The American Idol 12 Top 5 sing DIVA tunes and Birth Year songs. I’ll be live blogging the show right here. Join us.
The Greatest Top 5 to Ever Grace the Idol Stage (tm Randy) performed for us tonight. While I do think that’s overstated, the remaining contestants are talented vocalists who deserve to be in the Top 5–Lazaro being the very last of the cannon fodder. I wish the song selections weren’t so predictable. But this is Idol. It’s not even worth bitching about the limited song choices (or the contestants limited ability to pick them) any more.
A couple of observations. Jimmy Iovine was offstage during the first round of songs, acting as a 5th judge, but not during the second? What was up with that? Did Jimmy have a mishap? Were his widdle feelings hurt by the booing? Did he get bored and leave? Weird. Interesting though, that the producers brought him in to influence the vote directly. His comments were the last word on the first 5 performances.
And it finally happened: Nicki and Mariah catfight on live TV. Before tonight the two behaved as if the other didn’t exist. But all that changed tonight. Nicki disagreed with Mariah, who tried to clarify and say Nicki really DIDN’T disagree. They talked over each other until Nicki snapped at Mariah. “Simmer down, sir.” Oof! Has a bag of worms been opened? I hope so. Open hostility is preferable to uncomfortable, icy detente. Later, when Nicki complemented Mariah during her critique of Amber’s version of “Without You”, I don’t think she was buying it. She could barely keep from rolling her eyes.
Practically every performance got a standing ovation, which was total overkill. It’s meaningless if everybody gets one. Are we in first grade, or what?
The producers worked REALLY hard to minimize the impact of Janelle’s performances this week. Keith surprised me. Here’s a guy who constantly couches his criticisms in niceties–always a soft landing with this guy. But he couldn’t have been more blunt when he told Janelle her version of Vince Gill’s song lacked emotion. Excuse me while I adjust my tin foil hat, but I don’t believe it was a coincidence that he was the last judge to speak. And it was a one two punch, with Jimmy landing the second blow after break. Comparing her performance to “Row Row Row Your Boat”? REALLY? I thought her rendition of “When I Call Your Name” was heartfelt and lovely. Keith doing the producers bidding? Say it ain’t so.
By the same token–the judges letting Angie Miller off the hook after her awful “I’ll Stand By You” performance just STUNNED me. Her interpretation was as theatrical as ever–and she made at least two mistakes in the song. There was so much not to like–from her strained vocals to poor phrasing and lack of connection. Keith and Mariah danced around criticism, while Jimmy flat out praised her. Obviously, they want her to stick around longer than Janelle.
Also completely batsh*t? Jimmy dissing Candice’s performance of “Straight Up” without noting how she brilliantly changed it up. If she were a guy, Jimmy would have been all over that–like he was with Phillip last season. But NO. Put Candice in her R&B box and insist she only sing songs that allow her to belt and sing runs–for instance, her second song which was solid, but not nearly as original. Candice is so much more than a vocalist with a big range. Don’t pigeonhole her like that!
Also guys? Quit trying to make Amber Holcomb happen. She’s undercooked at this point, and too hit or miss to go the distance. It’s too bad she didn’t wait a few years to audition. But at this point I feel like I’m being force fed something I don’t want. Yes she’s a competent singer. But not a great one. She’s no Candice Glover, no matter how much you try to convince me. OK? Geez.
But all this talk of bussing and pimping is probably moot–for this week anyway. The save is still in play, and I suspect it will be used. There HAS to be a week without an elimination, or the season will end early. The producers can’t put it off much longer. If a contestant is sent home this week, they’ll HAVE to cook something up for Top 4. The longer they wait, the more contrived it will seem. Well, TPTB painted themselves into this corner. There should have been a Top 11 or 12.
Best performance of the night was Candice Glover’s inventive “Straight Up”. Kree comes in second with her surprising rendition of Celine Dion’s “Have You Ever Been in Love.”
HEY GUESS WHAT A GIRL IS GOING TO WIN IDOL. We’ll probably hear that from now, until the competition ends.
Aw. Ryan Seacrest begins with a shout out to Boston, and everyone affected by the tragedy this week. Sniff. Thanks guys!
Birth Year is First!
Candice Glover – “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul – The Birth Year theme is always an awesome excuse for baby photos and childhood stories. Don’t mess with Candice. I won’t! Candice sings this straight-up (SAWRY) pop tune to a jazzy, bosa nova-ish arrangement. She’s flipping it, killing it as always. Her vocal is smooth as silk, but with just enough grit and growl to give it teeth. Whoa. Her embellishments are simple and PERFECT. She’s got an upright bass and several guitars up on stage with her. Another amazing performance from Candice. Keith says, “Such a great version of that song! You have such beautiful control” He compares her runs to a slow wink one gets in a bar. “You set the bar high baby.” Nicki loves strong woman! She’s the boss. “I like that you put your own spin on it.” Nicki chastises Keith for not realizing the greatness of the original song. Randy calls it current and says Candice is IN THE ZONE. “You’re just letting it flow.” Randy gives a shoutout to PAULA ABDUL. “Unpredictable, smart,” says Mariah, “Genius…amazing.” Jenelle helped Candice pick the song! – 1-866-436-5701 – 1-866-436-5706
Oh wow. After the break, we cut to Jimmy backstage, who gives a little mini-critique. Jimmy disagrees with the judges. “This was a song was written for a much narrower vocal range than Candice has. She needs a big song at this point in the contest.” WHAT? She completely re-imagined “Straight Up” into a singer’s song. If it were a guy, you’d be slobbering all over yourself about what how genius it was. Truth. He says she’s going to have to kill the next song to have the impact she had last week. Tsk.
Janelle Arthur – “When I Call Your Name” by Vince Gill (1989) – Aw. Look at little toddler Janelle trying to sing! Vince Gill’s voice would get her to stop crying, so she’s going to cover him tonight. Janelle, guitar in hand, delivers a heartfelt, tender version of this classic. This is right in her pocket. The vulnerability in her voice is breaking my heart. I love the ache in her voice. Gorgeous. One of her best performances ever. Nicki notes Janelle’s ease when she’s behind a guitar and calls her vocal. “Pretty” and “Angelic.” Randy says Janelle is back where she belongs. “When you are being honest and open with your heart” people will respond to you. “You were singing with your whole heart tonight,” says Mariah, “Please keep that confidence.” Keith loves the song and when Vince sings it, it’s ALL EMOTION. He feels her voice was beautiful, but he didn’t feel it! She didn’t need the guitar. She was distracted by playing and hitting the notes. Mariah yells “IT MUST BE A GIRL THING YOU WERE WONDERFUL DARLING.” Wow. He’s the country guy–but I disagree with Keith. I felt that girl! The bad thing: He’s considered the expert in the genre, and had the last word. The praise from the rest of the judges is rendered irrelevant. “I hope you are back next week,” he said. OUCH – 1-866-436-5702 – 1-866-436-5707
Whoa…Jimmy agrees with Keith. “She just wasn’t strong enough. First it started to sound like Row Row Row your boat. The chorus had a little emotion, but it just wasn’t enough.” Were we listening to the same song?
Kree Harrison – “She Talks to Angels” by Black Crowes (1990) – She was obsessed with her cowboy boots! Kree has an acoustic guitarist on stage with her. Still, waiting for Kree to really let her bluesy voice go. Although the performance was warm and emotional–it didn’t have the impact it could have. Kree seemed a little distracted–thinking about her performance rather than surrendering to it– as she navigated the stage. Id’ love to see Kree in a club where she’s relaxed and not competing on a show. I feel like we’ve only caught glimpses of how great she can be. Randy loves Kree, especially “all the naturalness in your spirit and in your voice.” He felt it emotionally. Mariah loves to hear her sing–anything! She loves when she loses herself in song. She didn’t do that exactly tonight, though. But it was still good. Keith agrees. He loves her voice. He also feels she was taken out of the performance a bit. He realizes the trappings of television are distracting. But her voice is beautiful. Nicki agrees with Randy. She puts on a British accent to say that she disagrees with Keith and Mariah “Shocking” Keith snarks back in his best Brit. “That was the best performance of the night, even better than Candice’s” Hm. I disagree. Nicki says it was the first performance that was current. Mariah is clearly annoyed, “I wasn’t saying it was awkward…so you don’t disagree with me. They’re talking over each other at this point. “Simmer down sir,” Nicki says icily. Mariah has a smile frozen on her face. Oy. The live dust up was bound to happen. I’m surprised it took so long. – 1-866-436-5703 – 1-866-436-5708
“Well, it’s nice to see Nicki and Mariah communicating!” says Jimmy. He agrees with Nicki and Keith. “It overall felt very kumbaya to me. This song just wasn’t strong enough for Kree’s vocal,” he says. The crowd is BOOING HIM LOUDLY.
Angela Miller – “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders ( 1994) – Angies at the piano tonight. The judges should like that. And she dedicates the song to Boston. I’m going to say upfront that I’m the biggest Chrissie Hynde stan. There is NOBODY like her. There are pretty big shoes to fill here, and to me, Angie is out of her depth here. You can’t cabaret your way though this song. She sounds shrill and unpleasant in her high register. Her vibrato is right off the farm (BAHHHH). Still overly theatrical. She stumbles a couple of times–hesitating at the beginning of a phrase, for instance. She seems unrehearsed and nervous. I’m not feeling this. Mariah loves Chrissie too! Says she’s a perfect combo of toughness and vulnerability. EXACTLY! Who told her to say that? Heh. Mariah says she can learn from her. Oh. She’s refusing to criticize her. Keith looks forward to her hitting the road, where she’ll get looser. Her tone triggers emotion. He’s avoiding critiquing, too. C’mon Nicki…Nope Nicki just congratulates her on a great performance. Why are you pulling your punches, Nicki? Randy says the Top 5 is the BEST EVAH. He says Angie is on her way. Am I high to think that wasn’t very good? The judges pushed her so hard on the piano thing–maybe they don’t want to admit she can still suck, regardless. – 1-866-436-5704 – 1-866-436-5709
Jimmy says she did a fabulous job. Best performance of the night. WHAT? Jimmy done drunk the Koolaid. Is Nigel whispering to him through an earpiece?
Amber Holcomb – “Without You” by Mariah Carey (1994) – Ryan pulls a fan with a sign on stage. Look! She has fans! Vote for her! Well. This is nice. She’s hitting all the big notes. Amber has an incredibly strong voice and a beautiful vibrato. But I am unmoved. Her lower register isn’t weak exactly…it’s uncomfortable. She can’t really let loose until those high notes. “We’ve got an Amber alert going on!” Keith says. WHAT?!? He says she’s grown in leaps and bounds. Nicki didn’t care for her lower notes–there was no feeling in the beginning. She compares her unfavorably to Mariah! (Making up for the bitch fight?) Mariah always gives something–even when she’s not hitting the night notes, Nicki says. I have to agree with this. Astute. Randy says it wasn’t perfect, but he gives her mad props. It’s hard to sing the song in front of THE DIVA. “You did a damn good job.” Somebody yells “VOTE FOR AMBER.” Mariah is full of compliments. So many….blah blah blah. Zzzz. She thanks Nilsson for writing the song. Uhm. That would be Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger? The original artist–Nilsson’s version was a cover too. Sigh. – 1-866-436-5705 – 1-866-436-5710
Jimmy agrees with Nicki. Her lower register wasn’t cutting it. But the performance was still the second best of the night.
An Australian Idol star is in the audience. Invite Dean Geyer from Glee!
