American Idol 12 Review & Recap – Top 5 – Divas & Dates
Last week, we all remember that the producers’ wet dreams came true, and the last boy standing, Lazaro, was sent home, leaving all five young ladies in the contest, although I am sure they will explain who the audience should eliminate next. Forget that their obvious tinkering has driven faithful viewer away, and caused the rating to plummet to a series low. And try to ignore producer Nigel Lythgoe has tried to distract attention with his constant musings about the judges feuding, something we would not have known had Idol itself not released tapes of Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey having issues during the auditions. And try to forget he tried to imply Randy Jackson is beloved across the nation. And, most importantly, try to forget the seeming failure of producers to deliver any talented young men this season to the judges, nor make the season seem like anything other than a karaoke festival for the contestant’s grandparents. Instead, try to remember how little excitement this season has been able to generate, at least based on performances. Yes, that will be what the few people who stick around will remember the most. But now it is time for tonight’s show.
The producers were so giddy their plan worked, they prepared a special intro about how the first time in six years a woman will win. I bet Nigel needed a cigarette after first seeing that video. The announcer comes on to introduce the judges, and Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban walk out together, and are joined by Crusty, who sends the very best to everyone effected by the tragedy in Boston. He then tells about two themes for this week, as the ladies will be taking on the music of their favorite Divas, and music from the year they were born. The first out of the gate is Candice, who will be singing “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, a hit in 1989 when Candice was born.
She puts a jazzy spin on it, slowing it down a little bit, and channeling the sass to a soulful pocket. She was in complete control tonight, and that could have been her best performance to date. Keith loved it, not realizing it was a great song. Nicki thought it was amazing, and always knew the song was brilliant. She also pointed out that Candice was the one to beat, at least in her opinion. Randy loved it, and so did Mariah, who thought no one else could do that. Well, I hate to break it to her, but that is the point of the show… Don’t get me wrong, she was wonderful, but the superlatives are a little heavy so early in the show. After the break, Jimmy Iovine was on camera, telling us the judges were wrong, and the song was far too simple, too limited to showcase Candice’s vocals. Oh, well. Next up, there is Janelle Arthur, who will be singing Vince Gill’s 1989 hit, “When I Call Your Name”. Her mother told her the only thing that would stop her from crying when she was a baby is Vince Gill’s voice. Janelle gives it an even stronger Country feel, with bold steel guitars, and a lovely vocal. It was such a nice performance, so very sweet. Mariah, Randy, and Nicki all loved it, and thought it was her best in a long time, and thought she was so very authentic. Nicki said she thought the guitar was great, and thought she should perform with it more often. Keith, on the other hand, felt it lacked emotion, and maybe she was hiding behind the guitar. After Keith was finished, Mariah jumped in to add it must be a “girl thing” for she moved Mariah to tears. After the commercial break, Jimmy thought Janelle was truly lacking, and needs to do much better. Next, we learn that Kree Harrison will be singing “She Talks To Angels”, the big hit for The Black Crowes in 1990. She doesn’t think people would expect her to sing it, and that excites her.
She has a magnificent voice, and shows it off on this song. She blends the Bluesy side of her voice, and changed it up a bit with a Country flavor rather than the Rock splash. I thought it was solid and strong, but not really Kree at her best. Randy loved it, and thought it was emotionally perfect. Mariah loves Kree, but thought it wasn’t her best, for she wasn’t losing herself in the song. Keith agreed with Mariah, fearing she was more interested in the staging than the song. Nicki disagreed with Mariah and Keith, loving this performance, and thought it was the best so far tonight. Mariah wanted to argue the fact, which I am sure made Nigel squeal just a little bit. After the break, Jimmy thought the performance wasn’t strong enough, and the wrong song to choose. The judges aren’t impressed by Jimmy I’s thoughts, however. Next up is Angie Miller, who we learn was a chubby little girl. She will be singing “I’ll Stand By You”, the iconic song by The Pretenders from 1994.
Chrissie Hynde was amazing on the original, and Angie starts it off by dedicating it to Boston.
