Burnell Taylor on "American Idol," doing John Legend's "This Time." He is just too cool for school -- fantastic song choice, fits his voice, his vibe, his sharp outfit. Voice isn't the strongest but he's so interesting to listen to and watch that you can't take your eyes off him. He is the definition of a cool cat.
"First, you look great, man" says Keith Urban. He says he was "so strikingly original," the way he moves, his cadence, the entire package; loved it. Nicki Minaj says "Right now, I would pay to see you sing." She is by far the deepest, most lyrical judge this show has ever had; talks to him for a while about how symbolically all the weight he lost since he and his family lost their home in Hurricane Katrina and his desire to move "his family out of the 'hood" shows his rebirth, his renewed spirit. Randy Jackson calls his performance "captivating," liked his original spin on it. Mariah Carey says it was "fantastic."
Crowd and judge favorite Lazaro Arbos, who stutters badly except when he sings and has endeared himself to everyone with his honesty about his self-doubt and vulnerability, takes the stage with Urban's "Tonight I Wanna Cry." It's so emotional and sincere; he's sweating throughout it. He's a bit hard to understand at points, but you can't help but root for him.
Urban likes him and his "spirit," but says "I don't think that was a great song for you," thought he needed to slow it down more. Minaj says, "you always give us Lazaro," says "it's very truthful to you." He thanks her, says, "it wasn't my best song -- but I did the best I could." Which is just perfect.
Jackson tells him don't get nervous, just relax like you do on the chorus. Carey says "there's a purity and sincerity that comes from your struggle and what you go through."
Cortez Shaw closes the show, lights up the stage with a joyful version of David Guetta's "Titanium." Great, distinctive tone; perfect control, he sounds like a pro and has the judges shaking their heads in appreciation.
"That was a really brave and bold move," says Urban, "to tackle that song into a ballad form like that, because there was nowhere to hide." He says there was a lot of inconsistency, but it was tough thing to do, and overall he liked it.
Minaj says, "ooh, is it hot in here or was it just me." She then just adds, "good song choice... sexy." A laughing Jackson says, "I'm just going to talk about the singing." Praises it, says he could be a great contemporary artist. Carey says, "I look forward to what's next from you."