Welcome to Week In Review, American Idol edition, where fellow writer Nick Roman and I will give our stance on this week’s performances and results on Idol.
Disagreements? Think something different? Join us in the comments!
Whose chances of going further have improved?
There is a good chance that Kree Harrison will have a spot in the finale. Which is strange to say about someone who landed in the bottom 2. However it is possible that showing in the bottom 2 will catalyze her fanbase into voting into overdrive for her. Couple this with the likelihood that Janelle Arthur‘s elimination will give Kree 100% of the country vote, and we could be looking at our next winner. An appearance among the lower vote-getters doesn’t mean much at top 5. Just ask Kris Allen.
Whose chances have decreased?
No one actually took a major hit this week. Amber Holcomb came back this week and finally earned her consistent praise from the judges with a show-stopping performance. However, at the same time saying that her chances have improved, we’d say Kree’s chances have decreased as well. Her bottom 2 appearance means she’s more vulnerable than people might think. That said, we still think it’s more that her bottom 2 appearance actually helps her going forward, as her fanbase will step up to the plate for her, since they just assumed her top 2 showing last week meant she was a sure bet to be safe this week.
Best performance of the week?
Amber’s performance of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” one of our favorite performances of the season! It’s also exactly what she needed to do to change the perception of herself as a contestant who always just comes up short, despite her constant pimping by the judges and Jimmy. For Nick, it was the first time this season where he actually saw what the judges were seeing in her. The vocal was nuanced and controlled, making a classic tune sound current, while retaining the old fashioned spirit of its sound.
Worst performance of the week?
No one really fell short this week, but Janelle’s “When I Call Your Name” was awfully dull. It was the wrong thing to do this deep into the competition. That just wasn’t a Top 5 performance. Granted, that doesn’t always matter. But this is an uncharacteristically strong final 5 when it comes to straight-up vocalists. While it was a pretty vocal, she just didn’t do enough to keep up with the rest of the pack.
Most disappointing performance of the week?
Nick said he actually enjoyed the performance, but Janelle’s first take on a song by her idol, Dolly Parton, really should have been better than “Dumb Blonde” turned out to be. I didn’t think it was bad at all, but I agreed with Keith. Of all the songs in Dolly’s catalog, she picks that? Had she simply looked to season 7′s Dolly Parton Night, she’d have found an entire list of songs that would have provided her an outlet to display her voice, while allowing her to do interesting things with the melody and with her vocal. Songs like “Jolene,” “Little Sparrow,” or even “Travellin’ Through.” While “Dumb Blonde” wasn’t bad, it should have been so much more than it was.
Has this been the most predictable season ever? And if so, is that a bad thing?
Once the top 10 was set in stone, the season did become pretty predictable. Nick pointed out he’s still getting killed in the American Idol office pool, I myself just decided to bow out! But most of our predictions were rooted in the idea that the season couldn’t be as predictable as we were all expecting, right? It just couldn’t be! There had to be a curveball thrown in there somewhere! Well, it turned out that the closest thing we got to a curveball was Lazaro, while he didn’t made the competition more exciting, though he definitely made for an interesting talking point from week-to-week as Idol’s first real “water cooler” contestant since Sanjaya Malakar. This season really could have used a wildcard like last year, as we could have gotten a Zoanette Johnson or Charlie Askew to liven things up. That said, we’re not sure either Zoanette or Charlie could have changed the inevitable final five we wound up with.
Yet, even with all this talk of predictability, we don’t think it’s a bad thing. Sure, we would have liked a few different singers in our top 10, for the most part. But of the top 10 we got, predictability is a good thing, since predictability = this top 5, which is pretty much the right top 5, of the ten singers we had to choose from. Some might argue that one of the guys deserved a spot over Janelle, but even then, we think that America ultimately got the right group with this all-girl final five. All five girls delivered holistically and earned their spots, despite if there was a lack of a WGWG, etc or not.
Are the producers/judges/Jimmy pushing for an Amber/Candice finale?
