American Idol Top 9 Performance Recap: Such an Easy Game to Play [Updated]

amber-holcomb-american-idolAt first, I didn’t understand why American Idol needed to get Jimmy Iovine to endorse the John Lennon-Paul McCartney songbook at the top of tonight’s Top 9 performance telecast.

Then, as several contestants approached their ditties the way I might open an AP Calculus textbook — which is to say with bewildered ignorance and/or total indifference — I remembered: I’m an old man. Come to think of it, you’re probably old, too. And those Beatles songs? They’re history, like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

But who among us hasn’t scraped a little mold off an excellent cheddar or pricey Camembert from the back of the fridge, taken a taste and let out an expletive like an overexcited Nicki Minaj? “#@*% that’s good!” Every song on tonight’s set list may have been about three times older than Burnell Taylor, but the bulk of the Top 9 contestants proved at the very least enjoyable, if not utterly delightful, while tackling the Fab Four’s undeniable melodies.

So yeah, while it might’ve been nice to hear one or two or even eight more uptempo choices, I’m gonna put a lid on my kvetching and jump to assigning letter grades. Without further ado…

Kree Harrison: “With a Little Help From My Friends” | “What would you do if I sang out of tune?” asked Kree, delivering the night’s first lyric and making me chuckle a little bit. I mean, that’d be like me asking, “What would you do if I stopped production on Idology and forced Melinda Doolittle to do an entire YouTube series based around ABC’s celebrity diving competition Splash?” It’s simply not gonna happen. Still, while Kree looked gorgeous and her voice was as supple and pleasing as ever, there was something a little, er, low-impact about her performance (for me, for you). The notes were all there, but the energy was slightly muffled — to the point where, when the six-person chorus crashed the party on the opening refrain, I found myself sighing and thinking, “Isn’t it a little early in the season for dramatic choir reveals? And how come Kree’s not giving me 100 percent of the emotional abandon I need in my life right now?” Don’t get me wrong, Kree deserves to go directly to the Top 8 without passing go and without collecting $200, but it won’t exactly land her on Boardwalk or Park Place. Grade: B+

Burnell Taylor: “Let It Be” | Has everyone recovered from Burnell admitting he’d never before heard “Let It Be”? I mean, I’d have been less horrified if the kid had thought the tune was a Kris Allen original on account of our Pocket Idol’s Season 9 results-show cover. Nevertheless, you can’t judge a vocal based on its pre-performance package, and if I’m being honest, I kind of liked how Burnell’s gruffly soulful instrument sounded up against one of the Beatles’ church-ier anthems. What bugged me, though, was the blank grin that kept cropping up on Burnell’s face during the performance, an expression that left me wondering, “Does he have any idea what he’s singing about? Why am I getting the same vibe I got from “Flying Without Wings”? Where’s the electricity?” To keep the metaphor going, at this point in the competition, Burnell is a little like geothermal energy: A really good idea that hasn’t quite come to fruition yet. I’m interested in at least a few more weeks of research, though! Grade: B

Amber Holcomb: “She’s Leaving Home” | To my ears, Amber’s performance was so mesmerizing that I didn’t even notice her utterly random “industrial scenes” backdrop — not until she hit her last note and my husband asked, “What’s with those pictures of smokestacks?” (Maybe they were the source of all that white smoke that swirled around Amber and her chamber-music accompanists?) Far more vexing to me was the judges’ mixed feedback — Randy claiming the number started “slow and unsure,” Nicki demanding a change in lipstick color, Mariah admitting she’d never even heard “She’s Leaving Home” (!) — but no one giving Amber credit for a sophisticated arrangement that highlighted the soaring quality of her vocals, and gorgeous phrasing that brought to life the somberness of the lyrics. I wish Ryan Seacrest could’ve thrown a flag on the play and demanded the judges watch an instant replay (apologies for that possibly botched sports reference): Maybe a second listen would’ve opened their ears to the awesomeness they just weren’t appreciating. Or maybe they were just following instructions from Uncle Nigel in the first place? Grade: A-

Lazaro Arbos: “In My Life” | I appreciated Keith and Mariah offering some constructive criticism about Lazaro needing to start his songs in the right key, but the latter judge’s assessment that his merely “making it through the song” was “a big deal” would be as patronizing as telling Ms. Carey that she really earned that Golden Raspberry for remembering her lines and staying on set right through the very last scene of Glitter. Alas, Lazaro is so far behind the other eight runners in the field, it’s almost like he’s in his own race: Once his rivals pass the bleachers and cross the finish line, the likeable kid comes staggering down the straightaway all by himself and everyone feels the urge to cheer “Run, Lazaro, run!” And then he’s collapsing in tears and getting wrapped in a foil poncho (dyed canary yellow or hot pink) and you’re hoping Ryan will repeat his 866 number so you can throw some sympathy votes his way. The problem is that said sympathy votes will only serve to put Lazaro back on the track for another humiliating effort next week — which isn’t really very sympathetic, if you think about it. Grade: D-

