American Idol Recap: Divas' Advocates [Updated]

Amber-Holcomb-American-Idol-Barbra-StreisandPay no attention to the man alongside the curtain!

Yes, folks, this week on American Idol, Jimmy Iovine surrendered his “mentoring” role and pre-performance “advisory” sessions and instead put on his Justin Bieber Bigboy Collection (TM) cap to bark like a snake-oil salesman and rally a nation of speed-dialers behind Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb after their Round 1 “Songs From the Year They Were Born” numbers.

Did Jimmy possibly pre-tape his commentary before the live Top 5 telecast? It sure felt that way, considering his effusiveness about Amber’s moderately successful stab at Mariah Carey and Angie’s vocally dubious Pretenders cover that seemed to connect only because she’d started by dedicating it to the bombing victims in her home state of Massachusetts. C’mon, though, if we were judging this competition on sentiment, Lazaro Arbos would be poised to inherit Phillip Phillips’ crown and sash.

If Jimmy’s #TeamAmber t-shirt and #TeamAngie placcard weren’t enough to sway the public, the judges added four exclamation points during Round 2 (a drearily executed “Divas” theme). Keith, Nicki, Mariah and the foolio who’s always yapping “in it to win it!” all got on their feet for Angie and Amber, as well as Candice Glover and Kree Harrison.

Had this been a kindergarten singing lesson, then poor Janelle Arthur was playing the role of the cheese, standing alone, waiting for the Uncle Nigel Great Symbolic Tours Bus to pull up and carry her directly to the summer tour, without passing go, and without upsetting the pre-ordained order of How Things Were Meant to Be*. (*Unless there’s still a “Save.”) (There’s probably still a “Save.”)

To be fair, Janelle had arguably her weakest night in all of Season 12, but her shortcomings weren’t a magic elixir that fixed Angie’s intermittent pitch problems.

Anyhow, let’s get down to reviewing the evening’s set, shall we?

Songs from the Year They Were Born
Candice Glover: Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” | I’m a hardcore conspiracy theorist when it comes to Idol — and tonight I was struck by a bone-chilling realization while suffering through some shoddy camera work that too often focused on the back of Candice’s head. No matter how much the judges praise Candice’s performances, they never mention looking forward to her post-Idol albums or concerts. In their feedback, Candice only exists within the confines of the competition, and it makes me worry that it’s a not-so-subtle campaign to undervalue the most creative, most daring and most vocally spot-on woman in the Top 5. (Hmmm…didn’t Haley Reinhart get the same treatment back in Season 10?) All that aside, “Straight Up” proved to be yet another masterful interpretation of an unexpected number from The Lady Glover: In her hands, Paula Abdul’s chirpily delivered earworm became a swaying jazz ditty, muscled up with upright bass and bongo drums for good measure. As Keith noted, Candice’s expertly placed runs were like slow winks from across the bar, and her “buh-buh bye-byes” were so saucy and expressive, I let out an involuntary whoop of delight in response. Jimmy jumped on to the screen to yap that Candice needed a bigger song with a broader range, but that made no sense. I mean, did he miss the part where Candice lifted Paula’s narrow vocal line like a baby up on her shoulders and took it on the journey of a lifetime? Sheesh! Grade: A-

Janelle Arthur: Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name” | There’s not a whole lot to say about Janelle’s performance this week: It was a pretty but somewhat pedestrian rendition of a Vince Gill chestnut about the unexpected end of a love affair. And as Keith pointed out, the central pain and loneliness were absent from the performance, like a juicy hamburger that’s void of even salt and pepper: If you eat it on auto-pilot while reading emails at your desk, it’s perfectly acceptable; but once you close your eyes and pay attention, you can’t help but be a wee bit disappointed. Grade: B

Kree Harrison: The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels” | Kree’s opening number prompted the first live argument between Mariah and Nicki all season, one that ended with Nicki’s madcap plea of, “Simmer down, sir!” But hey, at least the neophyte lady judges are acknowledging each other’s presence again, right? You’ve gotta start somewhere. But I digress… Kree’s vocal was supple and inviting as always — like a nice glass of Pinot Noir that you end up topping off, even if you don’t need to — but Mariah was absolutely right in noting a lack of organic-ness in the actual performance (even if she buried it under more “keep doing what you’re doing” blatherspeak). Kree kept smiling at the most inopportune moments — and then added to the weird vibe with a series of head shimmies that almost made it look like she was dismissing the notes that had just come out of her mouth. Was it the stupid spike-heel boots she wore for Nicki? Come on, Kreedom, boots or barefoot next week! Grade: A- B+ (hate to downgrade this from my original mark, but it’s a televised performance — and visuals count!)

