“American Idol” Top 10 Guys: Was Keith Urban’s “Cabaret” Critique Homophobic?

American Idol‘s Top 10 men have one thing in common: Like the best/worst politicians, they’re sure that their “sincerity” and teary-eyed stage presence warrant massive attention. Please, Curtis Finch Jr. Admittedly, this is a batch of mostly good vocalists and fine dressers (with a couple of notable exceptions, like the now-deflated phenomenon known as Charlie Askew), but the male half of season 12 reeks of eager-to-please spinelessness. I wouldn’t write off a few of these chaps, though. Not by a long shot.

Let’s rank ’em all, worst to first. Be sure to look out for my livid appraisal of Keith Urban‘s horrible judging. Cheers! 

10. Charlie Askew, Genesis’ “Mama”

Dear lord. I don’t know what’s more grating: Charlie’s elfin whine or his entitled attitude and crocodile tears. After screeching this Genesis tune with as little attention to pitch as possible, Mr. Askew proceeded to fuel his own breakdown during the judges’ critiques. Yes, I believe he was sincerely upset and even debilitated by Keith, Nicki, and Randy’s reactions (though from what I could tell, it seemed like Charlie didn’t process anything any of them said), but I also believe he considers his post-song preaching to be the most important part of his presentation. He stammered about wanting to show off his “angry” side, and that was even more uncomfortable than any of Tatiana del Toro‘s season-eight fits. Guys, she had like 30 fits. Charlie’s an unqualified amateur who isn’t ready to proceed any further, even if his intentions are harmless. And weird. That’s that. But shudder — that mustache.

9. Cortez Shaw, Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”

See, this is the kind of American Idol performance that bothers me even in theory. Cortez clearly picked this song because he could imitate Bruno Mars’ vocals, yet he’s not as strong a singer as Mars, so it’s an altogether unnecessary performance. The man is dashing and modelesque enough for a comely iTunes single cover, but his vocals seem to be more strained, more indistinct, and less meaningful with each passing week. Also: What was with that infernal instrumental beeping in the middle of his song? I wrote down “JAZZ KAZOO?” in pain. But man. He hot.

8. Vincent Powell, Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” 

I guess when you perform last, the judges are likely to shower you with kisses and heart-shaped happy tears no matter what you do. This? Was annoying. And not just because “End of the Road” is one of the lamest gigantically huge singles of the 1990s. (Second only to Mariah and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day,” of course.) Vincent’s “graciousness” is a big put-on, and I thought his vocal last week was light years better than what he gave us this week: an overcooked wedding reception performance with plenty of stinging vocal misses.

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