes (as was the case here). Never hurts a contestant to be unfeasibly handsome, either, does it?

Jimmy Smith, “Landslide” | An excellent example of how to play around with a classic melody without disrespecting it. Plus, Jimmy has the rare ability to stretch his upper register without sounding in any way strained.

Nick Boddington, “Stars” | His voice is as clear and bright as his piercing blue eyes. Loved the raw emotion he brought (both vocally and at the keyboards), even if his falsetto ending was possibly a wee bit sharp.

Charlie Askew, “Somebody That I Used to Know” |“There was a girl, there always is…,” explained the suddenly not-so-awkward teen as he introduced his one-song mini concert. He’s got a voice full of character and a distinctive tone, but his occasional flat notes make me worry about a live-show collapse. [Side note: Mariah’s request that Charlie “please migrate forward” was a nice shout-out to her own 2008 single.]

Burnell Taylor, “Jar of Hearts” | Winner of this week’s “Jar of Hearts” showdown. Sounds better belting than he does in more tender moments, but has some quiet star power, too.

Marvin Calderon, “Jar of Hearts” | Just got a brief snippet, but his enunciation came off a bit too clipped for a big pop ballad.

Also advancing (though not shown): Adam Sanders, Johnny Keyser, Vincent Powell, JDA (in a wacky sheer black veil, after being asked by Mariah to “sashay forward”) and Mathenee Treco.

Matheus Fernandes, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” | “I’m 22 years old, not 10,” said the diminutive former Glee Project contestant as he took the stage for a wobbly-then-scream-y Kelly Clarkson cover. Nicki, however, was not having it. In a speech that should be made every year to Hollywood Week hopefuls, she told Matheus that an intriguing backstory can easily “go from inspiring to you wanting a pity party,” and that he needed to merely “be you, be great” and not make constant references to his height. Preach it, Sister Minaj!

Nicholas Mathis, “Locked Out of Heaven” | Things began falling apart when the burly father of two dropped to his knees mid-performance. Still, Keith’s comment about waking up on tour busses at 3 a.m. in tears and wondering how you got there, was a great piece of advice about how to compartmentalize on stage, as well as a surprisingly candid confession of the perils of being a professional musician.

Papa Peachez, “You and I” | I wasn’t quite sure why Nicki was so offended by Papa’s Lady Gaga song choice, but his lazy delivery made him sound like he was halfway through a ride on the Lunesta Butterfly. “I’m completely sure that flame [Papa exhibited in his audition] is now completely burned out,” said Nicki, dripping with disappointment at the collapse of her spirit animal contestant.

Michah Johnson, “I Told You So” | Micah brought so much conviction and honesty — as well as a rich, buttery tone — to the Randy Travis track that I was certain he’d advance with unanimous agreement from the judges. Mariah, though, seemed to imply that the “interesting” song choice and straightforward, melisma-free delivery was problematic. (Wait, don’t we like unexpected song choices? And what’s wrong with straightforward? I need Jessica Fletcher to come solve this mystery!) Micah, for his part, took the elimination with grace and style. “It’s tough to get cut, but I’ve been through a lot worse,” he mused. Shall I start the petition to get him back for Season 13, or do you want to take it on? Discuss!

Ousted without any performance clips/explanation: Gabe Brown, Sanni M’mairura and — what in the name of editing hell is this all about? — Nate Tao! [Side note: I’ll never understand why Uncle Nigel thinks it’s okay to kick an audition round front-runner to the curb without showing us any video footage of said singer’s fall from glory. I mean, cut 30 seconds of Randy speaking and help us understand what happened to Nate. Come ON!]

Anyhow, with that gripe expressed, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Night 2 of American Idol Season 12 Hollywood Week? Is Nicki making the show more entertaining? And did any of tonight’s singers sound like potential winners to you? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. nich says:

    I’m upset Nate is gone. Honestly Idol, what the hell?

    They are really hoping to get a girl winner this year, aren’t they? The guys are duds. Don’t worry, a guy will still win no matter what.

    • Josh says:

      Johnny Keysar is going to take off his shirt every live show and sail through to the end as a dozen girls out sing him(and apparently every other guy in this competition because seriously, DUDS!)

