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March 1, 2013

The best and worst of American Idol on Night 4 in Vegas

by Mark Franklin

Over the course of the next week, American Idol will probably pretend it has advanced the top 20 singers to the semifinals.

It will be a lie.

Cortez Shaw  performs Thursday night on American Idol. (FOX Photo)To get a better top 20, you’d have to begin by axing the always annoying Zoanette Johnson.

Then you’d want to eliminate four guys who advanced, but didn’t deserve to.

Then you’d want to fill those five spots with gals who have already been eliminated.

Isabelle, Shubha Vedula, Rachel Hale, Jett Hermano and Juliana Chahayed would probably be my picks.

Then you’d have a much more talented top 20.

Yes, the Idol guys — as a group — are that bad in Season 12, a fact driven home by another night of very mediocre performances on Thursday.

Yet the guy who did best went home.

Welcome to Idol Season 12. Welcome to my Thursday night recap.

Best of the night: David Willis played guitar and delivered a version of “Fever” that was solid from start to finish. And he added a nice little flourish at the end. But, apparently this was not the week to show originality or play an instrument on Idol. All four contestants who did are heading home. Including David, who had gotten little airtime before Thursday but was clearly the best performer among the guys. Very bad decision, Idol judges.

Worst of the night: He begged his way to Hollywood on the promise of a marigold turban. Then he wore the marigold turban Thursday. But their was nothing golden about Gupreet Singh Sarin’s performance of “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You.” If anything, nothing ever hurt our ears like that version of the Jim Morrison song. Nicki’s response: “Hell, no.” Randy: “Terrible.” Enough said.

Very, very lucky: Cortez Shaw and Nick Boddington entered the night as front-runners among the guys. Neither turned in a performance worthy of a front-runner. Nick is about as un-Jim Morrison like as you can get. But he tried “Say Something Now” and never found his vocal footing. He should have gone home based on that performance. Cortez sang “Titanium” and his vocal was anything but bullet proof, straying all over the place and salvaged only by a big ending.

Lazaro Arbos  performs Thursday night on American Idol. (FOX Photo)Thrilled he made it through: One of the night’s bright spots was an emotional performance by Lazaro Arbos, who sang Keith Urban’s “Tonight I Wanna Cry” and did a credible job with an unexpected song choice. If you don’t find yourself rooting for Lazaro, you might want to check to make sure your heart is still beating. And I loved the humility he showed during the critiques.

The judges: Nicki is forever entertaining. Keith is a marked improvement over Steven Tyler. Randy seems engaged, though he did utter that dreaded “in it to win it” phrase once on Thursday. Mariah rambles and needs to get over herself, but has her moments. But, as a group, they misfired badly on a couple of semifinal choices. Almost as though some of the decisions were made before the contestants stepped on stage. Hmm, that couldn’t be, could it? Grade for Thursday: C.

And so the semifinals are set …

Among the guys: Burnell Taylor, Charlie Askew, Cortez Shaw, Curtis Finch, Devin Velez, Elijah Liu, Lazaro Arbos, Nick Boddington, Paul Jolley and Vincent Powell.

Among the gals: Adriana Latonio, Amber Holcomb, Angela Miller, Aubrey Cleland, Breanna Steer, Candice Glover, Janelle Arthur, Kree Harrison, Tenna Torre and Zoanette Johnson.

The gals perform Tuesday night. The guys perform Wednesday night. Idol is apparently going to take an hour and a half to tell us the results on Thursday.

Unless they’re going to surprise us with some wild card choices, though executive producers have insisted they won’t.

Check back between now and then for much more on the semifinals, beginning with a photo gallery tomorrow and rankings of the top 10 guys and top 10 girls before they take the stage next week.

For tonight’s song by song grades, head here.

For tonight’s photo gallery, head here.

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