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This week, the remaining six American Idol singers each said a little prayer as they tried to deliver the goods on two themes: tunes by Burt Bacharach/Hal David and a song they wish they had written.
After an emotional cold open, host Ryan Seacrest said, “The fire inside our finalists is burning stronger than ever.”
But did birds suddenly appear as Lazaro Arbos attempted to croon one of The Carpenters’ best-known songs on Wednesday night? And was Kree Harrison what the world needed now to erase Arbos’ two performances from the audience’s memories? More importantly: Which of the remaining singers has what it takes to make it to the finale?
The short answer to that question: The performance that will be forever be emblazoned in the collective consciousness of Idol viewers belonged to Candice Glover, who had the guts to take on Adele’s version of “Lovesong” by The Cure and turn in one of the best Idol bows of all time.
What Glover did on Wednesday night was nothing short of magic. Anyone who missed it — I command you to go to YouTube and watch it. Then replay it. Then bookmark it. It was THAT good. It was torch song, sexy, yearning, burning and just flat-out stunning. The electricity in the room was so tribal, that mid-song this weird, otherworldly audio-explosion pounded my television speakers (did this happen to you, Worshippers? Let us know in the comments if you heard it). By the time she was done, Mariah Carey was sprinkling stardust in Glover’s hair and Randy Jackson was declaring it “one of the greatest performances in the 12 years of American Idol.”
Yes, Glover had a great performance early on with “Don’t Make Me Over” (I loved it, but I wish someone would do the New Jack version that Sybil did in the ‘80s), but really, “Lovesong” is her moment.
That said, it is time, America, to send Lazaro Arbos home. At this point in the competition, it is safe to say that this is most definitely a girl’s year to win, and Arbos didn’t do himself any favors with his painful, key-challenged mangling of “Close to You” and a reprise of his Hollywood Week performance of “Angels” by Robbie Williams.
However, never underestimate the sympathetic voting bloc of Idol fans, and the drubbing Arbos got Wednesday night may have mobilized fans to give all of their 50 votes to the Florida ice cream scooper. At this point, the kind thing to do is let the poor thing go on his inevitable journey making the rounds on Today and talking to Kathie Lee and Hoda now rather than let this continue for even one more minute.
How bad was it? Carey, who mentioned that people were accusing her of being “too nice” in her critiques, pointed out that the “powers that be” were telling her to judge more, and she showed her teeth after Arbos’ first song.
“We can’t go into a new key and you stay in the old key,” she said. “This is kind of a big deal.”
Jackson was even more to the point: “No, no, no, NO! That was horrible. I’m speechless.”
Nicki Minaj didn’t even want to go there, saying, “Let’s just pretend I already gave my comment.” Ouch.
It was even worse on “Angels,” despite the heavenly effect producers tried to give it, surrounding Arbos in smoke. He was even wearing his lucky red pants, which I still believe were part of the reason he finished top three last week. But Keith Urban put it best when he explained that the girls are just too good, prompting the best Minaj line of the night: “What he said.”
The first half of the show, dedicated to the music of Bacharach and David, was a typical Idol old-fogey-ish theme night with few standout moments. I kind of fear for Janelle Arthur this week, who received a lukewarm response on both her songs, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” — Jackson said it was “lackluster,” while Minaj complained that is was “boring” — while the Garth Brooks song “The Dance” inspired tepid remarks. Carey had never heard of the song, Jackson was corrected by Urban that Tony Arata was the songwriter of the ballad, and Minaj said it wasn’t enough “to get a leg up over the other girls.”
The biggest surprise of the night for me is that Angie Miller is a fan of hardcore music. You learn something new every day. However, there was nothing hardcore about Miller’s standard cover of “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” which Urban complained lacked “feeling,” “humanity” and emotion. Minaj complained that it was “old-fashioned,” but come ON! It’s Burt Bacharach! Arguing that is sort of a moot point. And why did Jackson blame the vocal coaches for not helping contestants find emotion in lyrics? That was just strange, and it prompted a Twitter response from Peisha McPhee, who defended herself writing: “YES Randy we work song interpretation & we really emphasis [sic] the importance of bringing an emotional life & truth to the song.”
Luckily, Miller had another song to perform, and her choice of Kari Jobe’s “Love Came Down” revealed Miller’s true strength is when she is seated behind the piano. This is where she shines, and I will be the first in line to catch her on a double bill with Colton Dixon next year when she releases her inevitable release in the Christian market. However, I don’t want to pigeonhole her there: she has the goods to create music that will cross over into several radio formats if she hooks up with the right producers. Minaj sees this potential as well: “This is the only time you are going to run away from the pack. … This was Angie. I don’t know why you want to stray from that. Don’t. This is the only way you’re going to win. If you don’t come up with these performances, you’re outta here.”
Amber Holcomb has had quite a week that included a Twitter disagreement with a television critic and a prying Seacrest asking about her alleged relationship with eliminated vocalist Burnell Taylor (shades of Scotty McCreery/Lauren Alaina, Dixon/Skylar Laine fauxmance, Idol fans?). That said, she is clearly a judge favorite, as they were all blown away by her rendition of “Say a Little Prayer.” Minaj said she wanted to give her a standing ovation, Carey loved the transition in the song, and Jackson said that she is trying to win with a “dope run” and a “key change.” The accolades continued with her upbeat and fun choice of “Love on Top.” Although it was not Jackson’s favorite vocal, he still applauded it with a “yes, yes, yes” as Minaj warned Beyonce to “watch out.”
Once again, Harrison shined on both her numbers. “What the World Needs Now” inspired praise from Carey: “I look at you and I see someone not trying to produce an emotional response. I don’t need you to make faces or go overboard.” Minaj predicted we will see Harrison singing at the Country Music Awards, while Urban loves that her “humanity” comes through. This was especially evident in her second performance of Kris Kristofferson‘s “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” which elicited the highest praise from Urban. “That was a buckle polisher right there,” he said. “I predict you’ll be a member of the Grand Ole Opry.”
So who is your top three singers, Idol Worshippers? Is this the end of the line for Arbos? Or will he survive once more?
Twitter: @Idol_Worship; @MicheleAmabile
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