Season 12 Awards Show and Wrap Up

With season twelve in the can, it’s time to hand out some awards. Apparently SAG doesn’t do awards shows pro bono, so I have to hand them out myself.

——————————————–

Public Awards

Based on the results from the public voting, from the semifinals to the Nokia. Sponsored by a half off coupon from Pizza Rita.

  • Idol: Candice Glover
  • Top Male: Lazaro Arbos
  • Top Female: Candice Glover

Tour roster:

  • Candice Glover
  • Kree Harrison
  • Angie Miller
  • Amber Holcomb
  • Janelle Arthur
  • Lazaro Arbos
  • Burnell Taylor
  • Devin Velez
  • Paul Jolley
  • Curtis Finch
  • Aubrey Cleland

——————————————–

Private Awards

Based on my own personal opinion, they are occasionally logical but mostly capricious and arbitrary. Sponsored by that weird little paper clip that keeps popping up to tell me how to spell can’t when I’m typing something about Nicki.

Most valuable contestant: Angie Miller

It’s close between the final three singers. I chose Angie because, while Candice was always considered the best singer, Angie was the one who generated the most buzz about her performances, her look, her off stage persona and most importantly – what she was going to do next. Candice, and to a lesser extent Kree, generated a lot of enjoyment, probably more than Angie. Angie, in my opinion, generated more interest.

Past winners:

  • Season 7- David Archuleta
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Crystal Bowersox
  • Season 10- Scotty McCreery
  • Season 11- Jessica Sanchez

Most controversial contestant: Charlie Askew

Coming soon to a playground near you; just make sure he stays five hundred feet away. Honorable mention to Zoanette Johnson, who is batshit crazy.

  • Season 7- Carly Smithson
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Siobhan Magnus
  • Season 10- Lauren Alaina
  • Season 11- Jermaine Jones

Most polarizing contestant- Lazaro Arbos

The man could sweat like a polar bear in a blast furnace, but the controversy was mostly over whether he was a savant or a mediocre talent who was pretending to be inexperienced.

  • Season 7- Jason Castro
  • Season 8- Danny Gokey
  • Season 9- Tim Urban
  • Season 10- Lauren Alaina
  • Season 11- Phillip Phillips

Aside: truthfully most of the controversy this year came from the judging table. I don’t think it was coincidental that the viewers started tuning out in droves about halfway through the season. The show’s focus needs to be on the stage, not in front of it.

Best looking contestant (male)- Lazaro Arbos

There had to some reason why he lasted as long as he did, right?

  • Season 7- Jason Castro
  • Season 8- Kris Allen
  • Season 9- Casey James
  • Season 10- Scotty McCreery
  • Season 11- Phillip Phillips

Best looking contestant (female)- Angie Miller

Lets skip this minefield and move the hell on. They are all beautiful. Leave me alone.

  • Season 7- Brooke White
  • Season 8- Kristen McNamara
  • Season 9- Didi Benami
  • Season 10- Pia Toscano
  • Season 11- Baylie Brown

Best pure voice (male)- Adam Sanders

He looked like a less masculine Chaz Bono, he acted like a Bravo housewife and he probably smelled like deep fried petroleum jelly, but the man’s voice was the closest thing to Adam Lambert we’ve seen since the original; even more so than JD.

  • Season 7- David Archuleta
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Lee Dewyze
  • Season 10- James Durbin
  • Season 11- Joshua Ledet

Best pure voice (female)- Amber Holcomb

It might take her some time to fully harness it, but even Candice isn’t on her level of pure, raw talent. In most other years Candice would win in a walk, though. You would have to go back to Jordin Sparks to find a better tone among female singers.

  • Season 7- Carly Smithson
  • Season 8- Lil Rounds
  • Season 9- Crystal Bowersox
  • Season 10- Pia Toscano
  • Season 11- Skylar Laine

Most entertaining also-ran (male)- Charlie Askew

Hey, sociopaths are entertaining as hell. Is he a sociodork, or a dorkiopath?

Most entertaining also-ran (female)- Zoanette Johnson

She doesn’t need a reality show, she IS a reality show. Zoanette might have as much natural vocal talent as Amber. Talent is only a small part of the battle, though. Not being batshit crazy is a big part of the equation.

Survivor Award- Kree Harrison

I don’t think anyone had her making the finale before about the final five or six. I had her barely surviving each week until just a few weeks ago, because she always seemed so distracted and nervous.

Aside: In a way Candice is the ultimate survivor, having been rejected three years in a row before making the live shows this year. It shows just how subjective music is, doesn’t it? A singer good enough to win the entire show, good enough to become the Next American Idol, wasn’t impressive enough to even make the top fifty three years running. Last year she was dumped in Vegas despite singing every bit as well as she sang this year. The difference, literally the only difference, was that her weaknesses (being too tall, too thick and too black) last year weren’t considered weaknesses this year. While Candice obviously worked her personal woodshed down to the baseboards, what really changed wasn’t Candice; what changed was the perspective of her judges; her measurers.

An argument can be made that nothing can be objectively measured without establishing perspective; that perspective itself is an element of measurement. For artistic measurements like singing, dancing, painting, writing, etc.; perspective is frequently a larger variable than what is being measured. Because of this, it’s not just possible for someone as talented and accomplished as Candice to be rejected; it’s almost automatic if she doesn’t fit the perspective of her measurer(s). If the measurer doesn’t give any credit to her style of singing, it’s not going to matter how well she sings.

Candice’s voice, surrounded by other good voices, struggled to stand out. Her body, as a tall, dark skinned, thick bodied and mature looking woman in an ocean of young, short, thin, nubile young women, was never going to be an asset when the perspective of the “measurer” was predisposed towards young, short, thin and nubile women. Her Vegas performance last year (and subsequent rejection) caused an outcry among Idol’s internet followers, and finally got her the kind of attention she needed to stand out from the crowd. Once noticed last year, she took it to the house this year. Good for her.

——————————————–

Performance Awards

Sponsored by whoever invented Youtube – and made it free.

Most creative- Candice Glover

She doesn’t get a lot of credit for it, mostly because they had her keep singing recycled songs, but she was extremely creative with her arrangements. She was able to make most of the old, tired standards sound new, and in many cases she exceeded the original Idol performances. “I (Who Have Nothing)” was an overdone boring piece of crap before Candice turned it into something special, for example, and her version of “Straight Up” was a nice hybrid of Paula Abdul’s original version and Andrew Garcia’s Idol reinvention.

  • Season 7- David Cook
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Siobhan Magnus
  • Season 10- Casey Abrams
  • Season 11- Phil Phillips

Most thrilling early peak- Angie Miller

No obvious pick this year; there were no surprising flameouts or shocking eliminations once the live shows began other than Big Ugly, who ruined his own dinner. Angie gets the nod because she was the front runner for several weeks, but she didn’t really flame out. She just got lost in a numbers game, with three strong contenders for the finale. One of them had to lose.

