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. CAS says:

    About the theme nights: There just aren’t as many quality new songs, given the advent of rap and hip-hop (which aren’t really SONGS), to choose from as there were back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Hence the past themes of Lennon/McCartney, MJ, Billy Joel, etc. I think they need to go back to those old songlists and force some uptempo stuff on these contestants. I’d even accept disco night! Not knowing them as well, these kids might put a fresh spin on them (Remember Adam Lambert’s “Ring of Fire”?); and the viewing audience won’t fall asleep.

  2. davey says:

    I blame Nigel Lithgoe for everything bad this season.

    And sorry, Candice is a fine singer but she is always theatrical and often oversings so I wonder when she will get that critique. She’s the type of singer who exemplifies why critics make fun of American Idol. I enjoy her but when Randy goes crazy over her, I want to run.

    • MB says:

      You know many of you are crying foul and screaming for Nigel’s head because of the mess this season is turning out to be but Nigel is bending over backwards trying to appease everyone who screamed because another white guy won last season. Some even went as far as to say they should not allow any WGWG in the competition and guess what that is exactly what they did. It would not matter what TPTB does even if they changed the voting system not everyone would be happy and there would be complaints for one reason or another.
      I agree the guys suck this year but what did you expect? It is a shame what is happening to this show but the problem is not just Nigel, the problem is the audience has become whining children who frankly have no clue what they want. Personally I don’t care if a guy or a girl wins but I would like to have decent singers of both genders. The manipulation this year is off the wall causing the show to be a joke but it is the manipulation a lot of you ordered. Be careful what you ask for because you may get it.

      • Timmah says:

        Nigel refuses to fix the two core problems that are killing the show which are a. the voting system and b. the insistence on having equal numbers of males and females in the finals.

      • teatime says:

        I always thought there were about 1-2 dozen people, at most, who complained about the WGWG winners. They complained every day on every site they could, and on twitter, too, until they finally got it to be a meme picked up by bloggers outside the bubble. Ironically most of them wanted a white guy winner, just wanted a different white guy winner. I don’t doubt Idol wanted someone other than a sixth white guy in a row. The same would be true if they had 5 white girls in a row, 5 black males in a row, etc.
        In fact, they probably wanted a female winner and not a guy of any race. But I don’t think that explains why this group is so bland. There is no Allison, or Haley, or Siobhan, or Skylar. There isn’t even a Rachel Hale or Shubha. There’s a bunch of ballad singers of both genders. We will almost certainly get a girl winner but it did not need to be such a monotone season to get to that point. Hopefully I am wrong and some contestants will start shaking things up, but this was a good week for them to have done that if they cared to.

  3. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Unlike Nicki, I was NOT sexually stimulated by Paul at all. Amber can sing, but she’s the kind of contestant Michael Slezak hates. Great voice, quiet personality, somewhat vacant performer. Her performance was rushed, unemotional and she was mumbling some of the words. Curtis Finch, Jr. was like an SNL kit. He was also wearing my couch’s festive slipcover.

  4. MeeMee says:

    I must be missing something, because I just *don’t* get Angie….She’s not exciting, she’s just meh..

    Candice though, seriously, flawless.

  5. Linderella says:

    I pretty much agree with Michael’s assessment except I’d give Candice an A+ and the orchestration a D. Were it not for Candice’s strong vocals, the band would have drowned her out. My one concern about Candice is because she is such a mature singer, she might suffer the same fate as the wonderful Melinda Doolittle and be voted off in favor of less talented competition. I just don’t think AI is the right platform for her – The Voice seems much more in her wheelhouse.

    • deedee says:

      You know what amazes me? Candice talked about watching Jordin Sparks in season 6 and cheering for her after “I Who Have Nothing” … and Candice is the same age as Jordin! That realization just blew me away. It’s not that Candice looks “old” per se, but she’s so mature. I think of Jordin as a kid – even today – while Candice is most definitely a woman.
      Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, but it did hit me how young Candice really is. I don’t know if she’ll win Idol, but I do believe she will have a future in music. She was born to do this, so in one way or another, it will happen for her.