Candice Glover: “Come Together” | Here come Miss Candice/ She come groovin’ up slowly/ She will throw you shank eye/ She will play with tempo/ Her voice makes you shake down to your knees/ “Muddy Water” low note/ Gives a case of the “squees!”

What bad production/ There be too much jump cut/ She works the stage but/ Where are the closeups?/ I say close your eyes, hear carefully/ A final jazzy run/ Has just been hit perfectly/ Come together, right now/ Girl can sing Grade: A-

Paul Jolley: “Eleanor Rigby” | If you can forgive the hinky falsetto notes that started and ended his performance, Paul achieved his personal best tonight. And if I sound a little like Paula Abdul trying to spin an Amtrak ticket out of a trainwreck — “Sweetheart, you have never sounded better on a song starting with the letter ‘E’!” — that’s not the case. I’ve consistently called out Paul for his lack of connection to the lyrics he’s sung in Season 12, but to me, he sounded vastly more at home as the narrator of “Eleanor Rigby” — painting pictures of fictional characters rather than baring his own heart and soul on stage. That comfort level and ease allowed us to hear Paul’s pretty natural tone rather than the strained, overdramatized version that made “Alone” and “Amazed” so unappealing. Alas, though, dude might find himself at risk mainly because he hasn’t met a Ryan Seacrest softball question he couldn’t fumble with an eagerness-to-please that always verges on desperation: Hint, even a scowl plays better on TV than a painfully forced smile. Grade: B+ B (upon second and third listen, methinks I was a tad too generous)

Angie Miller: “Yesterday” | Look, if Angie had been auditioning for a Broadway revival of Cats, then “Yesterday” was a rip-roaring success. But to my ears, her overwrought (albeit pitch-perfect) delivery was a triumph of staged, play-to-the-rafters acting over genuine gut feeling. And while the judges praised Angie as much as any contestant tonight, I felt like their comments were peppered with hidden caveats — Nicki mentioning how Angie could eventually sing “soundtracks for Disney movies,” Mariah daydreaming about hearing more “rock edge” from Ms. Miller, and Keith straight-up saying he could hear Angie’s focus drift in and out of the performance. Girlfriend has all the horsepower and accuracy an Idol contestant could want, but she needs to ugly-up some of the edges, worry less about celery-crisp enunciation and more about the meaning of the words coming out of her mouth. A shift back to the piano and a choice of uptempo — or heck, I’d even accept midtempo — number wouldn’t hurt girlfriend’s competitive trajectory, either. Grade: B-

Devin Velez: “The Long and Winding Road” | If you’ll allow a moment of Top Chef ridiculousness, it’s not enough for a chef to julienne veggies with machine-like precision, he’s also got to be a master of spice and flavor and the right temperature. And that’s why Devin — who continues to cut through every note with Ginsu-like accuracy — has yet to fully capture my imagination. Oh sure, I’m impressed by his technical merit, but where’s the artistic interpretation? Where’s the heat? Like Burnell, Devin’s facial expression is an issue: He often looks like he’s buffing the floors of his military high school rather than trying to become a pop star on America’s most venerable singing competition. Keith noted the disconnect tonight — asking for more heart and a little less “laid-backness” — while Randy actually asked for fewer runs. (Was that an Idol first?) Mariah’s get-out-the-vote campaign will probably keep Devin out of harm’s way, but I’ve got to be honest: While intellectually, it’ll confound me if Devin gets booted before Lazaro, emotionally I suspect such an offense won’t muster anything past a 2 or 3 on my Outrage-o-Meter. Grade: B-

