American Idol Recap: Oh I Can't Believe This Theme Is Happening to Me [Updated]

candice-glover-american-idolDon’t get on Nicki Minaj’s case for showing up late to American Idol‘s Top 10 performance night. Let’s be honest: If you had known you were going to have to endure her fellow judges heaping praise (with a side dish of almost imperceptible criticism) on Curtis Finch Jr.’s dreary, off-key Fantasia cover, you’d have tuned in 10 minutes past the hour yourself.

Okay, okay…maybe we should throw a little shade at Nicki. I mean, how many millions of dollars is she paid for working three hours per week at The House That Kelly Clarkson Built? I’d show up three hours early for $200 and a bottle of Trader Joe’s sauvignon blanc.

RELATED | American Idol: Advice and Dream Set Lists for the Season 12 Top 10

Still, by the end of the two-hour telecast, The Lady Minaj’s tardiness became a mere footnote to the real headline story: Season 12 of Idol isn’t merely shaping up as a woman’s year to win, it’s looking more and more and more like we might get ourselves an all-female Top 4 — something that hasn’t happened on this show since Season 3.

Honestly, if this was a horse race, Candice Glover, Kree Harrison, Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb would already be coming around the bend, with the weakest of the male contestants still standing in the starting gate. Come on, fellas! The doors have already sprung open…and the ladies have hit the ground runnin’ (yep, that’s a Haley Reinhart reference) (click here if you don’t get it) (you can thank me later) (holla!).

The biggest disappointment of the night? The GHASTLY song choices that came from a new (but not necessarily improved) theme: “Music of the American Idols” encompassed the songs previous Idol winners covered during their respective seasons, and also the songs that these champs have released in their post-show careers. Somehow, though, this translated to syrupy coronation themes, stale Idol staples, and nothing remotely funky. (Well, at least you could line dance to Janelle.)

With that said, let’s get to tonight’s set list (with letter grades for every performance)!

Curtis Finch Jr.: Fantasia’s “I Believe” | You knew Curtis was toast the minute he put on that wretched paisley jacket his intro package found him uttering, “it’s not my goal to top [Fantasia’s] performance.” Um, if you’ll allow me to go all Cher in Clueless for a moment: “AS IF!” Interestingly enough, though, Curtis’ usual brand of outsized confidence/hubris seemed to abandon him once he took the stage. His runs in the opening verse were consistently off pitch and laced with nervous jitters; plus, his cadence never quite lined up with the rhythm of the song. That peculiar dolphin squeak on “very best” and the bum glory note on the final “belieeeeve” were the proverbial wilted lettuces on a sandwich that had been sitting in the deli case a few days too many. And despite Keith, Randy and Mariah failing to directly call out the vocal woes — Keith at least hinted that “adrenaline” might’ve had Curtis singing above the melody “a lot” — dude is so getting the prize for Most Likely to Make a Bottom 3 Appearance come Thursday night. Grade: C-

Janelle Arthur: Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone” | Janelle almost had me hooked before she’d even sung a note: I mean, not only was she the lone member of the Top 10 to choose an uptempo track, but she was also rocking a shirt with a rearing mustang silhouette and a sassy beaded skirt that might rank in the 10 Best Idol Outfits Ever. Alas, though, the pre-performance sit-down with Jimmy Iovine, where he asked what would differentiate Janelle from all the other pretty blonde country singers in the market today (inappropriate much, Iovine?), proved all too prescient. There wasn’t anything memorable about her vocal — aside from the fact that she was covering a song usually performed by a dude — and what’s more, Janelle seemed to struggle with breath support as she worked her way through the wordy ditty. When she finished up and told Ryan she felt like there was cotton in her mouth, it seemed to be her way of telling viewers, “I know this wasn’t great, but can I get one more chance?” Seeing how she drew the dreaded No. 2 spot in the lineup (aka the Death Slot) and that she was the fifth-best out of the night’s five females, her chances of cracking the Top 9 look a tad tenuous. Grade: C+ upgraded to B- for not being a ballad

Devin Velez: Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” | No dis intended on the Season 4 champ’s songbook — and no dis, really, on Devin’s technical skills, considering he hit 95% of his notes — but the kid’s rendition of “Temporary Home” was like a glass of warm milk on the bedside table: The perfect mechanism for sending Grandpappy off to a restful night’s sleep, as opposed to the kind of number that might make him sit straight up and throw a Gospel hand in the air. I disagreed with Mariah’s feedback about Devin needing to “do more vocally,” because, frankly, boosting the number of ad-libs and cranking up the melisma-meter wouldn’t have helped matters. The vocal was as pleasing to the ear as it was unadorned. What Devin needs to do, though, is sit down and read the lyrics to his songs, then find a way to deliver them so compellingly that viewers won’t get tempted to check their email or tidy up the dishes or daydream about the weekend before he’s done singing. “Temporary Home” may be a sappy ballad, but when it’s done right, it’ll make your eyes go a little misty — and Devin just didn’t provide the emotional oomph to make folks reach for the Kleenex. Here’s a thought: Maybe next week, Devin could ditch the balladeer act and deliver a little youthful energy to the stage. He is only 18, after all. Grade: B

