Victory over adversity! Hurricane Katrina survivor Burnell Taylor breezes through... as American Idol's final 20 are chosen
Hurricane Katrina victim Burnell Taylor lead the way as the final five contestants secured places in American Idol's Top 20. Bow-tie wearing Burnell, 19, saw his family home destroyed by Katrina when it struck New Orleans in 2005. But
after singing 'This Time' by John Legend he was told by judge Nicki
Minaj that she would pay to see him in concert right now.
Early favourite: Hurricane Katrina victim Burnell Taylor will be hard to beat after breezing through to the American Idol finals
Nicki was also stunned to see how much weight Burnell had shed. 'Right now, literally right now, like today, I would pay to hear you sing,' said Nicki. 'Outside
of everything Keith said about your style being so unique and beautiful
and different, is the fact that you lost that weight. 'When
I looked at your video you were carrying the stress and struggle of
Katrina, and all the problems, and knowing you could sing and wanting to
take your family out the 'hood and I know what the feels like. 'The
fact you lost that weight signifies to me a different spirit taking
over your life and I am so happy for you because you deserve this, every
bit of it.
Crunch time: But hunk Ryan Seacrest won some of the limelight for himself thanks to his fabulously tailored suit
Easy decision: But brilliant Burnell was still delighted when he found out he had secured his place
'Your family is counting on you
and I know what that feels like baby boy, let me tell you you were the
best by far tonight, no one else was even in your lane tonight. Period.' Randy, a fellow Louisiana native, was also a massive fan. 'Love your story, love you have lost the weight and done your thing. 'When we saw you in Baton Rouge you blew the doors off and all of us fell in love with you. 'You are very different and unique. You feel something personal that you give to the public.'
Fan club: His fellow finalists were overjoyed when they discovered the dapper chap had made it through
No need for a bow tie breaker: The passionate vocalists powerful performance spoke for itself
Mariah completed the praise. saying: 'The first time I saw you I was crying because it was so real and authentic and raw,' she said. 'This
was fantastic and touched me as well but that was a different and
intense moment and from the point on I have been rooting for you.' Ten
male contestants competed for just five spots in the top 20, completing
the Sudden Death round of the competition in Las Vegas.
Style icon: While his vocal ability was very impressive it was his fabulous bow tie that was the star attraction
Spirit of Katrina: Nicki told him he was the best by far and had been a worthy representative of Katrina victims
Bahamian holiday entertainer Mathenee Treco, 26, kicked off the show and sang 'A Little Less Conversation' by Elvis Presley. Judge Keith Urban was not overwhelmed by what he saw. 'You have a huge range vocally and you have got immense power as a singer, those ere really strong qualities for you,' he said. 'You love to entertain but I would ask you not to underestimate the power of your voice. 'Sometimes the entertainment can get so assaulting I am missing you under there.' Nicki Minaj, who bizarrely spoke in an English accent, was also not blown away. 'Yes you have a strong voice but a lot of it seemed like you were trying to please the judges. 'It did not feel current, it felt very cheesy and karaoke, but that is just me.' And Randy was also not onboard.
Specs appeal: Vincent Powell was as good as
through when Nicki Minaj told him she vould envisage women throwing
their underwear at him
A good indicator of success: He surely realised he was through when the judges gave him a standing ovation
'You have got a great voice and an amazing talent but the song choice was so wrong for you.' Maria told Mathenee that she liked him 'as the kind of person I would invite over to my house to talk.' Sikh singer Gurpreet Singh Sarin, 22, from the Washington D.C area, sang 'Nothing Ever Hurt Like You' by James Morrison. 'I
really like your voice. I did not think that was a great song for you
tonight but I hope we get to hear more from you,' said Keith. Nicki did not pull any punches in her analysis. 'I don't know what is happening,' she said. 'You had something intimate when you came into the competition and you left that behind. 'Today was not the day to take that kind of chance brother. Honey child, Hell No!!!'