Janelle Arthur: “I Will” | Janelle’s backdrop — a swirling heart-shaped Christmas-ornament projection — was tackier than Nicki’s attempts to get censored, but everything else about the night’s closing performance was sweetly subtle — and served to restore the Tennessee gal’s rep after several weeks of substandard vocals. It didn’t hurt that Janelle chose what was probably the night’s least-known track, allowing her to add some country instrumentation without conjuring up the vision of her pulling a flannel hood over the song’s head and throwing it into the back of an unmarked van. And Janelle’s lilting delivery — along with her avoidance of unnecessary glory notes — unearthed the hummingbird-delicate aspects of her tone. As Randy said, it wasn’t quite a yodel, but I don’t think I’d have called “foul!” if she’d taken it that far. Plus, that sensational white goddess gown with beaded top made her look like a seasoned star — and played right into Nicki’s ridiculous “be my bride” feedback arc. Now let’s get a second consecutive week of excellence and keep the Season 12 race exciting. Yeehaw! Grade: A-

Should Be Bottom 3: Angie (a scare would do her good), Devin, Lazaro (with Lazaro going home)
Will Be Bottom 3: Amber, Lazaro, Paul (with Paul going home)

Winner of “Idol Tour Fan Save”: Aubrey Cleland over Charlie Askew

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 12 Top 9 performance night? What did you think of the judges’ comments? Who was your favorite? Who’s going to be in trouble come Thursday? 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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528 Comments
  1. LA says:

    I am not sure whty the judges were so hard on Paul. He was, and is, the best male singer in the finals. They are protecting Devin and, for some reason, Lazaro.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I like Paul. Technically, Devin and Burnell are better than Paul. I think Paul needs more coaching. They were protecting Devin last night, but Lazaro – not so much.

      • Yo says:

        I like Paul, also, and thought his critique last night unreasonable. I also like his gentle demeanor. His has controlled the lack of confidence facial expressions nicely. He presents as a genuinely nice person and I usually don’t think much about how Idol contestants present as human beings.

        • deedee says:

          Yeah, I’m not a big fan of Paul, but he really didn’t do such a bad job last night and didn’t deserve what they heaped on him. The judges’ critiques were way too harsh, and I felt badly for him. His niceness needs to be overshadowed by swagger when he performs, though. Like David Cook – truly one of the nicest, most genuine and decent contestants ever, but when he hit the stage, he was confident, sexy, and in charge (to the point of repeatedly being called smug and arrogant by Simon). Paul doesn’t have that quality, unfortunately, so his performances lack that necessary umph-ness.

  2. twnkltoze says:

    OK People. You’ve got to consider their age and that some of these kids may not have been exposed to the Beatles…ever. They are not only very young but cultural differences come in to play as well. There’s alot of great artists from various genres that were around 40+ years ago that I’ve never heard of either.

    • Jane says:

      I was born in the nineties. All my friends were born in the nineties. WE WERE EXPOSED TO THE BEATLES. EVERYONE is exposed to the Beatles. I’m sick of people being all, “Young people have no idea what happened before they were alive?” They’re the BEATLES, for crying out loud. And it’s not like “Let It Be” is one of their more obscure songs. I was gaping like a fish when Burnell said he’d never even HEARD it before.

      • Maria says:

        My ten-year-old daughter knows most of the Beatles’ big hits…anyone going into the music business should at least get a hold of the Beatles “Number Ones” CD and familiarize themselves with it. Kinda like an aspiring painter might want to know who Michaelangelo or Monet are…

    • Timmah says:

      If you’ve heard of Beethoven then you should also be familiar with The Beatles.

    • jason says:

      If you’re a musician you should listen to the Beatles! Period!

  3. Lois Benton says:

    Candice Amber
    Kree Angie Burnell Janelle
    Devin
    Jolley

    Lazaro

  4. Singing gal says:

    Re: unnecessary balladry
    While I love kree, she could’ve done the Ringo version vs the joe cocker one. I love both, and Joe’s always reminds me of the wonder years (sigh). But uptempo from her would have been nice. She could have slain” Oh! darling” or even” don’t let me down”. Not fast but not as slow as 90% Of what we heard. And I’m 30. As a wise man once said “they should have been called the fetals” . Feel like they’re engrained in my being that’s how well I know their songs.

    • marie says:

      I suggested “Don’t Let Me Down” for Kree in the comments for Slezak’s last column. I don’t think “…Help from My Friends” was the best choice for her, but re the Cocker vs. Ringo versions, when my wife made the same comment, I had to point out that there really isn’t much there for a singer in Ringo’s version: after all, Ringo isn’t much of a singer. Cocker’s version is a lot more meaty.

  5. Mikko Makitalo says:

    I have the feeling that the show is very much on the leash of the producers and is thus very boring and predictable. I wonder, how come they think, that gaining the ultimate control even over the voting people would make a good show?