  • Season 7- Chekeze Eze
  • Season 8- Lil Rounds
  • Season 9- Siobhan Magnus
  • Season 10- Pia Toscano
  • Season 11- Slylar Laine

Most consistent- Candice Glover

In a way Burnell was the most consistent, in that he was always the same – no matter what he sang.

  • Season 7- David Archuleta
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Crystal Bowersox
  • Season 10- Scotty McCreery
  • Season 11- Jessica Sanchez

Most entertaining live performer (male)- Charlie Askew

Charlie was easily the most interesting male performer all year. He wasn’t my favorite (Burnell was), but he was the one who I most anticipated seeing, to see which version of Ted Bundy was going to show up. We’ll see him down the road, in Dorkapolooza or maybe Celebrity Rehab. Lets hope it’s not on the six o’clock news.

  • Season 7- David Cook
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Casey James
  • Season 10- James Durbin
  • Season 11- Phil Phillips

Most entertaining live performer (female)- Candice Glover

The top five were all entertaining (when they were given decent material to sing), but Candice was the most creative performer and the best singer. Who else would I choose?

  • Season 7- Carly Smithson
  • Season 8- Allison Iraheta
  • Season 9- Crystal Bowersox
  • Season 10- Haley Reinhart
  • Season 11- Skylar Laine

Flameout award (male)- Adam Sanders

The best male voice in the entire pool finished just outside the top 40, because he was too immature. He’s a weird combination; sort of a project runway reject who degenerated into a fat, sloppy dorkfish; but also a lazy, sloppy manchild whose mother needs to clamp down on and make him clean his room, clip his toenails and for chrissakes take a shower. My advice to him, if he asked me, would be to get serious about diet and hygiene first, then get a vocal coach who can clean up his vocal chops.

  • Season 7- David Hernandez
  • Season 8- Jorge Nunez
  • Season 9- Andrew Garcia
  • Season 10- Robbie Rosen
  • Season 11- Adam Brock

Flameout award (female)- Shubha Vedula

She is so young, only sixteen, that she should be forgiven her mistakes, but she was perfect all season until halfway through her final 40 song, when she suddenly forgot how to sing. It ain’t easy to sing in front of millions of people like that. Only a rule against it ( she was top 40, but didn’t make the live shows) would keep her from coming back next year, and she should handle the pressure a lot better with some experience under her belt. She could certainly make the tour next year, or even contend for the win. She is a special talent.

  • Season 7- Amanda Overmeyer
  • Season 8- Lil Rounds
  • Season 9- Ashley Rodriguez
  • Season 10-Paris Tassin
  • Season 11- Baylie Brown

Best audition (male)- Sanni M’Mairura

He didn’t go deep this year, but I ain’t worried yet. He is a special talent, and only sixteen years old. We will see him again, assuming he wants to try Idol again (and Idol is still on the air after next year).

  • Season 7- David Archuleta
  • Season 8- Danny Gokey
  • Season 9- Andrew Garcia
  • Season 10- Casey Abrams
  • Season 11- Jairon Jackson

Best audition (female)- Megan Miller

Did they dump her in favor of Angie Miller, like they gave the back of the hand to the “wrong” Lauren a couple of years ago? Megan was the Miss something (Baton Rouge?) who showed up for her audition on crutches, told Ryan “I got this” and sang like Carrie Underwood. I was shocked that she didn’t make the final 40. Honorable mention to Candice, ship sinking jazz smurf Jesaiah Baer (skip to about 2:20 or so) and the not so shrinking violet haired Stephanie Sanson.

  • Season 7- Kristy Leigh Cook
  • Season 8- Lil Rounds
  • Season 9- Didi Benami
  • Season 10-Paris Tassin
  • Season 11- Ashley Robles

Best Hollywood performer (male): Curtis Finch

He looked like he was going to contend for the win, playing with his melodies like an old pro amongst his amateur friends. Unfortunately for him, his amateur friends got better while he kept playing around, and he got his happy butt dumped. Check out the list below… Gokey was the only one who made the top five, and a couple of them didn’t even make the tour. It ain’t always good to get the pimping early; by the live shows everyone is sick of you.

  • Season 7- David Hernandez
  • Season 8- Danny Gokey
  • Season 9- Andrew Garcia
  • Season 10- Casey Abrams
  • Season 11- Reed Grimm

Best Hollywood performer (female)- Candice Glover

It was either Candice, Angie or Kree unless you liked Zoanette’s impression of Reed Grimm gone off his meds.

  • Season 7- Carly Smithson
  • Season 8- Lil Rounds
  • Season 9- Lilly Scott
  • Season 10- Lauren Turner
  • Season 11- Skylar Laine

Best live performance (male)- Burnell Taylor, “My Cheri Amour”

Best of a bad lot more than a moment, but genuinely entertaining.

  • Season 7- David Cook, “Billy Jean”
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert, “Born to be Wild”
  • Season 9- Casey James “Jealous Guy”
  • Season 10- James Durbin, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”
  • Season 11- Phil Phillips, “We’ve Got Tonight”

Best live show single performance (female)- Candice Glover, “I (who have nothing)”

She did it twice; the internet said she won the competition with her second performance (linked above), but I preferred her first one because it was so unexpected. I had never liked the song, and Candice made me love it like she wrote it.

  • Season 7- Carly Smithson “Jesus Christ Superstar”
  • Season 8- Allison Iraheta “Someone to watch over me”
  • Season 9- Crystal Bowersox “Up to the Mountain”
  • Season 10- Haley Reinhart, “House of the Rising Sun”
  • Season 11- Jessica Sanchez, “You Are So Beautiful”

Best Judge- Keith Urban

Nicki started out like she was going to be a force, and she was a force. She was the single largest factor in Idol’s loss of audience share this year, specifically because she was such a force. Lost in all the horse manure coming from Nicki’s self promotion death-laser machine was that Keith Urban gave succinct, accurate feedback with a good sense of humor as well as a good sense of moment. He hasn’t committed to leaving yet so there is hope, but I don’t expect him back. Who would want to go through it again after spending a year with Nicki? Nobody signs up to get a root canal if he just had one.

——————————————–

TERRY’S BIG FIVE AWARDS

Enough preamble; it’s time to give out my five major awards for Idol’s twelfth season: The Chekeze, the Casey, the Allie, the Adam and the Carrie. I’ll talk about them as if they are important, mainstream awards; but I’m just making them up. Some day, if they catch on, you read it here first.

The Chekeze

The Chekeze award is for the single most electrifying live show performance before the tour roster is set. Past winners:

  • Season 7- Chekeze Eze, “She’s a Woman”
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert- “Satisfaction”
  • Season 9- Siobhan Magnus- “Paint it Black”
  • Season 10- Pia Toscano, “All in Love is Fair”
  • Season 11- Skylar Laine, “Stay With Me”

Drum roll……. the season twelve Chekeze Award goes to……..

