First off, before we get to the singers, kudos to the Idol judges.
The new panel went live for the first time Tuesday night. And passed with flying colors.
And he certainly stumbled all over his own words, proclaiming “this is going to be an interesting judge thing today” when Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj sharply disagreed over Breanna Steer’s performance early in the show.
But, in a way, he was right. Keith was insightful. Mariah was more on point and even joked a couple of times.
And it’s time for all the Nicki haters to shut up. She’s the best judge Idol has seen since Simon Cowell departed.
On to the recap …
Best of the night: Why didn’t Kree Harrison get more airtime early in the season? She was the best in the Vegas round when she sang “Up to the Mountain.” She was the best again Tuesday, delivering a wonderful version of Faith Hill’s “Stronger.” And that was not an easy song to pull off. At least not the way she performed it, as Keith noted. If only one country singer makes the finals, she needs to be that singer.
Runner-up: I liked Angela Miller’s pre-song interview. The part where she said she wants to prove she didn’t peak too soon in the competition. I liked even more the way she sat behind the piano, took a risk singing a relatively little-known Colton Dixon song (“Never Gone”) and proved that her Hollywood performance was anything but a fluke. In other words, she lived up to the hype.
Worst of the night: Can we end the Zoanette Johnson run on Idol now? Please? Her performance of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” merely proved what I wrote a week ago: She did not belong in the semifinals. By putting her there, the judges robbed a much more deserving contestant of a chance at making the finals. But producers do deserve credit for making her sing first, minimizing the chance that she’ll advance.
Please keep her: She performed third in the show, and performing that early in a two-hour show can be a curse. But Aubrey Cleland drew high praise from the judges and deserved every word of it. She looked and sounded like a star singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Initially, that song choice made me cringe, uncertain Aubrey could pull it off. She did.
Baffled by the judges: I must have missed something, because I couldn’t understand the high praise for Amber Holcomb or Candice Glover. Both are fine singers — and Candice probably deserves a spot in the finals — but those were not among my favorite performances of the night. Not even close.
Best line from Ryan Seacrest: Nicki had complimented Tenna Torres’ boobs (meaning, I think, that she showed some skin but was still classy doing it). Mariah complimented Tenna’s richness of tone. Says Ryan to Tenna: “Nicki and Mariah agreed on something. They both loved your fullness.” Tenna looked like she wanted to hit him.
Best lines of the night from the judges: Nicki to Zoanette: “That wasn’t it … With this particular song, you’ve really got to be on key and stuff.” Keith to Amber: “The first two words in Idol are ‘I do’ and I do love to hear you sing.” Nicki to the audience: “If you all keep booing, I’m just gonna keep talking.”
A sign of what’s to come: When the girls stopped singing, Randy commented on how tough voters’ job would be, narrowing the field to five singers. He said something along the lines of: “We might need to talk to the producers. We might need a wild card.” Don’t be surprised if it happens, though producers have sworn it wouldn’t. I’ve been wondering how in the world Idol is going to fill that 90-minute time slot on Thursday.
If I could choose: I’d send Kree, Angela and Aubrey to the finals in a hearbeat. Candice probably deserves to be there. And I’d lean toward Janelle Arthur or Breanna for the fifth spot, the latter because she’s the contestant most likely to vary the endless stream of big ballads.
For the song by song grade blog from Tuesday’s show, go here.