Starving Artist Vincent Powell Gets Seat at American Idol Table

In a mostly uninspiring Idol evening, Vincent Powell got our attention with his big range and big smooth voice, not to mention keeping us petrified with anticipation as to whether he would run out of breath before he ran out of note. Sure, he was showing off, but hey! Sudden Death, remember? Gotta keep it vital and alive.

This worship leader who lays claim to having lived the “starving artist” life in reality, blew the pants off his audience with “Cause I Love You”. Well, not literally. Nicki Minaj claimed he was sexy enough this time around that fifty and sixty-year-olds would be throwing their unmeantionables at him. Tch, tch, tch. Leave it to Nicki. She was comparing this performance with previous ones which she viewed as “old-fashioned”. Randy Jackson called it the “whole package”, compared him with a lot of music industry names, and exclaimed, “That’s the vibe! That was hot! He’s in it to win it!” Keith said, “That was crazy. You came out and just sang it. Loved it.” For Mariah, “All I can say is, FINALLY.”

The evening was filled with judges waiting for that personal touch and finding precious little of it. Singers were “not connecting”, “not current”, too “old-fashioned” or not following through on the early promise of their performances. Mathanee Treco was first out of the gate with Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”, but didn’t quite run the distance. He got the judges all shook up, but not quite in the way he wanted. Rated as cheesy and karaoke by Nicki, (who hit us with her faux British accent) she accused him of simply trying to please the judges [rather than connecting with his song and his audience]. Keith, though tipping his hat to Treco’s “huge range” and “immense power”, warned him not to UNDER-estimate that power [and go overboard]. Mariah found a “little bit of disconnect” in him, also.

In case some of you were vacationing on Mars the past few weeks and didn’t know by now, Nicki Minaj is no shrinking violet or syrupy sympathizer. “I don’t know what’s happening, honey child,” she said to “The Turbanator” Gurpreet Singh Sarin, “But HELL no!” — after he savaged James Morrison’s “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You”. Randy followed suit with, “WOW! DUDE! DAWG! Honestly, that was terrible!”, followed by Mariah’s contrasting deadpan understatement of being “slightly disappointed”. All of the judges were obviously frustrated that he had changed his style in mid-stream and arrived sans his guitar and softer voice. Although Gurpreet promised to “glue” his guitar on if they put him through, he was among the five who were cut.

Though I predicted four out of the five chosen ones, I missed Nick Boddington, not because I don’t like his voice, but because I went by his less than stellar performance of “Say Something”, and the comments of the judges. (Evidently you can’t judge a choice by its comments). Keith “kept waiting for a connection as a person”. Nicki could not give it a ten, called it “disconnected”, and not his best. Randy didn’t know if it was the right song for Nick and kept looking for a “moment” that was not there. Mariah, however, thought she caught a teensy weensy little moment toward the end, but needed to feel him connecting. Judges did love the “timbre” and “warmth” of his voice, and apparently it was enough to get him a spot in last night’s top five. They do keep us guessing, don’t they?

Josh Holiday is a vocal coach who decided to go original last night, accompanying himself on the piano. He lost the judges when he abandoned his piano to sing front and center. Keith thought it was too controlled, which was the bane of vocal coaches, and wished he would just cut loose. “I’m interested in your passion,” he said. Nicki said Josh started sweet and had actually drawn her in before popping her right back out when he came off the piano. Randy liked the song but was not “wowed by it”. Mariah said the audience was impressed, but that she would have liked to see him stay at the piano. This 24-year-old native of Celeste, Texas, living in Nashville, will be returning to the music capital because he didn’t make it through.

My pick (but who listens to me), was David Oliver Willis of Mt. Dora, Florida. The 22-year-old worship leader played his guitar and sang “Fever”, evoking my first holler of the evening because he got my tepid blood flowing finally. Keith decided David was channeling some really soulful cats in there, and had a moment at the end, but that it was not the right song for him. Nicki pulled out her old standby non-sequitur of “Are You Married?” – Yes – “Okay”, and left it at that. But Randy liked the whole bluesy thing and was “kind of like intrigued”. Mariah was intrigued (where had she heard that word recently) by the backstory of the groups David sang with, adding that the crowd seemed to love his performance, but debated if it was current. Apparently my hollering did him not one ounce of good. He’s heading back to Mt. Dora (which is a beautiful place among several big lakes – I’ve been there). I hope the exposure on Idol takes him to bigger and better things. He seems like a great guy as well as a great singer.

Native Hawaiian Bryant Tadeo singing “A New York State of Mind”, garnered a question mark beside his name on my American Idol notes last night because he ended the song to mixed reviews. Keith commented that “everybody here is on their feet”, that Bryant had “a really beautiful voice”, (I agree), and that he had “made a connection”. Nicki said, “I loved that last note you did, the run, the rift, cause I didn’t like anything else.” She also questioned his nationality, saying she thought he had some “brother” in there. Whether she meant in features or vocals, or possibly both, only The Nick knows for sure. Randy said he was “waiting for something at the end” (me, too), and that it “never quite went there” (no it didn’t). Mariah said he “sounded professional”, but for a couple of moments he “got lost in there”. She praised his “raw talent”, but didn’t know if it was his greatest performance ever.