  6. Tahoe Mike says:

    I just don’t even know what to say about the fact that they didn’t even know the songs. How is it possible to grow up in America and not know The Beatles?
    ~
    I started off PO’d at Kree for skipping the “Get high with a little help form my friends,” line. I know it’s Idol, but wow. Jim Morrison would have sung it, Mick Jagger would have sung it, Elvis would have done it, The Beatles sang it, and they have been playing it on the radio for fifty years. Grow up Idol!
    ~
    I loved what Amber did with She’s Leaving Home. That was beautiful. I was just embarrassed for Mariah when she said she didn’t know it.
    ~
    Poor Elanor Rigby! The atrocities that have been committed against her on Idol, and in that church where she lives; just shameful.
    ~
    Nice job Janelle. She made that work for her voice.

    • marie says:

      Ahh, no reason to be PO’d at Kree; I’m sure she was just doing as she was told. She’s not an established artist like Jim Morrison or Mick Jagger (who, by the way, obeyed Ed Sullivan and sang “Let’s spend SOME TIME together,” thereby securing future airtime for the Stones, while Morrison got The Doors banned). You’re right to suggest that Idol be the entity to “grow up.”

  7. McJagger says:

    Agree with Michael about Amber. The arrangement was sophisticated
    and fresh. Loved it. Wtf With Randy’s comments. Reminded of Simon’s harsh criticism of Carly’s version of Blackbird. Are the judges actually listening? Lazaro deserves to go…

  8. DavidSask says:

    This years Idol contestants sucks, I fast forward most of it, and only like Candice so far. I find myself watching only the bitch brigade the judges have going on this year!!

  9. Adam Fachry says:

    Is it just me or does Burnell’s tone sound a lot like Chris Brown’s? That turns me off a bit tbh. My favorite performance of the night has got to be Amber, and I haven’t been a fan of her ever since the past two weeks due to her lack of imagination when picking a song (I Believe You and Me, I’m Every Woman, A Moment Like This). But this week, she’s picked one of the most obscure Beatles tunes and delivered a striking performance that I never knew she could. The chamber-pop arrangement could easily be heard on some indie-rock record (the likes of Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, etc.), and even though her tone isn’t distinct enough, the juxtaposition of her r&b sensibility and the rather elusive melody of the song works so well. I was hoping she performed one of Beatles’ Phil Spector-produced tracks, because then, maybe she could channel her inner-Supremes or Ronettes, but I’m not mad at this at all. .

    • deedee says:

      Ooo, nice analysis of Amber’s performance! Nicki let on that Amber didn’t choose that song herself, so I’m wondering if Jimmy’s people didn’t read the blogs and pick up on the main critique of the fans – which is that Amber’s song choices are limiting her. Jimmy seems to see huge potential in her star power, so maybe by giving her a non-obvious song, he’s trying to make her more appealing to the fans. Well, if that’s what happened, it worked for me! I thought it was her best night so far.

  10. Anton says:

    Hey im not 50 but i know Shes Leaving Home. Funny burnell doesntknow let it be! Think hes lying.

  11. Anton says:

    Amber must be given good credit for taking a very rare beatles song. Shame on mariah for not knowing the song. All the rest picked one that ‘s very usual, less effort therefore.

  12. Anton says:

    My top 3 : amber. Candace. Burnell. Think angie is a good composer but her voice kinda bores me , it lacks quality.

  13. Anton says:

    Lazaro was so ready to go home. No reason to stay, he sang dreadful..sorry but it’s the truth. No more pity votes now pls.

  14. Tahoe Mike says:

    I am no fan of his, but does anyone else think it would just be somehow wrong for the guy named “Paul” to go home on Beatles night??

  15. Anton says:

    Read above suggesting that Nigel somehow manipulates judges’ comments. Please Nigel, stop it…we need their own opinions…

  16. Anton says:

    Candace was over the top!

  17. Anton says:

    Amber has the qualities to get big if handled properly. Right songs and good promos and mtvs. The world needs a good RnB singer who sings really great. Songs and singers nowadays are mostly so-so. Time to bring back true great music.

  18. Anton says:

    Kree is really good. But we already have carrie underwood. She sounds a copycat , really..

  19. marie says:

    OK, now I really have to stop reading and go get ready for work (I’ve TRIED “Sorry I’m late, I was reading Slezak’s column,” but my stupid boss didn’t like it), but I can’t leave without a shout-out to MS for his new “Come Together” lyrics. It’s like I said in an earlier post: what else is there to say about Ms. Candice, really?

