Although the March 6 edition of "American Idol" 2013 featured solid performances by some of the top 10 guys, the night proved a painful one for teen Charlie Askew, whose rendition of a Genesis tune drew hefty criticism from the judges that left him close to tears.
The self-admittedly socially awkward Little Rock, Ark. native hit the stage dressed in a tank top with his signature red locks secured in a ponytail, a look which represented a distinct departure from his norm. His performance of "Mama" was passionate, but uneven, and the panelists went on the attack.
Keith Urban complimented Askew's wide vocal range and said he could "front a band," but he went on to call the teen's image and performance "disingenuous" and disconnected. Nicki Minaj said she felt like "someone stole my kid" and chided him for changing his image. Randy Jackson thought the vocals were "terrible" and said he was worried for Askew's future in the competition. Sensing that he'd already taken enough of a beating from her colleagues, Mariah Carey simply said that maybe America would fall in love with him.
When prompted by "AI" host Ryan Seacrest to explain "the evolution" of his look and the song choice, Askew exhaled sharply before replying that he "needed to vent a little bit." Near tears, he elaborated a moment later, explaining that though he's often viewed as a "happy, buoyant person," he only smiles so much because he feels like he has to. Seacrest assured him that he "has friends here", and praised him for being courageous.
The judges' response to Askew's heartfelt performance drew ire from at least one industry insider. John Rich of the country duo Big and Rich slammed the judges' critique as unduly harsh, tweeting "@charlieAI12 on #idol was LAUGHED AT by the judges! DISGUSTING. The kid has GUTS. No need to hurt him.#justvotedforhim."
To see if Charlie Askew advances to the "American Idol" 2013 top 10, watch the March 7 results show on FOX.