Three bars into the song, I know this will just not work at all. Her voice is too thin, and her vocals were not up to the task. She tended to fall flat on the big notes, and at times ran out of air a bit. The judges all loved it, with not a bad word to say. They all loved she brought up Boston, too! In fact, Randy mentions that fact, and how this is the best Top 5 ever. I wonder if anyone will ever just tell him to shut up before he passes any more gas over the microphone. I shake my head during the commercial, and can’t wait for what Jimmy I will say. After all, he hasn’t really been happy with the first three of the best Top 5 ever! Much to my astonishment, Jimmy thought she was brilliant, and the best of the night. I must go to the doctor and get my ears checked. Crusty reminds us about the fact Carly Rae Jepsen will be performing at the finale, and you can help her out by voting at the Cocoa Cola website. Then we learn Amber Holcomb will be singing next, but first we meet a fan who loves Amber, and she hooked her up with tickets for the show. Amber will be singing “Without You” by Badfinger, but the cover by Mariah Carey in 1994. I thought it was okay, but was kinda lacking. It was too close to Mariah’s version, and she certainly doesn’t have the voice to go toe-to-toe with Carey. Keith loved it, and thought it was amazing. Nicki was not impressed, and was, in fact disappointed. Oddly, she was even giving Mariah props while dissing Amber. Randy thought it wasn’t perfect, but still amazing! Mariah thought she didn’t have the bottom register for the song, but she loved some of the choices she made, and hopes people will still vote for Amber! Mariah also thanked Harry Nilsson for writing a great song, but it was actually Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger who wrote it. Jimmy thought Amber deserved an ‘”A” for bravery, but lacked the lower register, but still made her #2 for the night. Wow, Candice, Kree and Janelle are that bad. So with the birth year fiasco over with, it is time for the girls to be taking on the music of the Divas, the great female vocalists of all time, which only seems right, since they are the best Top 5 ever. It is time for Candice to come back to the stage, where she will be singing “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston, double-dipping on the theme. She admits it is a bit intimidating singing Mariah in front of Mariah,
but the glitter last week convinced her she should do it!
Candice sings the song with ease, but for the first half of the song, it is lacking in emotion to me. When she is joined by the Gospel choir, her vocals begin to soar. I thought it was a good performance, but liked the first one better. The judges greet her with a standing ovation, and Randy is bowing to her. Nicki loved it, and thinks that is how you sing a Whitney/Mariah song. She thought it was totally believable, and the perfect message for America and Boston tonight. Randy thought it was the best of the night, and Mariah agrees. Keith thinks she not only pulled out the stops, she annihilated them. Crusty hugs her, and tells her it is American hugging her. I get it, Idol – no battering ram needed. We skip over Jimmy this time, as I guess the judges no longer want to hear from him. Janelle will be following up that performance with her own charismatic flair. She will be singing “Dumb Blonde” by the incredible Dolly Parton
. Janelle would like to prove both she and Dolly are smarter than the average bear. Now, I think it is tough to take on Dolly, who is just so damn talented. While this is a great song, and Janelle sings it more like Miranda Lambert than Dolly, I think it shows some limitations on voice. The bottom end of her range was up to the task. The performance was bold and brilliant, but not on the level that is needed. Randy didn’t care for it at all, but Mariah enjoyed it very much. Keith was not impressed with the song choice, and felt out of the incredible Dolly Song Book, “Dumb Blond” was a bad choice. Nicki fears she will be going home, but that won’t keep her from being a success in the music business after Idol. Again Jimmy is not heard from, so I guess he had something better to do. Next we have Kree who will be singing a song by Celine Dion, “Have You Ever Been In Love”. I didn’t know the song, but she is doing really well with it. She is trying to balance the song, offering quiet sweetness along with the big power notes. She remained in her sweet spot, sounded beautiful throughout. I think it is an excellent job, and she is greeted by a standing ovation by all four judges. Mariah loved it, showing her versatility as an artist. Keith thought she was so amazing, and was so effortlessly amazing. Nicki loves it, and thinks she is not Country, she is Worldly – she can sing anything. Randy agrees and loves her ability to sing anything and make it great. Crusty drools over Kree a bit, and reminds us that after the break, Angie will be on stage to sing a song by Beyoncé. In fact, she will be singing “Halo”. She will be singing it center stage, not behind her piano. While this is perhaps the best I have heard her voice, she is over singing the song, refusing to let a moment go without vocalization. By the end, her voice begins to give out. The last few bars were a struggle to hear, and yet the judges give another standing ovation. Keith loved it, said she was Top 3. Nicki loved it, and was so glad she was back. Randy declared she was in it to win it. And Mariah declared her a diva, and told her she loved it. They are rushing a bit, trying to make sure they fit the night in, since they’ve been wasting some time congratulating themselves to eliminating the boys. After the commercials, it is time to Amber to close out the show singing “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?”, written by Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman. It was originally sung by Michael Dees in the film ‘The Happy End’, but is perhaps best known from the version by the great Barbra Streisand, recorded on the 1974 album ‘The Way We Were’.
Now, I love Barbra, and think ‘The Way We Were’ is a flawless album. And this song is one of my favorites off the album. Amber is excited, feeling it is a Jazzy song, something she enjoys. The first third of the song is pedestrian, offering little heft of body behind the voice. It is certainly lacking the emotional connection, which is unfortunate. She ends the song with a bit of a sloppy run, which is unfortunate. Nicki thought it was perfection, and thinks she is a young Whitney Houston. Randy thinks it is the toughest song of the season, and she is a young Rihanna. Mariah loved it, and thinks she is a massive star, and America should be voting for her. Keith thought it elegant and beautiful, and Crusty thought she was regal. With the recap, it is made clear to me that Candice and Kree are the top 2 of the group, and Janelle, Angie, and Amber lagging behind. And I got the memo, the show thinks it is Janelle’s time to go, but I am not sure, it could be her or Amber. But we won’t know until tomorrow night what will really happen, and the ladies will be entertained with performances by Fantasia and Clay Aiken.