  2. Shane says:

    Mattheus drives me nuts. You could see from his very first audition that he was trying to milk the height thing. Super-awkward. I remember him from the Glee Project, where he was a total drama queen. What really bothered me the most about Mattheus, other than con continuing to milk the height thing, was the fact that he said that he had never sung with a live band before – which is completely false. He had to sing with a live band on The Glee Project on every elimination challenge. In addition to that, his experience on The Glee Project is something that no other Idol contestants have had – it seems like he learned nothing from that experience. And it felt like after his elimination he was still scapegoating the fact that he “hadn’t ever sung with a live band” before. This kid is a hot mess – I don’t think he’s in it for his love of singing. I think he’s in it for his love of drama and of being on camera. So glad he was cut.

  3. Josh says:

    Nicki is great the only problem with her being pro-weird is we gt people like Papa Peaches and that guy who guy who wears make up and dresses in leather. He’s not a great singer but what’s worse is he’s a wasted spot in the Top 40. He will NEVER get through…not on American Idol…

  4. Lois Benton says:

    Okay, Nate’s gone, with little fanfare or screen time. Don’t appreciate it, but at least we’re told, though quietly. But where’s David Leathers? He was one of my favorites last year until they cut him. Kept in deep background and then cut without any mention. He’s young and has a few years. Is that it?

    • marie says:

      I’m pretty sure I saw David in the shot of those continuing on – don’t believe he’s been cut (at least not so far).

  5. Mafs95 says:

    From what I’ve seen and listened so far, I think these will be the Top 10 Guys:

    1 – Devin Velez
    2 – Curtis Finch Jr
    3 – Nick Boddington
    4 – Charlie Askew
    5 – Paul Jolley
    6 – Jimmy Smith
    7 – Burnell Taylor
    8 – Cortez Shaw
    9 – Lazaro Arbos
    10 – *Mysterious guy we haven’t seen that much and will probably be cannon fodder*

    • MB says:

      I think you are right. I think they only showed the guys who were in the top 10 who went through when they did there solos. The turban guy might also be in top 10.

    • Callum says:

      I personally think that both Jimmy and Paul will not get through. I think that Gurpreet will get through, and then probably Josh Holiday or Johnny Keyser will make it too. I also hope Lazaro or Curtis will not get through. Can’t stand them, don’t know why. Also, there’s the possibility they’ll put JDA through for entertainment, or his voice (we haven’t really heard much of his singing yet). I think that David Willis could replace someone too, like maybe Cotrez. We haven’t heard much of David but what I’ve heard, he’s a huge powerhouse, like Joshua Ledet from last year.

      • Mafs95 says:

        This list is based on what I’ve seen or listened to until now. In season 11, I didn’t have any real favourite in the Hollywood Week but I just chose Jen Hirsh based on what they had been showing me, but after I listened to Jessica and Hollie in the following rounds I was like… those are definitely my favourite girls!!! So yeah, the production might be hiding us some really good ones like they did with those two.

        I wouldn’t surprised if the judges didn’t choose Lazaro, just for some “shock” factor like they did with Chris Medina in season 10. The “shock” is not because of his voice, but because of his story that some people feel a bit attached to, so they don’t want them to see his dreams crushed by being eliminated. But it is a possibility.

        I actually like JDA (from the snippet we’ve heard of his singing) but I know he has no chance whatsoever of becoming a real contender in this competition just because of his style. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sailed through Top 20 but once the voting rounds begin, he doesn’t stand a chance.

        • Callum says:

          Yeah, I think what you said about Lazaro is right. He doesn’t have the best voice, and so they’ll cut him to create drama. I also think that you’re right about JDA. Unless he has Adam Lambert power, he won’t get through just because people don’t like him. I also agree on last year’s favorites, Jen Hirsh was my favorite girl in Hollywood but when voting rounds came I was voting for Elise, Hollie, and Jessica. I think that they like to surprise people by bringing in a couple more great ones each round, to make people talk about the show more. (For example, this round was Nick & Devin.) I think that there are a few they will definitely keep, like Charlie and Burnell just because their likableness and we’ve seen them since the auditions.

          • teatime says:

            I don’t see any similarity between JDA and Lambert in terms of their voices or stage presence. For some reason all we have seen of JDA so far was the group number and that was a train wreck. At this point I have no idea why he is still there.

    • . says:

      I hope you’re wrong about Charlie.

  6. Mafs95 says:

    Note: I didn’t include Gurpreet (despite his screen time) because I think his voice is too “light” and his range is a bit limited. Interesting tone and phrasing, definitely, but I believe there must be some guy we still don’t know really well who’s better than him.