Burnell Taylor, a 19-year-old New Orleans native, was praised for his look as well as his singing. Burnell, a Louisiana hurricane survivor, apparently overcame a lot of odds to get where he is — one of them battling a huge weight problem. Nicki spoke emotionally about knowing what it felt like to want to “get your family out of the hood”. She said his victory over his weight problem signified a different spirit taking over his life. “I would PAY to see you sing!” she said. “There’s nobody near you tonight.” Keith said he “looked great”, and called him “strikingly original”. “I was connected to the whole thing,” he said. Randy said, “I’m not sure of that performance, but love your story, love that you lost the weight. It was captivating. You’re different. You picked a John Legend song and did it justice. You put your own thing in it.” (Huh? Was Randy undecided, just vacillating, or am I simply confused?). Mariah said she agreed [not sure with whom exactly] but that “this was fantastic”. I like Burnell, even though I was frankly bored with the song. Also, another viewer and I found Burnell’s windmilling arms quite distracting and I wondered why no judge mentioned this awkward stage presence. But — whatever. It’s the judges’ call and he is now in America’s Top Twenty.

Lazaro Arbos took on a Keith Urban song, “Tonight I Want to Cry”, which Keith allowed had “the crowd screaming”. “The crowd loves you Lazaro, and singing my song is very flattering. You are really a great singer with great diversity.” Although Keith went on to say that he felt like “the song got away” from Lazaro, and that it was not a great song for him, Keith did say that there was a spirit that “burned through the vocals”. Nicki liked that Lazaro played it safe with his customary ballad. “Don’t change nothing,” she advised. Randy said everytime Lazaro hit the chorus there was “a sweet spot” in his voice. “Your vibrato has the right metered beat to it,” he said. Mariah praised the purity and simplicity of his singing, and mentioned the ongoing struggle in his life. (Lazaro has such a stuttering problem he can barely get through a simple sentence, though he can sing straight and true). “Music brings you through,” Mariah said. It certainly got him through in this instance. This sweet, handsome, ice cream shop employee is one of America’s Top Twenty flavors.

Cortez Shaw, 22-year-old Dallas, TX, student and warehouse worker, put some stuff on his rendition of “Titanium”, moving Nicki to fan herself and say, “Is it hot in here or is it just me? Good song choice. Sexy,” which caused Randy to quip, “I’m just going to talk about the singing if you don’t mind. Crazy range, here. Very current.” Keith called it a “really bold and brave move to tackle that ballad.” He went on to say there was “a lot of inconsistency in the song, but at the end — total redemption”. Mariah wanted everyone to know that she was a staunch Cortez fan. “I have enjoyed you since the beginning,” she said. “I loved the arrangement. You made some very good choices.” Yep. Things are heating up all right for Cortez. He’s through to the Top Twenty.

I just hope the next segment of Idol ratchets up the energy as well as the vocals. For the most part it has been dry as unbuttered toast (whole grain). If there are any stars in this batch — and a few twinkled brightly before Sudden Death snuffed out their confidence — I wish they would shoot off like Roman candles. I’m tired of ho-hum.

Congratulations to those who survived the last Sudden Death round: Vincent Powell, Lazaro Arbos, Cortez Shaw, Burnell Taylor, and Nick Boddington.

Here’s America’s Top Twenty contestants for whom we will vote next week.  

Adriana Lotonio
Amber Holcomb
Angela Miller
Aubrey Cleland
Breanna Steer
Candice Glover
Janelle Arthur
Kree Harrison
Tenna Torres
Zoanette Johnson

Burnell Taylor
Charlie Askew
Cortez Shaw
Curtis Finch Jr.
Devin Velez
Elijah Liu
Lazaro Arbos
Nick Boddington
Paul Jolley
Vincent Powell

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8 thoughts on “Starving Artist Vincent Powell Gets Seat at American Idol Table

  1. I think I said my piece about the men at the end of your entry about the women from the night before.

    I wonder how diligently Lazaro’s family has tried to get his stuttering stopped. I know there are various methods and most of them seem to work. I’ve known a couple of people who stuttered quite badly and were cured. Pity the man who worked with King George VI (in the fabulous movie “The King’s Speech”) is no longer alive.

    Do you still think. like I do, that Angela Miller will win? I think Kree Harrison has a good chance, too.

    • I wondered about speech therapy and if he had ever had any help. I hope this exposure will bring that help. I’m still waiting for Mike to sit down and watch The King’s Speech with me. I’m also still waiting for him to watch Amazing Grace, though I saw that one without him.

      Angela Miller, based entirely on her performance of her original song, is still my favorite. But she won’t make it on that one performance alone, so I hope she gets it together through all the others. Kree Harrison is another good choice.

      P.S. I replied to your reply from the night before. Did you get that one?

      • “The King’s Speech” is a fantastic movie. Do be sure you see it. Do you mean this “Amazing Grace”?

