Welcome to the live blog and recap for the Top 5 Performance Show of American Idol Season 12!
Tonight, the themes are Divas and Songs from the Year You Were Born. You can check out the song spoilers here.
Enjoy the show, and sound off in the comments! And don’t forget to click “refresh” as the night goes on, as I’ll be adding videos to the page as they become available!
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-Ryan pimps tomorrow night’s results show with Fantasia and Clay Aiken (loving this initiative to bring back past Idols for results show. The one great thing this season got 100% right), and that’s our show!
-And that’s it for me! Keep checking back for videos of tonight’s performances! Hit “refresh” and scroll up! I’ll see you tomorrow for the results show!
-Back from break with our last performer of the night.
AMBER HOLCOMB closes the show!
-Amber talks about how she loves Barbara Streisand, who has two Oscars and a plethora of other awards that she herself hopes to win someday.
-Amber sings “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” by Barbara Streisand and…I think I get it now. I think I finally see what the judges and Jimmy see.
This is EXCEPTIONAL, you guys.
Real talk. My jaw is on the floor. It’s silky smooth and classic, yet absolutely current. Within two bars, I knew the judges were going to wish they hadn’t stood for so many of the other contestants already, because their legs would be getting a workout with this one. God help me, this is my favorite performance of the season.
(Off-topic, did that arrangement sound like “Skyfall” to anyone else?)
-Nicki says the performance was perfection.
-Randy compares her to a young Rihanna, and says that she doesn’t belong in the bottom 2 ever.
-Mariah says that Amber is potentially a massive star, and that everyone needs to vote for her.
-Keith loves how Amber basically approached it as if to nonchalantly say “Oh yeah, I do this,” before knocking it out of the ballpark.
-We recap the performances, and Janelle’s fate is pretty much sealed, if it wasn’t before. And if they didn’t NEED to use the save to keep the finale from coming a week early (what HORRIBLE planning on Nigel and Ken’s part, by the way), I’d expect this to be the first season since its introduction that they don’t use the save. Hell, if it’s Janelle going home, they really, really shouldn’t. But I imagine if they see the results and Janelle is going home, then the producers will simply have no one go home, and instead carry the votes over into next week. Yet if it’s anyone other than Janelle, the save gets used, and we’re back on schedule. Either way, they should be embarrassed at how badly they planned out this season.
-Back from break as Ryan interviews Angie about her “mad skills” on the ice, as the top 5 recently went to an LA Kings game. They show video of Angie scoring a goal before throwing to her pre-performance video package.
ANGIE MILLER is up next!
-Angie reveals her admiration for Beyonce. She’ll be performing “Halo,” while also talking what a risk this performance will be. However, she says that if she pulls it off, it’ll be a risk well-taken.
-The verses are a bit shaky, starting out, but Angie absolutely nails the chorus. And I feel like a broken record, having already said this about nearly all of the contestants, but Angie really does look sensational tonight. And I don’t mean that in a salacious way either. I simply mean that the stylists are really bringing out the star look in these ladies.
As for the performance, while it’s one of Angie’s best vocals, you could just tell halfway through it that the judges were going to stand up for it, and I’m not sure all that is warranted. Certainly a killer vocal, just not standing O materi–aaaand, there go the judges with the standing O (except for Mariah).
-Keith simply says “Top 3.”
-Nicki says that Angie is back, and that Beyonce will definitely hear about that performance, as she did her thing like a queen.
-Randy thought it was one of the best performances of the night.
-Mariah echoes the sentiments of the other three judges. The show seems to have fallen behind, to the point where they’re rushing through critiques to catch up (that last commercial break was uncommonly long. I wonder if there was some kind of technical snafu that they needed the time to sort out).
-Back from break, as we keep things moving…
KREE HARRISON is up next!
-Kree declares that Celine Dion is one of her favorite Divas, saying she’s music royalty. Kree then makes an amusing declaration that her demands as an artist would involve a thousand cats and blue M&M’s.
