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Charlie Askew breaks down onstage following 'American Idol' performance

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/07/2013 

Charlie Askew nearly burst into tears onstage following a bad review from American Idol's judges for his performance and new look during Wednesday night's Fox semifinals broadcast.

Askew, a 17-year-old from Little Rock, AR, took the stage amongst the twelfth season's Top 10 male semifinalists last night and sang a somewhat dark rendition of "Mama" by Genesis.

Sporting a sleeveless shirt, long feather earring and his fluffy hair pulled back into a ponytail, judges Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Randy Jackson, and Mariah Carey gently tore him apart.

"Last time I saw you, I wanted to cradle you in my arms. You know how obsessed I am with you. Where's my little baby at, Charlie? What happened? I don't know what happened. I feel like someone stole my kid," Minaj began.
"I may have gotten a little angry," Askew said.
"I don't want to see your arms. I don't want you working out. Charlie, I don't want to see that ponytail. I don't want to see that earring. Lose that mustache immediately hunny. Charlie, no seriously babe, I want my cute cuddly Charlie back and that's why in Hollywood I told you, 'Don't change.' When you were wearing your oversized suits... I was obsessed with that Charlie. And now, it's like a darker thing. I don't know what's going on but I'm upset," Minaj explained.

Urban, Jackson and Carey expressed similar criticism.

"I wish I knew what people at home were saying right now. I was looking around the audience when you were singing and the expressions on people's faces were varied... For me man, something feels not fully genuine. It just feels disingenuous a little bit. I'm trying to figure out what's disconnected for me and tonight, for me, it felt the most disconnected I've heard from you," Urban told the contestant, suggesting he should front a band rather than pursue a career as a soloist.

"I'm just a little worried. I'm worried for you," Jackson said with a laugh. "Listen, honestly, the front part dude was terrible. The beginning was really, really terrible. I don't know what was happening... at the end of it, you went to like a scream. And I was like, 'Wow, what's happening up here?! What's going on?'... I didn't even get it. I don't know what was happening. It might not be the right time for that move, I don't know," Jackson explained.

"Well you have already gotten a nice earful from everybody," Carey said. "You know that I enjoy you a lot as a person and I think you do add some diversity and variety to the whole group... Right now, we're getting to the place where there are some incredibly incredibly gifted singers just in a different genre than what you're doing. So, it's up to America. Maybe they will fall in love and love the earring and the whole ensemble, whatever you choose to pick. That's all I can say."

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest then joined Askew on the stage and attempted to comfort him once he realized the singer was not handling the situation very well.

"I can see it on your face. I know that was a tough one," Seacrest said.

"Little bit," Askew replied.

"Tell us a little bit of the thinking behind the evolution of your look and choosing that song and performing it that way," Seacrest requested.

"Well, I guess all I can say is I needed to vent a little bit," Askew revealed.

"Are you alright? Are you okay? You okay?" Seacrest asked a clearly deflated Askew.

"Just a lot of people think that -- the message I was really trying to send was that a lot of people think I'm a very happy buoyant person a lot of the time, and the only reason I smile so much is because I feel like I have to," Askew said as tears were welling up in his eyes.

"Charlie, listen buddy, you've got some friends here. You've got some friends here tonight and we appreciate your courage and your honesty and there's nothing easy about having those feelings inside and standing up here and having to do that tonight, okay? We appreciate you," Seacrest told the semifinalist. "Hang in there, hang in there. Let's see a real smile!"

Askew then forced a little smile and ran off the stage sooner than Seacrest had anticipated.

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