        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454776/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_1

        I haven’t seen it, but Benedict Cumberbatch is in it and I loved him in “Sherlock.” I like Ioan Gruffoudd, too.

        I just finished watching “Argo,” this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture. Wow! It took my breath away it’s so good. Be sure to watch it if you can.

        Yes, I saw your reply to my comment the night before. Just haven’t answered it yet.

  2. Sorry for not getting back with you sooner. It gets a little bizarre around here sometimes. In fact the past day or so have been so weird I’ll be blogging about it shortly. On your good recommendation, Mike and I rented Argo. Except for the flying figs, it was great, if you don’t care that I’m nearly bald for pulling my hair out. Man! That was intense!

    Will have to tie Mike to the recliner with electrical cord to get him to finally sit down to watch The King’s Speech”. The title may be a little tepid, but I know the movie will be great because you and my friend Jane from church highly recommend it. In fact, I think it’s Jane’s copy that I’ve had here waiting for Mike to watch for a few months now.Don’t know Benedict Cumberbatch, but will look him up. Sometimes I recognize actors to see them but don’t know their names.

    I bought Amazing Grace — yes, the one with the guy with the impossible name who starred in The Fantastic Four. But we were hooked on him from his amazing role as Horatio Hornblower in that wonderful series. We bought the whole thing for Christmas one year. Son Henry has watched them all repeatedly.

    Have you seen any of the movies based on the writings of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austin? I love those. The best movie version of Jane Eyre, to me, was – wait a minute – can’t remember the actors – late 1990’s. Will have to look it up. What I do remember is that when it came out on tape, back when we had to go the rentals to get them, the little teeny-bopper behind the counter looked confused when I asked for Jane Eyre. “You mean Con Air?” she asked. You’ll be proud of me. I didn’t role my eyes and I was very kind (except for one wee chuckle).

    Also, there is a series called “Wives and Daughters” that is very good, and streamable. I’ve watched it through twice. I’ve got so many movies and books I want to do reviews on. If I could just get everyday stuff out of the way so I can do it. Also, there are always more books to read and movies to watch, and, OF COURSE, American Idol. Why oh why do I get so fixated on that show? It’s like a potato chip. You can’t watch just one.

    • “Except for the flying figs, it was great…”

      Uhmm, not sure what you mean by flying figs. And yes, Argo is definitely intense. Did your rental copy have the interviews with the real people involved? That was interesting.

      The King’s Speech isn’t about a speech. It’s about his ability to speak. King George VI (the current queen’s father) had a terrible stutted which affected his speech. That’s the speech referred to in the title. It’s fascinating how he was helped to get rid of it. His therapist makes him do some pretty funny and un-king-like things. Colin Firth stars in it and I think he’s not only dreamy, but a brilliant actor.

      How funny about the clerk thinking you meant Con Air. I guess she’s not much of a reader. I’ve read all of Jane Austen’s books and all the books by Chrarlotte, Emiy and Anne Browning. Jane Eyre and Wutherling Heights are my favorite books and movie adaptations. I don’t have a favorite because there have been so many and most of them are good. Of Jane Austen’s books, I love them all, but as movies, I especailly love the 1995 Mastepiece Theatre version with Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, and Susannah Harker. I have the DVDs and have lost track of how many times I’ve watched them.

      Don’t forget Idol starts on Tuesday this week. I am very curious to see what Nicki will be like on the live shows. Do you ever vote for an Idol contestant? I have a couple of times, but I vote on line. Phoning doesn’t work, too many busy signals.

      • Yeah, we know what King’s Speech is about, I was just commenting on the title. But I still have the feeling I’ll have to watch it by myself first until Mike comes dragging his interest along a few days, weeks, or months later.

        Oh, I’m so glad you are a Bronte/Austin fan. I’ve read those books multiple times. My friend Jane watches the movies every time she sees them on her satellite listings. I’ll have to tell her we can add another avid follower to our group. (Sister Katie loves them, too.) Jane is the friend from the old church Katie and I grew up in. Jane is about 15 years older than me and was my first Sunday School teacher. I think I told you about her. She’s the one who got me into Les Miserables when I was about 12 or 14.

        Thanks for letting me know about Idol. I wasn’t aware of the new time. Katie and I used to vote avidly in the early years. We’re too old and worn out now, though we occasionally get excited and start dialing. Mike says I need to do like you and vote online. Katie and I both got disgusted with the voting since the teens who don’t mind staying up all night can override our puny few votes a thousand times over. I wish Idol would go to a limited vote. But then they couldn’t brag about how many millions of votes they got.

      • Voting on Idol is really easy to do on line. No waiting and no busy signals. I agree that they should have a limit on voting. No more than one vote from any phone number or ISP. There will still be people with access to more than one phone and even some with a second or proxy ISP, but it would eliminate kids sitting at a computer voting over and over for the full two hours that voting is open.

        Looks like I share the interests of several of your other friends. Like your friend, Jane. I watch any Bronte and Austen movies whenever they’re on TV.

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