Angie Miller: Celine Dion’s “I Surrender” | Let Angie’s intro piece this week serve as a warning to herself and all current and future Idol contestants: Never, ever utter a comment like, “I think I can sing it as well as Kelly [Clarkson] did” — even if you believe deep down that you’re speaking the truth! Like a house guest going into Martha Stewart’s linen closet and trying to refold her fitted sheets, there simply isn’t any upside to such a boast. Anyhow, now that we’ve cleared up that matter, I’ve got to admit Angie fared better than I’d anticipated. Her voice made as powerful an impression as her bad-ass black leather dress (embellished with two rockin’ chains), almost certainly registering on the Richter Scale as she climbed and climbed and climbed to the peak of Mt. Celine, voice never once veering off pitch or quavering with uncertainty. Yeah, the song choice seemed a little uninteresting* for a gal who’s managed to sneak her own original compositions onto the show, and no, I’m not sure her springwater-clear take quite matched the heft of Kelly’s impassioned rasp, but it was still pretty damn good. Plus, Ms. Miller’s hemline inspired one of my favorite Nicki quotes of the night: “Your legs are giving me everything I needed in life today.” [* Side note: If your song has been covered on the show by Season 8’s Lil Rounds, then you need to go back to the producers and say “Let’s rethink this!”] Grade: A-

Paul Jolley: Lonestar’s “Amazed” | If Angie’s choice of “I Surrender” was uninteresting, then there hasn’t been an adjective invented that’s potent enough to describe the deep, unrelenting ennui I felt over Paul’s choice of “Amazed.” I mean, honestly, Josh Gracin didn’t exactly seem cutting edge when he tackled Lonestar’s 1999 ballad back in Season 2, and that was before it got passed down the Idol assembly line to Matt Rogers to Scotty McCreery to Baylie Brown. Paul’s rendition was competent enough, but that crafty cutaway to the seated, barely stirring audience told the real tale: Dude never manages to sneak even the smallest surprise or the tiniest hint of unpredictability into his performances. Nicki blurted something about Paul stimulating her sexual appetite for the first time, but the true test is whether he can stimulate anyone to pick up the phone and dial him anywhere past eighth- or ninth-place, let alone download his music. And no, Paul, a desperate grin into the camera as Ryan reads your 866 number isn’t gonna help. Grade: B-

Candice Glover: Shirley Bassey’s “I (Who Have Nothing)” | To coopt Nicki’s line about Angie’s legs, “Candice’s voice is giving me everything I need in my life today.” I mean, seriously people, stop drop and roll, ’cause this girl is on fire. She is Plinko and the Showcase Showdown and “Come on Down!” all at once. We’re talking a Father, Son and Holy Ghost type of party — with Lucifer outside the velvet rope shouting, “Please! I need to hear this woman sing live!” Okay, okay, I’ve gone off the deep end, but Candice’s combination of unbridled power and pinpoint control are what pushed me into the water in the first place. In all seriousness, I love how she paints such vivid pictures with her lyrics — and even in her intro package, the way she talked about relating the song to her real life. Better still, though, Candice infused her rendition with enough pulsing percussion and modern R&B riffs to separate it from previous/legendary Idol versions by Jordin Sparks and Haley Reinhart — and that’s no easy task. Am I crazy for thinking Candice could crack the Top 40 today with a track that was written 50 years ago? And am I ever going to recover from that unbelievably held out final “waaaaayyyyyy” and then the gentle falsetto of “the way-ay-ay”? And didn’t those fluttering red banners just make it all the more dramatic? When Mariah Carey loves your performance enough to admit she didn’t give a standing ovation because her skirt was too tight, you know you’ve done something downright magical. Grade: A+

Lazaro Arbos: Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” | Oh no! Not only was Lazaro forced to perform in front of a backdrop that I’m certain was once used for a Claritin D ad, but he somehow made it through a whole week of rehearsals without anyone convincing him his voice is nowhere big or steady enough to handle a Kelly Clarkson tune. The opening verse of “Breakaway” was pitched too low for him, and yet the chorus seemed too high. And as he struggled to hang on to the melody, Lazaro lost any sense of emotional connection to what he was singing — so much so that even the judges had to admit the results were not good. Nicki amusingly blamed it all on Jimmy (saying the mentor shouldn’t have questioned Lazaro’s preparedness) but it was Mariah’s patronizing final verdict — “people are falling in love with the courage you have!” — that will probably keep the handsome fella in the competition longer than anyone (Lazaro included) thinks he should. Grade: D+

Kree Harrison: Roy Orbison’s “Crying” | Clearly, Jimmy Iovine hasn’t watched five minutes of Idol all season; otherwise, what would’ve possessed him to spend his mentoring session with Kree warning her against the perils of “oversiging”? Yep, the same Kree who’s shown nothing but glorious restraint since the moment she appeared on our TV screens. “Crying” was inarguably the night’s best song choice — not an iconic enough Season 4 moment for Carrie Underwood that anyone but the most hardcore Idoloonies would draw comparisons — and yet a perfect fit for Kree’s country-blues wheelhouse. The choruses, in particular, showed what a deft touch Kree has as a vocalist: Where most Idol contestants would’ve blasted through the melody with two tons of melisma, Kree took a more introspective approach. Her narrator’s heart was too broken to be bombastic, and hey, nothing gets folks attention quite like a whisper. I could go on at length about Nicki’s daft/awesome buttermilk waffles with Aunt Jemima syrup critique, but it’s best watched back on Hulu or YouTube. Just be sure to hit stop before Randy talks about Kree’s voice making him “feel good all over.” Just no. Grade: A

