American Idol Top 5: Grading the singers
We’re down to just ladies on American Idol.
And like I said in my rankings blog, who would have ever thought that would happen?
Even in what’s supposed to be a girl’s year on the show.
Five straight guys eliminated. Not a single female gone.
And the judges didn’t even have to use a save to manufacture an all-female Top 5.
Everyone sings twice again tonight, but I haven’t seen a spoiler list of song selections.
The themes this week: Year of Birth and Divas.
Year of Birth:
Candice Glover: The gal from St. Helena is coming off a heck of a performance last week. She’s going to sing “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul. Really interesting song choice. Hey, look at Candice changing up a song we all know very well. Nice to see the originality. We’ve seen too little of it from the Season 12 Idols. I think this is the first time Candice has changed up a song so dramatically. And, of course, she’s delivering a very nice vocal. My only complaint would be that this arrangement sucks some of the appeal out of Paula’s big dance hit. Not sure that version would be a hit. But it’s a minor complaint as Candice opens the night in fine fashion. Mariah calls it “genius” and does it with a minimum of rambling. Good job, Mariah. Oh, and Candice gives Janelle credit for helping pick the song. Interesting: We get a performance night assessment from Jimmy who thinks Candice should have picked a bigger song. Grade: B+
Janelle Arthur: She’s going to sing Vince Gill. She says he’s the singer she’d listen to as a young girl, and the singer who could make her stop crying as a baby. The song is “When I Call Your Name.” You have to figure Janelle is one of the singers on the bubble this week. Wow, Janelle found her groove with that song. Excellent vocal. One of Janelle’s best. And, man, did she deliver a believable performance. Nicki, a frequent Janelle critic, called the performance sweet and “angelic.” Mariah calls it “raw and real.” Hmm, Keith says he didn’t feel the performance. Wow, Keith, can you feel? I thought she had no trouble connecting. Now from Jimmy: He agreed with Keith and said Janelle wasn’t strong enough. Grade: B+
Kree Harrison: She’ll sing The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels.” Speaking of connecting, I think Kree needs to do a better job. She says she likes the fact that she doesn’t think anyone would expect her to sing this song. Regardless, she’s opening very strong. Hey, folks, the Idol ladies are on fire tonight. We’re seeing some really strong performances. And Kree delivers the biggest glory note we’ve heard so far tonight on that ending. Randy says he “loved it.” Mariah annoys the heck out of me. I’m not sure what she just said. Nicki calls it the best performance of the night, in her English accent. Then she delivers some high heels education in her normal speaking voice. Now Nicki and Mariah are going to disagree about disagreeing. Again, Jimmy doesn’t think that performance was strong enough. Grade: A-
Angie Miller: Wow, look at chubby young Angie, who admits to being loud and obnoxious as a child. She’s singing “I’ll Stand By You” from The Pretenders. And Angie is back at her piano and dedicating the song to Boston. She’s from Beverly, Mass. She’s certainly attacking the song with vigor. But I honestly didn’t love that vocal. At least not as much as the first three. Jimmy once accused her of delivering pageant performances, and I sort of felt like that was one. All the judges are congratulating her on the “smart” song choice and on the dedication. And, this is weird, but I even think Angie looked a little too much like a beauty queen to pull off the emotion of that song. Oh, well, I’m be anxious to hear what Jimmy has to say. LOL. Jimmy loved it. Called it the best performance of the night. OK, then. Four performances in, I’ve agreed with him once. Grade: C+
Amber Holcomb: We learn that Amber had dimples even when she was a baby, but that they’d only come out when she was sleeping. She’s going to sing “Without You,” which Mariah covered back in the year Amber was born. OK, a couple of stumbles in that opening. Sorry, Amber, but your voice just isn’t quite big enough for this song. I have yet to see what the judges see in Amber. I keep trying. And she keeps disappointing me. When she went big on the end of that song it sounded more like she was shouting. Easily the weakest vocal of the night. But don’t expect to hear the truth from the judges’ table. Nicki actually didn’t love it. Thanks for speaking truth, because the other judges keep buying the “everyone must love Amber” line. Even Jimmy buys in, calling her the second best of the night. Newsflash, Jimmy: She was the worst. Grade: C-
Candice Glover: She’s going to sing “When You Believe,” a song performed by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as a duet. Candice said she initially swore she wouldn’t do a Mariah song in front of Mariah, but has changed her mind. Glad she did. Glad she follows Amber to the stage. Compare their vocals, judges. Compare their vocals, Jimmy. Candice sings all sorts of pretty rings around pretty Amber. That said, I’m not loving this song choice. Of all the diva songs out there? But Candice is providing another superb vocal. From Nicki: “That is how you do a Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston song.” Mariah: “Personally I think you could sing anything in front of anyone anywhere.” Grade: B+
Janelle Arthur: She’s going to cover Dolly Parton. Glad they’re letting her do it, because making Janelle sing Whitney or Mariah would just be plain cruel. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever used Dolly and diva in the same sentence. Janelle has picked “Dumb Blonde” for her diva song. Hmm, of all the Dolly songs? Really? Not sure this is doing Janelle any favors. This seems somehow oddly disjointed. Janelle delivered a few big notes. She tried to deliver a really fun performance. But I’m just not sure it all worked. And I’m not sure it delivered the type of Idol moment Janelle needs at this moment. Keith echoes my sentiment: He says he wouldn’t place “Dumb Blonde” at the top of Dolly’s song list. Grade: C
Kree Harrison: Hmm, wouldn’t have selected this match. Kree is going to sing Celine Dion. The song she picked is “Have You Ever Been in Love.” OK, this is not going to be one of my favorite Kree performances. Playing diva is not her strong suit. Kree would have been much better off bending the theme a bit, the way Janelle was allowed to, then picking a better song than Janelle picked. That wasn’t a bad vocal, but it’s not the type of performance folks are going to remember tomorrow. Mariah makes a decent point (yeah, I typed that), Kree did show off a touch of versatility by pulling it off as well as she did. And Nicki is over the top with praise for Kree. Oh, and where did Jimmy go for the second half of the show? Anyone know? Grade: B–
Angie Miller: Another interesting song choice. Angie is going to tackle “Halo.” Yep, a Beyonce tune. And she’s stepping away from the piano. Really strong start for Angie. Well, Angie just tackled Beyonce and slayed it. Now that was a good song choice. Challenging, absolutely. Brave, absolutely. But, wow, did her voice soar on that. A much better match of Angie’s voice and song than her first round performance. And, dare I say, the best vocal so far tonight. Grade: A
Amber Holcomb: “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” is Amber’s song choice. It’s a Barbra Streisand tune, which Amber says makes her a little nervous because she wants to do Barbra proud. Not a very good song choice in my mind. Idols: At this point, you need to deliver moments. And I’m not sure this song is designed for a moment. At least not with someone not named Barbra Streisand singing it. Amber delivers a much better vocal than she did in the first round. Time for the judges to deliver the Amber praise. Now she’s being compared to Rihanna. Oh, my. It was good, not great, folks. Grade: B