American Idol’s top six contestants performed this week, and it should now be clear to everyone (EVERYONE!) that Candice Glover is the best singer and the best person and will win this season, and will be crowned the real winner of the past four seasons as well, because she is a goddess who can also time travel through the power of song.
Despite Candice’s divinely ordained presence, AI‘s ratings haven’t been doing too hot this season. So, what theme did the producers choose to liven up this sinking ship? Why, a night of songs written by Bacharach/Hall of course. What’s that? You’re not 40 years old and therefore have no knowledge of said mid-20th century songwriting duo? Congratulations, neither did anyone else watching! Idol didn’t even try to make this theme relevant by forcing the top six to monologue about how influential Bacharach/Hall was. That was actually a moment I was kind of looking forward to, considering Lazaro knows exactly NO songs in Idol’s catalogue.
This week, each contestant actually sang two songs: a B/H number, and a song they wish they’d written. On with the performances (ranked best to worst):
Act I: Bacharach/Hall
1. Amber Holcomb, “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dione Warwick
Amber just seems like the girl you want to be your best friend. She’s got a great smile, plus she was sporting a sweet ’70s tube top/pantsuit. She was also really smart to choose a fun song that people actually know and like. She walked out on stage and started singing with a little ’tude, and was clearly enjoying herself. I want that pantsuit.
Judges’ Reactions: Nicki Minaj screamed and pounded the table and told Amber that she was now her favorite. I agree with Nicki, but I was also disappointed by Nicki’s pretty blah wig this week. Every time she doesn’t show up wearing something that an oompa-loompa could get down with is a time she is depriving viewers of the most exciting part of this show: her choice of hairpiece.
2. Candice Glover, “Don’t Make Me Over” by Dione Warwick
Candice is the bomb. She’s got swag and confidence and is obviously the best overall performer. The staging for this song was super dramatic, with Candice standing on a platform above everyone else (her rightful place). She kept her singing pretty controlled until the middle, when she busted out with some growly vocals. What a champ.
Judges’ Reactions: Nicki said Candice made her want to stage a women’s revival meeting. Ryan looked scared.
3. Kree Harrison, “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Jackie DeShannon
Kree’s performance was classic country powerhouse for the first twenty or so seconds, when she sang a capella. Once the backing musicians kicked in, it got a lot less exciting, but I’ll still give her props for having a really clear, strong voice.
Judges’ Reactions: Keith Urban (who was wearing a t-shirt that did not reveal his chest tattoo, a wardrobe decision to which I took a personal offense with) said it was the best she’s ever sung. Randy Jackson said that he was glad Kree sang after Lazaro Arbos (who went right before her), because she can show him what real singing is. BURN, that is WAY harsh, dawg.
4. Angie Miller, “Anyone Had a Heart” by Dione Warwick
It was clear from the arrangement of this song that Angie was going for a dramatic, hip moment, but it never happened. She’s just too harmless looking to pull off anything edgy, which is why her Evanescence performance last week wasn’t particularly exciting. Angie’s voice was good and she hit all her notes, but she still sounds like a Miss America contestant. She was wearing a belt over her shoulder, though. That’s edgy, I guess.
Judges’ Reactions: Mariah Carey (who was looking super fresh and fly this week) compared this performance unfavorably to Angie’s original song from Hollywood Week, FOR THE BAZILLIONTH TIME. Angie’s original song wasn’t even all that great, ya’ll, let’s be real.
5. Janelle Arthur, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” from the musical Promises, Promises
Janelle started off singing in the audience, and the greatest part of this number happened when she was trying to high-five fans as she walked up on stage, but missed and basically ended up petting a bunch of girls’ arms. Other than that this song was bland, so bland, so so bland. “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” is about a jilted woman, but Janelle just made me want to brew up some sleepy time tea and organize my sweater collection.
Judges’ Reactions: Nicki agreed with me.
6. Lazaro Arbos, “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by The Carpenters
America, why is Lazaro still on this show? Maybe some freak accident is happening throughout the country where people mean to type in a different number when they vote, and they push Lazaro’s by mistake. This accident just so happens to occur thousands of times every Wednesday night. That can be the only explanation. Basically, Lazaro looked and sounded like he’d downed a bottle of NyQuil before getting on stage.