Burnell Taylor: Ruben Studdard/Westlife’s “Flying Without Wings” | Look, if Burnell can’t be bothered to choose something more interesting than Ruben Studdard’s mawkish Season 2 victory anthem, then I can’t be bothered to spend a whole paragraph critiquing him. I mean, dude sees himself as a strictly R&B artist and then covers a song originally performed by Westlife? And wears a cheetah-print silk shirt? And performs on a mini platform, enshrouded in dry ice? Nyet, no and j’enough! I haven’t seen this much talent wasted since Fox cancelled Lone Star (with the absurdly good-looking James Wolk) after just two episodes. Grade: B-

Amber Holcomb: Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” | Jimmy is right that Amber’s a beautiful girl with a beautiful voice — and quite possible a beautiful ability to make his label a lot of money. But what Amber possesses in x factor, she often squanders in terms of musical knowledge and creativity. “A Moment Like This” is one of those songs that only works in a certain time (2002), in a certain place (the Idol Season 1 finale), and with a certain voice (Kelly Clarkson’s, obvi). So while Amber hit her notes with deadly accuracy and proved that her instrument cannot and should not be underestimated, she nevertheless fell short of the original. This song-choice lapse wouldn’t worry me so much, except for the fact that Amber also covered the highly predictable “I Believe in You and Me” and “I’m Every Woman” during Top 20 week. If girlfriend wants to have a shot to upend her more hyped female rivals (i.e. go further than 4th or 5th place), she’ll need to start choosing and delivering songs like she experienced and/or enjoyed music outside of the Idol-spehere. Oh, and she might want to work on her enunciation just a bit, too. Because, let’s face it: A powerhouse voice and a giant wind machine can only carry you so far in the competition. Grade: B+

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 12 Top 10 performance night? What did you think of the judges’ comments? Who was your favorite? Who’s going to be in trouble come results night? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Chuck says:

    Candice: Awesome.
    Angie: Best she’s been aside from piano songs.
    Kree: Good, but it could have been a classic had she sung it to the best of her ability. It was safe.
    Burnell: He has some good moments, but what is he doing telling Jimmy about being an R&B singer? How about singing some, in that case?
    Paul: Not bad.
    Devin: Competent but boring. Are we sure he’s 18?
    Amber: Inconsistent.
    Janelle: Underpowered.
    Curtis: Dull, which is weird, since even his bad stuff is usually watchable.
    Lazaro: Can’t sing.

  2. Chris says:

    Candice is starting to remind me of Mary J – leaves it right there on the stage. She is phenomenal. I really dug the way she drew in the last “love” to this smooth effortless sweet note… so damn talented. The great thing is I know I have so many more great performances to see out of her.I couldn’t have agreed with Keith more, “You do not let the crowd sway you at all – you stay right in it”.

    Kree was my second pick of the night. She is ready right now and if she doesn’t have a record deal after tonight (or any other night she’s sung) something is really wrong.

    Amber… she’s sneaky…that one is. What a megawatt smile and beautiful voice.

    I like Burnell too…. there is just something about that kid that is special. I hear what Mariah does. It’s hard to pin it, but I hear it.

    Devin has a beautiful voice and amazing control.

    I really hope Paul figures it out soon. I think he has good potential if he can pull it out and soon.

    Lazaro….so sweet and I can’t even imagine what all this is like for him. He just needs a really good song choice and a good vocal coach to bring it out of him. I feel his heart.

    Curtis, Angela, and Janell didn’t appeal to me at all tonight.

    This is going to be a great season!!!!!!!

  3. Ed says:

    I loved Candice tonight but Haley Reinhart’s version was better much better.

    • dats da stuff says:

      I’m wit u Ed

    • teatime says:

      Haley and Jordin both had great performances with that song. I just wish Candice had picked another song. She did a great job but couldn’t she have picked a different song?


      Yeah that is why I can’t give it an “A+” like Michael did but only an A (unless you want to give Haley an off the grade scale). If we didn’t have the past to compare to and just this season I could see the A+ though.

  4. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz says:

    no more ballads
    no more ballads
    no more ballads
    everybody now…
    no more ballads

  5. Connor says:

    I think Candice, Angie , and Kree are far beyond more talented then the field. I actually was thinking until tonight that Curtis was the only hope now I question the guys . I think the Bottom will be Lazaro-which was not good at all tonight Janelle-who kind of didn’t shine. The last will be Devin- forgettable song choice. (Please don’t try to critic me to bad ;) )

    • Guitar Blue says:

      The field itself, is very, very weak at this point. It’s going to take several weeks to get it down to an actual competition among the better singers. You can find many youtube vid’s of artists just under the national top 40 radar — that have more vocal chops and charisma than some of these top 10. ………….. especially among the guys. …………………………………………………………………………Curtis is gone this week or next, see the news reports on Idol sites tomorrow morning. Might be a big surprise to some, and I’ll never be convinced that Idol PTB didn’t know it before he was in the top 10.

