It was a hard day’s night for Lazaro Arbos when the "American Idol" hopefuls took on the Beatles' catalog on Wednesday night. The 21-year-old from Naples, Fla., delivered a slow and breathy rendition of "In My Life" that failed to connect with the judges or audience, despite the dreamy looks he gave the cameras.
Mariah Carey tried to let him down gently. "I commend you on your bravery. I'm proud of you," she started. "It was a little bit low for you." Keith Urban agreed, telling the young singer how important it was to choose the right key.
Nicki Minaj put her stamp of approval on the assessment and let Lazaro know how disappointed she was by the lackluster performance. "You are still not the Lazaro I remember. ... You used to be ownin' it! Now it's like ... I don't know. ... Something is bothering you, babe."
Original judge Randy Jackson didn't bother with the kindness. "That was your worst performance ever," he said bluntly. "It was out of tune from beginning to end!"
The criticism resulted in tears from Lazaro, who turned away from the cameras as tears rolled down his cheeks, and didn't look back at America even when the show finally cut to commercial.
Hunky Paul Jolley didn't have much more luck with his performance of "Eleanor Rigby."
"I like that jacket and I like that shirt, and I like them skinny jeans," Nicki said. But that was where the niceties ended. "I did not like your performance, Jol. You know why? Very very safe. Very bland and forgettable."
Randy agreed, complaining that the singer was "disconnected" from the song.
Infinitely more successful was Candice Glover, who delivered a rocking rendition of "Come Together" that had the audience on its feet during a performance that felt like a professional show. The 23-year-old belted out the song with attitude and strutted on the stage with confidence.
"I love seeing you in this whole other vibe! The rock chick side of you was really cool!" Keith gushed.
Nicki was no less enthused as she raved, "I love your vocal! It's crazy insane out of this world!" Her only criticism? That she wanted Candice to wear the craziness on her face too. "You have that crazy face. I want you always to have that attitude in your face!"
Another standout was Janelle Arthur, who closed the show with a sweet, subtle yet powerful version of "I Will." Mentor Jimmy Iovine cautioned during rehearsals that she'd have to practice breathing or the song would be shot, but the 23-year-old nailed it and even successfully added her own little country twang to it.
"That's one of the best performances of the night!" Randy raved. "This is what Jimmy is talking about with the subtlety. That speaks louder than the big voice. I thought that was amazing."
Nicki was so impressed she asked the singer whether they could "renew our vows tonight." "That performance just made me fall so much more deeply obsessed with you!" she gushed. "That ... oh my god! You are great, little girl! You are everything!"
Other standouts included Angie Miller's performance of "Yesterday," Kree Harrison's "With a Little Help From My Friends" and Burnell Taylor's version of "Let It Be." Devin Velez's "The Long and Winding Road" and Amber Holcomb's "She's Leaving Home" weren't bad either, but received teensy, tiny bits of criticism -- if you can consider being laid back and lipstick choice criticism.
Thursday night, the "Idol" field will be cut to eight.
What did you think of Lazaro's performance? Was it as bad as the judges thought? Who was the best? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!
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