Michael Becker / FOX
by Natalie Finn | Thu., Feb. 21, 2013 7:23 PM
Michael Becker / FOX
The first half of the ladies commanded the stage last night, so it was the guys' turn to be heard Thursday on American Idol.
Perhaps having heard how difficult it was to really get the show started yesterday, Paul Jolley kicked off part two of the semifinals with Keith Urban's "Tonight I Wanna Cry."
The verdict from Keith himself?
"The crowd loved it," he told Paul, 22. Which pretty much means he didn't, right?
Johnny Keyser, 24, an initial favorite who didn't make it past the group round last year, turned in a safe, literal performance of Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up" that didn't have enough of those moments for Randy Jackson's taste.
"Kudos to you for being really freshly, nicely groomed," observed Nicki Minaj, making good looks and hygiene sound incredibly lame.
Josh Davila, aka J'DA, took center stage next, the 27-year-old's heels and glitter proving more dramatic than his version of Adele's "Rumour Has It," although he did show some Adam Lambert-reminiscent flair out there. (Seriously, has anyone commanded the stage like Adam over the past four seasons?)
"Work it, girl. Work it!" Nicki praised. "You are a superstar performer." But, she added, "Your vocal wasn't good today."
Kevin Harris made us want to slow-dance with his take on Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You"—a pleasant introduction to the 28-year-old father of two, who hadn't received much attention in the editing room yet this season.
Chris Watson didn't give Randy "enough" with his just-fine cover of Otis Reddings' "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." We wouldn't say the 25-year-old was just wastin' time, but only half of these guys get to move on, remember?
Devin Velez, 18, made the bold choice to go bilingual midway through Beyoncé's "Listen," singing part of the ballad in Spanish. The judges always love it when the contestants offer up a piece of themselves in that way, which is what matters at this point in the competition.
At last, we were brought back to this decade again when Elijah Liu, 18, tackled Bruno Mars' "Talking to the Moon"—another type of risky venture, considering the song is still pretty fresh in our heads.
"I want to have your babies," Nicki gushed, even though Keith thought it a "shaky performance."
"You're extremely marketable," added Mariah Carey. "I also love that you're Mexican and Chinese."
Proudly awkward 17-year-old Charlie Askew unfortunately had a literally shaky outing with "Rocket Man," his hand that gripped the microphone visibly trembling as he made his way through the Elton John classic.
At least Nicki offered to cradle him in her arms!
Jimmy Smith, 25, sorta covered Keith, too, though "Raining on Sunday" is originally by Radney Foster.
Keith gave him lukewarm praise, but Randy said it was "definitely a little bit boring" and Nicki was "a little bit bored."
Curtis Finch Jr., 24, closed things out with Idol favorite Luther Vandross' "Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)." And whenever a contestant sings Luther, a judge tends to cry. Mariah did the honors tonight.
At night's end, Paul Jolley, Devin Velez, Elijah Liu, Charlie Askew and Curtis Finch Jr. were still in it to win it, joining Angela Miller, Teena Torres, Kree Harrison, Adriana Latonio and Amber Holcomb in the now-half-filled top 20.
Which means, it was another Idol farewell for Johnny Keyser, who joined J'DA, Chris Watson, Jimmy Smith and Kevin Harris on the chopping block.
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