      • Carmen says:

        Good, maybe that means we’ll get rid of two guys this week then. They are so weak this year it is pathetic. Boring, boring, boring.

  6. karen says:

    I felt Kree was holding back just a tad, thanks to that idiot, Jimmy Iovine. Don’t mess with Texas Kree, buddy. I listened to her performance on repeat and her phrasing and tone is just off the charts. So amazing. She missed an opportunity this week, however, by not going uptempo. Viewers were so pumped after Evidence last week, they wanted to hear more. Plus she would have set herself totally apart by rocking the stage tonight. I just hope TPTB don’t try to mold her too much. She’s got to remain true to herself, no matter what, and just let it rip, as she usually does.

  7. ginaM says:

    The only thing I like about The voice and X Factor is that the producers push contestants towards new songs. It’s strange watching young Idol contestants sing old songs/old arrangements. I was hoping the country people would at least pick a rock song and turn it on it’s head but they didn’t. :(

  8. DarkDefender says:

    Everything I loved about this show left me the moment they started pimping Lauren Alaina a few seasons back (and the near abusive treatment of Haley Reinhart). But a new panel of judges and I thought..maybe… Then I heard tonight’s theme was the nightmare of all nightmares… They actually encouraged and mandated that the contestants sing songs that have been done to death on the Idol stage. I did like the girl who sang “I who have nothing”… Other than that, I was bored to tears.

    Good luck Slezak.. You should get an award just for hanging there all these years.



      yeah that was exactly when the show kinda flew the coop for me too, the shameful pimping of some and just about abusive, damaging treatment of the amazing challenger they had on hand, why they heck they didn’t run with that glorious story for all it was worth I’ll never know. I guess Nigel;s or someone’s ego was too big to bear not seeing their day 1 story arc through. Pathetic. That killed cred for many. For all my blabbing here I haven’t watched more than 35% or so of the show since. I skipped the entire first half of the last season, show didn;t deserve my ratings for that part after what they did the prior season.

  9. Name That Tune says:

    Tim continuing to follow Our Idol contestants on You Tube, FB, Twitter, & Dial Idol.
    Angie Continues to lead & Lazoro Is a solid #2 Kree is #3, Burnell #4 & Candice #5.
    It will take at least 24 hours to see the Impact of Tonight’s show but early feedback on FB continues to show Angie & Lazaro with passionate followers and Upswingf for both Candice & Kree.

    • Timmah says:

      If Lazaro wins they might as well cancel season 13.

      • Amy says:

        Yes to that.

        How the heck is he #2?!! But, hardly anything surprises me anymore with voting results. Although…that just did.


      lazaro #2?
      amber not even listing?
      I don’t think that stuff counts though. Last season on XF Carly’s vids had ten billion views and the country guy had like 10 views on his stuff and no twitter, nothing and yet he won the whole thing.


        Although my second comment makes it almost worse since it says the actual viewinging interest, if maybe not the votes, may be as you say.

  10. Kris says:

    what happened to the sing-off between the sixth-place runner-up girl and guy?

  11. Jane says:

    The only way to wake me up and save this season from being more boring than Lee Dewyze, would be a Charlie Askew vs. Zoanette sing-off… Of course, they’d be wise to put them both through. That would at least guarantee a few original moments. Otherwise, this year’s high points will be “waffles.”

    • Carmen says:

      Good Post ;) Charlie vs. Zoanette, lol. A lot of fun did leave the show with those two. Too bad we never got to see Jimmy Iovine lecture Zoanette about over-singing? Pay-per-View material, that.

  12. Kevin C. says:

    I’ll have to take your word that the females were amazing…they put me to sleep halfway through.

  13. justafan says:

    am so happy to see curtis had the lowest approval rating…you don’t suppose we can get rid of him first do you? and lazaro had the lowest grade by slezak…they were the 2 i had not making the top 10…with lazaro being the biggest surprise of getting there

  14. forwarddad says:

    It’s been on MJBlog all day. He was arrested 2010 pled guilty and TPTB knew about it. Move on nothing to see here.

  15. duke says:

    As much as Candice, Kree and Angie are good, Amber is the only one that intrigues me because she sings so effortlessly with a smile which leaves me excited to see her growth because she is not yet perfect.

    • Carmen says:

      Amber has talent, yes, and there is a bit of Whitney Houston to her voice. I think she’ll do better next week. Her song was rushed tonight, probably due to Jimmy I. badgering her about going more up-tempo.

  16. Will says:

    Did anyone else notice Devin’s pianist kept messing up? It was the most awful part of the night. He sounded great, by far the best guy, but man, it was tough to get through.