  7. JohnWood says:

    There were definitely some interesting singers between the boys, but the only one that has caught my attention and pure interest was Devin. I liked how he seemed confident without being unlikeable and I also enjoyed his tone and his performance overall.

    Can’t wait to watch the girls perform. I loved Candice, Janelle and Kez Ban! They set the bar really high with their auditions and I hope they keep up the pace. I’m also curious to watch Zoanette Johnson, specially because she’s crazy.

    • Trouty Mouth says:

      I agree with you about Devin, and I want to see Kez Ban, Candace, frog killer (name?), and the black rocker chick whose name I’ve also forgotten.

  8. JenD says:

    love love love nicki. micah and nate were both robbed. micah was my favorite by far. perhaps they are both too level-headed for AI….? really like devan and charlie askew. intrigued by gupreet and burnell.

  9. Amy says:

    My favorites from last night were the same as how you guys rated:
    1. Nick 2. Charlie 3. Devon
    Nick was my standout overall…loved what he did with that song and his voice.
    Charlie’s personality came alive; looking forward to see where he goes with it, plus I like his singing…not perfect, but interesting and entertaining, unique.
    Devon can sing.
    I too was surprised to see at the end that Nate was cut (Melinda will be crushed)…I thought he was likeable and good…better than some they put through. I also liked Michah’s Randy Travis cover; I thought it was an unexpected good choice, heartfelt performance and a nice voice…felt bad for him. I’d like to see him return next year…thought he should have stayed.

    Like others here, I thought 1st nite of Hollywood week/boys, was THE worst I’ve seen. Just awful.
    And it smacked of manipulation. Like Team Idol’s antidote to WGWG was to highlight every other ethnicity and type possible, roll out the League of Nations…which would have been okay if they highlighted real talent. I’m in the camp that feels the WGWG is nonsense (not to mention racist/sexist.) I feel people that have won or been runner up were deserving (except the year Daughtry should have won, WGWG btw)…
    But night one of Hollywood just felt contrived, did have an “X-Factor” feel at times, (never good to me), and just didn’t feel “Idol.” Fell asleep before it was over and didn’t even go back and watch “On Demand.” Tuned into nite 2 a) So I can keep up with Idology! and b) I’m still a hopeless, hopeful Idoloonie
    but then there’s c) the knowing that no matter what…if you stick it out…a gem or two might emerge in all the manipulated muck eventually.
    And that’s how I felt when Nick played and sang tonight. Not picking a favorite, just saying he was the one who gave me a real kind of moment I “hang in” to Idol for…when I sit up and say “ok, now.. he’s good.” He gave me a Daughtry vibe tonight…not his sound….but his potential to be that kind of “musical”, original, talented. Just sayin’…I’m waiting to see more…and…I really liked him. Come to think of it, that’s how I started out with P2 last year…just sayin’.

    ps. I’m thinking the hype about the girls is just that too….Uncle Nigel knows enough to use that card to the hilt. But….we’ll see………..

    • MB says:

      Love your post and agree with everything you said word for word. Nick also stood out for me.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      So… if Nick makes it through (and I agree that he should — felt bad when he was cut last year), we could potentially have a WGWP (white guy with piano) as a winner ;-)

      Just asking……

      • Amy says:

        LOL…funny, I thought the same tonight…only I thought…ok, we’ll have WGWKeyboard… :) Ok by me. I say the cream seems to rise to the top on Idol, no matter what…whether it’s #5 or #1. Honestly, just me, but I don’t care how many guys win or girls, over time; I’m just not hell-bent on a girl winner…it’s about who I like and like to listen to. The teen girl voting is a factor but, I think, doesn’t always decide things. Jmo.

  10. Amy says:

    Maybe this year Kez Ban will be the WGirlWG.

  11. Mari says:

    I really can’t believe that Nate is gone… WTH happened?

  12. James A says:

    It’s quite apparent they are ousting most of the good guys before the live shows begin…They REALLY…REALLY…want a female winner this year….And instead of putting all their eggs in one basket like the last two previous years…They simply will just get rid of the excellent male singers…or like in the case of Curtis make sure that even though he can sing very well…portray him as a D-bag! Looks like 12 will finally be a female winner at this rate!

  13. Prince says:

    Is it me or does Curtis Finch Jr looked so fake and arrogant when he was singing Jar of Hearts??

