If ever there was a throwaway week on American Idol
, this is it. Sure, we're down to the top five, and sure they're all girls for the first time ever, but with the judges' save still in play and the fact that it's the final week for them to use it, there's no way anyone is going home.
season might feel like it goes on forever (this is month four and episode 28, with at least nine episodes to go), but the finale isn't scheduled until May 16. That means there has to be at least one week where no one goes home, or it'll throw everything off.
I assume FOX saw this coming, and thus declined to clarify last week the time frame for the save's use -- is it before the top five? Or is the top five the last time it's in play -- it must still be up for grabs, just to keep things rolling along smoothly. So in a top 10 with five straight weeks of complete predictability, we'd need our first real surprise of the season for the results of these shows to be anything but obvious. And, like, why start now?
The themes this week, and if you needed any more proof that producers were stacking the deck for an all-female top five and the first chick Idol after five straight white dudes with guitars, are "the year you were born" and "divas." Yes, you read that correctly. Divas. And I'd bet money that theme was chosen weeks ago. And Lazaro Arbos almost ruined it! He was like Kenny in that episode of Boy Meets World where they all get locked in the school with a killer on the loose. So it's Cory, Topanga, Shawn, Angela, Eric, Jack and Kenny. Guess who dies first? Hint: Jennifer Love Fefferman is third. Feffy!
Still, I guess the one thing we can take from these performances is that we'll get an idea of who America likes the most. Or they could give us no inkling as to who finishes where, and then I guess it'll be totally worthless. But barring any catastrophic failures, the bottom two will likely be Amber Holcomb (who voters still haven't really taken to, much to the judges' dismay) and Janelle Arthur (who is the least gifted vocally but might be the best artist). A less-than-stellar performance could land Angie Miller down there, too, while Candice Glover and Kree Harrison are likely safe no matter what. I just don't see anything crazy happening.
I don't know if the presence of the save will take the pressure off any of the ladies, but it certainly makes it less contentious for the viewers. So let's just sit back, relax and try and enjoy two hours that are much more efficiently watched on a DVR. But we'll do it live. Cause Bill O'Reilly told us to. Let's get to it, and keep the comments coming at the bottom of the page!
Hey, Did You Realize the Top 5 are all Girls?
We seriously start off with a montage of all the previous female winners, likely edited back while Kez Ban was auditioning. Then there's some kind words for Boston, which really makes you realize how insignificant crap like American Idol actually is, and also how important it is for us to continue to produce such crap so that other countries keep hating us. Otherwise, the terrorists win.
Straight up, Candice Makes Me Feel Old
Candice, born November 22, 1989, is kicking things off with "Straight Up" by ex-Idol judge Paula Abdul. I used to listen to the "Forever Your Girl" album pretty regularly, not gonna lie. But that's when she was born. And she's one of the older ones. This theme is going to make me feel soooo old. Meanwhile, the top song the year I was born was "Call Me" by Blondie, and I'm just happy I know it. No. 5 is "Do that to Me One More Time" by The Captain and Tennille. Yeah...
Candice slows it down, as is her style, and it's a bit weaker for me than usual. Sounds very jazz loungy. Or rasta. Definitely not blowing anyone away, but solid in typical Candice fashion, if not plain. Nice note at the end, though.
Keith Urban loved it, because he pretty much loves everything. He praises her range and says she made him realize that "Straight Up" is actually a good song. Nicki Minaj and her ginormous hanging-out boobs call Candice the one to beat and praise her persistence. Randy Jackson says she's in the zone and Mariah Carey calls her an unpredictable genius. A bit much for me, but like I said, it was good.
Oh, and apparently Jimmy Iovine is chiming in! He agrees with me, disagreeing with the judges, because he thought "Straight Up" has too narrow a vocal range for Candice to really show off. So THAT'S why she didn't wow! Thanks, Jimmy!
Janelle Sings a Song that Made Her Stop Crying
Janelle was born on December 12, 1989, and when she was a baby, Vince Gill was the only voice that could calm her down. So she's singing his "When I Call Your Name," and unfortunately I won't be able to tell you if she makes it her own, because I've never heard it before. She's strumming along with a giant guitar, and she looks great, even though she's wearing a giant pink golf ball around her neck.
It's a bit pitchy, particularly during her runs, but it sounds nice enough I guess. Still, something just seems a bit off.
Nicki thinks Janelle is much more comfortable with her guitar, and she wants to see it more often. She calls the performance "pretty" and "angelic." Randy thought the song brought Janelle back to her musical roots and that people will respond to it. Mariah "believed" her and felt she sang with her "whole heart."
Keith is the lone guy who heard a different song, because Vince's version is all about pure emotion, and he didn't feel that. The runs were too much and too distracting for him, and he didn't get the heartbreak. I'm with you, Keith. Mariah says "it's a girl thing and you brought me to tears," which is accurate cause crying IS a girl thing. Unless I'm watching Rudy.