Angie Miller: The Prentenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” | Look, I’m not going to complain at all about Angie’s shout-out to her family and friends near Boston at the start of a ballad that’s all about lining up shoulder to shoulder with your loved ones even/especially in their darkest hours. (Having been in Boston myself this year to watch a friend run the marathon, I still haven’t completely processed the unspeakable events that occurred just as we were heading out of the city.) But ultimately, this is still a competition — not a benefit concert — and therefore the judges had a responsibility not to give a standing ovation (at least Nicki stayed seated), but to give some honest feedback about Angie going shrill on her high notes, going flat in her lower register, flubbing her cues on the lines “when the night falls on you” and “standing at the crossroads,” and using her Xacto-knife diction to blunt the flow of Chrissie Hynde’s original. Jimmy calling this “the performance of the night” makes me wonder if he pre-recorded his commentary after dress rehearsals or if he’s now part of Uncle Nigel’s pre-season storyboarding process. Otherwise, The 50-Year-Old Bieber needs to simmer down. Grade: C+

Amber Holcomb: Mariah Carey’s version of Badfinger’s “Without You” | Is it just me, or did Amber sound just ever so slightly behind the band for the opening verse of the song she was scared to sing in front of Mariah Carey? Perhaps that was part of the emotional flatness that Nicki so astutely noted in the face of a standing ovation from her three fellow judges. To make matters worse, the opening pair of “can’t lives” were pitched too low for Amber, and her approach to a couple of the big honkin’ glory notes made my nose crinkle involuntarily (and not in a good way). The bigger crime, though, was that Amber lacked that desperate break in her voice that makes Mariah’s rendition so haunting. This was more an undertaking to admire than a performance to be felt deeply. And thus, my second downgrade from my first impression. (Ugh, I’m the worst tonight.) Grade: B B-

Candice Glover: Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston’s “When You Believe” | I get it, I get it, it was a “DIVAS” theme tonight on Idol, but I wish the Season 12 Fab 5 had dug a little deeper into their selected artists’ catalogs to mine some of their more modern-leaning anthems. I mean, imagine Candice on “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” or “Heartbreaker” or “We Belong Together” (aka the Best Song Mariah Has Ever Recorded)? (Look at me, so deep in my daydream.) But then again, this…is American Idol. Sometimes you have to give the people Grandma what she (thinks she) wants. And it’s darn near impossible to fault Candice on the technical skill with which she scaled (and then rappelled down) Mt. Mariah and Mt. Whitney — without even breaking a sweat. Candice’s body language was just a tad stiff — those outstretched arms felt a little bit like a crutch — but she ticked the final empty box marked “I can do soundtracks, too” box in the “total package” worksheet. If she’s the lowest vote-getter on Thursday, then I hope that creepy entity who interrupted last week’s “Lovesong” comes back and puts the Idoloonie nation in the naughty corner. Grade: B+

Janelle Arthur: Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde” | I’m pretty sure Jimmy’s rant that Janelle needed to go emotional on her second performance was stuck in her craw before she sang the first word of Dolly’s cutesy but hardly seminal “Dumb Blonde.” Knowing her song choice was never going to arrive in Terminal E(motion), girlfriend figured she might as well stand on the flight attendant’s desk in Terminal F(un) and give everyone a rompin’ stompin’ good time. Yet what began as determination quickly turned to desperation. All that moving around seemed to leave Janelle breathless and occasionally drown out by the amped up guitar and bass: Her voice almost disappeared on a number of the song’s more staccato notes, and veered off pitch in places where she stretched her upper register. Maybe Nicki’s warning that Janelle could be in jeopardy will spur her fan base and put Candice or Kree or Amber at risk, but I suspect this is the number that stamped Janelle’s membership to the Fifth Place Club. Grade: C+