  20. Anton says:

    Ow come on come on, i begin to believe Nigel’s hand manipulates the judges. Angie sang way way safe! But nobody said that, all four judges still praised Angie! Come on it is now OBVIOUS…it’s silly watching AI…

  21. Lue says:

    I actually really enjoyed Amber’s performance. It had a strange, new feel to it that made me more interested in her than before. I do have to disagree with the Angie remarks. She should not be in the bottom three; in fact, I enjoyed the drama of her song that seemed to be missing with a lot of the other contestants.

  22. jason says:

    Way to generous to Candace! All I could think is she’s not Carl/y Smithson!she was maybe fifth or sixth best!! Bottom three burnell Lazaro and Paul with Lazaro going home!

  23. Devin hunter says:

    Candace is over rated, yes she can go on those high notes but her voice is not pleasant to listen, Angie and Amber are way better singers and they can also rock those high notes and its beautiful and pleasant to listen to, I can listen to both amber and Angie on the radio but I would tune on a different station if Candace was on…..point blank

  24. PattyWilla says:

    Haven’t felt the urge to download anything this year, but I am going to download Amber’s performance last night – loved it! The judges are nuts! The only one who usually gives decent feedback is Keith Urban. At least I feel musically he knows more than the others – you would think Mariah would be the best! We all know about Randy – and Nicki – ugh.

  25. Mary says:

    I thought tonight was pretty good, wish they had more uptempo, but I can live with it – no train wrecks. I don’t know if it is because I am not familiar with the song but I thought Amber was the best. I love Kree but something was off on her performance. I don’t know if the band and choir overpower her voice but it just didn’t click for me. The bottom three should be Devin, Laranzo and Paul. I know it won’t happen but Laranzo should go home but I think Devin will. He has a nice voice but no personality at all. I feel he is just singing the music. I’m bracing myself but I didn’t care for Candice performance tonight. She sung it well but the performance was how do I say it, stiff. I still think she is great I just wasn’t feeling tonight. I will be p..off if Amber goes before Laranzo. I hope people vote based on the music not the pity vote because he cried. He is not ready for a competition like this and people who are voting for him are doing him a disservice. He would never survive in the music business.

    • deedee says:

      Lazaro would need a thicker skin to survive the music industry. Last night, Jimmy didn’t want to be too honest because he was afraid Nicki would call him out again for being cruel or something. Lazaro kept saying “it’s ok, it’s ok” because I think he feels people are being too careful with him. But then when he started to cry after a less-than-favourable critique by the panel, I thought – oh no, this guy could never work in the entertainment industry if he can’t even take criticism from Randy Jackson!

  26. ChrissieK says:

    In thinking back to previous Idol seasons, I cannot help but wonder if a little bit of Jimmie with the stupid cap doesn’t go a long way? I feel he leads the kids astray week after week. I think if you are going to try out for Idol and you make it thru to the top 10 or 12 then you should do so on your own merit? Maybe that is what is missing from Idol now…it just being a down to earth talent show with lots of surprises and fun and squeeky notes, forgotten lyrics and a small stage up until the finale? It has lost it’s home-spun-ness in so many ways. Drop Jimmie, please. He’s worthless and contradicts himself every week. I like the 3 judge panel (yeah, bring in a guest judge every so often) and the different mentors. We don’t need Jimmie who thinks he is still a 16 year old, we just don’t.

    • JoniC says:

      Jimmie Iovine is always talked about like some genius music guru guy, but I’d never heard of him before he started becoming such a presence on “Idol” a few seasons ago.

      • Anton says:

        Can anybody tell who this Jimmy Lovine really us? Where did he come from, what music backgrounds he has , which singers he helped make it to fame? Who is he to feel and act the way he does in AI?

  27. Devin hunter says:

    Who I think should be in the top 3:
    Angie
    Amber
    Kree
    Should be safe:
    Candace
    Janelle
    Devin
    Should be in bottom 3:
    Burnell
    Paul
    Lazaro, he should be going Home!!

  28. Loni says:

    I don’t understand why you didn’t like Angie’s performance Michael. I thought it was beautiful.

  29. Teeny Bikini says:

    Burnell – “Has everyone recovered from Burnell admitting he’d never before heard “Let It Be”?”

    No.

  30. Johnny says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if each week the producers put out the list to some and force a song on others in private as well as probably give some preferential treatment as far as coaching the performance goes. Just seems this season is so calculated to make whoever their favorite to win is to always have just the right thing to sing at all times. That said, they may shock all of us and keep picking themes so Burnell ends up winning. and i TOTALLY don’t get y they like him so much. I see Kree n Burnell finale

  31. Gomer says:

    I found Angie’s vocal to be the best of the night. Still wish the ballad to up bead ratio would have been more even, not 1 vs. 8.

