“American Idol” Sudden Death Recap: Turban Cowboy

I hate apologizing on behalf of American Idol. We should be enjoying this! This is our joy! My joy! My Seacrest-sponsored rapture. My karaoke vomitorium pandemonium extravaganza. But sigh. Every once in awhile Idol is a silly suckfest for losers, and tonight was one of those nights. Ten dudes entered, and I’m telling you that at least eight of them were lame enough to dismiss completely. Randy Jackson shrugs wildly and pouts, “What is going on here?!” Besides you and your patronizing chuckles, Randy, not much.

Before we begin, it’s time to note that Nicki Minaj’s “infuriated” reactions whenever Mariah Carey speaks are annoying. What is she reacting to? Anything? It makes me mad. And then, of course Mariah makes me mad with her simplistic, pandering critiques and nervous, non-committal energy. Ugh! Hop on your jetski and hit me with some of that “Honey” video swag, M.C.!

Now, onto catastrophe cavalcade.

10. Gurpreet Singh Sarin, James Morrison’s “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You”

What the hell was this? Gurpreet’s flat delivery was so steadily wrong that I was almost convinced the band was playing some other song. But of course, the tragic reality was that James Morrison’s “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You” WAS Gurpreet’s song, he WAS butchering it with an unthinkable smile on his face, and everything in our lives felt like broken glass. Glad the judges turbanated him, and I’m gladder that Randy socked him with the once-in-a-season “That was terrible” critique. Paige Miles, I remember you well. By the way: Who the hell is James Morrison? Verdict: Eliminated

9. Lazaro Arbos, Keith Urban’s “Tonight I Wanna Cry”

To reiterate an earlier sentiment: What the hell was this? Lazaro closed his eyes and threw his arms in the air, and I believe that’s the closest he came to hitting a single note in this rendition of “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” which put the song’s creator Keith Urban in the awkward position of having to feign flattery at the sound of ghastly croaking. Lazaro could not be cuter, and his fashions could not be more precious in a definitely-purchased-at-Express-for-Men way. But God: This is someone who is so, so apparently not good enough for Idol. Frankly, we already have enough not-good-enoughs in the competition. Hell, Zoanette is enough not-good-enough for three seasons. This is just a nice kid who needed to be eliminated, and because of his adorable soul or whatever, he remains a contender. Candice Glover, knock these wannabes over using pure talent, thanks. Verdict: Saved

8. Mathenee Treco, Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”

I ain’t new: I still cherish Jackie Tohn’s sneaker-wearing, rasp-heavy, stank-filled version of this jam from season eight. God, she was weird. Thank God we had her, even for four minutes. Mathenee, however, made the mistake of singing this jam at full speed, which caused him to struggle with lyrics, inject awkward attempts at vocal gymnastics, and even underwhelm with some soft tapping when he had the chance. It didn’t help that he was dressed in the definitive uniform of a “choreographer/entertainer” (his own self-description), the full Kevin Federline cap-to-baggy-slacks jive uniform. Unless you are a cast member in Magic Mike who’s about to hump a wall or two, please refrain from the “sk8rtainer” ensemble. Verdict: Eliminated

7. Josh Holiday, Josh Holiday’s “Better With You”

Here’s a rule of thumb I just came up with: Don’t write your own song and perform it on American Idol. God knows you haven’t workshopped it. You think you’re the sincerest little Jason Mraz disciple of all time, and maybe you are, but that’s a distinction best celebrated at home in shameful privacy, not in front of me and my absolute intolerance for songs with titles stolen from canceled ABC sitcoms. “Better With You” would’ve been better with a damn hook, but Josh Holiday here (who really reminds me of Ted from Hey Dude for some reason) just peddled out the earnestness before bothering with an awful falsetto that would’ve sent Maurice Gibb into a shrieking fugue state. A beautiful head-voice shrieking fugue state. I can appreciate the originality of a singer/songwriter in the competition, but this isn’t a latent Brill Building genius in the making. Verdict: Eliminated