Amber Holcomb for “My Funny Valentine”, Top 40 Sudden Death Round

Idol didn’t air a single note of Amber singing until this performance; saving her like they saved Pia in season ten, Siobhan in season nine, or Jessica Sanchez last year. As great as those three were, Amber’s debut was the best of the bunch. There have been lots of singers more polished than Amber on Idol over the years, but I humbly submit that Amber has the most lively voice the show has ever heard.

The Casey

Loosely defined, the “Casey” is for the best all around musician of the season. I picked Casey as the title for obvious reasons, as you will see when you look at the list of winners.

  • Season 7- Brooke White
  • Season 8- Matt Giraud
  • Season 9- Casey James
  • Season 10- Casey Abrams
  • Season 11- Reed Grimm

Drum Roll…. the season twelve Casey Award goes to……

Angie Miller

Her piano work is legitimately impressive, and she became the first Idol contestant ever to compete by singing a song she wrote herself.

The Allie

I didn’t specifically define it until season eleven, but I think of the Allie as a female contestant and the previous winners had all been female; so the Allie Award is officially a female award. Basically, the “Allie” goes to my favorite girl who makes the finals. Past winners:

  • Season 7- Brooke White
  • Season 8- Allison Iraheta
  • Season 9- Siobhan Magnus
  • Season 10- Haley Reinhart
  • Season 11- Hollie Cavanagh

Drum roll….. the season twelve Allie award goes to……

Amber Holcomb

I don’t imagine that was a surprise. Honestly, though, I could have seen any of the final five being a worthy “Allie”, as well as many or most of the rest of the final twenty girls. Had the guys been eligible, Burnell would have also been worthy. 

The Adam

The Adam award is for the “moment-maker” of the season. Think of it as the “entertainer of the year” equivalent. Past winners:

  • Season 7- David Cook
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Crystal Bowersox
  • Season 10- Haley Reinhart
  • Season 11- Joshua Ledet

Drum roll….. the season twelve Adam award goes to……

Candice Glover

Angie could have won in some years, but I think Candice was the obvious choice.

The Carrie

I think of it as the “most likely to succeed” award. Past winners:

  • Season 7- David Cook
  • Season 8- Adam Lambert
  • Season 9- Crystal Bowersox
  • Season 10- Scotty McCreery
  • Season 11- Phil Phillips

Drum roll… the season twelve award goes to…..

Candice Glover

If Idol was still a 30 million viewer show I might choose Kree, or maybe even Amber, but it’s about half that now. Candice shouldn’t be compared to Lee Dewyze, who was a questionable winner, but with the declining viewership none of these singers can be considered strong candidates to sell tons of albums.

I thought about doing one more article, recapping the year and talking about next year, but instead I’ll just add my two cents here at the bottom of the awards show post. Five things I think about American Idol, in no particular order:

1: Nicki Minaj was a good idea in a vacuum, but in hindsight the worst thing the show could have done. She started out well, providing interest in the show and giving some indication that she would care about the contestants and the show’s future during the auditions. As the show moved on, though, she turned into the same narcissistic autocrat she’s always been; half gangster wannabe ghetto whore, half thorazined disney princess, the entire package made completely out of plastic. While I respect her for her success, and the hard work she put in to get where she is – there is nothing about her talent, her personality or her background that makes her qualified to judge a singing competition. Idol needed a new engineer – and they hired a trainwreck. If they do it again, it could kill the show.

2: America’s pool of singing talent is a constantly restocked, renewable resource, not a dry well as some critics like to claim. Idol’s own pool of Hollywood rejects each year could fill the cast of any singing competition, without a noticeable drop-off in talent. The raw talent is actually increasing, not decreasing. Go back a few years and watch some video, and it will be obvious to you.

3: The days of thirty million viewers are over. Network TV as a whole is bleeding audience share like a stuck pig, accentuating Idol’s ratings decline. Idol needs to find a comfort zone at a lower level, like other cultural monoliths like SNL did. Idol is roughly where Saturday Night Live was around 1986. At that point it wasn’t a sure thing that SNL would become an institution, and at this point it’s far from sure that Idol will continue to be America’s singing contest.

4. “The Voice” is not going to replace Idol. I like “The Voice”, but where are the former Voice contestants in the mainstream? Idol will lord over Voice until Voice produces a transcendent star. With viewership dropping like a rock for network TV in general, finding that star will be harder and harder. The Voice tends to spotlight its judges a little too much, I think, to give their contestants the kind of public push they need to go viral after the show ends. Idol’s largest mistake has been that they have copied this, getting away from the real stars of reality shows – the contestants.

5: If Idol is going to survive, they need to get the attention back on the stage, and off the judging table. It’s hard enough to create buzz for unknown, amateur singers. Giving airtime every week to J-Lo or Mariah, or for chrissakes Nicki, will create buzz for – J-Lo or Mariah, or for chrissakes Nicki. The amateur singers get lost in the shuffle.

I advocated bringing back former contestants like Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson a couple of weeks ago. If the rumors are correct, Idol is going to do this. J-Hud is reportedly negotiating to join the judging table. If this is true, it’s a huge step forward for multiple reasons.

First, I can’t imagine that Mariah will want to come back with Jen there. Second, the closed door behind Nicki will be locked. Idol has already announced that they are going back to three judges, which would be brilliant if it wasn’t so obvious. Nigel’s head is on the block, and it should be. He means well, but his idea of rock and roll is Elvis and Frank Sinatra. Idol desperately needs to get fresher, if not actually younger. While I think classic rock and pop are viable themes, there has to be someone out there who can take over managing the show without putting bow ties on everyone and making them sing a bunch of old torch songs.

Congratulations Candice, good luck to all of the contestants as they make their way in their post-Idolyptic worlds, and see you next year.

Season 12 Final Four

Amber, “Power of Love” (Celine Dion)

Her voice was amazing, as usual. Her looks were amazing, as usual. Her professionalism was impressive for a kid, green for an adult – as usual. I heard rumblings that Amber is supposedly the chosen one. I don’t buy the rumors; Amber’s head is going to be on the block tomorrow night even if she is amazing tonight. Only a comparatively weak night from Candice, her first bad night of the entire year, might save her. The judges might love her, I might love her – but the voters love Candice, Kree and Angie more. I kinda like them, too. It’s a tough year. A-

Amber- “McArthur Park” (Donna Summer by way of that rat bastard Richard Harris)

Shoot the guy who picked this song. He might have taken Amber out of the competition. F. Ok, that’s not fair. Amber sang it fine. Emeril cooking a turd and syphilis sandwich would be about the same thing. I don’t care who sings that song. It’s going to be an epic plunge into the cleavage of Medusa’s Hairdresser.

Candice- “Find your Love” (Drake)

She was pitchy here and there, a little sloppy. Other than that, she sounded like vintage Candice. It was a good song choice, or it would have been on a night when she didn’t back it up with another ballad she didn’t pull off as well. A for her voice, B for the performance.