  6. WitchyWoman says:

    OK, now I want to hear Adam Lambert cover Shirley Bassey’s “I Who Have Nothing!”

    • JoniC says:

      After the way he did “Mad World”, I think he might be up to it.

      • deedee says:

        Totally. Adam was a perfect contestant. He always brought the drama and pizzazz, and he was anything but predictable. Slezak said it best when he said this season is missing “danger”. Who do we have who’s willing to take risks AND who is good enough to pull them off? Candice, Kree, and Amber are all great singers, but … I’m waiting to see if anyone is capable of surprising me.

  7. Jessica says:

    Candice and Kree hands down the best. Top 2 right there and either could win and I would be happy. Probably the only 2 that I liked. They are what singers should be. They just have it. Amber was close but not there. The others are clueless in music and the competition. Angela not understanding what “pagenty” means was just stupid. Look at your goofy/cheesy smile-that’s 1. I think taking on “I Surrender” which I feel is the best song ever sung-the best! is crazy and insane. Kelly did it well. Angela-no. I think Larazo is/should going home-that was horrible.

  8. Jessica says:

    On a side note I’m buying waffles -tonight! Thanks for the recipe Nikki! I was so happy when she came on the panel. I like her-even if I don’t agree with her at times. Keith is great also. Mariah can she just go home now? 3 judges are good enough.

  9. Karen says:

    Kree and Candica made the night – like they’ve done every time they’ve performed so far. Loved thta Kree chose a song she loved, and knew she could do, instead of just choosing a song based on a previous Idol’s ‘moment’ with it.
    Westlife’s original version of ‘Flying Without Wings’ is one of my all-time favourite songs, but I agree that it doesn’t work at all as an R&B song (I also hated the Ruben Studdard version).

  10. Scott says:

    Is it just me or has anyone else noticed there seems to be some tinkering with the sound during the performances. There were several times during Paul’s performance that it really seemed the background singers were overpowering him and I don’t think it was just his voice.

    Also during Candace’s performance when the audience responded to her first big note it seemed like they cranked the volume on that to the point where you couldn’t hear her for a few seconds.

    If they are doing these kinds of things, maybe they could just turn Curtis’ mike off?

  11. Blinged Up says:

    “I’d show up three hours early for $200 and a bottle of Trader Joe’s sauvignon blanc.”
    LOL. Me too, MIchael. Me too.
    “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!” Made me gasp when she said that. Then I said, “I can’t wait to hear what MIchael has to say about THAT.”
    My top three are Candance, Kree, and Burnell. I think many agree with me about the first two. As far as Burnell goes, he has the most beautiful tone, and when he is singing he grabs my full attention.
    I think it’s Curtis’ week to go home.

    • Jessica says:

      I like Burnell. I think he picks good songs. Tonight was just a more boring night for me. Jimmy’s advice to him was spot on.

  12. Kim R says:

    Kree and Candance were fantastic. I am not getting Angie because even though she has a good voice, I did not believe she surrendered anything. And I didn’t really care for Amber either. No depth. Did Curtis hit any of his notes? I’m not sure what waffles had to do with anything. Randy is a high school boy in strange get-ups. Love me some Keith. :)

    • Amy says:

      OMG-Yes!! Keith….LOOKED HOT last niiiight. The jacket…even he looked like he’d been styled.
      He’s just always been adorbs. Still is. Hot. Did I HOT.

  13. Terry says:

    Did the singer formerly known as Angela really say that she thought she was a good as Kelly Clarkson? Wow, she has a big head on her shoulders, to go along with that big hair I guess, heh.

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      She seems to have weathered it very well, but that sort of comment is the type that has turned the typical Idol voter on a contestant fast. They tend to really really not go for such things.

    • arv says:

      She did qualify it later by saying she could sing it just as passionately since passion was what she liked about Kelly’s singing that song.

