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

David Oliver Willis, 22, a worship leader from Florida, grew up in a foster home with a ton of kids. He thinks his style comes from his parents, with his mom being born in 1944 and his dad in 1906. Did I hear that correctly? He and his wife sing together and sing with their friends as well. To be able to spreadwould be a dream. He picks up an acoustic guitar tonight and sings Fever, but in a way I would never suspect. It's a great arrangement. He has a spark that is completely enthralling. It's hard not to watch him.Keith tells David that right at the end of the song there was a moment that he felt, and the crowd seemed to as well. He has that in his voice. It wasn't the right song to show more of that and he could have, but he's glad he showed it. There's a little Mike Kiwanuka, Dobie Gray, Gary Clark Jr., and some really soulful-singing cats. No one is doing what he's doing. Nicki calls out David's wife, then tells him she felt like it was Christmas time, and he just got a guitar for Christmas and was only having a good time. What's with her being so rude tonight? She's openly mocking him. Randy kind of agrees with Keith, saying he likes the bluesy Gary Clark side, but the song choice made it boring because his voice is bigger than that – he needs more moments. Randy likes that David is kind of different and doesn't remember seeing that side to him, making him a little intrigued. Mariah was intrigued by the back story and how many people who had inspired him. She also enjoyed his group performance. She knows he was holding back, but she notes the crowd seemed to love it. Ryan, for some reason, gives Nicki more time to talk, and really it just gets worse.Bryant Tadeo, 23, Hawaii, works in a department store. He finds his home state an awesome place, as it's a lot of outdoors with surfing, bodyboards and hanging out with friends. It's a “chill” environment. They're huge on “Aloha,” bringing respect, and having a good, spirited attitude. He wants to bring that to the show this season. Tonight, however, he's in a New York State of Mind. He has a lot of talent and could save his home state from the Jasmine Trias backlash.Keith tells the audience at home that if they were in the arena this night, they would have been on their feet as everyone there was. He has a beautiful voice, and it was a really good song for him. He handled it well, and it says that he made a connection that he got everyone on their feet. Nicki loved the last falsetto note and is glad he did that, because she didn't like anything else. Randy loved the beginning but was waiting for it to go somewhere at the end. He liked it and was finding it nice with a beautiful tone, but it never really went there for him. Mariah saves it, saying what people responded to was Bryant sounding professional, and it was a beautiful song. She found a few spots where he got a little lost, and he chalks it up to excitement. She thinks he has raw talent, but isn't sure if this was his best performance ever. Burnell Taylor, 19, New Orleans, says the show has already changed his life a lot. He's lost 40 pounds so far. Katrina demolished his home, but they started over, and it's starting to get back to normal. He was never a nervous person, so performing was always easy. He made Mariah cry in his audition and wants everyone crying tonight. He tries doing that by singing This Time. I'm almost crying. He's fantastic. Nicki gives a standing O, so maybe she won't put on a huge critique for a change.Keith tells Burnell he looks great and follows it with “Gosh, I liked that performance.” He thought about the particular things about it, but realized it was so strikingly original with his style, phrasing, etc. He's connected. Keith remembers the judges saying he's there to stay during his audition, and he feels the same tonight. Nicki says right now she would pay to hear Burnell sing. Outside of everything Keith said, the fact that he lost the weight, he was carrying all that stress of Katrina, but he lost that weight and it signifies a different spirit taking over his life. He deserves every bit of it, and his family is counting on him. He's the best by far tonight and no one else was even in his lane. Okay, just when I was pissed at her, she made me cry.Randy mentions Burnell made Louisiana proud. He loves his story and loves that he lost the weight. He below the doors off, and they were all enamored by him. He doesn't think it was the same as that, but it was still captivating. He put his own thing in it. He feels something personal he gives the public. Mariah agrees, saying they even made a commercial out of it, because it was so authentic and made her cry. That was an isolated moment and intense, and she was rooting for him from then on. She wants him to keep being him, being creative with his choices and taking his time.Lazaro Arbos, Florida, works for an ice cream shop, as it's the only job he can have. He has an intense stutter and “can't do what smart people do.” He has always liked to sing. People pull him down because of the way he talks, but he wants to share that no matter what you're going through, you can't give up. As a former stutterer, it really touches me. He sings a Keith Urban song, Tonight I Wanna Cry, and it's so beautiful to see his transformation to sing so much more clearly than he speaks. Again, I understand, and now I am crying.Keith jokes about it being a beautiful song and thanks him for doing it, saying it was very flattering. He's a great singer and has been from the first day in Hollywood. However, he didn't think it was a great song for him, as he never seemed to get comfortable with it. It's easy to get lost in it. but despite that, he has a spirit that burns through his vocal, and he felt that tonight. Nicki addresses Lazaro in Spanish, then says the thing about Lazaro is that he always gives them Lazaro. Some people came tonight to switch it up to things they thought the judges would love, but he stuck to his ballads that are truthful to him. He admits it wasn't his best song but says he did the best he could.Randy tells Lazaro that every time he hit the chorus, there's a sweet spot that isn't like anyone else. If he can relax in it and not get nervous, he can really sing, when his vibrato gets to the right meter. Mariah says it may be totally off base, but right before he started singng she almost felt like he was welling up with tears. She's heard him do stronger vocals , but there's a purity and simplicity that comes from his struggle and how music brings him through it. She also says it's not easy, and she's so proud of him for getting through it.Last up is Cortez Shaw, 22, Dallas, a warehouse worker, who grew up in a single parent house. They struggled. He's wanted to be a singer since he was 6 or 7 years old. It can define who you are. Tonight he sings Titanium and has some really great passion as he sings this as a ballad, but he does hit a few clinker notes. He ends it really strong, though. Keith faces the audience and acknowledges how they love the big note. He also mentions he loves the song, the lyric, the melody, the production, etc. It was a really bold and brave move to tackle the song in a ballad format. He has the range, but it was unforgiving in a lot of spots. Yet when he did hit the high notes right, it hit the mark in a big, big way. Nicki asks if it's hot in there or just her. She liked Cortez tonight and found it really sexy.Randy is choosing to talk about the singing. Cortez' range surprised him, and while some notes were pitchy, he hit the big notes, and Randy was shocked. It's some “crazy range.” He was looking to see if Cortez was pushing something to hit the big notes. He likes him, he's goodlooking, is current, and he thinks he could be an interesting artist. He's a fan. Mariah says she has enjoyed Cortez since the beginning and is glad he's still there. She loved the arrangement, and nothing is going to be perfect. He made some very good choices. The judges had one split decision, and that was Paul. This means they go to Jimmy Iovine to decide Paul's fate. He saw a good singer with the wrong song. He felt he was watching Paul sing a Keith Urban song while auditioning for Phantom of the Opera. When you oversing, you get in trouble with this show. He decides to keep him because of his great instrument.The final ten singers who are moving on to the semifinal rounds for our votes are Curtis, Elijah, Paul, Charlie, Devin, Vincent, Lazaro, Cortez, Burnell, and Nick.This means the ten singers who are regrettably going home are Jimmy, Kevin, Jda, Johnny, Chris, David, Bryant, Mathenee, Josh, and Gupreet.If Jimmy would have axed Paul, who would they have kept instead? I have to say at the moment that the top ten male singers aren't terribly exciting. Let's hope they show us something more next week. I'm also more than a little upset that there are no rockers in the mix. I wonder if we would have had some if Steven Tyler were still there.

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