American Idol Top 30 Performances of All Time: No. 30, Norman Gentle “I Am Telling You”

Would have ranked this higher, but I wanted some credibility here.

Would have ranked this higher, but I wanted some credibility here.

Even the most diehard fan has no idea who Nick Mitchell is.

But Norman Gentle? They know that guy.

Didn’t see this one coming, did you?. If you follow Dudes Review Idol on Twitter – follow us HERE – you know we’re not your normal reviewers and this isn’t your normal countdown list, but we have to include this performance because of the guts it took to pull this off.

Plenty of people have done this song, but have any of them done it with the style and pinache of Norman Gentle? No.

Is it a stretch? Yup. But this list is as much about fun as it is execution and “moments” and if you were watching, this was an Idol moment you’d never forget.

THE SITUATION: We’re stretching the rules a bit to include Norman here because this was a semifinal performance, one that Nick/Norman knew was going to be his last.

In auditions and in Hollywood, he showed flashes of a strong, soulful voice, but couldn’t stop going into character. Simon Cowell hated him. Legit hate because Cowell didn’t appreciate someone making a mockery of the show.

And Nick knew this. When Nick sang, he actually impressed Simon in Hollywood. Paula and Randy kept egging Nick to be Norman just to annoy Simon.

So, with an incredibly loaded Final 36 that he had no chance of being a part of, Nick decided to go out on his own terms.

HIGHLIGHTS: Right off the bat you knew this was it.

Nick shows up as Norman – and we’ll call him Norman the rest of the way here – wearing a pristine white suit jacket, short shorts and his red headband with matching wristbands. Now it’s one thing to look like a doof and suck and get remembered that way.

Instead, her put on a show.

The way he works the staging is amazing. I love the cut to a woman, who I can only assume is his mom, smiling, and next her a man, who I can only assume is his dad, looking pissed that his son is making an ass of himself on national TV.

Norman gives a quick glance over to Cowell at the judges’ table and it’s on. He knows he’s gone, but he’s going to give Simon a giant middle finger and do it the way he wants to.

The ad libs – throwing the glasses down, the runs, the talking to the audience, stripping off the coat – is straight brilliant. The fact he can do that and sing is even better. He continues to perform the song and actually sings it, having fun the whole time because he’s Norman Gentle and that’s what he does.

He’s at his best when he’s ad-libbing the lyrics and when he sang “There’s no way, no no no no way I can’t live without this show” directly in Simon’s face, then adding “I am staying/I am staying,” getting on his knees in front of the judges as he pleaded for safety, you wanted him to be safe. Did his plan work? Hell no. Was it memorable, entertaining and a great execution of the song? Hell yes.

WHY IT’S HERE: Vocally, Lakisha Jones’ was better than Norman Gentle, but who would you rather see on the show?

Every top whatever list is going to have at least one pick that’s jokingly serious and this is the one for Dudes Review Idol. I can’t see this dropping out of the Top 30 anytime soon because we’re not going to see another character like Norman Gentle, a guy who knew how to play a role and had the pipes to back his act up.

NEXT UP: A man of god shows off his soul.