Welcome back to American Idol, guys! Last week, it was Burnell Taylor who went home, leaving only one man still hanging in there with the ladies. Much to my surprise, it’s Lazaro Arbos. With the women dominating the competition, a total of six contestants remain. At least, until the results of this week’s vote.
There are two rounds tonight. The first is from the Burt Bacharach-Hal David catalog and the second will be songs the contestants wished they had written themselves. While Angie Miller and Janelle Arthur definitely shouldn’t crack the top three with their combined performances, Lazaro was the most consistent Wednesday night, in that his rounds are both equally lackluster.
The show starts with a tearful farewell for the ever-quirky and enigmatic Burnell. In a very touching moment, judge Nicki Minaj gives Burnell a pep talk and hug goodbye. We are reminded that shit is getting mad exclusive when we see Anthony Hopkins sitting in the audience. And with that, let’s get this party started!
The first contestant to perform is Angie. We see a snippet about her life and that she likes making “hilariously bad” videos. Hmm. I’ll be the judge of how “hilarious” those are. Angie takes on “Anyone Who Had A Heart” and I have to say, I think she’s finally figured out what to do with her hair. The performance and she are very pretty, but per usual, I’m just not moved when she takes the mic.
Keith Urban compliments Angie’s look to start, as well as her voice. He keeps reiterating what he’s been saying from the beginning, which is that she needs to work on the authenticity. Nicki basically says the same thing. I find that when these two are on the same page, it’s pretty dead on. Nick calls it “old fashioned.”
Randy Jackson, in a loud red blazer (and is that a pocket watch around his neck?), gives a similar critique and advises her to really understand what the lyrics are saying. Mariah Carey, in a tight white gown, looks divine, I must say. Mimi would like you to know she is the nice judge, but then gives a really insightful critique for Angie not to give such perfect diction if she wants to sound less stiff. Angie, at the very least, has learned how to take the criticism like a pro and I salute her for that. That said, I’m still not totally sold on her.
We’re back from commercial break and Ryan Seacrest is waving a trophy around, telling us that American Idol won an award from the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. I, too, won something since the commercial break: a leather-bound dayplanner…if I sign up for a credit monitoring service from Amercan Express. We’re all winners here, guys.
Amber Holcomb likes to eat frozen, pre-cooked shrimp while it’s still cold. It’s gross, but if it makes you sing like Whitney Houston, I’m adopting a new favorite snack food ASAP. She steps out in a blue powder pantsuit, singing “I Say A Little Prayer,” as made famous by her faux aunt, Dionne Warwick. It’s totally Amber’s sweet spot and she nails the licks at the end, making it her own. I predict the judges will love, love, love.
Nicki can’t wait for the applause to end to start gushing. “You are unbelievable,” she tells Amber, adding that the performance launched Amber into the top spot in her mind for the girls. Randy trots out his tired “The competition just started tonight!” But, we get the point, and I agree. “Amber has arrived,” he effuses. Mariah compliments Amber on her transitions, calling it, “A-plus-mazing, on top of the world.” Keith wraps it up, comparing her effortlessness to a “summer breeze.”
We come back to commercial break for a quick chat with Hannibal Lecter. He gives the most amazing sound byte with, “I love the ladybugs.” Ha!
We learn a little more about Lazaro, mainly that his nickname is “the Spanish redneck guy.” He picks a ditty made famous by The Carpenters, “Close To You.” I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was sadly in too low of a key, so he could hit the high notes. Then he gets lost during the song and his sweat glands, or Ol’ Faithfuls as I like to call them, kick in. It’s not great.
Randy calls it “horrible.” You could hear a pin drop as Randy announces it the worst performance of the show. Mimi has to cover her face because she’s about to laugh. Then, she critiques him in the most painful, drawn-out way possible. I swear, this is taking about 10 minutes. There is no way in hell that Nicki and Keith are going to have any time to talk. Keith confirms that I knew what I was talking about Lazaro singing too low. Nicki confirms her status as my favorite judge by wrapping it up and moving the show along. It may have been Laz’s worst performance, but it was Mimi’s worst critique.
We are next reminded that Carly Rae Jebsen is crowdsourcing her new single. Lazy much? Kree Harrison, AKA my girl, is up to the stage, looking pretty in a mint green top. She gives a cute shout out to her man, who is in the audience. We learn that Kree loves rodeo. This is good to know, since I imagine we’ll be hanging out at Saddle Ranch real soon, girl. She then gives a very Kree version of “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” When she powers through the big notes, I can’t imagine there being a scenario in which Lazaro isn’t going home this week.
Let’s hear what the judges have to say! Mariah starts by complimenting Kree’s confidence and we all quickly realize why they so rarely let her go first during judge feedback. Keith kicks in with his read on the performance, which is that her compassion shines through when she sings. Nicki still loves Kree to pieces and prophesizes that she will be performing at the Country Music Awards.
Next, we hear from the other country girl, Janelle Arthur. Her big confession is this: cross-dressing. Don’t get too excited, it was a for a school play in middle school. She looks great in all white, and I’m even kind of digging the dream catcher hanging around her neck. Her choice is “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and she saunters confidently to Keith for a little flirting, but I have to say the whole thing is a little too schmaltzy for my taste.
