American Idol Top 6: Song by song grades
Mark my word: A female will not go home on American Idol this week.
I wrote that in my weekly rankings blog (check out the rankings here).
And I’ll repeat it before tonight’s performance show.
The Idol judges still have their save, safely tucked away for a rainy day.
And they’ll think it’s storming, that there’s been a downpour of misplaced votes, if anyone not named Lazaro Arbos winds up at the bottom Thursday night.
I wouldn’t be able to fault their sentiment.
But there’s no excusing the stupidity of Idol producers for mismanaging Season 12 so badly that they’ve sucked all the suspense out of a save that was added to the Idol format to … guess what? … provide suspense.
The save’s been around for five years now. In each of the first four, there were enough finalists to get Idol to the end of the season without using the save. Part the suspense, in fact, was whether or not the judges would find anyone worthy of saving.
Along comes Season 12. There shall be no wild cards, the Idol producers decreed. But the finals will last 10 weeks even though we have only 10 singers, they decided.
Translation: The save must be used. And the Idol judges are running out of time to use it.
And there’s no way they’re going to save Lazaro. So Janelle Arthur and Amber Holcomb, both of whom have visited the bottom three recently, can relax a bit.
Tonight, we get two solo songs from each of the contestants. And let the singing begin.
We’re going to start off with the Bacharach-David songs.
1. Angie Miller: “Anyone Who Had a Heart:” Interesting song choice. Of course, once again, we have the Idols singing “classic” music. Why? Who knows? Angie did just fine last week with a song released in the 21st century. Vocally, there wasn’t anything wrong with that performance. But there wasn’t a big pizazz factor. One of those embarrassing videos Angie makes with her friend might have been more interesting. Keith wanted to see more passion in the performance and says he needs more “humanity.” Nicki agrees. And says it feels old-fashioned. Jeez. It’s an old-fashioned song. All in all, so-so comments from the judges. Grade: B–
2. Amber Holcomb: She’ll take on “I’ll Say a Little Prayer for You.” Whoa, this is a little more up-tempo than we’re used to hearing from Amber. But what happened to her vocal. The opening seemed slightly off pitch. And Amber just never recovered. That might have been her worst vocal since the finals. Apparently, Nicki wasn’t hearing the same thing I was. She proclaims Amber her favorite girl in the competition. Nicki is going off with praise. Randy loved Amber, too. Randy proclaims Amber has arrived. Wow, about the only good thing I have to say about that performance is Amber’s pants are all in one piece this week. Grade: C–
3. Lazaro Arbos: Oh, boy he rides four-wheelers and goes hunting, which earns him the nickname “The Spanish Redneck Guy.” Lazaro is singing “Close to You.” Wish Angie would have sung this song. What’s the likelihood Lazaro can get through two songs tonight without a lyric flub? So far, so good, though. And Lazaro is staying just north of train-wreck land. Very average vocal. And that’s by Lazaro standards. Very sleepy performance. Randy calls it “horrible.” And he calls it the worst he’s done. Mariah says she’s been reprimanded about being too nice to the contestants. So she goes all technical with her criticism and rambles and rambles and rambles. Nicki decides to save us all from feedback that’s taking way too long, thanks to Mariah. Grade: D
4. Kree Harrison: She sings at rodeos. She’s been doing it since 6 or 7. She’ll sing “What the World Needs Now.” And she’ll start a cappella. Really nice opening. That was probably the best part of that performance. I’d put that performance in the same class as Angie’s. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the vocal. There wasn’t really anything magical about the performance, though. Maybe I’m just spoiled because I went back and watched some really brilliant Idol performances earlier this week. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much of The Voice. Grade: B
5. Janelle Arthur: I really like Janelle. So, she played a guy in a play in eighth grade. She’ll sing “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.” That was a pleasant performance from a gal who clearly is comfortable on stage. But vocally, it lacked moments, except for that little flair at the end. I was hoping she’d change it up a little more, the way she did with “You Keep Me Hanging On.” Nicki found it boring. And the feedback from the other judges is just mediocre. I haven’t found anything very exciting yet tonight, folks. Perhaps the second half of the show … please. Grade: C+
6. Candice Glover: Here comes another “classic” ballad “Don’t Make Me Over.” I figured Candice would come out with a vengeance tonight, after being left off three judges’ top three list, plus Jimmy’s, and after failing to land in the top three with voters. But I really think the Idols are being constrained by the theme they’ve been given. Candice did everything she could with the second half of that song, and it was clearly the best performance of round one tonight. But it still isn’t a performance anyone is really going to remember tomorrow. The judges give her a standing ovation. Nicki loved it. Randy says Candice is “in it to win it,” but correctly calls it the best vocal of the night so far. Mariah calls it “simplistic and beautiful.” Grade: B+
Whew, finally, that Bacharach-David nonsense is over. Now, maybe, just maybe, Idols will be allowed to sing something more to their liking.