  14. marie says:

    Wish I had time to read all these comments but alas, I have to get back to work. Don’t know if anyone mentioned it here already, but has Mariah not gotten the memo that lame homophobic ribbing is finally out of fashion on Idol? What was up with that idiotic remark to Ryan about his knowing how to wear a skirt? Sheesh, give me a break.

  15. marie says:

    I have this horrible suspicion that Amber will go home tonight, although she deserves to stay and there are others who should be leaving. I just suspect she may not have made much of an impression yet, favorable or unfavorable – and it’s those contestants who are perceived, rightly or not, as nondescript, who tend to leave earlier than others who may be regarded as awful but who have at least made an impression on the voting viewers.

    • deedee says:

      Said with love: you are on crack, marie. Pimp-spot never goes home in the early rounds (someone correct me if I’m wrong). Besides – based on my reading of the blogs – Amber is many people’s top 3 or 4 simply for her beauty, great voice, and huge potential for growth. If anyone should be voted off for being nondescript, it’s Janelle. But we’ll see soon enough — I may have to come back and eat my words in a couple of hours.
      My prediction: Curtis is out.

  16. Emma says:

    Fun Fact: Haley Reinhart’s idol studio version of “I Who Have Nothing” is currently rising on the itunes chart. Yay Haley! Hopefully those peeps buying it will also check out her debut album “Listen Up!” because it is a wonderful undiscovered gem.

    • Jaimie says:

      I def agree, Listen Up is a whole lotta Retro-Soul sultry goodness with hints of Motown, R&B, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Pop, and even Disco and Reggae on the deluxe bonus cuts. Haley’s voice is so unique and so are the songs. They showcase Haley’s diversity just like she did on Idol. I wish the record had gotten more exposure because it’s one of my favorite albums of last year.

    • Bonnie A. says:

      Love “Listen Up” with Haley’s wonderful voice, her phrasing, her special way of singing songs. I discovered Michael’s reviews because of Haley. Enjoyed how much he appreciated her like I always did. She has great musicality! Hope they bring her back for a performance on AI this year.

  17. Zoe says:

    I was about to make some snide comment about how nobody watches Idol anymore. But then I saw all the comments. I’ll be over here eating my hat.

    • Jaimie says:

      lol, reports of this show’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, it ain’t going anywhere anytime soon

      • Amy says:

        LOL, Jamie. True that. For like at least 6 years now…
        I myself am guilty. I stopped taking myself seriously after Daughtry’s “untimely Season 5 exit”, when I registered on AI’s website, just to vow on the Boards never to watch again!! (and Season 5 had been my first year watching!) But I continued and in Season 7, became a complete Idoloonie. After which I thought for sure Idol had peaked and would jump shark after. But at this point I realize…I’m in it for the long haul until it REALLY fades away…because it’s like one big dysfunctional, enjoyable ride…and at the end of the day I love the process and the occasional real gems that emerge. And like the marketing approach Idol took this year…I agree…many types of these shows, but Idol is the most fun (to me) and has delivered the most viable artists and talent.

        • deedee says:

          I’m right there with you on the dysfunctional ride, Amy. I don’t *fully* understand why, but Idol is the best at sucking me in and making me care. I do bitch and complain and whine with the best of them, but I can’t quit the dang show no matter what. I also love that there are people like Michael Slezak who are equally, inexplicably passionate about this studpid show, and who offer such brilliant and hilarious critique. Slezak, Melinda (and their ilk) plus all the Idoloonies make me feel less insane … or more enjoyably insane … or something. :-D

  18. Daniel says:

    everyone loving Candice is really bothering me. Its as if they’re copying everyone else’s opinions and don’t have one for themselves. There’s a reason she was rejected before and wasn’t put on Idol before, to me she does nothing for me. I think Angie is the best singer by a mile and if she doesn’t win its a crying shame! All of the men just have to go, Burnell’s hand gestures while he sings just bug me, is he at a parade waving to the crowd all the time or something? Lazaro has a nice backstory but has no business on this show at all. Just make the top five all girls right now and get it over with.