-She sings “Have You Ever Been In Love” by Celine Dion, and it’s easily my favorite performance of the night. Kree is showing SERIOUS crossover potential tonight, as she’s got the vocal chops to do far more than just country. (Bonus points: She left the black pants on the rack, in favor of a simply black dress. Gorgeous)
-All four judges give her a standing ovation! (Although Nicki looks like she hates having to do so)
-Mariah thought the key was perfect for Kree, and adds that she’s capable of doing any genre she needs to do.
-Somebody shouts out that they love Keith, who responds, “I love you too! I don’t even know who you are. I guess it’s just that kind of show.” He then tells Kree that he thought it was a beautiful song choice that allowed Kree to show her versatility as a vocalist.
-Nicki tells Kree that she’s not country. She’s worldly. Iconic. She’s Adele. And she’s so much more. Nicki says she’s come to this realization just now, and says that Kree has upped her stock so much this week.
-Randy says Kree is so good that she can sing anything she wants. No disagreement there.
-Ryan, channeling me, compliments Kree’s elegance and thanks her for the performance. “Always a pleasure,” indeed.
-Back from break with our next contestant…
JANELLE ARTHUR is up next!
-Janelle reveals she’s singing “Dumb Blonde” by her idol, Dolly Parton. She echoes one of Dolly’s funniest quotes, saying that “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” She adds that while a lot of people thought of Dolly as a dumb blonde, she had one of the keenest business minds in entertainment.
-It’s not the best vocal or anything, but she works the hell out of the stage, and even shows a bit of attitude in her delivery of the chorus. I’m really, sincerely digging this. Runs out of breath at points, but she sneaks in a pretty cool run towards the end there. I dug it, warts and all.
-Randy loves Dolly Parton and says that this was a fun song for her, although it didn’t give her much opportunity to show off her voice. Janelle says she loves performing, and Randy grants her that, but says he wished she’d picked a more dynamic vocal.
-Mariah isn’t familiar with the song, but she thought it was cute, and felt Janelle did her “fiery Janelle thing.” She somewhat agrees with Randy, but says it’s only because they want her to show her chops.
-Keith says that, of all the great Dolly Parton songs, he wouldn’t have chosen that one. He says song choice is everything. (No argument from me there)
-Nicki declares that everyone in the top 5 has superpowers, and that while she feels Janelle is in danger of going home, she’ll always love Janelle for making it this far and keeping that light inside of her the entire time. (Anyone think that, by saying that, Nicki has more or less doomed Amber by sending Janelle’s fans into a likely voting overdrive? Could be wrong. Lord knows, I was wrong about Lazaro last week. And even if Amber gets the lowest number of votes, it’s not like she’s “doomed,” since tomorrow is the last night they can use the save)
CANDICE GLOVER kicks off the second round!
-Candice reveals that her song choice for the DIVAS theme is “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, saying that she’s doing a kind of two-for-one on the Divas front. Well, I can’t front on her for picking an Oscar-winning song, but I suppose I can get on her for picking a horribly dated, overdone song.
-With that said, she sings the hell out of it. Without question. She even gets a standing O from ALL FOUR judges. Can’t disagree there, although I still preferred the first performance because I’m a man of quirkier tastes.
-Nicki says “THAT is how you do a Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston song!” She says that she used to watch Mariah and Whitney do a live performance of that song, and just cry because she believed in the song so much, and that it’s a song others can believe in (mentioning Boston). She shouts out the late Whitney Houston.
-Randy thought it was the best vocal of the night.
-Mariah is near tears talking about what justice Candice did to the song.
-Keith said that Jimmy told her she needed to pull out all the stops, and she just did.
-Candice fights back tears at having performed a Mariah Carey song in front of Mariah herself.
-Jimmy actually agrees with Nicki, saying that while she gets an A for bravery, the lower register hurt the performance. However, because he has an agenda to push, he says that Amber’s performance was still the second best vocal of the night.
-Ryan goes into the crowd with Australia Idol season 4 finalist JESSICA MAUBOY! Fun fact: she made it to the finale over Glee’s Dean Geyer, before losing out to Damien Leith, the oldest winner of any Idol show, at 30 years old.
-Jimmy is over-the-moon about Angie’s performance, which I totally wasn’t expecting. It’s the only performance tonight about which he’s been 100% positive.
