This is American Idol with the God Factor. Beware, by the end of this 2 hour show you may be converted or will be spending so much time thanking the Lord that you may well miss the tunes.
Elijah Liu has a lot of fans out there, being one of the few young and modern contestants in the whole show. I Want You To Stay was a first class performance. That worked, He has a good range of styles and brought the gentle ballad one this time. He's marketable, as Nicky said, and that seems to count for a lot with the judges. Randy used the 'm word' too. Mariah is giving much more in depth reviews at this stage and talking sense too. Maybe they are all feeling freer as the decision is down to those with the mobiles and sufficient spare cash to pay for the calls.
This guy should go through based on that but, of course, there are nine more to come yet.
Cortez still has to prove he can get the notes right every time. He has the looks and he's not the old-style big gospel and run round the notes wailer like so many. Bruno Mars Locked Out Of Heaven is a great track and he attacks it and really gets most of the song right. Unfortunately, he is a poor second to Bruno himself and just doesn't make the standard that we need at this stage. He says he likes to dance but there wasn't any that I noticed. The high notes were out of his range. Randy makes the point too. That spoilt things. Good to see up-tempo stuff, which this competition needs. I don't know - he could well have a good following building up that could save him but more mistakes like this and no amount of styling will make much difference. He'll have to wait to see whether there's another four to take those valuable five places.
I like Charlie. He is so natural. Entertaining and a damn good singer too. This week he does a Genesis track that I can't imagine many people knowing. That performance could be released today and I am sure it would hit the charts both sides of the Atlantic. It was over way before it should have been and I'd like to have seen it develop. Nicky makes a reasonable point about the way he's presented himself. Keith says he would see him in front of a band. Mariah is very cautious and struggles to say much at all. Randy was pretty down on him. That was a tough time for him as everyone has been pretty cool with him so far and I get the feeling audience felt they'd been a bit hard too. I guess they just didn't get it.
Ryan makes a good job of handling a clearly upset Charlie and shows why he's so damn good at this job. Normally I would have put Charlie straight through - no question. But now? Another query.
Nick Boddington has a great higher range voice and delivered a good audition song I Just Want You To Know Who I Am, possibly the best so far tonight. That suited him and, at the piano, he was a great deal more comfortable. He has done himself a huge favour with that. Last week I wouldn't have put him through but he has proved that he deserves to be here. Will he get the public votes, I wonder. This is getting impossible to predict! Good reviews from the judges but each has their but...
Burnell was one of the stars last week so we're expecting good things and it looks like he has a good chance with a couple of Top 5 contenders on less than top form. A track i don't know - there have been quite a few of them. This one has a religious theme and this is his original audition song. I guess he felt confident with this but I found it tedious. Keith gave him a standing ovation for this - he likes that sort of thing, I guess. He's right about the voice having a signature and certainly can sing really well. I can see him going quite a way in this competition. Randy makes a good point about grabbing attention with the first few notes which many miss out on. Basically, all the judges are well into this stuff and love him. I am quite glad there is a public vote as, at the rate they're going, we'll have four gospel singers at least going through. Of course, maybe the voters will put through five! I'd say he's through.
Paul Jolley is as close to Country as we're likely to get tonight. Something like I'm Just A Fool For You. And that wasn't country after all! It was a great track and he delivered it immaculately. I was impressed. Keith asks what genre he wants to be and he says 'pop country'. That could work and he sees himself as the male Carrie or Taylor. He is talented. Nicky didn't go anywhere in her review, just talked about Keith's. Randy and Mariah are all over the place in their reviews, from which we learned nothing!
Ryan presses them to say what they think and even he fails! Shame, as I think he needs that boost from the judges to get through. I'd definitely have him in the Top 5 after that.
Lazaro. Now, if he doesn't perform as well as Paul and the judges applaud him and give him all the amazing reviews then it will be a bit annoying. Feeling Good is a classic, of course. He does a good karaoke version of this and, yes, he looks great and the camera loves him and his cute expressions in a way that Paul should get but doesn't quite manage. He's so popular with the crowd. Keith picks up on that and on the 'connection' thing, despite the less than amazing performance that was very much beaten by the X Factor USA 14 year old. You know when people ask how you feel you did that they don't want to break any bad news, hoping you'll break it to yourself instead. Mariah is the only one to recognise this but still compliments him in the end.
He'll be though on votes alone and could be around a while.
Curtis Finch Jnr ought to be the leader of this pack. He's mature and can sing brilliantly. I hope the gospel thing is played down, though. Oh boy, it's the I Believe I Can Fly song. That was the ultimate karaoke. Pretty good and with a huge amount of extra stuff thrown in for good measure but that was just plain tedious and the sort of thing I'd retune the radio away from. All four give him a standing ovation which more or less confirms the influence of the Church on this part of the competition. Nicky is talking about someone on high and blessing and calling and how much 'we' need this. Hang on, we've got it. R Kelly gave it to us in the 90s if not the 80s. Curtis Finch Jnr is a great singer but if we need this we can dig out some old albums, not dig out a Curtis Finch Jnr album of old stuff. Jesus! Randy asks that we all praise the Lord too and Curtis is holding his hand up. This is crazy. You have to feel a bit sorry for any atheists in the audience.
The guy will be through but please, folks, put a cap on the worship in this programme will you.
Deven is an odd one. He has a stupid hairstyle. But he sings very well indeed. Striped shirt, big black bow tie and bright red V neck jumper over too short white trousers. Val Doonican would have been proud. Once again he slips into Spanish for this big Eurovision-style ballad. It's Impossible was the title. Yes, you've heard it before. Well, your grandparents have. The judges give him rave reviews and, despite it not being a track I can imagine many teens rushing out to buy or download, he most definitely can sing and sing well. That was the best so far. This is a weird competition with the boys this year.
Vince Powell doesn't look like a star. He looks quite old, compared to all the others. He has tendency to chew the words a bit - nothing like as much as James Arthur, thankfully and the tinny resonance can be a drag. The End Of The Road is a 70s number that he re-performs. He gets all the notes right. I just didn't like it much. The judges didn't like the song either. They all say how great a singer he is, Mariah noticing some areas of brilliance, but none were that complimentary and all hoped that he survives.
So if we assume Lazaro, Curtis and Deven are through, who are the other two? Burnell and Nick or Elijah.
My choice would be Elijah, Charlie, Burnell, Paul and Deven but I expect to be at odds with the American voting public on this one!