6. Nick Boddington, James Morrison’s “Say Something Now”

Hey, remember when I asked that question, “Who the hell is James Morrison?” Well, another thing I was wondering is WHO THE HELL IS JAMES MORRISON? Back in season nine, there was also an episode featuring two James Morrison songs, and this leads me to believe “James Morrison” is an anagram of “Nigel Lythgoe Dance and Musical Schmaltz Academy,” because why else would two contestants pick songs from this guy? Weirds me out. Anyway: Nick is one of the guys you honestly pull for, but this didn’t deliver us much in the way of memorable emoting or zest. Those gigantic blue eyes are undeniable orbs of spiritual sex, though, and I can’t believe Nick stole them from Montgomery Clift’s corpse. Verdict: Saved

5. Cortez Shaw, Sia’s “Titanium”

Shame from your recapper: There were plenty of awful notes in this rendition, and it pains me to place Cortez ahead of Nick Boddington, who certainly had a better vocal exhibition than this trick. But let’s talk about finesse. Being bankable. Gorgeousness. Cortez Shaw is the very vision of a star, and when he moved and gestured and trilled, I couldn’t take my eyes off his sparkling visage. I did want to Van Gogh my ears a couple of times, but I applaud the inspired song choice, the slowed-down arrangement, and the notes that seemed to be testing how bulletproof my brain was. Verdict: Saved

4. Burnell Taylor: John Legend’s “This Time”

Burnell is a flashy and talented vocalist who, so far, is on the verge on the being special without actually getting there. I remember his Crayola-colored makeover more than I do his rendition, which was a salable take on a John Legend tune. Truthfully, I never hear John Legend’s music in the real world and figured the Grammys invented John Legend using melted-down Victrolas and Marvin Gaye LPs (I also believe the Grammys invented Allison Krauss and Esperanza Spalding, who is a melted-down re-branding of Corinne Bailey Rae, who was also invented by the Grammys), but Burnell proved that John Legend is a real thing with real emotions that Burnell shares. Fine. Verdict: Saved

3. Vincent Powell: Lenny Williams’ “’Cause I Love You”

So OK! Very good vocal. Powerful ending that soared over the past seven jokers. But let us again think of marketability and placement in this KISS FM-run world. Does the determinedly old-fashioned, downright stodgy Vincent really have a chance at using Idol as a springboard into the stratosphere? Because this is the kind of singer who would consider “Dance With My Father” cutting-edge. I’m hoping he can morph his old-soul charm into a resonant and contemporary funk situation, because I’m already worried he’s going to get dramatically less interesting in the coming weeks. By the way: I can think of nothing worse than dancing with my father to “Dance With My Father.” Verdict: Saved

2. Bryant Tadeo, Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind”

Now, I am a human being who hates Billy Joel and this song in particular, with its namedroppy pride and book-report comprehension of New York, so I can’t be expected to adore everything about Bryant’s performance. For the most part I found him very believable, sincere, and tame, which is actually refreshing after you watch people like Mathenee swat around the stage like an ornery kindergartener. I abhorred Nicki’s comment about how she didn’t like anything except his final note, because you know what, Nicki? You like Charlie Askew. That is a diagnosable issue, and you should consult your pediatrician. Bryant’s a player, but he’s not a powerhouse. Which is kinda cute, really. Verdict: Eliminated.

1. David Oliver Willis, Peggy Lee’s “Fever”

The nanosecond that D.O.W. opened his mouth to sing, I knew he’d be my favorite performance of the night. Slick, upbeat, smooth vocals that never wavered in professionalism or sexiness, if you ask me. Better yet, even when singing an ancient (albeit cool and nervy as hell) standard like “Fever,” David Oliver Wells seemed to mean every word he crooned, soaking in the song’s innuendos, vapors, and throes. His outfit looked a little Bugle Boy for my taste (and that vest looked like construction paper to me), but I just absorbed his energy and found his determined “lite”-ness kind of awesome. Now, as for Nicki’s estimation that he sounded like a weird family member playing the guitar at Christmas? I don’t have an opinion. Because I don’t know what that means. Verdict: Eliminated. I know. I know.