Candice, “Emotions” (Bee Gees/Samantha Sang)

Close your eyes and listen to Candice, and eventually you will hear Dionne Warwick in there a little. I didn’t like her version of the song (boring and a dumb song choice), but I doubt that more than maybe five percent of the audience had ever heard it before – so that shouldn’t be a problem. It still kind of sucked, though. If they were going to make her sing it, they should have shown her where the melody is. B-

Kree, “It Hurts so Bad” (Linda Ronstadt)

Kree isn’t some greenhorn who came to Idol out of the sticks like Amber did. She’s been at it in Nashville for a few years. In a way, this allows Kree to get more out of the Idol experience than some other singers might. She ain’t ever going to crap out Etta James’ licks, or even Linda Ronstadt’s licks, but her attempts at singing the blues on Idol will give some color to her later performances on the Grand Ole Opry. She tries, anyway. In a vacuum I’d give her a B-, but it’s Kree. B+

Kree. “Whiter Shade of Pale” (Procol Harem)

A lamb walks into a bar….  Kree  sounded fine, terrific even (exit stage le-eft), but it’s been a couple of weeks  since she’s sang a song in her element. B

Angie, “Who You Are” (Jessie J)

Whoever engineered the original track by Jessie J deserves a Grammy; her voice comes out so perfectly that they should teach that track in Track Engineering School. Angie’s version was surprisingly good, considering that Angie struggles with tightly wound rhythms. She did struggle with it at times, but only a hardcore fan of the song would have a problem with her interpretation. A-

Angie- “Cry me a River” (Julie London)

If you can listen to Julie London’s version and not be moved, get in a box because you are dead. Angie was to Julie London as McArthur Park is to music, but she hit the notes. B+

Amber/Kree- “Rumor Has It” (Adele)

If you ask me, this might have been Amber’s shiniest moment of the year. She stood next to Kree, who is going to be standing under the confetti in a couple of weeks, trying to hug the entire population of Los Angeles all at once while she waters the stage with tears of joy. Amber stood next to the likely Next American Idol, and blew her off the stage. It wasn’t that Kree sounded bad, either; Kree was terrific. Amber was just that much stronger. Kree is still going to win, though.

Candice/Angie- “Stay” (Rhianna and some guy)

It was weirdly like listening to a duet between Lil Rounds (out of tune) and Lauren Alaina (way too dramatic). Angie blew the doors off the song; singing the harmony and hitting her notes while Candice was wildly out of tune way too often.

Safe to in Danger-

Safe:

  • Kree
  • Angie

In Danger:

  • Candice
  • Amber

Amber was supposed to go tomorrow night, so I understand Jimmy’s Angst. I would be surprised, but not shocked, if either of the white girls landed in the bottom two.

Season 12 Top Five

Candice- “Straight Up (Paula Abdul)

Candice looks a little like Queen Latifa, doesn’t she? There were some serious, moment-worthy performances elsewhere on the show tonight (see Amber), but this tight, sweet, funky performance was my favorite. As much as Candice has been pimped all year, I don’t think even Idol realizes how good she is. The garbage can lid was a nice touch. A+, moment.

Candice- “When You Believe” (Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston)

It’s probably a good thing she was otherworldly good on her other song, because she was otherworldly mediocre on this one. I blame the band. She started out like she always does, like she was going to tear the roof off the song, but when the song kicked in the band was faster than she expected, and she never got comfortable. She handled the tempo change ok once she felt it, but she kept singing sharp. It means literally nothing. By the time Candice is at risk, at the Nokia in May, nobody is going to remember that she was a little sharp on April 17th. B-

Janelle- “Nobody Answers” (Vince Gill/Patty Loveless)

She has to be careful; she keeps taking more and more chances with the melody, and she isn’t good enough to get away with that for very long. If she tries one of these vocal triple axles without her feet set, she’s going to land on her butt. She hit it tonight, so all I can complain about is that the song choice wasn’t the best. B

Janelle- “Dumb Blonde” (Dolly Parton)

I had to go listen to Dolly’s version, I’d never heard of the song before… Dolly’s version came out in 1967, and it sounded like a vintage Tammy Wynette song. Janelle re-worked it, making it sound like something Janie Fricke or Reba McIntyre would have done in the 1980s. Her arrangement was outstanding, very creative, so Janelle has that going for her (which is nice…). Her best attribute at this point might be her creativity; she is the weakest link left vocally. She missed a ton of notes, trying too hard to compete with the four true divas she is competing against. A for the arrangement, B- for the execution, B+ overall.

Angie and Janelle both have about half an octave of range in the middle where they sound terrific, but outside of that their voices are fairly threadbare.

Kree- “She Talks to Angels (Black Crowes)

She made it her own, I guess, like someone doing an old school country cover of the song. I can’t see her song choice as a good idea, considering what the song is about, but I won’t kill her for it, either. C for the idea, A for the execution so a B for the overall performance, with a bump up because it’s Kree singing it. I can’t speak for everyone, but it always bugs me when a singer turns a blues scale into a major scale. It sounds, for lack of a better description, really white. B+

Kree- “Have You Ever Been in Love” (Celine Dion)

Give Kree fifteen years and she’s going to be hosting “Nashville Now”, or whatever passes for that show in fifteen years. For her sake, let’s hope they quit making the host talk to puppets by then. I think I might have overestimated her voice a little, but I underestimated her personality a lot. She is going to be really famous as a person, not just as a voice. B+

Angie- “I’ll Stand by You” (Pretenders)

Pia Toscano blew the doors off this song in season ten, but I think Angie did it even better than Pia did. Pia is much the better singer, but Angie brought more emotion to the song, and commanded the song like a master. I can do without the constant camera hunting and the cheesy “this is for my hometown” glory grab, but she knocked it out of the park. A

Angie- “Halo” (Beyonce Knowles)

Her vocal was strong, but I couldn’t help feeling like it was sort of “Debbie Boone does hip/hop”. A vocal, C+ feel, B+ overall.

Amber- “Without You” (Mariah Carey)

Nicki tried to say something I was thinking; Amber ain’t Mariah Carey (who is?), so she wasn’t going to sound great with Mariah sitting right there, watching her. As good as she was, and she was very good, the song is just too famous. Amber made no mistakes, but the comparison was too obvious. Actually, the largest mistake was Mariah saying Harry Nillson wrote the song. Not to be anal, but Mariah sang the song, made the song famous to an entire generation. She should know who wrote it. A-

Amber- “What are you doing the rest of your life” (Barbra Streisand)

Billy Holiday lives. Not perfect, but it didn’t have to be. A+, moment.

Safe to in danger:

Safe-

  1. Kree
  2. Candice
  3. Angie

Sweating to the end-

  1. Amber
  2. Janelle

Both Amber and Janelle still have a slight chance of winning, but the likeliest result is that they will be the next two gone. I don’t know if they are still going to use the save; if they are, nobody is going home this week.

