American Idol

Candice Glover won "American Idol" Season 12 over Kree Harrison as Psy, Jennifer Hudson, Jessie J, Adam Lambert and Aretha Franklin performed.

Charlie Askew's meltdown overshadows stellar Elijah Liu and Curtis Finch on 'American Idol'

"American Idol" - Charlie Askew performs Genesis' "Mama."

"American Idol" - Charlie Askew performs Genesis' "Mama." This was a very strange performance and all of the judges called him out on it. Keith felt it was disingenuous, Nicki wants her "cute, cuddly Charlie back," Randy didn't get it, and Mariah says, "It's up to America." Charlie was visibly upset and on the verge of tears. (March 6, 2013) (Credit: Fox)

Elijah Liu and Curtis Finch topped a mediocore guys' night on "American Idol," as most of the ten contestants took turns reminding us how they don't stand a chance against a stellar women's group this season.

All anyone's going to be talking about though is Charlie Askew's emotional meltdown -- he gave an odd, angry performance of Genesis' "Mama," during which he hurled aside his mike stand. The judges were confused and panned him, asking what happened to the goofy, carefree singer they all loved as he stood there and took it all, seeming very close to tears.

He told Ryan Seacrest afterwards he feels like he needs to come across as happy, but isn't really, so tonight he wanted to "vent."

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My conclusion is the judges, and all of us, may have mistakenly thought Askew was quirky and endearingly weird -- when he might actually be a more typically angry, confused young man trying to find his way in the world. Except in this case live, on stage in front of us....

As for everyone else, Liu flashed some genuine star power to go with his compelling voice, and is likely to get enough tween girls' votes to be a factor deep into the finals. Finch was vocally excellent as usual, but the last few seasons singers similar to him have had trouble building a following. 

Below's how I ranked everyone; put in your own thoughts in the comments, below.

1) Elijiah Liu's version of Rihanna's "Stay" showed off his calmness and pop star aura. I liked it even more than the judges did, who wound up just calling him "very marketable," in Nick Minaj's words.

2) Curtis Finch Jr.'s "I Believe I Can Fly" was simple, well-sung and powerful, earning him a standing ovation from all four judges. He was on a different level vocally from all the other guys.

3) Burnell Taylor did nothing fancy on "I'm Here" -- but his unique voice was enough, since as Randy Jackson put it his "urgency" makes you stop whatever you're doing and listen.

4) Devin Velez sang in Spanish as has become his trademark, with his sweet voice and poise prompting Mariah Carey to say he could reach "an international audience."

5) Honestly, Lazaro Arbos just needs to stand out there and he'll get the cheers -- he was a bit cheesy on "Feeling Good" but was resplendent in a white suit with a Miami Vice-ish pink shirt underneath.

6) Nick Boddington's "Iris" seemed oversung to me, but it was easy to listen to and as Minaj put it, was in his "comfort zone."

7) Vincent Powell 's "End of the Road" had lots of verbal tricks and maximum effort, but as Keith Urban said, seemed like his "nerves got on top of" his talent.

8) Cortez Shaw's "Locked Out of Heaven" was pitchy and had no flow; the judges all panned the performance and song choice.

9) An emotional, angry Charlie Askew was disjointed on "Mama" -- he said afterwards he was trying to "vent," but the judges were confused and hated it, with Minaj asking, "where's my little baby at Charlie? What happened? I feel like someone stole my kid."

10) Paul Jolley's "Just a Fool" was average at best for me -- Urban questioned if he knew what type of singer he was, but I don't think he'll be around long enough for us to find out.

Tags: Elijiah Liu , Cortez Shaw , Charlie Askew , Nick Boddington , Burnell Taylor , Paul Jolley , Lazaro Arbos , Curtis Finch , Devin Velez , Vincent Powell , American Idol , Las Vegas round , Nicki Minaj , Mariah Carey , Keith Urban , Randy Jackson

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