Jimmy agrees with me and Keith and says Janelle sounded like she was singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
Kree Talks to Angels
Baby Kree was born May 17, 1990, and she wore red cowboy boots like Ted Mosby all through her childhood. And she's been singing ever since. I am excited that she chose The Black Crows' "She Talks to Angels," probably because I over-appreciate anytime someone sings a song I know and love.
Kree sounds wonderful, puts a nice country spin on the song and makes it her own. But if a lack of personality has been her big criticism, she's not doing anything to dispel that. It's a great performance, and she gets bonus points for song choice, but she couldn't look more bored while doing it.
Randy praises Kree's naturalness and her bluesy tone, but he can't call it flawless. Mariah loves to hear Kree sing, but prefers when she loses herself like Eminem. This time around, she felt Kree tried to perform a bit too much. If that's Kree's definition of performing, I don't want to see her do another fast song.
Keith agrees with Mariah and doesn't think Kree felt comfortable, while Nicki honors the late Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher by going British and saying this is the best performance of the night. Best of three. Woo. And this is after Nicki the two-timer called Candice, "the one to beat" after her song.
I thought it was great to listen to, but not so good to look at. Jimmy calls it, "Kum ba yah."
Angie's Big Transformation
Angela was born on February 17, 1994, shortly before I graduated 8th grade, and I would've thought the big transformation was the shortening of her name. But it's not, it's about how she was a big, fat, roly-poly baby. Her first song was called, "Little Sparkle Dress," but I can't judge. Because when I was little, and I promise you this is not a joke, I wrote a song that consisted of one line, and that line was, "When my baby was born, he was smushed, so we cooked him, and we ate him." Please don't comment harshly on the disturbing nature of those lyrics, if taken literally. I was three. It's a big family joke these days, particularly how no one took me to a shrink.
Anyway, Angie picked The Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You," because she gets to perform behind a piano. She dedicates it to Boston, and it gets in the way of when she's supposed to start singing. Still, she's at home tickling the ivory, and I get a distinct Colton Dixon vibe. She stumbles over some words and has some seriously pitchy moments. It's unfortunate, because she doesn't quite live up to her potential with this song, which I'm guessing she didn't know very well. But there are some great moments, too.
Mariah says a bunch of nice things about other stuff (Boston and The Pretenders), then disingenuously calls it perfect. Keith loved the song choice, and he can't wait until she hits the road on tour and loses her nervous energy. Nicki is obsessed when Angie is behind the piano and congratulates her on a great performance, and Randy says Angie is on her way. Everyone gave really positive feedback, but no one seemed really excited about it.
Jimmy didn't chime in on this one, as he must've been in the bathroom or something. Still, I think this song will be tough to place in the rankings because it was totally hit or miss.
Amber Closes Round 1 with a Cover of a Cover
Amber hooked up a creepy fan who has been following her since Las Vegas and camping out at the studio with tickets to the show. I guess that was nice? Amber was born on March 17, 1994, and she had dimples that only came out while she slept. She wanted to be a "news reporter person," but no one would watch her, so she started to sing.
Amber is flexing some serious nuts with her choice of Mariah Carey's cover of "Without You." It's a huge song, but which Amber will show up? Answer: The up and down one. The big notes are spectacular, but her timing is off on the slowed-down, lower parts. It's a bit more underwhelming simply because of what she COULD have done with it. And I'm sure the judges will love it.
Keith says we have an Amber Alert, which means someone kidnapped a child, then immediately wishes he didn't say it. But yeah, he thought it was great. Nicki didn't think the lower register had enough emotion, and it just didn't live up to the Mariah version. Much like these performances, I am hit or miss with the judges. Randy says it wasn't perfect, but he gives her mad props for poorly singing Mariah in front of Mariah.
Mariah certainly can't say, "You didn't sing that as well as me," so she tells everyone to vote for Amber. Then she says she might have to incorporate some of what Amber did into her own performances of the song. Doubt it.
Apparently Jimmy is done pooping, and he gives Amber an "A for Bravery." He agrees with Nicki that the low register was lacking, so it would seem more appropriate to give her a B for bravery, no?
Candice Gets Double Teamed by a Pair of Divas
I guess we're keeping the same order for round two, because Candice is up first. Any song sung by a female powerhouse is fair game, and Candice will try and tackle "When You Believe" by Mariah Carey AND Whitney Houston.
I completely stopped looking at the laptop during this performance, which is another clear moment for Candice. It passes the goose bump test, and THAT'S how you pay homage to the music legend sitting right in front of you. Chills throughout. That's going to be tough for anyone to top, and it's almost worth sitting through two hours of pointless performances just for this. Almost.
