About LauraBelle

Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol, Feb. 21 & 28 – The Top 20 Guys Become the Top 10

Devin Velez, 18, Chicago, is a worker at a coffee house. He grew up with a single mom, and she's his role model, his rock. She's always got his back, so having her here, he knows that everything is going to be alright. In a Pat Boone sweater tonight, he sings Listen. I think he's better than this. He definitely has some really good moments, but the rest of it seems forced somewhat. Keith says they have been talking about having good performances, running around the stage, and then there are singers. He walks out and can sing and made a connection with Keith because of his voice. He didn't have to do anything else but sing the song, be in the song, and show him Devin. Nicki says they've obviously loved him a long time, and he did a smart choice to sing in Spanish through some of it, as he doesn't know if he's going through.Randy loves Devin and thought it was amazing. What he really loved is that he took his time with it. It's a tough song to sing, but Nicki is right that putting in the Spanish made it amazing. Mariah might be wrong, but she knows Devin hears everything and thinks he was critiquing him in certain things. She loves that he put the Spanish in after they had talked about it. She can't wait to see what a producer does with him in a studio. Elijah Liu, 18, Roland Heights, CA, is a business major in college. He is the fifth of six children to a Chinese mother. He admits to being successful with the women but isn't going to make any apologies for it. He wants to entertain anyone who enjoys his music, especially the ladies. Tonight he sings Talking to the Moon and has a good tone but seems to be lacking a little fire in the performance.Keith thought this was a perfect song choice for Elijah, yet he thinks it was a shaky and not-perfect performance vocally. Yet he looks like the perfect pop star, and his look is very current and relevant. Nicki doesn't care about the song and thinks Elijah is a superstar. She wants to have his babies. He's sexy, and he's her new favorite boy. She would sign him today, because he as a marketable face and voice and is ready now, now NOW!Randy thought Nicki was talking about him. Randy agrees with Keith that it was not a great vocal, and he had no great moments in it. However, he's capable of it. He's a little torn, but they like him and he's into his swagged-out look. He's going to have to have moments to move forward. Mariah found two distinct moments – the powerful midrange that he has like New Edition and that feeling of control he uses when he goes into his not-high falsetto. She also finds his mixed heritage a blessing.Charlie Askew got his outfit on Hollywood Boulevard and advice for his belt from Jda. He has always been socially awkward, but finds an outlet through music. He's been singing for birds all his life and now he gets to sing for the big time. “I glorify weirdness.” Yet, he chooses a ballad, Rocket Man. It's not the best vocal, but like Zoanette Johnson, he has an appeal that is undefinable. Keith tells Charlie that no matter what people are saying at home, he is sure no one left their televisions during the performance. He compares Charlie to Freddie Mercury having a love child out of wedlock somewhere. Well … never mind. He loves his originality, fearlessness, and unpredictability. He can't figure out what the hell he's doing tackling that song, but he somehow made it work. Nicki tells Charlie he made his most interesting song choice of the might. It's the smartest. His weirdness and awkwardness excites her. As young as he is he doesn't rely on the cutesy. It's rock star, fresh, crazy, and outlandish. She wants to cradle him in her arms, and he reminds her of her little brother.After Charlie shows the audience a turtle on a necklace, Randy says he doesn't know where he is right now, but he loves Charlie – he's original, wild, and uncontrollable, and Randy never knows what he's going to say or wear. It was a bit stage school for him, but he loves him. Randy asks where they are, and Charlie replies, “Vegas, Baby.” Randy then asks who cares about singing. Mariah lives for this song choice. It's so nostalgic for her. She knows he wanted to bring his own thing, and she feels he's done that. However, she thinks he has brought out more on other times.Jimmy Smith, Franklin, Tennessee, is a social worker at a dialysis clinic. He sings for songwriters around town after work so can have fourteen to sixteen hour days sometimes. Keith is an inspiration to him, and he wants to be a part of what American Idol can do for country music. The desire to do it gets stronger with every round he passes through. He sings a Keith Urban song, Raining on Sunday, but it's not a good vocal at all until halfway through when he finds his comfortability with the song.Keith tells Jimmy it's really hard to critique someone who just sang your song. He has always loved the song and thought the did a good job tonight. I think he just did everything he could to avoid saying he didn't like it. Nicki thought it was a good vocal but was a little bit bored. She was still thinking about something else from earlier in the day.Randy agrees that there was something boring about it. The thing he always liked about Jimmy is that he liked Keith but looks like Robert Plant. He's a mixed bag, but he doesn't know if it came together tonight. Mariah has always been fighting for Jimmy and feels there's a quality about him that's really great. In the earlier auditions, she feels he was fresher. It might not have been his best vocal, but she still thinks there's something about him that America should be able to see.Curtis Finch Jr., 24, St. Louis, is a tutor in a charter school to enable him to give back to students. He feels blessed all around. He was raised in a church and has gospel in his blood. He feels he communicates the best with the audience when doing gospel. He sings Superstar, and that gospel influence is evident. He has some stunning notes thrown in there even if he is a little cheesy.Keith bows down to Brother Curtis and feels completely cleansed of his sins. He felt it was really beautiful and felt some of it was over-performing, but his voice is beautiful, and he wants to hear more of it. Nicki says every time Curtis steps on the stage he takes the competition to a new level and raises the bar every time. The other contestants are always waiting to hear what he's going to do. Today he used a lower bass of his register in the beginning, making it nice to hear a different side of his voice. He's ready and poised. Randy is always excited to hear Curtis get up and sing. He's one of the best singers in the whole thing. His voice is unparalleled, and he can sing anything. He has a great range with low and falsetto and can really go there. Randy advises him that if he moves on to keep it young and don't let it get too old. Mariah thinks what he's saying is she wouldn't even begin to critique him, as she knows what he does with his church telling everyone else how to fix what they're doing. He moved her to tears, as he always does. She encourages him, though, to loosen up that tie. His voice and musicality are who he is.

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