    Angie and Candice rocked it tonight. They did everything right. Props to Burnell for sounding great but the song was really toned down and boring. I like that he and Kree are really coming forward as the truly talented R&B artist and country chick archetypes of the season rather than Janell and Curtis, who both were just…really lackluster, and have been for a good chunk of their time on the show. Speaking of, Kree was really great. She isn’t quite my favorite compared to Angie and Candice and even Amber. I don’t know what it is but it’s a feeling that even I can’t place. Either way, if those four are the top four, with maaaaybe a Devin or Burnell upset, it’ll be a worthwhile season. Once the other four are gone, this competition will really heat up, I just hope that’s actually what happens.

    Paul and Lazaro are just meh to me. Their voices are fine but they don’t quite do it for me.

  17. Joe says:

    Candace’s vocal was one of the best Idol performances ever. Period.
    There’s Something About Angie and it’s not good. Her voice, while thin is piercing, but her look/stage presence are not working for me. I’m red blooded straight guy and she’s oddly not sexual to me at all. She’s kind of sexless. She’s not ugly, but she’s not hot. It’s like that Office episode where they debate whether HIlary Swank is hot or not. I think her career is going to go the way of Kara Dioguardi – she’ll be a great songwriter, but she’s not a front person. Definitely feels like she’s always trying too hard.
    Amber is the dark horse even though she got the pimp slot. Out of Candace, Angie and Kree, Amber is the one with the most room to grow and progress which viewers love. She is little Whitney. She looks like she should have been a regular on The Cosby Show. She’s fun. She’s loose. She’s the total package.
    Kree is already finished developing. She’s so good she really has nowhere to go. She’s ready. Because of that, she’ll be in trouble. Voters hate consistently great performers on this show who don’t fall on their face and need to be saved. She and Candace probably both won’t make top 5 and we’re all gonna bitch about it for years.
    Lazaro is a terrible singer. I feel for the guy, but the stuttering propelling him to the finals is wrong. Why everyone who watches this show can’t listen with their ears and embrace sob stories is a problem. Sadly, I think he’s a shoe in for the finals.
    Paul was good tonight, but I’m sensing Keith is not a fan. I think Keith doesn’t think Paul can ever work as a country male artist and it has to do with which team he’s batting for if you catch my drift.
    Devin sings very well but Devin is wallpaper. He could be first out.
    Burnell sings very well, but Burnell is wallpaper. He could be first out.
    Janelle clearly found the Lauren Alaina/Kellie Pickler playbook and is going to try to win this thing as that lovable country rube schtick. The scary thing is, that just might work. Search your feelings; You know a Janelle/Lazaro finale could easily happen.
    As for Curtis Finch Jr., he would make it to top 5 if he’d say “Sexual Chocolate” at the end of every song and throw the mic down. Short of that, tonight was a hot buttered mess. But he’s more interesting than Devin and Burnell on the stage even though they have superior voices. Where’s JDA when you need him/her/he/she?

    • Norma says:

      Best analysis I’ve read so far!! Wish you had commented on the judges, as they are driving me to distraction. aned I am guessing I would have enjoyed your take.

      Keith needs to get a shirt that has some buttons, Nikki there isn’t enough time or space, Randy could be recorded from every other season – damn he is boring, and Mariah touches her hair well. (And is it just me or is Ryan getting kind of nasty?)

      Have been a loyal fan from the beginning – but I have no love for this season, and hated this show.

      • Carmen says:

        Keith has done a very good job judging this year but he had one commeent I think we could all do without (hint; something to do with the yellow pages).

      • Joe says:

        Norma – Truth? I FF through everything Randy has to say. I have no interest in watching him read off the script provided to him. I love Nicki. It’s honestly her show once the singers finish their song. She’s overshadowing everyone which isn’t hard because Keith and Mariah have a little Paula/J. Lo in them where they try to find the positive in the performance. Mariah has a poker tell. If she looks up and to the left while she’s commenting/judging, she didn’t like the performance and is trying to find something constructive/nice to say. If she looks directly at the singer while complimenting them and is engaged and not searching, she loved it. It’s easy to see what her true feelings are. Keith, in his open shirts, is doing a good job setting up Nicki. He has good things to say and seems sincere. Overall, if they cut Randy, they’d have fixed the judging problems from the past 2 seasons. Only Randy needs the script. The other 3 barely look down unless they are looking for a song name or something while talking.

    • jason says:

      Think you’re wrong about Angie! With those crazy eyes I bet shes a firecrackers in the sack!

      • Joe says:

        jason – if you’re feelin’ it then good. Maybe it’s just me. She’s ridiculously talented. I just don’t get any sort of “fall in love with her” feeling. She just seems like a pageant contestant with a stage Mom who is her best friend in the whole wide world. I love her voice and she is an artist, but there’s something in that look that isn’t exciting for me.

    • Carmen says:

      Joe, what you say about Devin is absolutely true. He sings well but is boring as wallpaper. Boring is the death knell for any performer. I’d watch a tele-marathon of Zoanette and Charlie Askew before suffering another dull ballad by Devin.

      • Kevin C. says:

        You could easily replace “Devin” by about 8 other contestants’ names in that post.