Kree Harrison: Celine Dion’s “Have You Ever Been in Love” | Much like Candice’s second performance, Kree’s was a strongly sung, pitch-perfect (well, except for the opening note) cover of a song that’s as exciting as dryer lint. (Actually, I take that back: Removing lint from the dryer — and marveling at its fabric-esque cohesiveness — is one of my favorite unofficial household responsibilities.) I could go on about how I wish Kree had done “Taking Chances” or “I Drove All Night” or even “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” but they can’t all be “Evidence” or “Up to the Mountain” or “What the World Needs Now,” I suppose. Nicki, neck deep in a pool of hyperbole that she’ll probably be stuck in through mid-May, went on and on about how Kree isn’t country, she’s worldly, she’s iconic, she’s Adele, she’s Celine, she’ll be as viable at 20 as she is at 50 (whoops! she’s already 22!), and that “Have You Ever Been in Love” had just elevated her personal net worth. And then Nicki built a giant, vapor-filled bubble around Kree’s personal performance space, to ensure Kreedom’s highly valuable instrument never gets dehydrated. The end. Grade: B+

Angie Miller: Beyoncé’s “Halo” | Angie definitely wins the award for Best Dressed (was that draped mini made out of metal?). And she also takes home the prize for Most Disconcerting Backdrop (twin images of her face, in black and white, standing sentinel as Uncle Nigel prepared her coronation). But despite all the first-rate production, the judges’ post-performance rapture and Angie’s elbow grease (her desire to win this thing never seems to waver), I thought the arrangement was abysmal, and the vocal more solid than spectacular. Granted, the former was more the fault of the show’s backup singers, who transported me back to the Spyro Gyra concert I’ve never attended, but the latter shortcoming falls squarely on the shoulders of Ms. Miller. The opening two-thirds were pretty solid — aside from a loss of power on those upper register “oohs” — but the real trouble began in the final third, as Angie’s repeated ad-libs (“pray it won’t fade away!” “don’t fade away!”) dissolved into a shouting, not-entirely-musical chant. That mood shift, to my ears, missed the point of Beyoncé’s rapturous anthem: “Halo” is a celebration of those angels who come into our lives and change us forever, not a plea so they won’t abandon us in our time of need. I might be in the minority, but that disconnect scraped up against my ears like a shopping cart against the side of a brand new car. Grade: B-

Amber Holcomb: Barbra Streisand’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” | Since Amber got her “Mariah Moment” out of the way in Round 1, it freed her up to return to the jazzy first-impression she made back in Vegas with “My Funny Valentine.” And like a favorite old t-shirt you find crumpled at the back of your drawer, the tone and range of “How Are You Doing…” proved to be a flawless fit for Amber. Girfriend caressed the melody so delicately, it was as if she barely left a fingerprint, and yet at the same time, she drove home the gooey romanticism at the center of the composition. Randy, in his infinite ineloquence, somehow name-checked Rihanna in his critique — as if Riri is capable of running Babs through her goat-bleat processor! — but let’s pretend that didn’t happen. Amber showcased a more classical side of her artistry, and while it didn’t quite provide a “Love Song”-level rafter shaking (and while her diction could still use a little work), it certainly ranked as one of her finest Season 12 moments. Grade: A-

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 12 Top 5 performance night? Did four of the last five performances earn Standing Os? Who was your favorite? Who’s going to be in trouble come results night? How obvious was it that the show wants Janelle to get gone? 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. Karen says:

    “Without You” will always be Harry Nilsson’s haunting performance in 1971. It won the Grammy for best male pop vocal in 1972 and is unforgettable.

  2. marie says:

    Hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate. Bias, bias, bias, bias. Bias, bias, bias. Hate, hate, hate, hate. Bias, bias, bias.
    There. Now does everyone have that out of their system?

  3. trev says:

    Anyone else totally really surprised that Nicki and Mariah actually acknowledged each other today?

    • LeahKittyS says:

      Maybe they heard about all the infighting between the contestants (it’s really a 1-vs.9 situation there, we should all know who the 1 is) that they felt bad for fighting all along and wanted to ease the tension.

    • marie says:

      Yeah, I was a little surprised…and pleased, too, to see Nicki seem to bury that hatchet as bit. Nice!

