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'American Idol's Curtis Finch Jr., Burnell Taylor and Devin Velez receive top praise from judges


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/07/2013 

American Idol featured standout performances from three of the 10 male semifinalists during Wednesday night's live Fox broadcast of the twelfth season's Top 10 guys semifinals performance show.

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American Idol judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and Randy Jackson deemed Curtis Finch Jr., a 24-year-old from St. Louis, MO; Burnell Taylor, a 19-year-old from New Orleans, LA; and Devin Velez, an 18-year-old from Chicago, IL, the best performers of the night.

Taylor performed "I'm Here" from The Color Purple, which he had previously sang in an earlier stage of the competition.

"Your voice is instantly recognizable. If I heard that voice on the radio, I'd go, 'That's Burnell.' You don't sound like anyone else. You've got your own thing. It's incredibly strong and signature. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. Thank you for doing that," Urban said.

"I love you. I mean, I think it's pretty obvious that you are one of a kind. You were born to do this and I'm happy that we found you and brought you here for America to see you. That struggle and that pain in your voice is undeniable and I hope people vote for you, Burnell. I really love you," Minaj explained.

"You know I love you dog... This is always the mark of a great singer -- you grasp and capture somebody's attention from the first word. Because that urgency in your voice, no matter what you're doing, you're like, 'Oh, yo, let me listen to him! He's really got something to say.' You really believe it... and it's an amazing song. I love that song... Dude, that was great man. Love you, love you, love you," Jackson said.

"So you did it again. It was a tearful moment, you know why? Because I have been waiting to hear that same... tangible emotion... you just gave everything you had and I feel like tonight, you matched that. And I was so happy to hear you do this song again and I don't care that you did the same song... I'm so proud of you, so happy, and I have so much love for you," Carey told the singer.

Finch Jr. took the stage and sang "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.

"We just had us a sermon in Vegas baby! I believe you can fly Curtis. You just ooze everything good and light and Godly and whole and positive and you just have so much hope in you, and we need so much of that man. Thank you very much Curtis," Urban said.

"The bar -- every time, every single time. Let me tell you something. This is bigger than American Idol to me. That, what you do, when you make people feel good, when you make people feel powerful, when you make people feel like they can fly, that's something that was given to you by somebody else -- a higher power. That is not something that can even be measured in the amount of votes that you get tonight," Minaj told him.

Added the rapper, "I don't care how many votes you get for the rest of your life. You have a calling in your life to bless people and to do so much good. And Curtis, I really, really hope and pray that you make that kind of an album. People need that right now. People are out there hurt. People are hurting. We need that... Don't try to do the R&B and all that stuff, because this is what we need from you. We need that."

"Dude, listen, I feel like the competition tonight started right here for me, right? This is the beginning... the guys now are giving a run for those girls over there. Ya'll are bringing it. Ya'll were listening last night going, 'Yo, what are we going to do?' This is what ya'll are doing right here! He's what ya'll should be doing," Jackson said.

"I think I told you [before] I wait for you to sing every time. I just want to, first of all, thank you for that performance, because the energy that you gave off and what you were feeling and spreading to us just so generously was what I needed in this moment right now in my life. So I just want to thank you for that... You made me feel like, 'Man, thank you that Curtis is here tonight...' You've been one of my favorites the whole time, but I just want to say yet again, thank you and vote!" Carey explained.

Velez also impressed the judges with his English and Spanish rendition of "It's Impossible."

"The very beginning for me was a little shaky, and then as soon as you moved in and the camera got away and you found your zone, man, you are such a good, good singer. It got stronger and stronger and there was a run in the middle that all of us were just like, 'Whoa! What was that?!' And that's you. That's where you are right there. You are so gifted, Devin, that was really good, man," Urban explained.

"I think Keith likes you," Minaj joked. "I thought it was muy bien, perfecto, entonce -- it was gorgeous... Babe, congratulations. Kudos. I think you're stepping into your own and you feel very real and very believable... you're up there looking like a little Ken doll, a little Spanish Ken doll. Congrats babe, congrats," Minaj told him.

"Yo, I rarely say this on this show, but your tone is a tone that I actually really, really like. And I love the vibrato as well, and I love -- it's like turning on a faucet. This kid is effortless. I'm like, 'Yo, he's doing the runs, he's singing.' You feel so comfortable. You're like mad young, mad cool, handsome like I am. I'm like, 'I love this guy! I love this dude!'" Jackson gushed.

During tonight's American Idol broadcast, America's chosen Top 10 -- the five female and five male semifinalists with the highest number of home viewer votes -- will be named the twelfth season's Top 10 finalists.



(Photo credit Fox)


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