-Ryan throws to a video update about Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Perfect Harmony” performance at the finale. Carly Rae talks about how the fans have helped her pick the theme of her performance, and even the lyrics of the song, before singing two lines of the most insipid lyrics I think I’ve ever heard in my life. And I say that as the world’s worst living songwriter.
AMBER HOLCOMB is up next!
-Amber talks about how everyone used to call her “Doll” as a baby, since she looked like a doll. She talks about singing and harmonizing with her sister, and also doing shows and news reports that no one in her family would want to watch. Her father, filmed in front of their house again, gives Amber a pretty touching message of encouragement.
-Amber sings the Mariah Carey version of “Without You” by Badfinger. First off, she looks absolutely incredible, despite the inherent tackiness of a dress with the sunset/ocean printed on it. However, I just can’t get behind this performance. It’s far too whiny to count among her better vocals. It sounds like she’s really straining, in places. The verses were pretty damn good though. Naturally, since the Powers That Be are trying to make Amber happen, for some reason, she gets a standing O. Someone please explain the Amber love to me. PLEASE. I don’t get it.
-Keith thought it was a beautiful performance.
-Nicki couldn’t help comparing it to Mariah’s version, saying that Mariah would have given them more than just the vocal. She just didn’t think it was that good. (Nicki is real as all hell)
-Randy, realizing that it’s too late to retract his standing O, but wanting to agree with Nicki, says that while it wasn’t perfect, he has to give her “mad props” for her performance and for everything she did with the song, since it’s so identifiable with Mariah, who was probably younger than Amber when she recorded it.
-Mariah loved Amber’s performance, and the choices Amber made with the vocal.
-In an amusing bit, Ryan does some speed-chatter reiterating Mariah’s success with the song, while asking Amber how it felt to sing a Mariah song to Mariah. I know what Ryan means, but it’s not a Mariah song, champ. Sorry.
-Jimmy disagrees with the judges, saying that he didn’t feel it was as strong a performance as it needed to be.
ANGIE MILLER is up next!
-Angie talks about being a fat baby, and writing songs when she was little.
-After an uncomfortable delay in the start of the performance, Angie says “This is for my home, Boston.” She then begins playing her piano, singing “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders. It’s a solid performance, though I don’t think it topped her Kari Jobe song from last week. However, the judges, except Nicki, give her a standing O.
-Mariah gives her condolences to the people of Boston. She loved the performance, though she compares her to the original artist, before back-tracking and turning it around into a positive, as is her way.
-Keith can’t wait until Angie hits the road, basically saying that she’ll grow as an artist.
-Nicki loved Angie at the piano, and thought it was a solid performance.
-Randy says he loves that Angie dedicated the performance to Boston, and Randy has to fit in his usual BS that he spits every season once we get down to top 5 about this being “the strongest top 5 we’ve ever had.” Hey, he could be telling the truth. But he’s said it so many times, it lacks all resonance.
-Ryan throws to break on Amber’s baby picture, and Lil’ Amber looks horrified.
KREE HARRISON is up next!
-Kree talks about how her nickname as a baby was “Snow White” since she had jet black hair and pale white skin. I like these intimate pre-performance packages, as they talk with the contestant’s family, giving us a better sense of who they are as people, and not simply as artists. This is important, since I feel like this is the cast with the least amount of audience connection in history (if ratings are any indication). I just get the feeling that, outside of one or two singers, nobody really cares about any of these people. Yet these types of videos can help invest the audience in them.
-Kree sings “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes, and this is in her top 3 performances of the season so far, for me. She shows a pop-rock versatility to her voice that I had no idea was there. I didn’t actually care that much for the song though, but I loved what she did with it.
-Randy loved the “naturalness and spirit” in her voice. He says that she has a lot going on in her voice beyond country, including blues and souls. He doesn’t think it was perfect, but he absolutely loved it.
-Mariah tells Kree she can sing anything, and that she loves to hear Kree sing. She initially worried that Kree was doing too much “performing,” since it came across as though it were something she felt she had to do. But Mariah tells her that she loves when Kree gets lost in the song.
-Keith loved the vocal, echoing Mariah’s critique.