      • Joe says:

        Carmen – Devin’s voice is really great. I think he has the best male voice. But he’s not the total package. He’s not interesting. His look is not going to fire up the female Idol voters. I can’t imagine getting excited for an album of his, but I could get excited to see him on Broadway or doing a cabaret act in NYC like I had the pleasure of seeing Melinda Doolittle do (she killed it of course). Not a star but a very good singer.

        • Carmen says:

          He is the best male singer this year, true (not a high bar to clear though). I just wish that he had something more interesting to go with it. Singing in Spanish is nice. Maybe he could make a decent, laid-back album of ballads. Not the right stuff for AI though because it just doesn’t create any excitement on stage at all. Not sure he would be any better on Broadway where — if anything — even more stage presence is called for. But since a lot of people here are saying good things about Devin I will listen even more carefully this coming week and try to keep an open mind. I’ve missed quite a few episodes this season so i can’t say that I’ve heard most of his performances.

          • Joe says:

            Carmen – Don’t hurt yourself listening to too intently. He’s wallpaper. I don’t think he’ll forge much of a career post Idol unless the bi-lingual thing somehow pays off. That being said, you could plop him in Rent in the chorus or as an understudy and I’m sure he’d do fine.

  18. Nephtalia says:

    I am Rewatching tonight show on my DVR and Angie sound better and better each time I rewind her performance while Amber does not sound as good the second time around. Candice, of course, slayed it tonight. Kree is my girl so I voted for her tonight but her performance and the other 6 were a little boring to me.

  19. Lois Benton says:

    Candice. Candice. Candice. Candice. Amber. Amber. Kree. Angie. Burnell. Curtis (Yes, Curtis. Shut up.). Devin. That’s all there is, but it’s enough. Lazaro is cute. Lazaro is a ridiculous contestant on a show that is supposed to be more about singing than popularity or even cuteness, although in the last four seasons that has been a fail.

  20. Mellie says:

    That moment when you sit on TVline refreshing the page for Slezak’s update.

  21. jason says:

    How did Angie make s Feline Dion song sound interesting! Can someone explain that to me! Everytime Ive heard a Feline song on Idol I bated it! But for some reason I liked that!

  22. twnkltoze says:

    A tad disappointed that Michael and Melinda did not touch on the Charlie drama more but I suppose that was the empathetic and classy thing to do.

  23. twnkltoze says:

    Candice. Nuf said.

  24. Randy in GA says:

    Best judges comment by far (and it’s making me re-think my former opinion on Nikki’s uselessness as a judge… referring to Kree…..”I’d love listening to that performance home alone on the couch eating waffles”. I’m starting to love you, Nikki….haha.

  25. Lia says:

    I thought coronation songs were off the list. They should have been! Gah!
    We have to remember Kelly was ill and had only half a voice when she delivered I surrender, which makes it that much more impressive.

  26. fanology says:

    Dare I remind us all that this show’s voting audience is notorious for its seeming love affair with all things white. And our top 10 are a veritable United Colors of Benetton. I think we’re going to have more than a few bumps in (my personal fave Candace’s… or Amber’s… or Devin’s… or even Kree’s sassy-brunette-gay-friendly-joke-making) road to the top this season.


    Hah did anyone catch Nicki’s expression when Randy dropped his first “INITTOWINIT”, not that disagreed with the premise. Haha, even a great white before biting doesn’t roll it’s eyes that far back into its head hah.
    The judges really were not bad considering what has transpired in the paat.
    Janelle isn’t as bad as people say here. And that comes from someone NOT at all into country country. That said those other four girls REALLY brought it. We have four who are well above middle of the road. At Janelle should be ahead of many to most of the guys.
    I think Mr. Slezak didn’t give Amber quite enough credit once again (although she rush through some things a couple times earlier on, she needs to watch that, she is just a few polishes and such from being great.).
    Angie was very good. Love that she is like a late 80s girls teleported into the future to appear on this show!
    Candice was fantastic. We’ve had three superb I Who Have Nothings now. The great Jordin Sparks version and then the simply incomparable Haley Reinhart version and now a great Candice version.
    Amber rushed a bit especially at the beginning but was really good too and she makes tricky stuff seem like it was simple 4 note range and nothing much of any sort it’s smooth and easy, wow.
    Yeah Kree was pretty mezmerizing tonight too.
    I might go A+ Kree, A Candice, A- Amber, weak A- Angie and well those four were a real cut above the rest. Hard to say. I’d definitely need to listen again. Giving grade is impossible anyway. It’s better as with movies to just say what you need to, how do you compare apples to oranges, etc.
    Paul did pretty well for the first time IMO. Not in an a top class but far from the bottom class this time and with Devin a touch boring this week he ended up right in there with the best of the guys this week actually. Janelle was around in there class.
    And then there were the rest.

    • bbl says:

      I’d agree that Kree sang beautifully, but the song was pretty boring and repetitive. If by “mesmerizing” you meant “hypnotizing me to sleep”, then I’ll also agree with that.

      Candice is my favorite this year. The first part of Candice’s performance was sheer perfection: sultry, hurting, angry… A+ w/extra credit. But if I’m honest, she lost a lot of that in the second half when she grabbed the mic. Thankfully, she reeled it in and ended the song as gorgeously as she began. Still, best of the night by far, taking everything into consideration.


