‘Idol’ judges praise N.O. native

FOX photo by MICHAEL BECKER -- Burnell Taylor, of New Orleans, performs during the March 20 episode of the singing competition series 'American Idol.' Show caption
FOX photo by MICHAEL BECKER -- Burnell Taylor, of New Orleans, performs during the March 20 episode of the singing competition series 'American Idol.'

Burnell Taylor earned lavish praise from “American Idol’’ judges last week with his confident rendition of “Let It Be,’’ and that kind of feedback could be intoxicating.

“You didn’t even sing the song, you caressed it,’’ judge Nicki Minaj told the New Orleans native, calling him a “smart’’ artist who is able to put his own stamp on a song.

Keith Urban called Taylor’s voice recognizable and soulful.

But the 19-year-old singer says that he isn’t letting that go to his head.

“I appreciate what they say, and I take it into consideration. I’m just not going to let it go to my head,’’ he said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I’ve got to step back and be humble.’’

Taylor didn’t previously know the song he chose for the Beatles challenge, and when judge Randy Jackson asked if he knew the Beatles music generally, he responded that he “knew of them’’ but didn’t know their music as well as he should.

But he had no regrets about his choice.

“I just loved singing it. I’m glad I picked it,’’ he said.

The audience clearly agreed, and he was safe in a week that saw Paul Jolley eliminated and Devin Velez and Amber Holcomb filling out the bottom three.

This week, the competition turns to Motown, which Taylor acknowledged as more familiar terrain.

“It’s more like me and the music I want to do,’’ said the singer, who favors R&B. He called the genre fun and “old school’’ and predicted that people would like his selection.

The pressure is definitely ratcheting up with two singers gone now, and as Taylor pointed out, “it’s two boys.’’

He said that his approach is to rehearse enough to have the song down but not to psych himself out or lose his spontaneity.

So far, he said, he thinks he has brought enough of himself to his singing “for people to remember who I am,’’ he said.

But, he said, with the competition advancing, “I have to step it up.’’

As for the nonsinging aspects of the competition, Taylor, who appeared last week in a patchwork leather jacket, said that he hardly notices the time spent in wardrobe because he’s having so much fun.