We're down to the Top Five, and for the first time in five years we know we're going to end up with a woman as the next American Idol. Yes, last night was Ladies Night. But so will next week be Ladies Night. And the week after that!!
The Top Five sang two songs last night...a song from the year they were born (which you have to not think too hard about, or it will seriously depress you) and a song originally sung by a diva.
It's a strong Top Five, and it was a strong night of singing. So expect a lot of nit-picking below.
Songs From The Year You Were Born
1. Candice Glover sang Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”
I think I can make a sweeping statement and say that NO Paula Abdul song is really a singer's song. I like Paula. I like this song. But this song was a hit because it was all about a cool video, a catchy "oh oh oh", and maybe a little bit about Arsenio Hall...not about the opportunity to display one's range, power, musicality, or beautiful tone. Candice has made stellar song choices until this point. This? Not so much. Nice job, nice jazzy twist on it, but in the end so what?
2. Janelle Arthur sang Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name”
I don't think Janelle really knows who she is or where her strengths lie. This was just the first example of it. There are so many sweet country songbirds out there...why choose a dude's song? It did not fit her like the glove I know another choice could have.
3. Kree Harrison sang The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels”
The girl's got pipes. No doubt and no argument from me. But she continues to remind me of Carrie Underwood in Season Four...before Carrie learned how to convey emotion when she sang. Now, we all know it didn't hurt Carrie, but I would just love to see Kree really connect.
4. Angie Miller sang The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You”
Yeah. You know how it gets super-boring that the judges are always whining about Angie being better at the piano, and how they're always bugging her to go back to singing her own thing, or maybe that Colton song? There's a reason for it. She's better when she's at the piano. End of story. I think she's young, and when she's standing there singing there is always this element that she's very aware of herself and her body. Sitting at the piano, she loses that self-consciousness. She's way more authentic. Maybe dedicating it to her hometown of Boston infused it with all sort of context and subtext that we each were going to bring to the performance, whether she was really emoting it or not, but that's OK. It moved me.
5. Amber Holcomb sang Mariah Carey’s version of Badfinger’s “Without You”
I did not love that. I thought she was too consistently too far behind the beat; she was breathing too frequently, and she didn't seem comfortable. I'm an Amber fan, would never have put her in the bottom the way America has, but this was not a winner.
Songs by Divas
1. Candice Glover sang Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s “When You Believe”
I got nothin' to say. She is ready. She is there. She is all that. This was perfection. And stunning.
2. Janelle Arthur sang Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde”
Look, I totally know that she's kind of adorably spunky. But she could have chosen a much better Dolly Parton song to play up her natural sweetness. I just continue to think that, in a group of power singers, Janelle should not be going for a power song. She's never ever going to shine as a power singer compared to folks like Angie, Candice, Kree, and Amber. And the last note was bad. Like, seal-your-doom bad.
3. Kree Harrison sang Celine Dion’s “Have You Ever Been In Love?”
This didn't send me over the moon like Candice's diva song, but I also have no real complaints. That was about as good as I've seen Kree.
4. Angie Miller sang Beyoncé’s
This was, vocally, a great performance, but it took more than half of the song for her to connect to what she was even saying. It's sort of surprising, given the kind of emotion she must have been feeling and the lyrics of the song. I continue to think she's not yet comfortable in her body, and it translates into a weird disconnected physicality that doesn't match her vocal comfort.
5. Amber Holcomb sang Barbra Streisand’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”
Amber continues to be an old soul. And a mature presence. I didn't quite agree that she made this song entirely modern...it was, perhaps, a bit old-fashioned, as Simon used to like to say. But I don't see that as quite the bad thing he did. It was indeed very difficult, and also very very well done.
Bottom Line for the Bottom Two:
Should be: Janelle and Angie, with Janelle going home.
Will be: Janelle and Kree with Janelle going home (thinking the two country gals might split the vote a bit?)
But what did you think?
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