Cortez the conqueror: Shaw was delighted to cruise through to the finals thanks to his big voice
Brother from another mother: Cortez could not resist giving Keith a hearty squeeze after making it through
Randy was also down on what he had seen. 'I mean listen man, dude, dog, oh my God. Honestly that was terrible, I have got to be honest.' Mariah also bashed Gupreet. 'I was slightly disappointed I did not get to hear your softer voice which is what won everyone over.' Texan youth minister Vincent Powell has sung back-up for Whitney Houston in the past, but also slept in his car. He came out and performed 'Cause I Love You' by Lenny Williams. After getting a standing ovation from the judges, Keith was glowing in his praise. 'Wow. That was crazy. The crowd sums it up, you came out here and just sang, I loved it,' he said. Nicki was also thrilled.
In the pink: Emotional Lazaro Arbos flattered the judges by singing a cabaret version of a Keith Urban song
Taking advantage: Passionate Lazaro seized his opportunity to get to grips with curvy diva Mariah
'I am very surprised, you usually come off as very old fashioned but today it was a good old fashioned, a sexy old fashioned. 'I can envision a whole bunch of 40 and 50-year-olds throwing their panties at you.' Randy said that Powell had finally got the show up and running. 'It
started right here. This is what I would call the whole complete
package, a real singer that knows the audience,' said Randy. 'That was hot, that boy is in it to win it.'
Hats surprising: Nick Boddington somehow managed to avoid crashing out despite a lacklustre performance
Panel beaters: The group that avoided the judges boot and made it through were overjoyed at the end
Mariah kept it short and sweet saying: All I can say is, finally.' Next up was New York bar tender Nick Boddington, 27, who sang 'Say Something Now' by James Morrison. 'There
is a timbre in your voice that I really love. The only thing I kept
waiting for was to be connected to you as a person because you sang
beautifully,' said Keith. 'I waited for the connection to happen and I didn't feel it.' Nicki was impressed. 'There is a truthful thing about you that never seems to try too hard,' she said. 'I still love your voice, it was not a ten, it was not bad but something else could have jumped through. It was not your best.'
Playing the fool: It came naturally to Nicki Minaj as she hammed it up for everyone's amusement
Leading the way: It was clear who the real star of the show was from this artfully camera angle
Randy was also not overly impressed. 'I
love James Morrison but I'm not sure that was the correct song for you.
You have a big old voice and I know you are up to it,' he said. 'It was not your best and I am looking for moments from all of you. You never had a moment, there was not one.' Mariah was more positive saying she had heard a moment. 'I have been enjoying your performances, they have been consistent, raw and nice.' Next up was 24-year-old Texan Josh Holiday who played piano and sang one of his own songs. 'Well
done. You have a really great voice but sometimes I wish you would just
cut loose because you are on the cusp of it,' said Keith.
Don't mention the C word: The writing was on the wall for Mathenee Treco as soon as he said he was influenced by classic rock
No more: Even former Journey bassist Randy Jackson could not bear to hear any more from the warbler
'You are very controlled and
skillful but I don't give a rats about skillful, I am interested in your
heart and raw and passion and I wanted to see more of that at the end.' Nicki said: 'I wanted you to stay on the piano. When you came off it seemed like you wanted to please us too much.' Nicki was then offended when a lone booing voice could be heard from the audience aimed at her. 'Who you talking too? I will come right back there….' Randy was not wowed with the choice of an original song. 'That was a big risk. I liked the song okay, I liked the band, I just don't know if I was wowed in the moment.' Mariah loved the fact he had shown off his song writing.
Guitar zero: Despite playing his own instrument David Oliver Willis was unceremoniously ejected
Laughable: His 'old fashioned' performance was a source of much mirth among the judges
'I was impressed by the audience's reaction to the song, you should be very proud,' she said. Up next was worship leader David Willis who grew up in a Florida foster home. He sang 'Fever' by Little Willie John and Peggy Lee. 'There is a thing about you, there is a little David Gray about you, a little Gary Clark Jr., some really soulful singing cats. 'Nobody is doing what you are doing, I loved it despite the song,' said Keith. Nicki was more interested in David's marital status and was disappointed his wife was in the audience. 'Honey
pie, I felt like it was Christmas and you got a guitar and were up in
front of your family having a good old time,' said Nicki dismissively.