    Anyway I’d say:
    Top top group: Kree, Candice
    Very near top top group: Amber, Angie
    hard to say quite how to sort the four actually
    Paul, Devin, Janelle
    the rest, not that they were all even but best to focus on the more positive comments

  29. Jake says:

    if Candice’s other performances in the coming weeks are as fantastic as this one tonight I’ll definately have a favorite idol to go with the likes of James Durbin on my ipod…not only that , but she might be the only R&B singer on my ipod…

  30. Rochelle says:

    Thousands of people try out for.american idol. There is no way that these are the ten most talented of those thousands. Isn’t this like the 12th or 13th season of the show? The top ten should be impeccable.

    The song choices were…so heinous. Idol makes boat loads of money. I know they can clear more songs.

    If the contestants do not have the intelligence to not pick a crappy sappy ballad that no one liked the first 10 times, someone needs to step in and tell them to reconsider.

    • Mary says:

      All the idols songs are approved, even their post records, so that wasn’t the question. Either Idol gave a small list consisting of who they wanted them to sing, or none of the contestants know how to think out of the box. Every single one of them should of picked a post Idol song and changed it up to suit them. We all know Kelly and Carrie have tons of music to choose from and since that is who 90% of the contestant chose they could of come up with something even one that was not a big hit. These slow songs are going to be the death of us yet and maybe Idol.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        WE know Idol often gives them a short list. Remember Mr. Slezak’s interview with Aaron Kelly where Aaron said they would get a list of about 12 songs?

        • Rochelle says:

          I remember that but I also know other contestants have asked for other songs not on “the list.” I’m pretty sure past idols have it written into their contract that their music can be used for idol. Why didn’t anyone look at kris’s post idol albums or david cook? Even philip phillips home could have been cool for one of the r&b singers

  31. Cindy says:

    Excuse me Michael, Burnell talked about loving r&b type music. Burnell never said that the song flying without wings is r&b, so what is your point about Westlife. Uhhh even my young nieces can comprehend english better than certain people.

  32. Ellen says:

    LOVED I Who Have Nothing…. It’s one of my favorite songs ever but Candance knocked it out of the ball park into the next county! She, Angie and Kree are my faves. Love Ambers voice but girlfriend needs a “moment”. Even with the “bad” it was overall, much better, than past seasons. I’ll never understand how conteastants get to the Top 10 and freaking choke. That always amazes me…..

  33. Lois Benton says:

    Such a dumb theme. If the theme had been Idol victors’ POST-show songs, that would have been okay. Not great, but okay.

  34. Tahoe Mike says:

    At least there were some good fireworks on Survivor tonight.
    The girls have the guys seriously outclassed. Why did we need five guys? At least at the top 20, it should be that the ten best make the top 10.
    The four judge panel still doesn’t work, and Randy is still the problem.
    Ballads still suck.

  35. EVPandHC says:

    Candice – 9.5/10 (Performance of the season…. Again! You could feel the tension in the performance like she came out of the TV screen)
    Kree – 6.5/10 (Ouch at that gap. This was good, but I wasn’t as connected tonight as I was previously)
    Amber – 6/10 (She can sing, but this song was just a dumbfounding choice. She should’ve chosen better. And yes, her diction needs work)
    Angie – 6/10 (The song was TOO BIG for her. She has vocal chops, but that was just the weirdest choice for her)

    Can I just say? If Kree, Candice and Angie is not our Top 3, I’ll cut a b****.

    Paul – 5/10 (It was less theatrical and his vocals were on point, but I didn’t feel anything from the performance)
    Devin – 5/10 (Same thing. No feeling despite pitch perfection)
    Burnell – 4/10 (This song is just…. Whats with these people? He sang it fine, I guess, I was bored very quickly)
    Janelle – 3.5/10 (Uptempo? Good. So why the hell was there no energy in her performance?)
    Lazaro – 2/10 (Why would he choose that? Did he not learn from Katie or Julie? Seriously?)
    Curtis – 1.5/10 (The less said, the better. He is just too much already)

    Bottom 3: Curtis, Devin and Janelle

  36. marie says:

    Is there really anything to say this season except “Candice”?

    I admit that when, in her into package, she said she was (paraphrased) “… Soul, blues, jazz…” I was delighted. Not likely on this show but some day I want to hear her sing jazz because she really could.

  37. Julie says:

    Haven’t seen the show yet as I’m in the UK so it’s on tonight but, reading through the comments, it’s pretty clear what I can expect and I was bored by last week’s. So, so disappointed that Nick Boddington didn’t get through (beautiful, clear voice, star quality) and the highly marketable and stunningly handsome Cortez- and in complete disbelief that Lazaro and Curtis did. With all the ballads and lack of individuality (Adam Lambert anyone?) it’s a shame JDA was cut so early, he could sing and had bags of charisma. Definitely looks like the year for a female AI.