    • deedee says:

      I was stunned. Nicki with the compliments of Mariah’s superior Diva-ness? Mariah and Nicki actually looking at each other and exchanging words? (never mind that Nicki called her “sir”, lolol) It was almost hard to comprehend what I was watching. You think they got a good ‘talking-to’ by TPTB?

  4. jaime says:

    I think it comes down to personal taste. I like Angie the best but can admit when she has a bad night or when Candice and amber are awesome. Kree bores me but I think she’s a good singer. just not my fave… and Janelle is too country for me…. and I even like country. :)

    • Guitar Blue says:

      Janelle is most likely next out, Amber is still a small chance for the next elimination. So it will be one of the 2 — but maybe not tomorrow, since they have to use the save ………

      Another possibility is they will not declare an elimination and tell the faithful tv audience that they are going to compile the votes for this week and next, in order to have the next elimination.

      The general population is not as analytical as most who take the time and effort to blog about performances, and go with who they like in terms of genre, style, songs they liked …… so it comes down to popularity and developing fan base, more than who was the “best singer” of the night. As we can see from the opinions, it’s in the ear of the beholder.

  5. Tricia says:

    Random comments:
    I am surprised that no one ever mentions Angie’s hearing loss. Whenever she gets a little bit pitchy I wonder if that is a factor. I have a 20% loss (hers is 40) and I am tone deaf because of it. You certainly don’t hear that on her recordings though. “I’ll Stand By You” is one of my favorite songs of all time (and I LOVE Carrie Underwood’s version), so I can’t wait to buy that recording.

    Wonder if the fact that she looks a lot like Miley Cyrus is a reason for Slezak’s haterade towards her.

    And, I love Janelle, but I am also a huge Vince Gill fan and I didn’t even recognize that song of his. Then, when I saw the title, I instantly recalled the melody which was not remotely close to hers. That’s why Keith said what he said. The others just weren’t familiar with the song.

    Candace knocked “Straight Up” out of the park. Made me like that song.

    Amber’s problem is her power and control. Her voice is something else, but maybe she needs more training. If you listen to her recordings, they all sound muted, and not in a good way. I felt that from her “Without You.” And, yes Harry Nilson has THE recording of that song (but, no Mariah, he didn’t write it)

    As you can tell, I have only watched first half so far!

    It’s a pity that the ratings are low, because this is truly the strongest Top 5 ever. Maybe not Janelle, but any of the other 4 girls could just as easily win over the others, and when could you have ever said that before?

    Lastly, Angie needs to win this more than anyone else, because if she doesn’t, a Christian label will sign her and she’ll do really well, but will be confined to that genre (like Colton Dixon). If she wins, she’ll cut a pop album with reflections of her faith and then we’ll really see what she can do. All the others will do what they are going to do with or without the “crown.”

  6. Adam Fachry says:

    Though unique, I don’t think Straight Up is one of Candice’s best performances. She should’ve sung Lisa Stansfield’s All Around The World for the year she was born and Caught Up In The Rapture for the Divas. OMG, she could easily beat Loren Allred’s rendition of the former song, and she could continue to explore her inner sultriness with both of them. Another reason? Well, I love both Lisa Stansfield and Anita Baker so much that I need to see them being represented in AI.

    And OMG, how happy are you now, Slezak? One Hit Wonders will be one of the themes for next week!

    • NJ idoloonie says:

      Maybe Idol couldnt (or didnt) get clearance for those songs, so Candice got stuck with other songs and that is why JAnelle had to suggest Straight Up?

  7. TheGirlsRock says:

    It’s clear that Slezak and his followers have some kind of axe to grind with Angie in particular…. something deeper than her talent. He has made his choices and heaven forbid someone else has a good night. Maybe Melinda could take over Idology solo…at least there’s some objectivity in her opinions.