Judges’ Reactions: Randy said “That was horrible,” and no one in the audience even booed. Mariah tried to explain to Lazaro what key changes are. A look of comprehension did not dawn on his face.
Act II: Songs the Contestants Wish They’d Written
This was actually a pretty cool theme, and sort-of-not-really made up for the show’s first hour. The contestants got to show off their personal music tastes, and if they were smart they could have chosen unexpected, edgy songs that would maybe give them some cred with the audience.
1. Candice Glover, “Love Song” by the Cure, Adele’s arrangement
Candice KILLED IT. I mean, this girl just KILLED IT. Candice was always a front-runner, and with this performance I don’t really get how she could lose. The combination of The Cure and Adele is already weird and awesome and exactly what this theme was meant to do. Candice’s vocals were captivating and dark and sensuous and so tight. When she sang, “I will always love you” I was like, “LET’S GET MARRIED.”
Judges’ Reactions: Standing ovation. Randy said that it was one of the best Idol performances of all time.
2. Angie Miller, “Love Came Down” by Kari Jobe
Angie definitely redeemed herself with this second song. Like Mariah said, she’s best when she’s just belting it out behind a piano. She had a super powerful vocal and was in control throughout the song. Also, kudos to the Idol effects team, who covered the whole stage in smoke. Spoooooky.
Judges’ Reactions: Nicki (very smartly) pointed out that these types of performances (big, confident vocals, playing the piano) are the only type of performances that Angie should be doing if she wants to beat Kree, Amber and Candice.
3. Amber Holcomb, “Love on Top” by Beyoncé
Smart move, Amber. Everyone loves this song. Again, Amber showed up smiling and dancing around a little and just having a fun time. She’s definitely got swagger, and the vocals were on point. I just wish she had loosened up a bit and really gone for the big finale like we’ve seen her do before.
Judges’ Reactions: Everyone loved it. Amber also earned Randy’s only “She’s in it to win it” proclamation of the night. Has he gone through his season quota already?
4. Kree Harrison, “Help Me Make it Through the Night” by Kris Kristofferson
Kree’s second number was pretty low-key. She put a lot of twang into this song, and it was very pretty, classic country. Not a showstopper, but acceptable.
Judges’ Reaction: Mariah said that this performance was how the song should always be sung.
5. Janelle Arthur, “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
Janelle’s performance started off sweet… and stayed sweet. There’s nothing exciting about this girl. The song did show off the deeper part of her range, and she belted a bit, but I wasn’t feeling it. Janelle’s problem is that she’s super ordinary. She’s a good singer, but not in the top three, and there is nothing interesting about her. In the intros before their first songs the contestants shared something the audience didn’t already know about them. Janelle’s fact was that she once played a boy in a school play. That is, literally, the most exciting thing she’s ever done.
Judges’ Reactions: Randy said it was not her best, but the song was true to her. Nicki said it was nice, but not enough.
6. Lazaro Arbos, “Angels” by Robbie Williams
When this theme was announced, I really hoped that Lazaro would show off some freaky music tastes and sing a death metal song or accompany himself on the accordion or something. He knows he can’t win, so why not shake it up, right? But no, Lazaro sang yet another ballad. It was actually better than his first song, especially when the tempo picked up. Also, it was hard to tell, but Lazaro might have been wearing a shirt with flames on it. I thought only Keith was allowed to do that.
Judges’ Reactions: Mariah admitted she was having trouble finding something positive to say. Keith implied that Lazaro is performing like he’s at a talent show, not at a professional level.
I will say one thing in Lazaro’s defense: the whole time he’s been getting these beat downs from the judges, he’s been handing the criticism with dignity, not arguing back or anything. He should still go home, but I don’t think he’ll be a scorned forever.
So that’s all, folks. Tune in tomorrow to watch America vote Lazaro off.
* If this prediction does not come true, I really think Randy will just jump on stage and physically escort Lazaro out of the studio. Dawg is not a fan.