    • deedee says:

      Why do Candice fans have to be “copying everyone else’s opinion”? It could be that people actually enjoy her singing. It’s quite possible that she’s good enough to inspire many people to comment positively on her performances. The fact that she threatens your favourite does not make all Candice fans zombie copy-cats with no independent thought. Seriously.

    • syb says:

      Seriously? LOL. Candice was the only standout by a mile. Angie’s a fine singer but she makes me yawn. See there? I’m not copying your opinion.

  19. NJ idoloonie says:

    Can you imagine if Candice sang “Mad World”? THat would have been awesome. Even if LAzaro sang it, it would have been much more interesting song choice, giving him a desperately needed edge.

  20. Hmr says:

    Good recap Michael. I have been trying to figure out why I don’t like Angie, but last night it became clear to me. It is arrogance that bothers me about her.
    I am worried about Devin going home. He has one of the best voices in the competition.
    I was wondering when the judges were going to start putting him down and I was not disappointed last night.
    Did not care for Curtis, Janelle, Paul, Angie, or Lazaro.

    • JoniC says:

      I have the same fear about Devin–not for tonight, but for the near future. BTW, why does it matter whether or not you “like” Angie? What matters is whether she can sing!

  21. connerc says:

    Regarding those who “don’t get” Angie: For me, when she is singing, I say to myself “She really is terrific” and then an hour of so later, I find myself saying “meh.” Sort of like when someone tells a funny story that you don’t find funny, and they tell you that you had to be there, Angie works in-the-moment.

  22. Timmah says:

    Michael must have been grading on a curve because there was nothing above a C last night. This group is a bunch of glorified karaoke singers and most of them can barely sing on key.

  23. Leela says:

    I know he has no chance of winning (I’m not voting for him) but I feel terrible for Paul. He has an excellent voice, command of the stage, personality, etc., but was thrown off by the judges’ and Jimmy’s insane advice to be “less theatrical or cabaret.” So that means, stop singing and acting the way you have done all your life, change your style to be someone you’re not. What BS. He was so confused and reined in last night it’s a wonder he got out one word. I hope people voted for him (or voted for others less) so he can reclaim his true self. To go out like this would be ridiculous. Especially when Curtis/Lazaro are still in play.

    • deedee says:

      He reined in the theatrics a bit last night, and it was the first time I somewhat enjoyed him. He can be as dramatic as he likes, but just know that it turns a lot of people off. Just the way it is.

  24. Pylgrym says:

    I actually thought I might enjoy the theme. How stupid of me. Those clips of the “real deal” just accentuated how truly pitiful this crop is and how badly AI has slipped.

  25. waterbug says:

    Curtis is definitely at the very bottom of my top ten, but he is hated on this board because of his personality and looks. Frankly I am not impressed by either too. But be honest, if Lazaro sang like Curtis, he would win