  8. CJS says:

    I hope they slip a copy of this episode in FexEx envelopes that contains Lythgoe’s, Warwick’s and Frout-Coutaz’s termination notices this summer. What awful bland television. No wonder the ratings are in the sewer. They sold everything to get worthless celebs back, to get their female winner, and invested nothing in developing the Idol franchise. No new ideas, just new & more obvious manipulations. No Idol Gives Back, just one-sheet songbooks caked in dust. I hope Mike Darnell gets his wings clipped over this mess to. That goblin-mouthed little scroat should be kicked out of his cushy position overseeing the collaps of broadcast standards for forcing bloated bloviator Mariah on us. That being said,Candice had the best vocal of the night with her second song. Amber’s second song was also excellent. Kree has such a great voice, but her song choices are always so boring. She has all of Celine’s songs to choose from and she goes with that one? Angie is good, but she projects an air of trying-to-hard that rubs me the wrong way. Janelle has a great voice, but she lives in the shadow of Carrie Underwood. Without perfect song choices (which she didn’t have tonight) it’s easy to pick her out as the weakest.

    • Cat Lady says:

      “”Idol Gives Back” was the most meaningless photo-op nonsense I’ve ever seen and I’m so glad I don’t have to suffer through it anymore.

  9. Matt says:

    Kree smiling through “She Talks To Angels” was inappropriate, which Mariah mentioned in saying Kree shouldn’t feel the need to perform and should get lost in the song.

  10. Adam Fachry says:

    The fact that Randy said to Amber “she reminds me of a young Rihanna” is actually pretty insulting tbh, lol. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the stuff Rihanna’s done, she’s so adept at delivering guilt pleasures, but Amber’s clearly more skilled vocally than RiRi.

  11. Dean says:

    I would rank them this way and how they should remain by position in the rest of the show.
    1. Candice Freakin Glover
    2. Kreedom!!!
    3. Angie Crystal Clear Voice
    4. Amber
    5. Janelle – Going home this week.

    All 5 of these girls can have great careers, what past AI season could we say all top 5 could be mega stars.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      I totally agree, Dean. Except for one thing: they’re not sending anybody home this week. It would throw off the schedule; they’ve already announced the Top 4 round will happen on May 1. All five of them will be back next week, and then they send one home.
      How stupid is that whole setup? They were going to have an all-female Top 5 regardless; they could have used the Save on Burnell or Devin (which also would have taken the safety net out from under Lazaro and made his elimination night less annoying). They should have had real Wildcards to make a Top 11 or 12, then we wouldn’t be in this mess. If there is a next season, let’s hope they learn from the many mistakes of this one.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Good observations, Leah.

      • Ed says:

        That is the thing that bothers me about this season. The producers, IMO, decided before it all started that there would, by god, be a FEMALE winner this year. So, they stacked the deck against the guys; I mean, when have we ever seen a top 12 with such WEAK guys across the board??

      • not says:

        They couldn’t use the save on any guy if they were determined to get the top girls into the top 5. If Lazaro had been eliminated when he should have been, maybe they might have saved Burnell but I think they were determined to jetison all the guys to guarantee a girl winner.

        And while I hate the manipulation, it was probably necessary. A wgwg wins this competition (almost) every year not because the female singers are any worse than the guys but because the voting skews the results. Teeny bopper girls will vote their tiny fingers to the bone for the cute boy rather than the best competitor. And I can say that b/c I was one once (a bigger Duran-y you will never find – and I’m appalled when I go back and listen to Duran Duran stuff now and realize how little of it holds up, though some does.). If they just went to a one-vote-per-phone-number system – or better yet, you vote by buying the song on itunes, the singer who is most likely to actually become an “idol” or at least most viable in the music world would actually win. But then they couldn’t say ridiculous things like “After 35 MILLION votes.”

  12. Mafs95 says:

    OMG! I usually agree with Michael, but tonight I actually liked Angie’s “I’ll Stand By You”… it didn’t deserve a standing O but it was good imo

  13. Daniel says:

    1st Performance:

    Angie = A-
    Candice = A-
    Amber = B+
    Kree = B+
    Janelle = B

    2nd Performance:

    Candice = A
    Angie = A
    Amber = B
    Kree = B
    Janelle = C+

  14. twnkltoze says:

    At this point, nobody is throwing anybody under the bus or shoving anybody down our throats. This is NOW a legit competition and the weakest should and will be called out. Janelle, bless her little heart, just wasn’t up to muster and has had only a couple of standout performances. She’s got a better than average voice and she’s a great performer but really isn’t on par with the other four, vocally speaking. Candice may have started first but she also sang again in the middle so losing out on the pimp spot really doesn’t fly. Besides, at this point, it doesn’t matter where she is in the line up. She transcends that logic at this point. Even following last week’s masterpieces didn’t seem to phase her. Kree continues to grow on me but is it just me, or does she always look angry when she’s singing? Her brow is always furrowed only occasionally relaxing it to appear as if she’s happy to be there. Even with that said, her vocals were great tonight and she continues to grow on me. Amber’s second performance was my favorite. Maybe cause I’m a HUGE Streisand fan but more so because I felt she DID connect with that song and not only “saing it” but delivered it with just the right amount of “cool”. Just as Babs would have done. You did her proud Amber. I’m glad you chose one of Babs songs that wasn’t necessarily a mainstream hit, but rather one that showed the essence of Babs in her early years. Angie delivered a couple of standout performances but wasn’t the best of the night by a mile, in my opinion. Jimmy? SHUT UP!!

  15. Diz says:

    I thought Angie was the best by far the whole night. My other comment is that Candice completely ruined the Paula Abdul song. She was just terrible. I’m tired of Kree wearing those same pants every week, lose some weight and fit into something that doesn’t stretch or keep to some flowing dresses. Tired of Kree and Candice just standing and singing all the time and not moving around at all. It’s called cardio.

  16. Adam Fachry says:

    Slezak made a good point of digging deeper into Mariah’s or Whitney’s less obvious songs. Now that I think about it, Candice would totally slay Whitney’s MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE! I’m going crazy right now just thinking about her jazz interpretation for one of my favorite Whitney songs. I personally wanted Elise to do that song on season 11’s Whitney night and I think she’d nail it as well. Come on, contestants! Whitney is not only I Have Noting or I Will Always Love You and Mariah is not only Without You or Hero.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      Actually, that is all they are when the scumbag producer’s aren’t willing to spend the money to get more songs cleared. The budget has been so scaled back this the crew is paying for their own food. Where is the main money going? Why are the judges getting so much money? And what else could they possibly be spending it on? They even got rid of the Ford music videos.

      • karen says:

        Not to mention, there has only been one celebrity mentor, and he (Smokey) probably did it for free.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        The crew is buying their own food????? Seriously?

      • not says:

        If you are right that they can’t afford to buy rights to more current songs, then the problem is going to become circular. The ratings are down because contenstants are constantly re-hashing songs that have been done to death on the show. NEED CURRENT MUSIC. I’m over 40 and think the Beatles are by far the best band that ever existed (and to follow the model of the Angie-lovers on this board, anyone who disagrees is just biased and should be punished severely). I couldn’t name a Rhianna song if you held a gun to my head, but even I do not want to hear 19 year olds singing all these oldies.

        • marie says:

          I agree with your post completely, not, except that you have one thing wrong: remember, those who don’t care for Angie “hate” her and are “haters.” I’m up there in age too, and I’ve been corrected; I promise I’m trying my best to remember the proper terms!

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      I agree that Whitney song does seem tailor made for Candice even if certain others don’t.

  17. Adrian Arciniega says:

    MAN! You are harsh this week.

  18. Tarc says:

    In a so-so season, we have one saving grace – Candace Glover. she’s the only one of the lot I’d every buy, and she’s staggeringly great.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      Thanks for pointing out that you would buy her album. I would, too, if she won or came in second. I hate it when people say she isn’t marketable, and especially that she’s not unique. I can’t think of anyone else who sounds like her, except maybe Amber Riley on “Glee.” I really think she has a shot at taking this home, despite the run of bad luck her type has had on this show.

      • marie says:

        Heck, I’ll buy Candice’s album, whenever she releases one, no matter what place she winds up in. Idol itself is just an entertaining TV show; Candice promises to be an artust whose work I can enjoy for years to come. (Please, though, someone make sure she gets to record goid material worthy of her vocal gifts and that she stays far away grom the throwaway pop fluff that clogs up too much of the airwaves these days.)

  19. mm says:

    It is so all about what what sounds good to each of us…..

    Personally, I love Candice. She just plain delivers and gives me chills, and has made me cry….just my thoughts. She touches me with her vocals, even when she doesn’t have much to work with in terms of available songs!

    Kree is so good but I just find her to be boring! I want to love her singing but I just can’t….and my tendancy is to the more organic type of music.

    Angie is plastic, Janelle is sweet girl who might have a future in the country field, and Amber is likely the most marketable girl today.

    It will be intersting… guess is that I will be disappointed!

  20. Lois Benton says:

    Candice and Amber were the standouts, again. This time, though, Amber sang a song that pretty much requires perfect pitch and perfect control, as well as an amazing range, to pull off, and nailed it. Of all the girls, only Candice and Amber could have sung that song and nailed it. Candice is in a league of her own, I think, probably because she has a couple of years experience on Amber, which does makes a difference. It’s as if Amber is Candice’s little sister. Kree was the next best, with solid, if slightly dull, performances. She’s like Carly Smithson from a few years back; great instrument, but her presence isn’t coming through the TV. Janelle and Angie were both pretty bad in the second song. I liked Janelle better in the first song, though.

  21. karen says:

    Michael, this is one of your most spot-on reviews of the season. Well done. Especially the conspiracy theory about the camera angles on Candice’s first song (not to mention another unflattering edit in her intro), as well as Angie’s misfire on the last third of her song. Angie had me until then and I don’t know why she made those vocal choices. And as much as I hate to admit it, I agree w/ you about Kree and her stage presence. Stop w/ the standing at the mic in sky high heels and looking directly into the camera. She could use a whole lot of what Janelle has naturally. In fact, Janelle is the best of the five at working the stage. Too bad her last performance was pitchy.

  22. Anna says:

    Candice’s jazzy arrangement of Straight Up was the only performance I was more than indifferent about. I didn’t like her second performance although she sounded good. I just didn’t like the song at all.

    I thought Angie was solid if unspectacular on her two songs, so I’d put her and Candice in the Top 2 for the night.

    Kree bored me with both her songs. She just seems to be sleepwalking through her performances at times. She always sounds really good, but too many of her performances never really go anywhere.

    Janelle was fun on the Dolly Parton song but her first performance bored me.

    Amber was good on the Barbra Streisand song but pitchy all over the place on her first song.

    Overall, a very underwhelming performance show.

    The overpimping of Angie was annoying. I continue to be confused why they are pushing a niche artist so hard — barring some complete change of direction in musical style on her part, she isn’t likely to make anyone a ton of $ once she’s off the show

  23. Stephen S. says:

    Best performance of the night: Angie Miler performing “I’ll Stand By You” Un-freaking-believable! AMAZING performance!

    Jimmy Lovine called the performance of the night? He just got some much respect from me. I don’t always agree with him but he’s right on the money on that.

    Candice is great. I do love her, but I felt she kind of over sang “When You Believe”. It was good, but slightly overdone.

    I also liked Janelle a lot. Well, “Dumb Blonde” wasn’t very good, but “When I Call Your Name” was great.

  24. darcy's evil twin says:

    For some reason I’m reminded of giving testimony at a committee hearing and being cautioned not to say anything someone else has already said.
    Well, with that said, I can’t resist saying I immensely enjoyed Candice’s spin on Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”. Jimmy Iovine needs a 2X4 upside his head. Normally I agree with him but what was he smokin’ tonight?
    I enjoyed Kree’s performance of “She Talks to Angels”. I tend to listen with my eyes closed so I missed the smiling that some folks mentioned. I also wish she had picked a different Celine Dion song (or even a different artist altogether). Kree reminds me of some of the female country artists that were popular in the 90s – Trisha Yearwood, Suzy Boggus, Patty Loveless, and Mary Chapin-Carpenter. None of these ladies had big, diva voices (like Martina McBride) but all of them are immensely talented and if you’re like my dad, or my husband, and you prefer good old fashioned singing without a lot of runs, “screaming”, theatrics, and vocal histrionics, then these are your ladies.
    Ah, Janelle. “When I Call Your Name” has one of the most beautiful melodies ever written for me personally. One of the things that made the original so haunting was Patty Loveless’ perfect harmony on the chorus. I sure missed it last night. And of all the Dolly Parton songs in all the world…oh well, wish you had picked a different Dolly song – like “Two Doors Down”.
    I thought Angie did a remarkable job on “Halo” – I disagree with Mr. Slezak’s opinion. Doesnt’ Beyonce shout her way through the end of the song? And Amber chose a song with a very complex melody and was phenomenal on “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life”. I know people have criticized her diction – I find it interesting her diction seems better on the old standards than it does on the more current music. I can’t offer an explanation for that observation. I would just like to see her spend some time at a performance college rather than moving immediately into singing Rhianna-like dreck on the radio.

