Lazaro Arbos next on "American Idol," singing "Close to You." It's not good; he's swallowing his words, the song itself is melodramatic and almost impossible to sing without parodying. Low energy, nothing at all distinctive about it. Tepid applause at the end.
"All I can say is 'no, no, no, no'" says Randy Jackson -- "dude, that was horrible." He goes on an extended rant about how bad it was, before finishing with, "I think that was the worst performance you ever had on the show."
Mariah Carey starts laughing at Jackson's screed, then randomly starts with, "I've been criticized for being too nice . . . the powers that be have reprimanded me and reminded me that I'm here to judge."
Uh, okay; that's probably the most interesting thing she's said all season, except she says it like we should blow off that criticism. She then launches into an extended, rambling wreck of a monologue about how Arbos needs to get better and sing on key. She's demonstrated no capacity for sustained thought on this show, just consistently says random things.
Keith Urban tells him we all love your story, but says he chose the wrong key. Nicki Minaj just tells Ryan Seacrest to pretend she already gave her comment, because otherwise "we'll be here until tomorrow."
And that's it. Weird; he has another song coming up tonight, you'd think they'd encourage him to put this behind him and knock that one out of the park. Instead the judges delivered up one of the most excruciating critiques in recent memory for a performance that wasn't good, but certainly wasn't that bad.
Kree Harrison next, doing "What the World Needs Now is Love." My gosh, starts out a cappella and slow, and it's great. Letting the song breath; no oversinging, just changing up the pacing enough to make it her own -- it comes across as heartfelt and personal.
Carey gushes over it, Urban says the "real genuine compassion" she has for people comes through in her song, which is a good observation. Tells her "that's the best you've ever sung."
Minaj calls her voice "sweet and humble and endearing," but at the same time keeps her unique tone and swagger. Tells her she's ready to go pro now.
Jackson just yells, "that girl can sing!"