  26. Amy says:

    Curtis: Not a fan, yet didn’t hate on him as much as you Michael. And something is wrong with me I’m sure cuz I liked the jacket.
    In fact spent much of the night wishing I had me a stylist. Everyone went from blah to cool in one fell swoop.
    Janelle: Same as I’ve always felt..nice, sincere country gal. But meh. Has occasional nice tones but is a cut below pro talent and status and style to me. And I love country music.
    Devin: Pleasant, easy, nice sound to his singing. But I get it “no moment”…now you sound like Randy on that, Michael. And the judges seemed insincerely hard on him, so much so I pictured Nigel making notes in meetings this week to “be hard on any guy front-runners.” All of the criticism seemed phony and overblown, on what was a perfectly good performance.
    Angie: I had gone in the kitchen with the commercials on mute and came back in having missed the first few bars..haven’t YouTubed it. But Angie’s solid. THE dress WAS hot. And even if though she conjures up a young Marie Osmond lately, to me…she’s still one to watch. I don’t know why though…since her original “wow” of a song…I’m less interested, while still admitting she’s very talented…I guess just less my type of singer.
    Paul: Like the male counterpart to Janelle for me this year…just meh. Doesn’t have “it” to be the Idol or star or whatever. He definitely has nice moments to his voice, looked, as did everyone, even cuter styled…but is missing somethin’ somethin’…including self-awareness and confidence…and authentic swag I think.
    Candice: An Idol moment. Wow. nuf said. A++
    Lazaro: Felt painful. And as if that wasn’t enough…Keith engaged him in a conversation that would take several well thought out sentences…on national tv…for several painfully long minutes. I was thinking exactly as you said Michael…how did anyone let this song choice go for him?!! Whole song was in too low a register and no big notes in the high register, and all you could hear in your own head while watching was the ghost of Ms. Clarkson. He probably should be gone tonight…but probably has more people pulling for him than Janelle or Curtis…we’ll see.
    Kree: Kreeeeeee. Ahhhh. Musical Gold…is this girl. Strains of old school country female voices like Trisha Yearwood and LeeAnn Womak…voices like we haven’t heard lots of lately in the midst of all the highly produced and loud rockin’ shows of the Lady Antebellums and Band Perrys and even Carrie Underwood’s. But Kree has “the pure Voice” of a female country bluesy girl. Beeeeeutiful.
    Burnell: Nice. Looked cool.
    Amber: Nice. Not outstanding choice. Pretty girl. Marketable. Very good voice. But you’re right…gotta do something surprising in song choices and arrangements to crack the currently reigning top 3 girls…but not sure she can.

    But never mind all that…tonight….PHIL PHILLIPS!! Yay!! :)

  27. Amy says:

    ugh. I gotta learn how to do “pithy” bullet pointed reviews. yea. maybe that’ll happen.

  28. syb says:

    While I agree with almost everything in Michael’s text, I think all the grades were too high save Candice’s. It was a lackluster night saved by one lady who is already a pro from what I can see and hear. Love Kree and her voice, but I didn’t find it all that great. (Kudos for calling Jimmy out on his clueless comment to her about oversinging though. Did she look like Paul through those glasses? I think it’s time someone gave that comment to Amber.