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I had the same impression, which is odd because I believe he’s some sort of church choir director or something like that.

  14. Guitar Blue says:

    Some are sent home because they don’t fully cooperate with TPTB…………………………… That’s one thing that will very likely send Kez Ban home before the top 20, because she is independent and may not follow orders and do whatever they say she should do.

    • Julie says:

      True but she absolutely deserves to make it, that Azure Sky of hers was brilliant. She is so, so talented and unique, beautiful voice. When she walked on, I fully expected her to be a terrible joke act but she was amazing.

  15. Shaunna says:

    Matheus Fernandez should have gone through. He was the best in MHO. What a voice. What a range. What pure clear tone and power.
    Nicki was insentivie and perversely cruel to humiliate him on TV when he was trying so hard and and so suburb. She should have made that comment, if at all, either privately, or told him the weekprio when they put him through, so he could change-. not tell him after they canned him when it was too late for him to take advice from her critique. I have been trying to find a video of him on the web or his wbsite or seomthing, but can’t find one. Anyone know how to find his stuff on the web.

    • ShanyLu says:

      I’m sure there are plenty of clips of him from The Glee Project, where he sang with a live band more than once. He’s a lying liar who lies and totally tries to milk his height. Nicki was dead on.

    • teatime says:

      Nicki told him exactly what he needed to hear. It is what so many people at home were thinking and what they thought even when he was on the Glee Project. The best thing for him is that now he has the opportunity to reinvent himself. If he is on another show like this he needs to start with the attitude of, “yeah, I’m short, so what?”

  16. Name That Tune says:

    Always interesting to see how invested people get in singers who aren’t going to make it. And that people are “shocked” when someone is eliminated. Really the top 20 guys has been leaked for weeks now. There should be no surprises at all.
    Pay attention to the ones who make it because they are the ones you will be asked to vote on to make the top 20. Of the 20 guys who are left, who do you want to see more of? I’m starting my list now because I’ve seen enough to form an opinion.
    We keep hearing that many of the finalist were chosen because of their body of work. What makes a contestant stand out? What are there weaknesses & their strengths? Based on Idol’s history who is likely to go far? As Niki said who is the superstar?
    When you cut to 20 guys, some good singers are lost. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I get why Nate & Micah were cut. Nate sings well enough, but he is a bit bland. Micah needs to ramp up his performance skills.
    On the other hand, Charlie is a special talent. He understands performance skills. Maybe another Elliott Yamin. Won’t win, but we will remember him.
    I like Nick, can see Devin’s potential, understand Cortez Shaw’s under stated sexuality, and can see how young girls will be drawn to Jimmy Smith & Johnny Keyser.
    On a the other side, there are many talented girls. If you haven’t been paying attention, you will have just as many disappointments when they cut the girls to 2o.

    • MB says:

      Right on. I checked the spoilers out because I did not want to invest my hopes in someone who is soon cut. I also think that the ones that we did not see a solo from may not make it to the top 10 boys. That includes Johnny Keeser. When these shows were edited they already knew who were the top 10 boys. We don’ t get to vote until the live show which will be the top 20.
      My favorite so far is Nick Boddington and if a girl does not prove to be better than him I will vote for him. I personally don’t care if a guy or a girl wins. I will vote for who’s music I like the best.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      NTT, it seems that you’ve put some thought into this. You posited an interesting analysis (of what is to come, based on the past) and raised interesting questions. I’ll be “expecting” more of this in the future.

  17. Angie says:

    I’m with you michael. I was so so upset when micah was cut. Are you kidding? I can’t believe they like phony Curtis Finch over Micah’s beautiful voice and character as a person. I’m ready for the petition. I also really liked Nate.

  18. Leticia Prado says:

    Was any of you (like me) curious to see the famed list of song choices? I literally paused the screen to read and was shocked to see “Undone” by Haley Reinhart there.

    • Mafs95 says:

      I was really happy when I saw that “Undone” was on the list!!! I love Haley Reinhart… my 2nd favourite Idol contestant overall :D

  19. Julie says:

    That Charlie seems to have grown in confidence in a very short period of time. Not sure about him, think there are much stronger singers (Devin is amazing) and think it’s his ‘geek’ appeal which will send him through. I don’t rate the fella with the stutter either (can’t remember his name).

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  21. American Idolit says:

    *She (not he) and Semi-Finals (not seni).