  32. Stacey says:

    I personally loved Kree (although not perfect, she seemed at home with her song selection), Angie (while obviously manipulating and forced, she made me believe Yesterday. I liked that she gave some big notes towards the end). And Janelle (Never knew that Beatles song, unlike the other selections. I loved that it was so unknown that Janelle was able to make it her own and very believable for a country singer. You could sense that it could be released tomorrow and be a hit). Paul Jolley was his best this week. He was actually decent with Elenor Rigby. I wasn’t not expecting it to go well, but his voice delivered. Amber was very boring. Candice, excellent. While not predictable. A more rock version of Come Together, since she’s little on the boring side for me. But much better this week than Amber….

    • Anton says:

      Are you kidding? Amber is the best last night, picking a very rare beatles song and nailing it. Unlike the rest who picked the usual beatles song. They therefore have the edge to do it better. But still, i find Amber’s performance top of the class.

      • JASon says:

        AMber has no idea that was a “rare” Beatle song! She never even heard it. But it is not a rare song. It is on what is considered the Best Rock Album OF All Time!!! The reason she picked it is it was a ballad!

        • Anton says:

          The fact that Mariah never knew it makes it rare. Of course it is considered in the Best Rock Albums. I have a cassette tape years ago entitled rarities including that song. Beatles had enormous nallad selectoons which are more familiar but Amber chose one which is unfamiliar. She nailed it and made her performance great.

  33. CAS says:

    Kree: Her vocal was flawless, as usual, but I would have preferred the Beatles’ version to the Joe Cocker version. The Beatles’ version is a good deal more uptempo and has more tune to it.
    Burnell: Voice really has an interesting tone to it. Thought he was better than last week–wasn’t straining through so many high notes.
    Amber: Once again, didn’t seem to connect with her lyrics. The big note at the end was a real error in interpretation; it’s a sad song. The original doesn’t even end with a vocal note: it ends with a gentle phrase from the instruments.
    Lazaro: Enunciation is POOR, and either he or the background singers were terribly out of tune at first. He has GOT to go.
    Candice: PERFECT, but this has never been one of my favorite Beatles songs and, with its whacked out lyrics, I don’t know why it’s been done so much.
    Paul: No one seems to understand this song. It is a tragic story of lonely people. It shouldn’t be rocked out like David Cook, and NO big notes are required or even desired. Plus, his falsetto was really weak.
    Angela: Best of the night. BEAUTIFUL! Brought tears to my eyes, and I’ve heard “Yesterday” done to death.
    Devin: Nice, but too many runs. His voice is wonderful. Please, please, America, give me a few more chances to hear him.
    Janelle: Perfect song choice. (Actually this song, with its short length and simplicity, seems like it was just written for “Idol”.) Beautiful.
    My bottom three: Paul, Lazaro, and Burnell (even though I really enjoyed him)
    Going home: Lazaro should, but Devin probably will. His introverted, calm personality works against him in this situation.

    • Anton says:

      Angie’s performance was poor. I nearly got to sleep…wrong song choice. She better be a composer and leave simging. She may be successful in that area, i find her voice lacking quality.

  34. vincent dante says:

    Michael: Don’t know if anyone has mentioned this (I’m not reading 350+ responses) but “I Will” has already been countryfied. Alison Krauss did a version back in the 90s.

    • Loni says:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3989jHX3sMQ Thanks for pointing this out. This version is so much prettier than Janelle’s was. She has kind of a weird rough tone to her voice.

      • Bob says:

        Oh my God, is that ever nice. But as I’ve said before on this site, a comparison with somebody like Alison Krauss is really not fair. Don’t get me wrong, I like Idol a lot, and I like throwing in my two-cent’s worth on these contestants, but none of them are anywhere near the stratosphere of musicians that includes Krauss, k.d.lang, Jennifer Nettles, Ella, etc. Anybody who thinks Janelle gave a great performance should listen to this version by Krauss. Absolutely sublime, controlled–the woman can do anything she wants with her voice–nuanced, infused with feeling and authenticity, pitch-perfect . . . Thanks, Loni; my day has been made better by listening to it.

  35. Jaxguy says:

    I’ve been reading the comments here to be entertained and to see if viewers have gotten better. Much to my happiness it’s the same old crap. Many people who are hard of hearing with silly critiques. It’s still a show that people watch and vote but should be forced to take a hearing test before they vote.