-Nicki says she disagrees with Mariah and Keith, saying that she agrees with Randy’s assessment of Kree, saying it was better than Candice and Janelle. (She does this in a British accent, for some reason) Mariah then butts in AGAIN and makes thing awkward, saying that Nicki is misrepresenting what she said. Mariah says she disagrees with Nicki’s disagreement, making things painfully awkward. Nicki tells Mariah to “simmer down, sir,” and then finishes her critique by saying that she always feels like she’s at “The Kreedom Show” when Kree performs.
Look, I respect the ever-loving hell out of Mariah, but she really needs to learn how to shut the hell up and let other people talk. She’s the hammer of the panel, beating points into the ground. And when you’re a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.
-Back from break with Jimmy, who agreed with Keith on Janelle’s performance, saying the verses sounded like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” While he says that the verses were much better, he adds that Janelle is in the middle of the pack, and she’s going to stay there unless she turns things around.
JANELLE ARTHUR is up next!
-Janelle talks about how, when she was a baby, she would cry and cry, and the only thing that would shut her up was Vince Gill’s voice. So it’s only appropriate that she’d sing a Vince Gill song…
-Janelle is singing “When You Call My Name” by Vince Gill with her guitar. The verses seem to be pitched a bit too low for her, but her voice comes through crystal clear on the verses. However, while it’s a nice (even beautiful, at times) performance, it’s awfully boring. Janelle looks amazing though. #RealTalk
-Nicki congratulates Janelle much like she congratulated Candice. She says that Janelle should perform with her guitar more often, since she tends to overcompensate when she performs without it. However, she ends by saying that Janelle sounded angelic.
-Randy loved the performance, and thought it was among Janelle’s best, and that people will respect her artistry and vulnerability.
-Mariah also loved it. She tells Janelle not to let anyone’s negativity hurt her confidence, since she’s an outstanding talent.
-Keith, surprisingly, disagrees with the other judges. He says that while it was a technically proficient performance, he didn’t feel it. He tells her that she seemed preoccupied with trying to get the notes right, and that he disagrees with Nicki: she probably could have done the song without the guitar.
-Mariah, not one to let a critique stand, butts in and tells Janelle that “Maybe it’s a girl thing, but you brought me to tears, dah-ling!” She says this with eyes drier than British humor.
-And now, for some reason, we get opinions from Jimmy backstage upon returning from break, instead of saving it for the results show. I know he’s said he doesn’t want to be on the panel, but he’s practically already on the panel anyway. I don’t see what the big deal is.
-Oh yeah, Jimmy disagrees with the judges, saying that Candice’s voice needed a bigger song than “Straight Up”.
CANDICE GLOVER opens the show!
-Candice talks about having chubby cheeks, while her parents talk about how she used to roughhouse with her brother all the time. Candice swears she’s a nice girl.
-She sings “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, utilizing a funky unplugged arrangement. It’s a little weird, but I kind of love it, even though I don’t think it’s necessarily something that everyone is going to love. Or even like. She falls out of key at the midway point a little, but she’s still makes the most interesting vocal choices of any Idol contestant I’ve seen in years, with her runs and trills.
-Keith tells Candice that she has the most incredible voice, and that he never noticed what a great song “Straight Up” is until Candice delivered.
-Nicki congratulates Candice on making the top 5, telling her that the fact she auditioned last year and came back to be the frontrunner is amazing. She also corrects Keith and says that “Straight Up” has always been a great song. Nicki seems to be going for a chanteusse/Jessica Rabbit type vibe with the red dress, hair style, and presence of “the twins.”
-Randy gives Candice props, and then shouts out Paula Abdul.
-Mariah loved it, saying that Candice put her own spin on it.
-Ryan questions Candice about the performance, and she reveals that Janelle had picked “Straight Up” as well, but she graciously allowed Candice to have it. Candice tells Janelle she loves her. And somehow I get the feeling that we missed out, seeing Janelle’s take on the song. That’s probably just me, though.
-We’re live, and the crowd is out of control. Seriously, they’re just losing their minds for some reason. I guess they’re super happy that a girl is going to win? (Doubt it)
-Ryan sends out his condolences to the people of Boston, on behalf of everyone at American Idol.