In a bold move, country singer Paul Jolley performed Keith Urban's hit 'Tonight I Wanna Cry' on 'American Idol' Thursday night (Feb. 21), earning a mixed reaction from the judges.

The 22-year-old auditioned for Season 12 by singing the Rascal Flatts hit ‘I Won’t Let Go,’ wowing the judges with his voice and poise. He dedicated the song to his late grandfather, who was a First Sergeant. He moved on to the next round by singing Carrie Underwood‘s recent hit ‘Blown Away,’ overcoming a bout of nerves that threatened to derail his performance.

Thursday night saw Jolley turn in a somewhat spotty performance. He began in an appropriately understated way, seated on a stool and delivering the straight ballad in an appropriately restrained manner. But as he progressed, Jolley tried to make the song his own by reaching for some high notes that weren't part of the original arrangement, with limited success.

The singer didn't quite reach the high notes in tune, and the judges called him out for performing too much.

Keith Urban thanked the singer for singing his hit, saying, "I think you've got a really great voice." He added that Jolley didn't need to over-perform to sell his performance.

Nicki Minaj agreed, cautioning Jolley, "Even when the song may be understated, your eyes are very theatrical."

Randy Jackson disagreed, comparing Jolley's vocal range to Rascal Flatts singer Gary Le Vox, while Mariah Carey praised his flexibility.

The judges reached a split decision on Jolley, requiring alternate Jimmy Iovine to break the tie. The famed producer-turned-record-company-executive said Jolley was a good singer who had chosen the wrong song, likening Jolley's performance to an audition for 'Phantom of the Opera.' But he praised Jolley's voice, making the decision to send him forward in the competition.

Watch Paul Jolley Sing 'Tonight I Wanna Cry' on 'American Idol'