Keith, still reeling from her touch, tells her he enjoyed it immensely. Nicki calls it boring. Randy concurs, telling her she should have given more “moments.” Mariah starts to give us a history about Burt Bacharach’s melodies, talks about Janelle’s personality and I’m thankful things are back to normal when she’s suddenly drowned out by the Idol transition music.
Time for Candice Glover‘s confession, which is that she speaks Geechee. Lowcountry best represent! We again get a nod to Dionne Warwick when Candice busts out her version of “Don’t Make Me Over.” She smolders and gives us some of her own touches on the song, showing off her powerful pipes.
Nicki compliments Candice’s modern-sounding rendition. Randy is just as excited about her take on the song. Like a needle scratching on a record, Mimi starts talking. She raves about Candice, but surprisingly wraps it up in a timely fashion. Keith’s positive appraisal is the cherry on top for Ms. Glover.
After commercial break, we’re back to Angie, who will be singing the song she wishes she’d written. This should be interesting. Her selection is a more obscure ditty by Kari Jobe, “Love Came Down.” Angie sits down at the piano with a smoke machine. She starts to sing and it will probably be one of her better ones, since it sounds like her genre. This girl should go into Christian rock, I decide, when I see all the white dove holograms fluttering in the background.
Randy calls it “amazing” and loves that she picked a song with which she could connect. Mariah says, “I can’t even express” how she feels about this, and, we know, Mimi, you’ve been unable to concisely express yourself all night, honey chile. Keith loved the doves. Nicki reminds Angie to stick to her genre and not try to be Miss Supersexypants.
Lazaro’s coming back after the break, and if this man does not sing some Ricky Martin, I don’t know how else he can pull this off.
American Idol takes a moment with Amber to make us think that there is something more than platonic between her and Burnell. Oh honey. Ryan, you of all people better not be using airquotes around the word “boyfriend.” Please.
“Love On Top” by Beyonce Knowles is the song that Amber selects. This is one of my favorite Beyonce songs, hearkening back to ’80s Chaka Khan. She’s very retro-fabulous in her red pumps, shoulder pads and cut-off denim shorts. She takes on the rising key changes with ease. Dang, the girls are straight up shoving Lazaro home with these performances. Also, I heart Keith’s shoulder grinds. At one point, I think I even catch him doing a body roll.
Mariah loved it, but says it wasn’t her favorite vocal of Amber’s. Keith says he thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the choice, which he deems perfect for her. Nicki tells Beyonce to look out, punctuating it with “Work!” Randy tells us, “This girl is in it to win it!” Oh, Randy. Remember when you were saying these things for the first time? Yeah, neither do we.
Lazaro is singing the Robbie Williams song, “Angels.” It’s definitely better than his last performance, but can’t possibly be enough to keep him around next week. Keith gives Laz kudos for having some good moments but cautions him that the ladies are killing it tonight. Nicki keeps mum by saying, “What he said.” Randy calls the girls “just so crazy good.” Mariah again painfully sticks the final fork into Laz to basically tell him he’s done.
Kree is back after the commercial with a Kris Kristofferson song. That girl is the best. She picks a tune that almost always makes me cry every time I hear it, “Help Me Make It Through The Night.” She starts to sing the lyric, “Take the ribbon from your hair” and I reach for the Kleenex. She’s amazing and I am going to download an mp3 of this version to listen on repeat for the rest of the year.
Nicki loves it as much as I did. Randy again praises how natural of a singer Kree is. “So beautiful, so nice,” he says. Mariah would like to take this moment to let you know that she has also sung that song. Somewhere in there, she lets us know what she thought of Kree, which I’m sure was complimentary. Keith absolutely loved it and predicts her entrance into the Grand Ole Opry.
Janelle is back on stage. Her song she wishes she would have written is “The Dance,” made famous by Garth Brooks. It’s a great choice for her and she really gets to shine in this genre. There’s no way in hell Lazaro can evoke enough sympathy from America to keep his train going.
Randy praises her solid performance. Mariah admits she didn’t know the song beforehand but thought Janelle did a great job and loves the simple way she sings. I would love it if Mimi’s critiques were equally pared down. Keith enjoyed it, but wishes she could have done it with just a guitar. Nicki thought it was good, but not enough to push her into the level where the other girls currently reside. But don’t worry, I bet it’s enough to keep her around for another week.
Keith has plopped himself into the audience for a moment before Candice returns to the stage. Her song choice is a bluesy version of “Lovesong” by The Cure. When she sings, I believe that she’s had her heart broken a million times over. I can’t imagine who I’m going to root for if it comes down to my favorite three. Talk about heartbreak!
Mariah sashays to the stage in her white gown to personally congratulate Candice. Dang. That’s deep. The applause finally comes down enough for Randy to announce it as one of the greatest performances of the entire show’s history. The rest of the judges rise. Candice is bawling. This is great. Mostly because Mariah’s not talking.
Thursday night, we get results and Kelly Clarkson! Who do you think is going home tonight, dollfaces?