Ten guys had their turn to sing in front of live audience and the judges on "American Idol" Thursday, February 21. Up first was Paul Jolley, who chose Keith Urban's song "Tonight I'm Gonna Cry". Keith said "it's a huge honor" to have someone singing his song and praised Paul's "really great voice."
Nicki Minaj warned him, "Even when the song may be understated, your eyes may be very theatrical, so you've got to watch that." Randy Jackson compared Paul's voice to Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, while Mariah Carey found him refreshing.
Johnny Keyser did Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up", but he was off key at the beginning. Still, Keith said, "That was good. That's the best you've sung, I think." Nicki and Mariah praised his appearance, but the latter added, "It's a competition, so you have to show your voice." Randy called it an "OK performance," but "you can't play it safe."
J'DA covered Adele's "Rumor Has It" and Keith commended him for putting on a show. Nicki called him a superstar performer, but said his voice was "a little whiny," which Randy agreed with. Mariah, on the other hand, said, "I liked the vocal. I was, like, wow, he's doing a lot, and he's also not wavering."
Kevin Harris delivered a soulful version of "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You", but there were some pitch issues. Keith loved the song, "but we don't think this was a good choice for the competition." Nicki said Kevin's vocal was 100%, but Randy felt it was like karaoke and boring.
Chris Watson opted for Otis Redding's "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay". Keith said his vocal wasn't the best, but the country music crooner liked the way Chris carried himself on stage. Nicki wasn't wowed by his song choice, but she still loved him. Randy commented, "Once again, I'm waiting for people to show me something vocally," and Mariah agreed with him.
Devin Velez might be an aswer to Randy's wish as he showed great vocal performance with his rendition of Beyonce Knowles' "Listen", whose lyrics were changed into Spanish. "That's the way to do it, Devin. You walk out there and you can sing. You've got a voice," Keith raved.
"Not only did you do an amazing job at singing the song, but I think you made a smart choice, as an artist, to sing in Spanish," Nicki added, as Randy said, "It was a great arrangement. ... Dude, love, love, big props to you." Mariah, meanwhile, "can't wait to see what a producer does when you get into the studio and make an album."
Elijah Liu may not have the best voice, but Nicki called him "the most marketable face/voice combination I have seen tonight." She gushed, "I would sign you today," and Mariah sang a similar praise, "You're extremely marketable." Keith and Randy noted his performance of Bruno Mars' "Talking to the Moon" was shaky, but said that Elijah had the star quality.
Jimmy Smith sang Keith's "Raining on Sunday" and the original singer said, "I thought you did a really good job with that." Nicki and Randy found it boring, but Mariah still had hope for him as saying, "I still think there's something about you that America should be able to see."
Curtis Finch Jr. gave a slow-jam treatment to "Superstar". "Every time you step on stage, you raise the competition to another level," Nicki said. Randy called him "one of the best singers" in the competition, but advised him to "keep it young." Mariah was moved by the performance and admitted, "You brought me to tears."
At the end of the night, only five of them got to stay on the show. They lucky ones were Devin, Charlie, Elijah, Curtis and Paul. Jimmy Iovine was there to help the judges make the decision when they were divided on Paul.
Curtis Finch Jr.: