American Idol 12 – Top 9 Performance – Recap and Videos

The American Idol 12 Top 9 take on the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I’ll be live blogging the performances right here.

Two Idols will take the stage tomorrow night to perform! Jessica Sanchez and Ne-Yo will perform her single “Tonight.” Plus,  Casey Abrams will sing. A TWOFER.

Kree Harrison and Candice Glover,  delivered the best performances of the night. At this point, they are my personal top 2. The two couldn’t be more stylistically different, but what the have in common is star power and effortless vocals.  Janelle Arthur turned in my third favorite performance of the night– a lovely countrified rendition of  “I Will.”  I don’t know who picked “She’s Leaving Home” for Amber Holcomb, but it was a creative choice and arrangement.  But I’m a little worried. The song is not one of the Beatles’ hits. That, coupled with performing 3rd could land her in the bottom 3.

After that, to be honest, I can’t get get too excited about anybody else. I’m off the Burnell Taylor train for good. He’s got one great song in his back pocket  (His audition song, “I’m Here”). I agree that he’s got a great tone, but his phrasing and presentation is uneven.  He’s got raw talent that needs to be honed.

Poor Paul Jolley insists he wants to sing country, but nobody is buying it.  He does seem more of an adult contemporary ballad belter than a story teller. Keith has noted his lack of connection to the lyrics he’s singing, and I think he’s right on. Mariah suggested Paul perform dance music, a style for which he’s never shown the slightest interest or  ability. I’d hate to think Mariah is making suggestions based on a stereotype, if you know what I mean.

Devin Velez  is the classic adult contemporary singer. I’ve said this before. I find his vocals stellar, but bland. But if SueBo can sell a jillion records, there’s a place for Paul somewhere in the music industry. Something tells me he’ll wind up in gospel, though.

What’s going to happen to Lazaro Arbos? If people are voting for him because he pulls their mommy strings, or they feel sorry for him, or think he’s sweet? They need to stop. The dude is an adult and needs no one to patronize him! Yeah, I know he was crying tonight, but life is tough, isn’t it? Please don’t turn Laz into Sanjaya 2.0.  I think he already has mixed emotions about his place the competition. He’s not stupid. I think he realizes he’s outclassed.  If his song choice was changed at the last minute, I feel bad for him. But, even if he’d had more time to rehearse, I don’t think it would have made a difference.   Lazaro’s performances have ranged from mediocre to terrible. He should have never advanced in the first place.

Last, is Angie Miller.  She’s proven she can sound contemporary. I don’t ‘understand why she’s lasped into this Celine Dion lite deal the last couple of weeks. She needs to get back behind the piano and perform like a relevant artist.

The judges decided to switch it up this week–delivering their critiques in random order with each contestant.  It’s a good idea. It keeps them from getting stuck in a rut.  Mariah, for instance, as the last to speak, has the tendency to echo what’s already been said. Make her speak first, without a net! Having said that, I think she and Keith both play it too safe. Although, I love Keith’s humor (his calling every Beatles song his favorite was GOLD). When he’s on, he’s on. He just needs to worry less about hurting the finalists feelings.

As much of an asshat I think Randy is, sometimes I’m relieved when he blurts out what we’re all thinking.  He was the only judge who came close to telling Lazaro the truth tonight, and I appreciated that. Nicki has the ability to nail a critique. But sometimes? It’s like she’s suddenly gone off her meds.  She needs to stop talking so much about the contestants hair, make up and clothes. Also, telling them she’s “obsessed” is so overused at this point, it means pretty much nothing.  Nicki was mostly incoherent tonight.  She was bleeped TWICE. During Amber’s performance, she said the word “pussy” and again when she complimented the “pianist” *ahem* after Devin’s performance.

So, did Nigel decide to throw Paul Jolley under the bus?  The judges’ critiques of his performance were harsher than he deserved. There’s no way he’s going to win–therefore there really is no need to bus the poor guy, or throw shade at him when he’s not even standing in front of you on stage (I’m looking at YOU Nicki).  If he wasn’t connected to his song, neither was Angie, but somehow she got a pass.

At this point, not only will a girl win, I think we’ll wind up with an all female top 3.

The sing off!  I was so sure that Charlie Askew would win the viewer vote and land a spot on the tour. To be honest, I think the tour could have used a colorful character like Charlie. Instead, Aubrey Cleland, another pop ballad singer has been added to the mix. What’s the point? Sigh.  I felt bad for Charlie, being rejected yet another time. I honestly think the tour would have been a fun, no pressure situation for him.  It would have been fun to speculate on exactly what sort of mayhem he was planning for the stage. Oh well.

One last note. Uh. Nigel. It’s pretty clear that the contestants don’t always pick their songs. And the choices they have are limited.  It’s really annoying when the judges pretend otherwise. I’ll give Nicki the credit for pulling the curtain back on that one tonight.


The episode begins with a clip featuring the lyrics, and Jimmy Iovine waxing poetic about the legendary group. “No gimmicks needed,” says Jimmy, ’cause the songs are so great. But if the contestants blow it? The whole world will know it. No pressure!

Nicki looks like a canary. She needs help across the stage from Keith as she totters on her shoes.

Ryan calls the judges “the fab 4.” Circa 1970, if you know what I mean.

The Top 9 take the stage. Whoa. Also super yellow-y tonight? Lazaro Arbos! Next. A clip of Carly Rae Jepsen pimping the Coca Cola “Perfect Harmony” deal.

OH SING OFF RESULTS TONIGHT! Charlie Askew and Aubrey Cleland take the stage….the winner is…

Aubrey Cleland wins! She’ll be on tour with the Idols this summer To be honest, I am shocked. You know? I was just telling myself, that there can’t be TOO MANY BALLADS ON THE FRICKING IDOL STAGE. Sigh. Zzzz. Tour fatigue. Poor Charlie.

The Winner of the Tour Sing Off – American Idol 12 by IdolxMuzic

Jimmy guided the Top 9 with their tracks. The contestants reveal what they are thankful for.

Kree Harrison – “With A Little Help From My Friends” – She talks about the tragic loss of her parents. She’s very close to sister. This week, she has a cold. Jimmy cheers her on. He has no doubt she’ll have a big night. She sings the song Joe Cocker style, but with a little pinch of country. Kree sings powerfully but so effortlessly.  oice has a buttery texture–she makes amazing vocal choices–and even when she’s hitting high notes it’s no big deal. She’s amazing without being self-consciously showy. A wonderful performance. Keith loves that she makes songs her own. Nicki calls it “Kreedem.” and about her styling she says, “You’re giving me all black realness.”  Randy agrees. He calls her performance “the bomb” and “you blew the vocals out of the water. You look like you’re ready.” Mariah tries a fake out. She sucks at it, “I didn’t think it was good…I thought it was fantastic!” – 1-866-436-5701

Kree Harrison – Little Help From My Friends… by IdolxMuzic

Burnell Taylor – “Let it Be” – This was a very low-key, spiritual rendition, performed as if it were a quiet prayer sent to the heavens. Having said that, I found some of his phrasing sort of…odd. He’s got some unique tics that I find a little distracting. Still, there is that beautiful, raspy tone. Burnell admits that he’s not familiar with this song. At all Oh boy–he barely knows who the Beatles’ are! Jimmy loves his tone, but is a little worried he won’t be able to learn a song he doesn’t know. Nicki says, “You treated it like it was a new born baby…I felt like I was in church. You are keeping your own artistry.”Randy is impressed that he made it his own, regardless of his unfamiliarity. Mariah loves his consistency and authenticity. Keith Burnell’s soulful and spiritual vibe. 1-866-436-5702

Burnell Taylor – Let It Be – American Idol 12… by IdolxMuzic

Amber Holcomb – “She’s Leaving Home” – Oh wow. Amber’s rehearsal sounds AMAZING. Jimmy says she’s going to “kill it.” Amber looks gorgeous and she sounds even better. Kudos, girl, on choosing a song that has not been done to death. The arrangement is VERY ambitious, and she doesn’t quite nail it. But the parts that work are beautiful, sweet and jazzy. She does land the big notes at the end, though. Great finish. A million points to Amber for not boring me with her song choice (it appears she didn’t make it, though) and interpretation. Randy thought it started slow, but he loved the power notes in the second half. She had also never heard her song before. Wow. Mariah didn’t know the song either. It’s Keith’s favorite Beatles’ song.  She made the song contemporary, he says. Nicki lets it slip that Amber didn’t pick the song.  Oops.  Amber’s performance felt ambivalent to Nicki as a result, which she felt detracted from the performance. 1-866-436-5703

Amber Holcomb – Shes Leaving Home – American… by IdolxMuzic

Lazaro Arbos – “In My Life” – Lazaro’s rehearsal sounds awful. Jimmy, trying to help Lararo stay on the beat, puts a click track on to keep him in rhythm.  This is DREADFUL And a little sad. Lazaro is clearly out of his league.  Not only is he just under pitch, he’s out of time with the music and background singers.  He’s butchering it, and that’s no exaggeration.   Mariah says its hard to sing Beatles’ songs. She commends him for his bravery. She says a bunch of stuff…but not that it sucked. Which it did. Keith felt he chose the wrong key. I honestly don’t think it matters. He thinks it improved after the key change. Uhm. no.  Nicki feels his confidence is different and she’s still blaming Jimmy.  Lazaro has never been very good. Or confident. Ever. He’s subsisted on backstory. Randy calls it for what it is. His worst performance ever, not to mention completely out of tune.  Lazaro is sweating his face off.  Apparently he learned the song last night, after a last minute change. He’s crying. Gah. Send him home, people. 1-866-436-5704

Lazaro Arbos – My Life – American Idol 12 (Top 9) by IdolxMuzic

Now, the judges are discussing Lazaro’s mini meltdown. They’re all really defensive–especially Nicki. Welp. You had no business putting him through in the first place.

Candice Glover – “Come Together” – Jimmy has a few pointers for Candice, but mostly he’s very confident in her abilities. And for good reason. Like Kree, she’s an absolute natural and an original. She brings her signature soulful vibe to this song. She’s got perfect phrasing. I love that she NEVER over-sells a song. That was just terrific. Keith loves seeing “the rock chick” side of her. Nicki wants to “wear it on her face.” She thinks her face should match her attitude. Randy don’t care about her face. Her voice is CRAZY. He loves her playful side. Mariah compares her to a prize fighter. She wishes she would have taken the song even further. Ryan wants Nicki to give her version of crazy face, and of course, she obliges. Oh Randy and Ryan have their own crazy faces, which, really? They should keep to themselves. 1-866-436-5705

Candice Glover – Come Together – American Idol… by IdolxMuzic

Paul Jolley – “Eleanor Rigby” – Paul grew up in a trailer, before his family bought a farm and built their own house. Jimmy advises Paul where he should hold back in the song. A string quartet plays around him. SMOKE! Paul gives Eleanor Rigby the cabaret treatment. The song has its moments, but it’s mostly a cruise ship rendition. Nicki like his outfit. But NOT his performance. She thought is was safe, bland and forgettable. Wow. Randy liked Jimmy’s advice, but felt he was disconnected until the end. Mariah liked the song choice. She loved the belting, but feels he has a problem emoting when he’s singing softer. Mariah thinks he could cut a dance record. Did Mariah just tell Paul to let his freak flag fly? Hm. Keith didn’t like the falsetto note at the end, and some parts in the middle. “If we get to hear you again…” Eeps. Paul is being shown the door. Honestly, it was cabaret-ish, but I didn’t think it was THAT BAD. Poor Paul wants to be the next Carrie Underwood, but nobody is encouraging that particular direction. 1-866-436-5706

Paul Jolley – Eleanor Rigby – American Idol 12… by IdolxMuzic

Angela Miller – “Yesterday” – Angela’s senior superlative in high school was “Next American Idol.” –  Jimmy has been hard on her, because she is really “so good.” He tells her to sing from her heart rather than her head.  Great advice, which she pretty much does not follow.  The arrangement is super torchy, and she performs it like she’s Cher circa 1971.  Her phrasing is too studied and stylized for my taste. It feels forced. I would have preferred her behind the piano, giving the song a contemporary pop rock spin. Randy calls it a stellar performance. He likes her rock edge. NOT IN EVIDENCE TONIGHT. Mariah agrees. Her version was “respectful,” yet she showed her voice.  Keith felt she was a little too in her head at moments. It drifted in and out. (EXACTLY) But he sees through all of that. (What?)  Nicki called it “unbelievably amazing.  Nicki said something that got bleeped. She loved that she started in a higher key. “You can do anything with your voice,” says Nicki. 1-866-436-5707

Angie Miller – Yesterday – American Idol 12… by IdolxMuzic

Devin Velez – “The Long and Winding Road” – Devin goes to military school in Chicago. He’s altering the arrangement to give it a more soulful vibe. Well, this was the perfect song choice for him.  It’s not radically different from the original, except for a run or ad lib here and there. Devin has a really technically beautiful voice…that mostly puts me to sleep.  His performance is solid, on pitch…but I can’t get excited.  Mariah is speechless. “It would be a travesty if you did not go through.”  Keith wants more of an emotional connection.  He’s absolutely right. Beautiful voice, but empty. Nicki loved the band and the background vocals. She was bleeped again. Nicki disagrees with Keith. She feels he IS emotionally committed. Randy likes his R&B swag but “there doesn’t need to be a run after ever phrase.” Blah blah blah. Ryan admits he’s got to fill a little bit of time.  1-866-436-5708

Devin Velez – Long & Winding Road – American… by IdolxMuzic

Janelle Arthur – “I Will” –  Jimmy helps Janelle with her breath, because she’s singing a very subtle song. Woah. This is beautiful. Countrified and gentle, Janelle brings a lovely subtlety. She biffed a note here and there, but I am really impressed with her restraint and skill.  She does here what I hoped she would do with my song pick for her, “Blackbird.” Lovely.  Keith calls her “pure and true.” Nicki wants to renew her vows with her. “You look like a beautiful swan goddess. That song made me even more obsessed with you.”  Nicki is obsessed with finalists singing songs in the correct keys. She’s mentioned it at least twice. Oh. she just thew MAJOR SHADE on Paul Jolley, “You never have to say you want to sing country. You just are.”  Randy thinks it’s one of the best performances of the night.  1-866-436-5709

Janelle Arthur – I Will – American Idol 12 (Top 9) by IdolxMuzic

Randy says the girls brought it hard. And that the contestants get to choose from “such a wide range of songs.” Yeah. Right.

About mj santilli 33303 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!