It’s DIVA TIME – The girls discuss their Idols in their video package
Candice Glover – “”When You Believe” by Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston – Right off the bat? I loathe this effing song. Treacly and trite–as much as I love Candice, may brain is automatically resisting. I’ll say, she’s doing a nice job. There is a beautiful key change, and she resists oversinging it. Candice has a way of embellishing a song without mucking it up. The audience is eating it up, though. Nicki says, “That is how you do a Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston song.” Nicki says she cried to that song when she was a little girl. Mariah is off to the side rolling her eyes. Nicki invokes Boston at this point. ” Mariah is trying so hard to control her side eye. Randy says THIS SONG IS THE BEST OF THE NIGHT. PROPS TO YOU AMAZING. I think he’s going to have a heart attack. Mariah says “RIP Whitney, I think you did her justice.” Keith says it was beautiful watching Mariah as she sang. A sisterhood of support, he says. “Jimmy says you had to rip out the stops…you just annihilated them.”
Janelle Arthur – “Dumb Blonde” by Dolly Parton – This vocal is shaky. I wonder if Janelle is rattled after Keith’s diss? That had to get to her. She’s running around the stage, touching hands–it makes her a little breathless. If running around is distracting, she should just stand still. She becomes manic here, almost. At this point, her vocals HAVE to trump her performance. The competition is too fierce. I love that she covered Dolly, but she should have chosen one of her ballads. Randy thought it was fun, but it didn’t do anything for her vocally. Mariah doesn’t know the song, but thinks it was #pow because of the way Janelle connected to the song. It wasn’t the best song for Janelle to shine, says Keith. Nicki says the Top 5 has superpowers, but Janelle is in jeopardy to go home tonight. But even if she is–she can go far in the real world.
WHERE IS JIMMY? He’s disappeared!
Kree Harrison – “Have You Ever Been In Love” by Celine Dion – Yay. Another song I hate. But you know what? In Kree’s hands, it’s palatable. She’s putting a little country twist on it. She power-belts the high notes effortlessly and glides gracefully into her head voice. It’s beautiful. It’s a simple, emotional, rendition of the song. I couldn’t imagine Kree singing Celine, but she manages to put her own stamp on it. The judges give her a standing ovation. Mariah felt it was a smart choice, great key. She showed us her versatility here. Keep doing it! She says. Keith says it was the right song, she stayed in a beautiful, effortless place of control. Nicki wants to know what she was doing backstage. “You’re not country. You’re wordly. You are iconic. You are one of those divas we can watch when they are 20 or 50. You elevated everything.” Randy keeps seeing the versatility. She can do ANYTHING she wants to do–she’s that good.
Angela Miller – “Halo” by Beyoncé – Angie got a little pimp spot with Ryan. We see her killing on the ice at the Kings hockey game the girls attended over the weekend. This is MILES better than her first performance. Her vocal has limitations–she’s REALLY wobbly and strained on the high notes. But as a performance, it’s solid. A perfect theatrical piece for her. Angie is NOT versatile. She needs the right material to shine. But, once she’s recording her own music, that won’t be a problem. She gets a standing ovation. “Definitely Top 3″ Keith declares. NOW MY ANGIE MILLER IS BACK!” says Nicki. “You just did that song justice as a Queen could. You did your thang.” Randy says, “ANGIE’S IN IT TO WIN IT Y’ALL.” Mariah loved the clarity in her voice. “You’re here to stay,” she says.
Amber Holcomb – “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life” by Barbra Streisand – Ghah. Spare me from this horrible song. Again. Really tough to critique. Sticking mostly to the sweet spots in her voice, this performance is much improved. She turned out a beautiful vocal, but the song is very old-fashioned. I still don’t have a clear idea of who Amber is as an artist. Nicki calls it “perfection” Nicki says she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. “You’ve always given me young Whitney Houston,” she says. “You sang the I don’t know what out of that song,” says Randy. He compares her to Rihanna–current, but with an old fashioned voice. “You are potentially a massive star. PLEASE VOTE FOR AMBER,” says Mariah. Keith says she knocked it out of the park.