American Idol Season 12 L10, Final Six Performance

First up was Burnell’s ouster. Idol’s history tells us that Burnell won’t ever be heard from again in the mainstream, and that’s probably 98% the expected result, but there is something special, and very pleasing, about being around this kid. Even if he doesn’t defy the odds, he should be able to carve out a nice living as a singer, and as a personality. I like him enough to keep tabs on him, and I generally only keep tabs on a couple of contestants from each year. If you like Burnell as much as I like Burnell, I’ll keep you posted. Lets get to the show.

The singers, the songs:

Quickly, the contestants and how they engage the audience:

  • Angie- Selling Tupperware
  • Amber- Winking at the cute boy across the room
  • Lazaro- Hello. My name is Inyego Montoya. You killed me father. Prepare to die.
  • Kree- Omg!! roflmao, it’s so good to see you :)
  • Janelle- Kathy Lee Gifford with a head injury
  • Candice- Sweetly skeptical, like David Cook was

I’m going to recap both of their performances together. It’s Friday and the internet has already weighed in, so I’ll mention that when it comes up.

Angie: Forget the first song, that wasn’t a good fit and she sang it ok. Her second song will land in the top ten of my end of the year songs. Cynics won’t like it, but cynics don’t like Idol in the first place. The cynics can eat me; Angie made herself a nice little memory.

Aside- Angie needs to stop looking directly into the camera all the time. Not to be gross, but nothing ruins a good porno like the girl looking into the camera. Fourth wall violations are fine for comedy, but not for art. Passion. Music is passionate, isn’t it? It is to me. I don’t want them constantly reminding me that they know I’m watching; I want them lost in the moment.

Amber: It’s a tribute to how good the others singers are that Amber isn’t dominating the competition; she is every bit as good as Crystal, or Jordin, or Carrie and Kelly were when they were on the show. She was second to last, which means fifth, this week. Why?

My best guess is that the judges overgushed a little, giving her fans a false sense of security and her rivals an extra push against her. I don’t believe she is the fifth most popular singer; I think she’s either fourth or third right now, well behind Kree and Candice, fighting with Angie and holding Janelle off. It’s a sick, talented group, isn’t it?

Lazaro: It all came crashing down on the kid tonight. He was shaky last week, and he crumbled this week. Siobhan, among others, used to talk at length about how rough it can be to read your reviews online. She stopped using the internet once she reached the semifinals, because (paraphrasing) for every good review there are two trolls who get off on telling you how much you suck; and it’s almost impossible to avoid the reviews if you are online. I think Laz got caught up in reading his reviews, and like that big black bowling ball thing the Hobbit looked into (was it Merry or Pippin?), it sapped his confidence like he was a replacement referee in the NFL. Don’t cry for Laz Argentina, though. He’ll have a nice career, as sort of a Latino version of Bill Murray’s lounge singer. Vegas will love him.

Kree: It always feels so unfair when I compare her to Carrie Underwood, but listen back to her Bacharach performance and tell me that you could tell them apart with your eyes closed. In her defense, I don’t think Kree was consciously imitating Carrie tonight. I think she was just singing the song, and it sounded like that. The original singer, Jackie DeShannon, sounded like that when Carrie was in diapers. Had Carrie just kept waiting tables and never auditioned, Kree would probably have sung the song exactly the same way.

Backing that up with Sammy Smith’s version of “Help Me Make It through the Night” was a bit of overkill, but Kree was subtly just that much different from the original to make it her own version. She sang it beautifully, as we should expect her to.

Janelle: Janelle didn’t suck, she was fairly average – but average singing brings Lazaro back into play. Janelle should thank God every morning that she was born a white girl with an accent; that’s just about the only thing that allows her to compete with Amber and Candice, who are far superior singers.

Aside: I left the country in August 1990, and I didn’t get back until the end of March, 1991. While I was away, some inbred goat roper named Garth Brooks had a couple of hits. I left knowing “Not Counting You” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes”, but that was pretty much it. I was in a band over on the coast, and we kept up with the new stuff pretty well. When I got back from overseas and rejoined the band, we played “Friends in Low Places” the first night. At the end of the song I told Denny “Hey, that’s a cool song! Who does it?” He looked at me funny, and started playing the opening chords to “The Dance”. He looked back at me and said, “Do you recognize this one?”

I didn’t. I had never heard of it.

Candice: The internet gadflies are asking whether Candice’s last song was the best Idol song ever. That’s an easy question; the answer is no. Adam Lambert, Carrie/Kelly/JHud/Haley, Fantasia, Clay, Siobhan’s Paint it Black…. I might see it as top 10-20 depending on criteria. Was it the best this year? I’ll say this; I can’t think of anything better, and the few that I could toss against it were mostly other performances by Candice. This probably means that she’s going to finish second; think about how many times the singer with the most strong performances has finished second: Clay, Bo maybe, Kat, Archie, Adam, Crystal, Jessica; roughly half the time the best singer will finish second.

—————————————————-

Laz is gone; seeya (hear ya) in the Elevators, kid.

Power Rankings:

  • 5: Amber- It’s a strong last place – she still has a puncher’s chance of winning
  • 4: Janelle- She can still win if she doesn’t pick a horrible song at the wrong time
  • 3: Angie- Look away from the camera – and she can get back in contention
  • 2: Candice- Is she Jordin, or Crystal?
  • 1: Kree- This year’s version of the WGWG, I personally think she’s much cuter than the last one

Season 12 L09, Final 7 Performance Night

I’m writing this well after the fact, so the format is slightly adjusted. I can’t predict what already happened. Ok I can, but not after I admitted that this is written well after the fact.

Burnell, “You Give Love a Bad Name” (Bon Jovi)

Yeah, right. Next up: Stevie Wonder singing “Whip It”, followed by Charlotte Church singing “I Touch Myself”. As you would have expected, Burnell’s version bore little resemblance to the original. I like Burnell himself so much that I liked it, but I knew he was going to get roasted for his version by everyone from Mariah to the guy with the ass crack hanging out who empties the vomit buckets backstage. As we now know, Burnell didn’t survive the week.

Angie/Lazaro, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen)

That was awful; Lazaro sucked, Angie sucked, the arrangement sucked, even the sound engineer sucked. Let’s move on.

Kree, “Piece of my Heart” (Janis Joplin)

She wasn’t anywhere near perfect, but I still think this was my favorite Kree performance of the year. Ok, maybe it’s second behind the Grace Potter thing in Hollywood, but she made some breakthroughs tonight. She’s starting to drop the Carrie Underwood imitator tone, and she sounds more like herself. This is a huge thing for her, because her sweet, buttery tone is her best attribute. She seems so much more relaxed, and even on the stilts they keep strapping to her feet she is starting to move around a little. She looks sort of glamorous instead of looking like she just cleaned the toilets, too. I keep ranking her lower than she seems to rank on the internet, but it’s never because of her talent. I was always worried about her focus, and her confidence. She seems to be well past that now, and I see no reason why she can’t win. Hell, she might even be the favorite right now. It’s very close between the big three.