    • Jason says:

      Must be nice going through life being the ONE who really knows. Thank you for gracing us with your expert analysis, troll….. I mean Jaxguy.

  36. DAG says:

    Michael – I thought the same thing about Candice – why won’t they show her sing and perform! It’s like they’re afraid to show a powerful, beautiful, curvy African-American woman slaying it. I felt like I was back in the days of overt prejudice towards women like Frenchie Davis, Mandisa and Jennifer Hudson.

  37. LeahKittyS says:

    I must say I am shocked at how many people are unfamiliar with Beatles music. I’m only in college, but I’ve known the Beatles since I was little because my parents are huge fans and played them in the car. My favorite songs were “All You Need Is Love” “Come Together,” “Eight Days a Week,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Hello Goodbye,” “HELP!,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “Let It Be,” “Love Me Do,” “She Loves You,” “Ticket to Ride,” “We Can Work It Out,” and “Yellow Submarine.”

    • ssc says:

      I am over 50, and have been listening to Beatle’s music most of my life, but I have to admit, I did not know “She’s Leaving Home” or “I Will”. I’m sure I have heard them both before, but did not immediately recognize them. I was shocked that Burnell said that he had never heard “Let It Be”! However, a few years ago, I had an intern, a 19 yr. old Africian American male, who had never heard the Eagles. I told him to go and listen to “Hotel California”. He, too, had probably never heard “Let It Be”!

      • LeahKittyS says:

        Really? Wow. Eagles I didn’t learn about until later, but it still phases me that someone wouldn’t know a song as iconic as “Let It Be.” I ought to correct myself above; that list is the Beatles songs I remember hearing and liking as a little kid. Any other Beatles songs I learned came later.

  38. Vice says:

    Amber is over rated. If the top 3 ain’t Angie / Kree / And the boring but undoubtedly good Candice its a sham!

    • Father Time says:

      Except that Amber was actually better than everyone else tonight, so she should be in the top 3 based on tonight alone (she probably won’t be though, but she should be) As for the final 3, it should be (IMHO) Kree/Amber/Burnell (sorry, but Candice is too boring and Angie is too contrived and fake)

  39. Gailer says:

    This season is going to go down as forgettable. I am still enjoying the show, but this is a bad Top Ten. The song choices are bad, no one is unique and the boys are pretty much a fail. We need some exciting guys. Angie is like a copy of the Voice winner. Meh, this is not a singing competition, never was, and that extra sparkle is clearly missing. :(

    • Jason says:

      Man if you don’t get “the sparkle” from Candace, Angie and Kree, then girl, you don’t know what sparkle is. All 3 have what it takes to have successful careers, maybe even become stars and they are making this season a major singing competition. Hallelujah to fantastic singers!

      • Father Time says:

        I respect your opinion, but I have to side with Gailer on this one. The top 10 this year is absolutely terrible compared to previous seasons & the “top 5″ guys are probably the worst ever. And sorry, but I don’t get the “sparkle” from any of the girls you’ve mentioned (my favourite is Amber) In an ideal world, I’d swap out Candace with Zoanette (she may not be better vocally, but she’s WAY more fun & entertaining) and Janelle with Rachel Hale (what the hell were the judges thinking when they made that call?) and either Kree/Angie (take your pick) with Brandy Neelly (call me a lunatic, but this is my own opinion)

    • Anton says:

      Agree! AI has not been a singing competition starting season after Carrie Underwood.

  40. Jason says:

    Singinggal….. brilliant suggestion.. Kree would have killed Oh Darling. The guys just didn’t do it for me at all. Lazaro … yes courageous and all that, but nowhere near belonging in the top ten at all. Should be the one going this week. All male performances were forgettable as soon as they were over. Angie’s performance was fantastic. Absolutely. It started out quiet and sweet and got absolutely great. That IS one of my favorite Beatles songs Keith and she did a fabulous job…. she brought a great feel to it. Candace, Angie and Kree. Bloody amazing. 1. Candace 2. Angie 3. Kree 4/5 Janelle/Amber in either order. And then the guys. No even in the same class. I had hopes for Devin, but he hasn’t brought anything new to the table, certainly not exciting…. he’s become same old same old. Burnell.. overrated, Paul, doesn’t do it for me at all. Lazaro, well past his time. I would have loved to see Charlie gets that last spot, regardless, just because I find him so much more entertaining than the girl (sorry forget her name, seriously). I know he’s fragile and all, but I think he would be more enjoyable to watch in a concert. Oh well, best of luck to him. I hope he finds his niche in the industry… a good niche where he can make a good living.