In past weeks, we wouldn’t have given this theory the time of day, but I’ve seen it popping up a lot in recent weeks, so I figured we’d address it. I mean Black R&B Diva vs Black R&B diva for the finale? Would they even let that happen? As mentioned before, Nick didn’t really get what the judges saw in Amber, so the question remained of just why they were pimping her so hard. Now, we’d go as far as to say The Powers That Be don’t particularly care what the finale is, now that we’re down to these four girls. That said, the praise for Kree has slowed somewhat, despite the fact that she’s delivering at a higher level now than when the competition started. However, the praise for Angie Miller is increasing by the week. Nick’s sure they’d prefer Candice Glover vs. Amber, but wouldn’t say they’re actively pushing for it. Otherwise, they’d bus Angie since she’s never actually been in the bottom 2. I wouldn’t mind a Candice vs. Amber finale, but that would just seem so out of element. I also wouldn’t mind eating my words if that does turn out to be our finale.
When the judges/producers want a finale, they make sure to torpedo everyone else to get there (Scotty/Lauren, for example), but Candice has really been the only one to get 100% praise every week. Even Amber took her lumps this week for her first performance of “Without You.” The only thing that makes me feel like they’re trying to engineer a Candice/Amber finale is that they pimp Amber far harder than any of the other non-Candice girls. But I don’t feel as though the producers actually believe they can make a Candice/Amber finale happen, since they’d have to recognize the unlikelihood of Amber’s inconsistent fanbase overpowering the consistent numbers of Angie’s, or Kree’s (as Kree stands to inherit the country vote from Janelle). They also risk ending up with an Angie/Kree finale if they push too hard, since Amber and Candice likely split votes between their fanbases. It’s not impossible for a Candice/Amber finale to happen. It’s just not anywhere near as likely. Amber’s journey may very well end at top 4, unless they find a way not to send anyone home next week. And on that topic…
How does the show find a way around the scheduling predicament resulting from not having used the save?
As a result of having not used the save, this season of Idol is on track to end a week early…unless the producers come up with some solution to extend the competition an extra week. Now, there are several ways they can do this. They could hold an impromptu Idol Gives Back type special benefiting the victims of any number of recent calamities, but Nigel Lythgoe has gone on record in the past as saying he wouldn’t do another Idol Gives Back while a recession was in effect.
So the other options include simply freezing the results and carrying the vote totals over into a second Top 4 week, or reinstating the save to now be used at top 4. This violates their own internal rules about the save only being good through top 5, but it would likely do too much damage to the integrity of the process (LOL) to have the save remain in effect this close to the end of the season. But really, these girls have to go home at SOME point. They can’t ALL win. So what do they do? We’d go with the “frozen results” method, where they reveal no one is going home, and that the vote totals will be carried over into a second top 4 week. But who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise us all and just end the damn thing early after all. But standing contracts with FOX tells me that the chance of that happening is somewhere near zero.
Since all of this news has come out of them recording music and stuff – could they end on-time then have a week in which the winner performs new material and segments dedicated to the also-rans? Hmmm.
Song suggestions for One-Hit Wonders/Free Choice Week:
Candice: She’s already shown a talent for slaying 80s radio hits, so why not give “Tainted Love” (originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1965) a shot? I also think she could nail “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve. – Nick
For some reason I randomly pictured Candice singing “When I See You” by Fantasia. Maybe it’s because I have Fantasia on the brain since last night. – Trey
Angie: “One of Us” by Joan Osbourne for One-Hit Wonders seems tailor-made for Angie, though I wonder if “Boston” by Augustana might not be a better fit? – Nick
Perhaps a slowed-down acoustic, but-your-own-spin-on-it version of Ke$ha’s “Die Young?” I’m just going out on limbs here. – Trey
Kree: “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak would sound lovely coming from Kree. And while I know Natalie Imbruglia is a bigger deal overseas, to American audiences she’s basically known for “Torn,” which I think could work out pretty well for Kree if she slows down the tempo. – Nick
I could literally see Kree putting a country twist on Tamar Braxton’s “Love & War” – Trey
Amber: Despite the pimping by the judges, I feel like if she’s going to make it to the end, she still needs to do something unique to keep herself in the conversation. To this end, I think a rearranged “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye could really deliver. But if she isn’t feeling risky, she could do something a bit more in her wheelhouse. To that end, “Impossible” by Shontelle could allow her to show off her vocals a bit more. – Nick
The judges keep calling her a young Whitney Houston version of Rihanna, so she should do some RiRi! From the top of my head I thought “Stay,” but since that has been performed once on the show I don’t know. She could pull off another ballad or midtempo such as “Russian Roulette” or “What’s My Name?” – Trey