Candice/Burnell, “The Letter” (Box Tops)

I keep hearing Dionne Warwick in Candice’s tone, and this song really brought that out. Burnell got buried in the mix, but on the stage he more than held his own. It ain’t easy to sing over Candice, even when she is holding back a little. She sang the harmony part, which is notable because rival Angie did NOT sing the harmony part on her duet.

Janelle, “You May Be Right” (Billy Joel)

Yaknow, Janelle doesn’t stack up very well against the year’s best singers, but how did Kelly Pickler stack up against Chris Daughtry and Kat McPhee? I see no reason why Janelle can’t have Pickler’s career. All she needs is good taste in songs and a dynamite producer. Her basic talent is that whatever she sings will always sound like the Nashville version of the song. She can sing Megadeath, or Led Zeppelin, or Stevie Wonder, or Gregorian Chants – and everything’s going to sound like it was written by Loretta Lynn (slow songs), Lynn Anderson (fast songs) or Tammy Wynette (songs about tossing her cheatin’ husband’s crap out on the lawn).

Lazaro, “We are the Champions” (Queen)

Laz gets plenty of crap for his flaws, and I’ve been on him plenty myself, but think about this: How many Idol finalists have competed in their second language? You speak English, I speak English, and we are watching, not competing. He still sucks relative to the competition, but I wanted to take a minute here, to render some applause for the kid. He won’t win, but what he accomplished was impressive as hell. Once his Idol run is over I expect him to put out an album in Spanish, and I expect it to be pretty good.

Amber/Janelle/Kree, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” (Billy Joel)

What a waste of all that talent, singing this piece of crap. I love Billy Joel most of the time, but he put a few turkeys out there. At least it wasn’t “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. If you like that song, I mean “Keeping the Faith”; if you like that one too…

Candice, “Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones)

Ooh, dare to challenge Adam? The song arrangement, underneath Candice’s lyrics, was exactly the same. I wanted to hate it out of spite, or hubris, or something, but she knocked it out of the park as she always does. She wasn’t Dionne this time, though. She was Gloria Gaynor or Cissie Houston, doing it like the Motown singers did Disco back in the 70′s. I was, as they say, thoroughly entertained.

Amber, “What About Love” (Heart)

We finally found the top of Amber’s range, right near the end when she almost squeaked, and got a little thin and tinny at the top. Well, we didn’t find it, a Saint Bernard wearing a brandy keg found it; but we know it’s there now. I listened to her studio version of this song, and it was both blow me away amazing and a reminder that Amber is still very much a work in progress. The Taj Mahal was once a work in progress, too. If Amber isn’t the most talented performer Idol has ever had; considering age, vocal chops, range, tone, looks, personality…

That’s a good question, isn’t it? Who is Idol’s best talent combination ever? Kelly, Carrie, Kat McPhee, Adam, Crystal, Cookie, Archie, Clay…. there have been a lot of them. If I were to compare Amber to any of them I think I’d compare her to Kat McPhee, but with Jennifer Hudson’s vocal potential. She looks like Natalie Cole, and she sings like Whitney Houston. Candice is so good that she is rendering Amber an afterthought, though.

Angie, “Bring me to Life” (Evanescence)

She isn’t as good a singer as the big three (Candice, Kree and Amber), though she’s probably better than Janelle. She picked her perfect song, laid out about as strong a performance as her talent is capable of – and lost her status as front-runner. At this point I think she’s doomed to finish third or fourth, and that’s fair. She is roughly the third or fourth best contestant. It wasn’t more than a month ago that she looked like she was going to run away with it.

———————————————————-

Burnell got the green weenie and I’m going to stack my top six recap on top of this; so I’ll skip power rankings.

Season 12, L08, Final Eight Performance Night

Idol Final Eight Performance Night/Safe to in Danger:

Good luck tonight Idol; Idol’s opening act was Siobhan and her new band “Doubtful Guest”. They debuted the band tonight with a concert on stageit.com. If you are on facebook you probably got several blurbs about it from me. If you didn’t watch, it was your loss. It. Was. Awesome!!!

Tonight’s theme is songs from Detroit, so we might see someone take on Eminem, or Bob Seger, or Alice Cooper, or (mostly) songs from Motown Records. Smokey Robinson is here to reprise his role as the best mentor ever, so let’s get to it…

The Singers, the Songs:

Candice, “Heard it through the Grapevine”

Call it over the top, call it self indulgent, whatever. If you got it, you got it. Some people will hate the arrangement, some people will hate that she isn’t Marvin Gaye, and a few will even hate that she isn’t John Fogerty, but nobody can say that she didn’t dominate the stage, the song, and her audience. Idol’s old status as pop culture’s midweek, midseason center of attention ain’t what it used to be, so this might not end up being a famous performance – but Candice sang as well tonight as any performer the show’s ever seen, including Adam Lambert. It was a moment for Idol fans, and a moment for Candice. A+

Duet next, Kree and Janelle doing “Like a Prayer”

Madonna too, that’s right… Detroit gave us some music, didn’t it? Janelle… I just figured out who she reminds me of: Steve Earle. Not as a singer, just how she talks, how her mouth moves. Lets hear it..

I was surprised at how well Janelle matched up with Kree’s vocal strength; either they fixed their mics perfectly, or Janelle has a bit more power than I give her credit for. I enjoyed the song, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if they had skipped the freaking choir. Two Idol level singers like Kree and Janelle don’t need all that help. Elephant = Mouse, built to government specifications.

Lazaro, “For Once in my Life”

No matter what you think of Laz, don’t buy the Idol hype that he’s some Latino farm boy who just saw his first bright light when his plane touched down in Hollywood. Laz is experienced, and Laz is savvy. I personally see this as a positive, because Laz is going to be very busy once the show ends, singing for large crowds all over the world. I don’t think he needs to win Idol, or even make it deep, to be successful. He just needs to be honest with his fans, and be who they think he is.