  41. marie says:

    Well, I have to say that it’s very interesting that the most polarizing competitor on this board this week seems to be Angie! There’s a real dichotomy here.
    I LOVE reading this board.

  42. Jason says:

    God bless Nicki Minaj………….. that girl’s judging makes the panel for me. Love her wild comments and not being afraid to tell someone when they don’t do a good job. She kicks ass. Keith was really good in the auditions, but in the live rounds with every episode he seems to have more and more of a difficult time being constructively critical… He’s starting to overly compliment after a criticism… slowly approaching the Mariah Carey School of Never Be Negative But If You Must Surround It With OverExtended Compliments. Randy, giving him credit, he’s criticizing this year, which is something he rarely did last season so kudos to him, kinda sorta. Freakin’ Nicki, though, is a blast to watch. Interesting, surprising, opinionated and not afraid to be critical. She freakin’ rocks.

  43. marie says:

    I am SOOO in love with Keith Urban (even my wife knows that, and she has no choice but to accept it!). Did anyone catch him singing along with Candice? The man is MADE of music (and lots of other very yummy components!). OK, this dirty old broad will now shut up!

    • deedee says:

      Yes, I caught him singing along! He does that a lot. And his critiques are so intelligent and almost always spot on. He can be a bit too nice, though … but that just makes him even MORE dreamy! *sigh*

  44. Yo says:

    Wow. I’m surprised at the lack of support overall for Amber, who I think has the most potential of anyone. I thought she did a stunning and different song rendition last night that was flawless. Kree’s song was initially wrecked for me simply because I could not hear her. Candice gets a lot of points for up tempo and she blew it out real good!

  45. Deb says:

    Bonus cool points for the Muddy Waters reference.

  46. AI++++ says:

    My opinion–
    :::
    TOP 3–
    Angie
    Devin
    Candice
    .
    SAFE–
    Paul
    Amber
    Kree

    BOTTOM 3
    Burnell
    *******Lazaro
    Janelle

    *= Eliminated

    • JoniC says:

      I hope you’re right, but I think it’s going to take several more weeks of lousy performances before Lazaro goes out. His semi good looks and sympathetic back story will keep him in much longer than he deserves.

  47. Marilyn says:

    Michael, I agree with much of what you said, especially Angie’s over-enunciation. It drove me crazy–and not in a good way. I wish I felt more moved by Kree’s performance. She has a good instrument, but it doesn’t sound distinctive to me. I LOVED Amber’s take on “She’s Leaving Home.” There’s no reason to be “respectful” to every Beatles tune–at least, not if you can do something original and interesting with it. On the other hand, most of these kids–and most Idol contestants in general, IMHO–don’t get that simplicity can also often work wonders (Janelle did last night and it was refreshing), and that’s because THEY ARE NOT LISTENING TO THE LYRICS. And then there’s Candace–what can I say? She’s my hands-down favorite.

    I don’t feel like talking about the guys. ;-)

  48. JR says:

    Bottom 3: Lazaro, Paul and Devin
    Top 3: Candice, Kree and Janelle

  49. marie says:

    I just realized I was dead wrong about something. Last column, where MS discussed choices for the contestants’ Beatles songs, I commented that I felt Candice would prefer – and enhance her performance by choosing – a song with lyrics she could connect to.
    Well was I wrong about that, LOL! She’s a gem: in the taped intro package, she flat-out admitted that she “[didn't] understand” the lyrics to “Come Together” (and really, who but John Lennon would?), and yet she absolutely killed on that song. What a knockout that woman is!

  50. Jessica says:

    Last night was the 1st time that I didn’t think we are in a horrible season! I’m still not impressed with Lazaro (perfect wording Michael about him) and Devin. Lazaro is nice but he doesn’t understand music. It is cruel if he gets the sympathy vote. Devin -bores me. I forgot what he sang, what he wore-everything. I actually had 4 fav’s last night Kree, Candice, Paul and Janelle. I clapped after Paul’s song. I thought it was the best song and best way he sang it than what he has sung so far. He gets a glare for still thinking he’s country (you have been told by 3 people now dude-accept it!) I also think he picked the best song. Angela-I can’t get into her. Don’t know why. Maybe b/c I don’t like her genre, don’t like any of the singers she reminds me of-whatever it is i realize that falls on me. Amber needs to sing clearer so I understand what words she is singing and I love the way Burnell is just doing his thing and for not knowing that song-very shocking but also impressive for what he did with it! Candice -adding a bit of an edge, and Kree-I just love the both of them! Kree looked amazing last night.

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