Well, we're finally there: Just six more days and the viewers get to decide on who should stay or go on "American Idol." That being said, there was something missing in this year's Las Vegas round, the so-called Sudden Death round. It was better in the fact that it was live, but there was something definitely anti-climactic about the entire process. Sort of like there were no real surprises. No shockers at least. And if you were watching "Idol" Thursday night (Feb. 28), where the last 10 guys that went to Vegas performed for the last 5 spots to get to go back to Hollywood, you saw that there truly were no surprises as to who got to go through.
Especially after the first two. In fact, Judge Randy Jackson said as much, noting that with Vincent Powell, the third performer, the competition for the evening had finally started for him. Judge Mariah Carey simply said, "Finally."
That's because Vincent Powell's rendition of Lenny Williams' "Cause I Love You" was a powerhouse vocal that was so far above -- performance-wise -- the two guys before him, there was truly no comparison.
In fact, Mathenee Treco's "A Little Less Conversation" was such a rush job that, if you hadn't known it was an Elvis Presley song, you would never have known The King ever sung it. And Gurpreet Singh's off-key cover of James Morrison's "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You" was such a departure from what he usually does that it turned the judges off. Nicki Minaj flat-out said, "Oh, hell no," and Jackson said it was "terrible." And they were correct.
Josh Holiday's "Better With You," an original that started off well but got a little too pop-ish and forced, got good reviews from the judges on originality but not so good on execution. And David Oliver Willis did a part blues, part R&B rendition of the standard "Fever" (Little Willie John), but it, too, sounded overly pop-influenced.
The only guy that didn't make it that could have been substituted for one of those that did was Bryant Tadeo, who did a laid back version of Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind." In the end, it must have been too laid back, too controlled, because he was cut. (And when he was, the live audience seemed confused, about on the edge of revolt.)
Joining Vincent Powell in getting through to the Top 20 was Nick Boddington, who also did a James Morrison tune ("Say Something Now") but sounded so much better doing it. Lazaro Arbos took a risk singing Keith Urban's "Tonigh I Wanna Cry," but it was a risk that paid off. Cortez Shaw also took a risk with the David Guetta hit, "Titanium," but it was such a uniquely well-done cover that it worked. And the guy that made Mariah Carey cry at his audition, Burnell Taylor, sailed through with his rendition of John Legend's "This Time."
But the judges might be hearing something the viewers are not. Taylor's performance was a bit so-so, even though the judges seemed to think it was the best performance of the night. Perhaps it was his Steve Urkel mode of dress that distracted, but there was no real life in his voice, not compared to Boddington, Powell, and Shaw. He was more on a par with Arbos and Tadeo and, despite the judges' praise, could have been switched with Tadeo in the going home department without a problem.
But, still, no surprises...
Anyway... that did it. Sudden Death was over. Forty came, forty sang, twenty conquered. The Season 12 Top 20 was set.
Next up: Back to Hollywood and all the guys and girls perform for America's votes. Time to pare the Season 12 contingent down to 10.
"American Idol" airs on Wednesday and Thursday each week at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.