Tonight he smoked it, his best performance of the year. He is still missing the… that… how do I explain it? Trumpet players, Sax players too I think (I don’t play either one), play the same three valves in various forms, and they expand, go up and then up some more, by using more air and tightening their lips, “popping” to a new level. Laz needs to learn how to do that with his voice. Siobhan (you knew she was coming eventually) is really good at this. Some of the other contestants this year are good at it; so many that it’s more noticeable when someone can’t do it – like Laz. A-

Janelle, “Keep Me Hanging On”

Her re-arrangement was brilliant, a Nashville-ish reinvention of a song that’s already been reinvented several times. I could sort of hear how she wanted to sing it, but Smokey gave her bad advice. I’m not dunning Smokey, I’m a huge fan, but his advice was good for someone cutting a record, with dozens of takes available to get it right. Janelle had one shot, and she did ok, but not nearly as well as she would have done with the melody she had been doing since she was fourteen years old. She should be safe as hell, so no harm no foul, but oops. B+

Devin, “Tracks of my Tears”

I like Devin’s voice, and I thought he sang well enough tonight to be safe in most years, but he was next to last in the voting in each of the first two weeks of the finals. He’s going to be bottom three tomorrow night no matter what, and his only real chance of not going home is that the girls votes will get split and Amber will get the green weenie. Amber hasn’t been up yet, so he can maybe hope she goes off on a trill-a-thon or something, or Randy wakes up and says a bunch of stupid stuff to Amber like he did last week. Seriously, why does anyone listen to the judges? B+

Candice, Amber and Angela, “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

This was one of the tightest concentrations of talent Idol’s ever put together on a performance night, and they were all terrific. Angela got “outed” by Candice as the flirty girl who manipulates the audience; we’ll see if that matters later (I doubt it). Oh, and look at you, Amber!! So glamorous, and since I’m already there; how about Kree tonight? She isn’t the dress up type, but at least she let them do her hair and she put on a clean pair of pants. Progress…

Burnell, “My Cheri Amore”

He’s still a kid, so he has some learning left to do, like a young pitcher with a perfect delivery might need to stretch his arm out and define his off speed pitches a little more. It would be a bad idea to mess with his basic delivery, though. Those moosy low notes, the natural, sedate delivery, the waving arms he uses to keep himself in the rhythm of the song…. anyone who messes with those things risks taking away what makes him special. He’s the Natural. Just leave him be, and stock extra light bulbs. A

Angela, “Shop Around”

I always think of this as a “Captain and Tennille” song, but that’s an age thing. Most people think of it as an “Elevator and Dentist’s Office” song. Lets hear it.

She has the God Squadder vibe, but underneath beats the heart of a Miley Cyrus, “I’ll do ANYTHING to be famous” doll. Never underestimate her desire to win. B, but a pleasing B. Thanks for doing something up tempo, you Prom Night Serial Killer.

Amber, “Lately”

Candice is killing her chances of winning, or even making it past next week, but we really need to appreciate just how good Amber’s voice is. I spent half of tonight listening to my favorite Idol ever, Siobhan Magnus. I’m Siobhan’s biggest fan; she sounded amazing tonight, but Amber makes even Siobhan sound like a Bob Dylan imitator in comparison. A+, I won’t call it a moment on a night when Candice remade Grapevine; but maybe America will wake up and give Amber her due.

Amber is going to be a star eventually, but she is also going to be in danger again tomorrow night because the voters can’t (or won’t) vote for the perceived number five woman over the three remaining men. Amber is going to have to be content to be the new Jennifer Hudson.

I don’t have the patience to listen to the judges most of the time, but I listened to what they said about Amber tonight. Nicki was her usual moron self (she can’t help it, Idol should have known that she isn’t a singer), but the others gave Amber some love, so she should be safe. She isn’t safe, of course, but she should be. Most years, she would be the Pia. Wait, Pia finished ninth, didn’t she? By that measure Amber is doing ok…. I would tell her to gamble soon, do something outrageous and dangerous. She won’t survive by playing safe, not with Kree and Janelle up against her.

The Guys, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”

Laz missed a couple of cues, forgot the words, and ruined the performance (oops). I don’t think it’s fair to dun the other guys for it; they were both right on their cues and sounded terrific. I feel for Devin, who is going to likely be gone tomorrow night. He is a better singer than Laz, but Idol didn’t give him any backstory – or any fashion advice. Seriously, can we shoot the bastard who dressed him tonight? Shoot him, bury him, then dig him up and shoot him again.

Kree, “Don’t Play that Song”

Blonde up her hair, take the new mother weight off her hips, teach her how to dress – and Kree is Carrie Underwood. No singer in Idol history, and believe me hundreds if not thousands if not millions have tried, has ever been as close to being the new Carrie Underwood as Kree is. It’s a tribute to the level of talent this year that Kree isn’t the frontrunner. Kree is probably headed to the final four anyway. Get used to her, and enjoy her. A

 

Safe to in Danger:

 Safe

  • Candice
  • Angela
  • Kree
  • Laz
  • Janelle
  • Burnell
  • Amber

In Danger

Devin, or there is going to be some serious angst coming out of my word processer. I like Devin, but I like everyone else more who might be in danger. I’m ok with Laz leaving, but that ain’t happening.

Season 12, L03, Final Nine Performance/Beatles

AMERICAN IDOL

Season Twelve

Top Nine/Beatles Nigh 

I love the Beatles, man…… I wasn’t going to do any of these full blown articles this year, partly because I’m busier than last year, partly because I’m older than last year, but mostly because I really don’t want to listen to Randy Jackson talk anymore. I still don’t want to listen to Randy talk, so don’t expect much commentary from me about the judges. Judges are like snowflakes – they are all different, but eventually you still have to wipe them off the bottom of your shoes.

On to the show! ….. um, why is Debbie Gibson here, dressed like it’s 1988 and she’s still 17 years old? She’s gotta be like 40 by now, right? Righ…. oh wait, that’s someone else. Oh I got it, it’s that Carly girl, the girl with the legs and the bright eyes and the cute hat and the stupid song that every girl wants to sing at karaoke… Um… yeah… right…. um… seriously, what’s Debbie Gibson doing here?

Charlie and Aubrey for the final Tour spot; viewer vote: Aubrey won, so the Idol Tour will be short one geeky little sociopath. In a way, I’ll miss him. He’s nuts, but he’s never boring. Aubrey seems like a nice young lady, hard working and talented – and about as interesting as a soap commercial. Still, I’m happy for her. She dedicated the last three years to making the stupid tour, so she earned it.

Rather than listen to the judges, I’ll be the judge myself – with a grade at the end. My criteria this year:

  • A: worthy of a live album
  • B: competent, mistake free or good enough to overcome a couple of small mistakes
  • C: ok, maybe boring or a bad song arrangement, but not a train wreck
  • D: train wreck
  • F: there has never been an F performance on Idol. In Hillyard, karaoke at the Comet? Yes. Late night at the Star? Hell      yes. Idol? No, though Sanjaya came close a time or two.

Pluses and minuses will be added to tighten the definitions, since those definitions are broad enough to use as a drive-in screen. Remember drive-ins, people? Debbie Gibson, grumble grumble… vcrs…. mumble… kids these days…

The Singers, the Songs:

Kree Harrison, “A Little Help From My Friends”

Cocker version….  How many Beatles songs are known more by their covers than by their original versions? Cocker has more than one of them by himself; “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” comes to mind immediately….. Bob? You are my best “Beatles expert” friend, do you have a list? I’ll publish it later on the site if you have time to work one up.