Songs They Wish They Wrote
7. Angie Miller: She’ll sing what she calls a little-known song, “Love Came Down” by Kari Jobe. She says the song helped her get through the post-high school transition, when she knew she would be trying out for Idol and so much might change. She’s back at the piano, which should please Mariah. Go ahead, judges, say she’s disconnected. Go ahead. I dare you. Maybe you just need to let these gals sing songs they are connected to, that they want to sing. That’s the difference, Idol idiots. Angie just slayed that song, vocally and emotionally. The best performance so far tonight and the only one I’d care to relive in any way, shape or fashion. Grade: A–
8. Amber Holcomb: Another upbeat song from Amber. Two in one night? She’ll sing “Love On Top” by Beyoncé. Look, the legs fell off those pants Amber was wearing last week. Meanwhile, another lackluster vocal from Amber. Can’t wait to hear what the judges say. I’m beginning to understand why Amber typically just stands behind a mic and sings. That was nearly as bad as Lazaro’s first performance. Mariah can’t bring herself to compliment the vocal, so she compliments her performance. Keith and Nicki are buying into some “you must love Amber line” that I just am not buying. Grade: D
9. Lazaro Arbos: He’ll sing “Angels” by Robbie Williams. And I’m glad he told us what the song was when he started singing because I didn’t recognize it at first. Truthfully, that was a better vocal than his first. And I actually felt it was almost as good as the misfire we just heard from Amber. But I’m betting the feedback from the judges won’t reflect that. Yep, guessed right. Keith says its a matter of female singers who sound like they’re ready for a career in music and a lone male singer who seems like he’s in “talent quest.” Grade: C–
Kree Harrison: She’ll sing, “Help Me Make it Through the Night.” This, could be special. Clearly, a song Kree has no trouble connecting with. And she’s singing it beautifully. This will register very well with her country fan base. I’m not sure anyone else will find it as special as I was hoping it would be. At some point, I’m hoping Kree shows a big more flexibility, a bit more originality in changing up a popular song, a bit more flair on stage. Clearly, that wasn’t the song to do it with. She did a very nice job, though. The judges think so, too. Keith and Nicki both predict that Kree has a big future ahead of her in country music. Grade: B+
9. Janelle Arthur: She has selected Garth Brooks’ “The Dance.” She says she knew she’d want to sing it one day the first time she heard it. And Janelle turns in a very solid performance on her second song. Maybe not as vocally sharp as Kree, but darn close. Keith raises a good point: He wishes Janelle would have performed the song with just her guitar, no backing music or anything else. Nicki also liked Janelle’s second performance better than her first. But Nicki says she still doesn’t think it was good enough to get a leg up over the other girls in the competition. Hey, judges, tonight I would put Janelle a mile ahead of your beloved Amber. Grade: B
Candice Glover: She’ll sing “Love Song.” Candice is the primary reason I don’t get the over-the-top praise of Amber. Vocally, she is just clearly so vocally superior among two singers who aspire to sing the same type of music. And Candice doesn’t have to dramatically change the song to bring her own little flourishes to it. That was a really, really excellent vocal. the judges reward her with a standing ovation. Mariah even goes up on the stage to congratulate Candice. Randy calls it one of the greatest Idol performances ever. And I suppose he’s the only judge who gets to talk because Mariah talked for so long earlier tonight. Grade: A