“American Idol” Vegas Showdown #2: J’DA “Represents the Gays”!

Well, that was a mediocre night of brooding dudes. Remember when I told last night’s ladies to “matter more”? Turns out the gents needed the same memo, with one notable exception: The fabulous, high-heeled mess known as J’DA, who announced he was “representing the gays” after his eye-popping, nutty, floor-clutching performance of “Rumour Has It,” rocked me, confused me, and ultimately felt… too insane for this universe. We’ll get to that in a bit. J’DA’s performance, I mean, not the universe where he can live and thrive. That’s a couple millennia off. 

Just like Wednesday’s initial Vegas night, we saw 10 performers croon (all dudes this time), and five earned the right to stay while the other five were eliminated. Let’s rank these 10 and sort out our feelings for years afterward with suburban therapist Kara DioGuardi. I assume that’s what’s she’s up to recently. 

10. Charlie Askew, Elton John’s “Rocket Man”

Let’s start with this. This. This person. This red-haired sprite. This hyperventilating ragamuffin and his terrified, weird, pitch-challenged, and ultimately megalomaniacal performance of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Excuse me, Nicki Minaj, but it might be strange to call Charlie Askew “fearless” when he is literally quaking onstage. I actually thought he was going to stop singing and start crying at one point, and that is only acceptable in a dramatic interpretation of Judy Garland‘s life. Charlie Askew’s “charm” has long washed away, and now we’re left with someone who is coasting by on what the severely deluded judges are calling showmanship. The only thing he has going for him is he sort of looks like a pre-adolescent Paula Poundstone. That I can support. None of this awkward kneeling or motioning for the audience to cheer louder. 

Judges’ Verdict: Survived! (WHAT.)

9. Jimmy Smith, Radney Foster’s “Raining on Sunday”

Jimmy Smith looks a lot like Josh from Road Rules: Latin America, which is my personal favorite season. Good for him. Otherwise, was this a performance? I barely remember his timbre or style or anything. “Raining on Sunday” is a clinically dull title. I can’t be expected to grade this like it was an actual performance when it might’ve not been one! Let’s be safe and move on.

Judges’ Verdict: Eliminated

8. Elijah Liu, “Talking to the Moon”

Nicki Minaj declared this child in a shiny coat to be a superstar, but is there a chance he might… not be? Elijah is certainly a candy-sized dollop of cute overload, but this (admittedly good) ballad did not show off either his vocal strengths or ability to connect with a song. I felt like I was watching a Hollywood Round auditioner screw up his lucky streak. Still, it was all worth it to watch Mariah Carey gurgle, “I love that you’re Mexican and Chinese; that’s a great combination.” Can you imagine what racial combinations Mariah Carey doesn’t love? “Eli, you’re Danish and Lebanese, and I HATE THAT. THINK OF THE CLASH IN COMPLEXIONS.” 

Judges’ Verdict: Survived!

7. Chris Watson, Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”

Now hear this: Chris Watson ranks among the mega foxes our time. I am being serious right now, because he is so hot, it’s… basically unthinkable. He is frankly too hot for American Idol and television. I appreciate that he made his looks less amazing by dressing in what appeared to be Prince‘s pajamas and at least four of Erykah Badu‘s headwraps, but i could tell he was Calvin Klein boyfriend material by the time his intro package was over. I confess that Otis Redding‘s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” is one of my least favorite standards (I’m sorry, I find it so drippy), but I couldn’t even recognize the soul of the tune in Chris’ performance. It was a standard, slightly songless version, and he only kind of compensated by wearing more rhinestones than Glen Campbell in his heyday. A no-brainer elimination, even with the stunning face. 

Judges’ Verdict: Eliminated.

6. Johnny Keyser, Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up”

Johnny Keyser has the suspiciously dated looks of an ’80s sitcom star like Ted McGinley AND the villain from Happy Gilmore, Shooter McGavinI actually get Jack Nicklaus vibes too. Weird, right? Anyway, something is seriously the matter with an  Idol contestant who enters the most grueling section of the season with an effing Jason Mraz song. This isn’t American Boho Ukulele Skateboarder. This is American Idol. Jason Mraz’s songs are definitively un-urgent and un-commanding, so I can’t claim to know who Johnny was trying to impress, besides maybe Jason Mraz and his board shorts. 

Judges’ Verdict: Eliminated.

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