  29. Billie says:

    BTW here is the second week of my intellectually concluded Top 9 ‘Idol’ Leaderboard!
    9. Janelle Arthur (2 weeks at no. 9)
    She’s a Southern belle (beautiful, blonde, country), probably the reason why she was able to avoid Bottom 3 (for now) despite being grouped in a sea filled with big-voiced divas (Amber, Angie, Candice, Kree), fatal no. 2 performance slot, and an unlikeably okay performance. Her issue for now is she hasn’t deliver yet an amazing performance since she made it to Las Vegas.
    8. Paul Jolley (2 weeks at no. 8)
    He sings well…but he’s not exciting (bland?)…he’s white, male, and country…but he didn’t play guitar (so far)…thus, an early recipient of elimination?
    7. Devin Velez (down from no. 4)
    Okay, his recent Carrie Underwood performance was not at the same level from his previous works therefore landing him at the Bottom 2, but it is still the best male vocal of the night! Plus, he tried country and not Spanish-English this week! All he needs to work on is his understanding to the song to get that right emotional connection to the ‘Idol’ viewers, covering a hipper song choice will not hurt either…so that he can rightfully outlast Lazaro as the only male standing in the playing field.
    6. Burnell Taylor (2 weeks at no. 6)
    It is fresh to see restraint coming from a black guy especially for recent seasons we have African-American male contestants relying on over-the-top gospel stylings, but his ‘Flying Without Wings’ cover was a bit of a let down…even Jimmy already cautioned him for always doing old soul ballads will not make him win this competition. He needs to work on the personality department and go to uptempo or anything current to prove that he can be a viable artist of today.
    5. Amber Holcomb (2 weeks at no. 5)
    Okay, she retained her spot because of consistency. And yes, she has a strong hold of her pitch, but her slightly alarming Katie Stevens-Thia-Megia-Shannon Magrane ballad song choices might put her at risk (see Pia Toscano went out early during season 10). Another thing is her emotional connection needs to be worked on as well. Sure she is no Miss Teen USA and has a cool personality to like for, but smiling while singing and a B-rated performance of Kelly Clarkson’s winning track didn’t help her.
    4. Lazaro Arbos (up from no. 7)
    I know. I know. He might have been the weakest vocalist left in the competition. Indeed, the humble stutterrer is struggling both in song choice and in his vocals during his “Breakaway” effort. The case though is…in this ‘Idol’ era, I can’t really foresee a Top 5 (Top 4?) without a male entry. What can we do? I mean he placed fourth this week…a very big thanks to his lots of screen time, a number of supporters (see Twitter), commercial looks that will make girls power vote (thanks or no thanks to that Facebook app), and an already established back story to get the sympathy vote (see Danny Gokey). On a trying-to-be-positive note, I have my suggestions for him – how about singing a song integrated with Spanish language (especially just in case he outlasted my favorite Devin) to solidify the Latin vote? He also needs to pick first songs which are not very range-y and more on songs with softer melodies, with no very challenging melodies. He needs to improve on his performances to make it bearable as a viewer like me seeing him sailing in every round of the competition.
    3. Kree Harrison (2 weeks at no. 3)
    Kree’s another heartfelt performance for the song “Crying” just solidified her status as “one of the singers to beat this season” for another week. Moreover, if she continues to maintain her bar level that she raise or even set it to crazily newer heights…showing diversity as well from week to week just like her bluesy, edgy, sexy performance of “Evidence”…she might give justice to the following losses of Allison Iraheta, Haley Reinhart, and Elise Testone by proving that awesome, with-bluesy-influence, female singers like them can also win the competition.
    2. Candice Glover (2 weeks at no. 2)
    She got another A-graded performance from Michael Slezak by singing an out-of-this-world, excellent version of “I (Who Have Nothing)”…despite being covered amazingly as well by Jordin Sparks in season 6 and Haley Reinhart in season 10…while still putting her own twist on it (tough job!!! tough job!!! tough job!!!)…but a Tamyra Gray-LaToya London-Melinda Doolittle-Jessica Sanchez treatment-in-the-early-finals vibe might do hurt her. My suggestion for her just like Slezak wrote is that in this ‘Idol’ era, she needs artistic innovation (see Cook-esque “Always Be My Baby”, Allen-esque “Heartless”, Phillips-esque “Thriller”) and prove it for the people who questions her being a viable artist of today. I mean she did perform together with Jessica Sanchez and Deandre Brackensick “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” and turn a country song into a more soulful approach. Since she’s really amazing she can’t sing a song and make it bad right? Another help is she needs to experiment herself in terms of appearance and lose some WEIGHT (see David Cook)…so that other people will take another look at her and will make them think that…she can be as marketable as Rihanna without using autotunes…and young girls will think that she’s also cool too…and they could vote for her as long as they want like they always does to the previous WGWG winners. Seriously, I believe slimming down is really helpful so that in case she won (which is very likely), she can really avoid a sad, disappointing, Melanie Amaro, after-competition future you know.
    1. Angie Miller (2 weeks at no. 1)
    Her hype, her solid efforts, her Hollywood Week original song, her bold move singing a single from a previous contestant of the show, her number of social media followers (Cassadee Pope-like fanbase?), and her number of producers pimping her as one of their favorites making her closest to the crown for now. Plus, her powerfully sung “I Surrender” just solidified everything she has for now…letting her winning chances continue to flourish and possibly join the ranks of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Phillip Phillips in May.

    • Dayrah says:

      Um I didn’t read this but maybe if you have THAT much to say EVERY WEEK you should get your own blog instead of trying to take over Michael’s.

  30. James.PH says:

    Kree is goin to win this season !! i feel it in my heart !! Haha by the way. i’ve done this already. check out and make your calls official

  31. thank you for sharing such a great information, you really did a great job