Standing up to be counted: But Bryant Tadeo was soon knocked down and out by the judges
Urban outfitter: Keith had obviously not been impressed going by his post song comments
'I think he is a sweet boy but that is not a current artist whose show I want to go to.' Randy agreed with Keith's analysis and comparisons. 'I
like the whole Gary Clark and bluesy side of you. But I felt the song
choice made it a bit boring for you because your voice is bigger than
that,' he said. 'I kinda like that you are a bit different I must say, I am a little intrigued.' Maria said that she loved adopted David's back story and how he was inspired by older music. 'I
don't know what I was expecting, it wasn't that you were holding back
but you just did the song. I have heard you do more vocally but the
crowd seemed to love it.' Next was Hawaiian department store worker Bryant Tadeo, 23, who sang 'New York State of Mind' by Billy Joel.
Wiping the smile from his face: Vocal coach Josh Holiday blundered by singing his on song instead of a hit
Unanimous decision: Neither Keith nor Nicki were impressed by the Texan's amateurish composition
'You have a beautiful voice and that was a great song for you and you handled it really well,' said Keith. 'Everyone got on their feet and that tells me you made a connection.' Nicki complimented Bryant on the final riff he sang, which he told her was added at the last minute. 'Well thank God you did, because I did not like anything else,' said Minaj to boos from the crowd. Randy was confused with what he had seen. 'I loved the beginning but i was waiting for it to go somewhere by the end,' said Randy. 'After the first few lines I thought 'This is going to be nice, I love the tone of his voice' but it never went there for me.'
Mariah complimented Bryant on 'sounding professional' and that his voice sounded 'beautiful' in the song. Stuttering ice cream scooper Lazaro Arbos, 21, from Florida, sang 'Tonight' by Keith Urban. Keith himself said he was 'flattered' at the song choice. 'You
are a really great singer, period. This might be strange coming from
the guy that wrote the song, but I don't think that was a great song for
you tonight. 'I never felt you got comfortable with the song, it felt like the song was always ahead of you and you were trying to catch up.' Nicki was happy with what she saw.
Time to say bye bye: Gurpreet Singh Sarin was sent packing after failing to curry favour with the judges
Desperately Sikh-ing fame: But despite a typically flamboyant performance Randy told him it was 'terrible'
'You always give us Lazaro, a lot of people came here tonight and tried to switch up stuff we have loved. Why take that risk? 'You gave us what we love, you doing these ballads, it is very truthful to you. Don't change nothing.' Randy agreed with Keith. 'It was not the perfect song for you but when you hit the chorus there is a sweet spot in your voice, it is like no one else. 'You can relax in that because I think you get a little bit nervous. You can really sing, you are a great singer.' Maria said that Lazaro had a 'purity' and 'simplicity' to his music because of the emotions of his struggles with his stutter. Warehouse worker and student Cortez Shaw, 22, from Dallas, Texas, sang 'Titanium' by David Guetta and Sia. 'I
love that song. That was a really bold and brave move to tackle that
song into a ballad. There was nowhere to hide,' said Keith.
Sing when you're Wynning: Even the Mirage Dolphins were jumping for joy when they saw macho Ryan Seacrest
Motley crew: But there was very little Dr Feelgood factor about this surprisingly mediocre group of singers
'When you hit those high notes it hit the mark in a big way even though there were a lot of inconsistencies in the song.' Nicki was a fan of Cortez, fanning her self seductively. 'Is it hot in here or is it just me? I liked you, I liked you a lot tonight, good song choice, sexy,' she said. Randy praised Cortez for being a 'current' artist even though he had some pitch issues. 'In
full voice I thought you had crazy range. I like you, you are a good
looking guy, you are very current and could be a very interesting artist
for today's scene,' said Randy.
Bad score: The five that made it through will have to raise their games to avoid following their comrades
Mariah was thrilled with Cortez. 'I have enjoyed you from the very beginning and I am glad you are still here,' she said. After putting their heads together the judges announced their decisions on who went through and who left the competition. 'There was debate, it is difficult, there was a lot of talent here,' said Mariah about their deliberations. Burnell Taylor, Cortez Shaw, Lazaro Arbos, Nick Boddington, Vincent Powell all got the nod and are through to the final 20. But it was the end of the line for Bryant Tadeo, David Willis, Gurpreet Singh, Josh Holiday and Mathenee Treco.
On the crest of a wave: Last night's star Zoanette Johnson managed to seize the limelight from the boys