Nicki copies me and says, "That's how you do a Mariah Carey-Whitney Houston song." Randy calls it the best vocal of night, Mariah thinks she did the late Whitney justice and Keith was watching Mariah's reactions the whole time. He was stopped in his tracks, which is good because he was sitting in a chair and couldn't hurt anybody walking behind him.
Must have been a Chipotle night for Jimmy, because he's absent on this one, too. Sucks for Amber to get upstaged by the person right after her singing a song by the same person she sang, who happens to be sitting right in front of them. Makes Amber's performances look even worse.
Janelle is a Dumb Blond
Janelle's diva of choice is, of course, Dolly Parton. I would love some "Jolene," but I don't know if Janelle is up for that. Instead, she's singing "Dumb Blond," which again, I don't know very well, if at all. It's more karaoke, as Janelle once again honors the artist's version in tribute instead of making the song her own (I can only assume). All that's missing is the cheesy non-Dolly video, the mostly-right lyrics at the bottom of the screen and Asian people serving $5 happy hour rum and cokes. I assume karaoke joints are like that around the country, and not just in Manhattan. But I could be wrong.
Randy thought it was fun, but didn't think the vocals showed anything. Mariah loves Dolly but didn't know the song, and she calls it "pow, but not Hashtag Pow." Guess she doesn't want anyone to tweet about this...
Keith didn't like the song choice and would've preferred something else from Dolly's songbook. He wanted her to play more to her strengths, i.e. be an artist. Nicki tells her she's great, but thinks she's in jeopardy of going home (wink, wink).
Has Kree Ever Been in Love?
Who knows, but we'll find out if she can show some emotion this time around. She's taking on Celine Dion's "Have You Ever Been in Love," and this might be the perfect ballady-type song for her wheelhouse. She tones down the "performing" even more, but it actually fits this time. Vocals are spot on, proper emotion in her face, and this might be her best performance of the season. Which sucks for her only a little bit, because Candice was still better tonight.
Mariah thought the choice was spot on, even if it got a bit away from her at times, and it showed versatility. Keith calls the song choice beautiful and loved that she stayed in control throughout. So did it get away from her, or not? I didn't hear it. He thanks her for inspiring girls who want to be country artists to recognize that they can do it with poise and elegance, I presume instead of crushing beer cans on their foreheads in daisy dukes and tube tops.
Nicki says Kree isn't country, she's worldly. She has elevated her net worth, expanding her career options and her longevity. Randy agrees with everyone, cause we're getting close to a time crunch, people! No time for Jimmy!
Angie Shoulda Put a
Muzzle Ring on it
Uh oh. This one has potential disaster written all over it. Angie looks super hot, which might be the only thing to compliment if this goes bad. She's singing Beyonce's "Halo," and I'm hopeful but not expectant. No piano, either.
And I'm wrong. I take it all back, because it's really good and the second goose bump moment of the night. She keeps the theatrics down and shows off some great vocals. I had to amend my original heading for this section.
Keith says "definitely top three," Nicki says Angie is back and did the song justice, Randy drops an "in it to win it" and Mariah praises the clarity in her voice. Timmmeee crunnnncchhhh!
Amber, Babs. Babs, Amber
Speaking of questionable choices, Amber's could be the riskiest. She made the seemingly odd choice of singing Barbra Streisand, who I don't think anyone pictures when they think of Amber as an artist. She picked "What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," and this one could go either way. She's capping the show, in the pimp spot, with a song most Idol voters probably don't know.
I hate to pile it on Amber, but it's a bit boring. Some great vocal moments in it, though, and I find I'm so frustrated by her. This girl has so much damn potential, and I just want her to live up to it already and put herself in the same company with the easy top three. But this one didn't do that, at least not for me.
(Amendment: I wrote most of that during the first part of the song, which I DID find boring. But upon listening to it again, particularly the second half, I liked it a lot more. I think my problem is that my expectations of Amber are so high that I always feel like I want more. But this was a top three performance for me. I still think she has more in her though.)
Nicki says it was simply perfection, and she hopes America can see inside Amber. Randy thought it was the most difficult song anyone has sung all season and that she certainly doesn't deserve to be in the bottom three. But Randy, there's only five left. Only two AREN'T in the bottom three, and Candice is one of them. Mariah literally BEGS America to vote for Amber, which is the least subtle way the judges have done that this season. Keith loved it, too.
I don't know, I think the bottom two are going to be Janelle and Amber. And while Janelle deserves the fewest number of votes, she still gets the country crowd, and I wouldn't be shocked if Amber comes in last. It doesn't matter anyway, because no one is leaving. But I will say that another week like this one would push Amber past Janelle into the top four. She'll just need some help if she wants to make the top three.
What do you think? Who was your favorite, and who do you think would be going home if there was not a save in play? Is there a chance anyone actually gets eliminated? Tune in Thursday night to find out, and get ready to be wowed by former Idol winner Fantasia and runner-up Clay Aiken. I know you're all as excited as I am. See you then!
You can watch American Idol every Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)