'American Idol' Recap: Nicki Minaj Extinguishes a Few Flames

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There are always some surprises when American Idol hits Hollywood and the FOX show continued that trend when it sent several guys packing on Thursday's episode.

Thursday was all about the solos and offered the men their last chance at sealing a spot in the Top 20. Judges Randy Jackson and Keith Urban seemed stern and serious while divas, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Careyrekindle their rivalry with covert quips across the judges’ table.

Frontrunners Lazaro Arbos, Burnell Taylor and Curtis Finch, Jr. deliver the goods as expected and a few new faces stand out this week. Contestants like Devin Velez and Cortez Shawcatch my eye as guys to look out for this season. While I expected some fan favorites to get the boot, other eliminations are super shocking.

Standout solo. Twenty-five-year-old Jimmy Smith is a country cutie from Tennessee whom I hadn’t noticed until now. His adorable face and sweet singing voice make me wonder how I missed him. His rendition of “Changes” is amazing and he has a great stage presence. Mariah calls him one of her favorite. And now, he’s one of mine, too.

Game change. While I’m still on the fence about the teen’s temperamental voice, I’m starting to see the "star quality" in Charlie Askew, 16. His version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” showcases a quiet confidence and reveals an inner rock star I didn’t know existed. His high notes still sound screechy to me, but I think his new attitude should take him far.

Shocking eliminations. The other guy with a sad speech impediment, Micah Johnson, 24, gets the boot after his lackluster performance of Randy Travis’ “I Told You So” is just OK. I’m glad to see him go, but I’m shocked since the judges seemed to love him from the start.

Matheus Fernandes seems to sabotage his solo before it even starts. He makes a few references to his super small stature and it’s instantly off-putting. We get it. You’re short. Now sing. He takes a turn at Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger” and the vocals aren’t bad, but the judges look annoyed. Nicki gets straight to the point. She wants him to stop talking about his size, saying, “Sometimes things can go from inspiring to wanting a pity party… you don’t have to milk that ever again.” Word. Her advice is too little too late, and Matheus is sent home.

Nicki Goes H.A.M… again. Only Ms. Minaj could deliver a poignant point ridden with F-bombs and get away with it. Papa Peachezis already on thin ice after Wednesday’s words of caution. Her passionate praises barely got him through the group round and his solo song choice instantly infuriates her.

Peachez picks Lady Gaga’s “You And I” and Nicki is not impressed. “Remember what I told you yesterday?” she asks. “I’m pretty sure that flame is now completely burnt out,” she says. “I can’t believe you allowed this competition to suck that amazing quality out of you!” Guess he can’t count on her vote. As I predicted, he’s a goner.

Bad call. I vaguely remember Nicholas Mathis, 23, from his Chicago audition, but he gets his first real round of camera time on Thursday’s episode. His solo choice is Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” and his voice is surprisingly strong. He’s really putting effort into his performance, getting down on one knee and belting out the high notes perfectly. The heavy-set sweetheart reminds me of Ruben Studdard and I’m thinking he’s a fast frontrunner. Keith mumbles something about “chasing the song” and the panel votes him home. WTF? He’s irate after his dismissal, and rightfully so.

Now that the list of guys is down to 28, viewers will have to wait until after the women’s Hollywood round to find out which guys will make it to the Top 20.

Which eliminations shocked you most?

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