Kree usually shows up looking messy, and sings a tight arrangement. Tonight she showed up looking tight – and sang a messy arrangement. I listened close enough to know that she hit the notes and sounded beautiful, as usual. With nine left she shouldn’t be in any trouble, though if this were top five or so she would be. Eyes closed, to me it sounded like Carrie Underwood singing kamakaze karaoke. Kree is better than that, but it’s fair to blame her for the bad arrangement.

TJ (Terry the judge): “Dude (ette)…. on a night with a melody heavy theme, you picked maybe the least melodic song on the list. You missed a chance to really stamp yourself as a contender.” C+

Burnell Taylor, “Let it be” (Another ballad?)

Ballad overkill noted; I still find him more exciting, standing there and singing, than I find most contestants, even the ones running all over the place with fire bombs exploding behind them. He just gets “it”, or maybe a better analogy is that “it” gets him. He was predictable tonight; singing an unfamiliar melody beautifully – but with a few gratuitous, ineffective trills mixed in. Give this kid a mic, a band, a stage and an audience. He doesn’t need to compete. He just needs to emote. B+

TJ: “Seriously, you didn’t know this song? Common, man, you don’t have to like Spam to know what it tastes like…. You sang it well, no worries….. some advice? Leave all the gratuitous crap to singers like Nicki. She needs the diversions; you don’t.”

Amber Holcomb, “She’s Leaving Home”

Amber is the new Siobhan, with a couple of tiny differences. Siobhan had (still has) the dog whistle range, while Amber has the perfectly rich, thick, layered, textured tone. Siobhan has a terrific tone in her own right, to go with the range; Amber has a terrific range, to go with the tone. Both have so much power behind their voices that they have to tape down the fine china or it’s going to shatter. Both come from huge families in small towns, headed by a father who isn’t exactly a rocket scientist. Both are/were 95% talent, 5% experience when they showed up for Idol. Siobhan’s run ended earlier than her talent deserved, and she is still working outside the industry machine despite some impressive post-Idol production. Let’s hope Amber’s road is a bit smoother. A-

TJ: “You improved more than anyone could have imagined from last week, mostly by getting rid of the fancy moves you used to rely on and trusting your voice and your musical sense. You don’t need frills, or trills. Your voice thrills. It’ll pay the bills. No more puns he spills….”

I loved her performance. I wanted to call it a moment, it was a moment for me – but the judges basically roasted her because Randy the producer went first and hammered her for being sharp on her first note. Gimme a sec, I have to wipe something off the bottom of my shoe.

Lazaro Arbos, “In My Life”

C-

TJ: “Good job.”

What am I supposed to say? Sing better? Laz is out of his league; the only reason he’s still here is that speed voting tweeners want to have his babies and their mothers want to watch. Kris Allen, Lee Dewyze, Scotty McCreery, Phil Phillips; none of them were remotely close to the best of their season. If it’s Lazaro Arbos this year, don’t be shocked. American Idol is now “The Trailer Park Dating Game”. Don’t tell the contestants that nobody gives a crap if they can sing, it’s fun to pretend. Just take your shirt off, and we’ll take care of the voting

Candice Glover, “Come Together”

I enjoyed it, mostly in self defense because it was at tempo (please, stop it with the ballads) but everything I said about Kree could be said about Candice tonight. She was messy, and honestly Kree hit the notes better. Candice is better than this, obviously, and I wouldn’t mind hearing her take another shot at a song in this style. It just wasn’t her night. B-

TJ: “Thanks for taking one for the team; you should get to sing a ballad next week while everyone else has to sing a polka, to balance it out.”

Paul Jolley, ” Eleanor Rigby”

I keep getting on Laz, who I like, for not having enough vocal talent. Paul has the vocal talent Laz doesn’t have, but he has no idea what to do with it. Paul gave us the glory note as usual; the one A quality note he always gives us, but the rest of the song was so mediocre that I can’t give him more than a C+

TJ: “Good job.”

What should I say? Sing better? This is who he is. He shouldn’t be here in the first place, he isn’t good enough. Season twelve should have been seven girls, three guys; even if they had been that smart, it wouldn’t have been smart enough. They would have ended up with the wrong three.

Angela Miller, “Yesterday”

If they came out and said “we’re screwing with ya; that wasn’t Angie singing, she was lip syncing to a recording of a slightly stoned Merrilee Rush at Allen Funt’s birthday party”… Angela is the frontrunner, so it would be dumb to talk about what she needs to do if she wants the voters to get on her side; but… with Amber coming on, Lazaro being male and cute, and Candice being amazing, her road to the Nokia isn’t automatic. She was nervous, and she jumped the gun on her first note; once she got past that she was fine, good, amazing even. She doesn’t look like she feels, if that makes any sense. She looks like a horror movie prom queen (right before she goes backstage to kill and devour the flag squad), but she feels like Haley Reinhart singing Kelly Clarkson. No, it’s more like she’s Kelly Clarkson singing Haley Reinhart.

TJ: “If you want to be taken seriously, you have to stop being so serious. Every moment can’t be the blow-off scene from a 1980s movie. Get them on their feet, and you’ll have them on your side.”

Devin Velez, “The Long and Winding Road”

Amber’s problem last week, every week, is Devin’s this week. He has a great tone, but he overdoes the trills. I like him even with the bullshit runs, especially since he stopped singing in Spanish every week, but will the voters? He was bottom two last week after singing great. He was great again tonight, way better than Laz or Paul, but I’m not sure it’s going to matter. Paul is white, and Laz is cute. Devin is merely better than they are.

Janelle Arthur, “I Will”

From how it all went down, I’m pretty sure that Janelle destroyed this song in rehearsal, in dress rehearsal, and if she got one more shot at it she would destroy it again live. When the lights went up and the pressure was on, she almost (but not quite) destroyed it. I’ve been in situations like that, on a lower level obviously, but any of us who have performed a song we believed in, our perfect song… I can tell what she was thinking. She was thinking “… (vile expletive) I know I’m supposed to be this sweet southern belle, but (graphic recounting of a sex act with an unsuspecting barnyard animal who shouldn’t have to look over its shoulder like that) I eat this song for lunch, and I missed that stupid note!?!?!?? I got the pimp slot, sang it perfectly, and I missed that one stupid note? A-

TJ “You are killing yourself over one bad note; get over it. It wasn’t that bad, and the rest was brilliant.”

Safe to in Danger:

Locks:

Everyone but Paul and maybe Devin

Pack it up, and for chrissakes don’t steal all the muffins off the breakfast bar on your way out:

Paul, or maybe Devin

For a Beatles night it wasn’t amazing (they usually are), but it was enjoyable. Somebody needs to taze the musical director and drop him out in the wilderness, and replace him with somebody who won’t allow so many ballads. Please. Stop it with the ballads. Please. Seriously, I’m begging here. Please. Enough with the ballads. Ok?