  38. Jen says:

    Michael Slezak, you are a brilliant writer. I read your column out loud to my husband this morning and he doesn’t even watch the show but appreciates your humor. I have watched every show of every season and cannot recall a judge being late for a live show. Surely if Paula can manage to make it on time then anyone can. Nikki should be fired. Her commentary is stupid anyway. Did she actually call a contestants performance “crispy”? She needs to go.

    • Mary says:

      Actually Paula was late once in season 8 top three week result show I believe – but they just had her sneak in and it wasn’t 10 minutes.

  39. Mary says:

    I thought last night was so boring. I do not care for her voice but at least Janelle went uptempo. I cannot believe, although I knew it would happen, that out of 11 seasons all we got were Kelly and Carrie with a couple others. Personally they should of put all the winners name in a hat and had the contestant pull out one to sing one of their songs. I can’t believe nobody picked at least on of their hits. My top three were Candice, Amber then Kree. I love Kree voice but I think that was the wrong song choice. NIGEL one week with no slow songs PLEASE.

  40. Happy says:

    Devin did a great job tonight, understated but a truly beautiful rendition. Its easy to be more impressed by the “powerhouse” performances of some of the girls, but his rendition was the one i personally would like to listen too again.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      It was quite good but Mariah’s comment was right on the money – they just expect so much more from him. He probably could have sung an understated version of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and it would have been more interesting.

    • Mary says:

      I disagree – his voice was good but he drained the emotion out of that song.

  41. Timmah says:

    Nigel came up with the dumbest idea for a theme in Idol history, and the contestants were up to the task by turning in completely uninspired performances.

  42. darcy's evil twin says:

    I find all the contempt for Angie interesting. It reminds me of the contempt for Pia. Clearly there are a lot of people here that don’t like beautiful white women.
    But hey, just don’t say anything remotely critical of Zoanette.

    • Mary says:

      For me, for you it just brings back bad memories(Danny Gokey) why they think she is a front runner. Her original was great but she had not lived up to the hype since. She did better tonight but not that great.

    • JB says:

      Pia was as boring as watching a Tiddlywinks championship match.

  43. LynnH says:

    Why was Mariah sitting in a highchair? Did they run out of regular chairs?

  44. matty says:

    Curtis Finch Jr.: Fantasia’s “I Believe” 0% i lol’ed

  45. Jess says:

    Melinda saying Lazaro doesn’t know how to pick songs for himself is exactly what Mariah has been trying to help him with her her critiques; she keeps telling him to find songs that fit in a certain part of his voice.

  46. keah says:

    Notice you mentioned enunciation concerning Amber’s performance, but did not say anything about Candice’s “da windo” enunciation. I cringed at that moment…I love Candice don’t get me wrong…how that she wins. And I also agree with you completely about Amber’s issues…But you have to be fair. I know you are in love w/ Candice…but I also you know that you heard her poorly state “the window”….lol…she also said “he” instead of “she” at one point….Just knit picking…she really deserved the A+.

  47. C says:

    Curtis – Pitchy spots and must have thrown in about 50 extra notes before the first chorus.
    Janelle – Excellent performance. Seeing something uptempo actually gave me a little jolt of goosebumps. Her voice seemed to run out of steam toward the end, but she did say her mouth was dry. Being a singer myself, I know how that can happen–and I don’t dance around on stage like that!
    Devin – His voice is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and that song DID give me misty eyes, Mr. Slezak. There was a little glitch in his high note, but I LOVE his voice.
    Angela – I KNEW she was in trouble with her comment about Kelly. Never say you can be as good as the sainted first season winner on this show. (Kelly was terrific, but the way they carry on about her is somewhat over the top.) She doesn’t have Kelly’s power, but I think her voice has a prettier tone.
    Paul – Like Mariah, I have a one word review: Pedestrian.
    Candice – Unquestioned best vocal of the night, but it lacked Jordin’s vulnerable tone. The strength of her voice undermined the meek, pitiful quality of the story line. Thankfully, she didn’t overdo the melisma, which I feared as soon as I heard what she was singing. And, this is one of my all-time Idol favorite songs. The first time I heard it, I had lost someone to another person and I identified with it so totally that it’s in my heart to this day.
    Lazaro – Ack! Totally agreed with Randy! Really bad song choice. He doesn’t have the voice for the power needed for this song.
    Kree – Probably my favorite to win this season (which guarantees that she won’t), but I was a little disappointed in her vocal till she got to the end. SO HARD to do a soft high note – and unexpected, given the way the song is usually ended. Maybe was a little undersung, but, geez, listen to the words–the person “speaking” is emotionally destroyed!
    Burnell – Loved the lower notes at the beginning, but he was really straining in the higher register toward the end, and I was disappointed by this performance.
    Amber – Vocally excellent. But she lacked the emotional connection with the song and the audience that Candice and Devin showed.

    • Carmen says:

      Loved your review, especially the comments on Kree. She closed out that song so tenderly, and yes that last note was a marvel of expressive control, very difficult to carry off, beautifully shaped, like a bow on a gift.

  48. ChrissieK says:

    I swear that while reading about Devin my mind wandered off to the fact I’ve got dirty dishes in the sink…it’s true!

  49. Bobbi says:

    This is going to be one very long Idol season.