    • marie says:

      Yes, yes, DET, I toyally agree about Amber. I’ve been saying it for a while: Amber has SO much potential, but of all the ladies, she could most benefit from some good vocal training to get her past her rough spots. She COULD be exceptional. Unfortunately, I think Uncle Jimmy just can’t wait to get his dubious paws on her to make her record the lightweight stuff…

    • The Beach says:

      I loved (and miss) Trisha Yearwood. What a gorgeous voice. Please come back. I can also hear a bit of Patsy Cline in Kree’s voice too.

  25. Mafs95 says:

    I love everybody and because I’m such a good and sympathetic person I’ll give an A to every performance!!!! Yeaaaaaaaah!
    Ok, just kidding… last night was great, but not as good as the previous week imo (if we don’t include Lazaro’s performances). These ones are my true grades:
    1st Round:
    Candice Glover – A –
    Angie Miller – B + (A for emotion, B – for technical singing)
    Kree Harrison – B + (the exact opposite of Angie)
    Amber Holcomb – B
    Janelle Arthur – B
    2nd Round
    Amber Holcomb – A (that was sensational!)
    Candice Glover – A –
    Angie Miller – B +
    Kree Harrison – B +
    Janelle Arthur – B –
    It would be cool if none of these girls went home, but if I had to choose one, it would be Janelle.

  26. Ansa says:

    I was really surprised at how lukewarm Michael was about this episode. I though it was one of the best Idol shows ever and just shows how great this final five is. Most idol season, the diva night would be a disaster because no one can usually pull off a Mariah, Whitney or Celine…and people mostly stay away from Barbra…but tonight…except for Amber’s without you…I thought the finalist did a good job of covering these iconic ladies.

    I didn’t like Angie’s Pretnder’s song…I don’t usually like her….but her Halo was fantastic. I don’ understand how she gets a lower score because of her changing the meaning of the song. I love Kree and I still think it should be a Kree/Candice finale…but I am torned between Angie and Amber for third. I actually enjoyed Janelle’s Dolly song…a change of pace for the night. I wish Kree sang a different Celine song….it was excellent but lacked some moments. Candice was fantastic on both songs. Amber was so bad on Without you that it prompted me to look for Mariah on YouTube and it reminded me about her greatness as a singer…I would like to see if Candice can sing that iconic song.

    I couldn’t imagine how Amber can out do everyone in the pimp spot but I have to say her Streisand song is my fave of the night. I couldn’t wait to watch it again. I think its time for Janelle to go home….I do enjoy her but she is at the bottom of a really great heap of female vocalists.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Good point about the ladies doing nice covers of Whitney, Celine, Mariah, and even Barbra! That is an accomplishment in itself because normally when someone covers their songs it’s disastrous. And let’s not forget Beyonce.

      • HitTheGroundRunning says:

        Heck I even expected a potential disaster when she said she was going to do Beyonce. After a good start I was like oh no, what if it like that so-so away from the piano uptempo from the other week. But damn! Brought it and more! So yeah I think it was a pretty good night in the end. They covered some tough stuff and it’s not often you get that many excellent covers of such stuff. I’m still shocked Michael was so blah about it all, not just but a day after raving about how this was the greatest top five ever blah blah blah.

  27. karenb says:

    Omg Skezak you are simply the most hilarious recapper on the planet! Lots of LOL’s!

    And yes – I completely agree with Kree’s head-bobbing thing. Almost spit my coffee out on that one!

  28. Chris says:

    Candice Glover: Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” I’ve not commented on this before but I agree – whoever decides how to “produce” her moments on stage sucks, for a lack of a better word. If they aren’t circling her like a shark, they are swooping in and out like a bird where you get a vicious glare of the sun (lights) at each turn. And yes, it’d also be nice for them to recognize the full package. Keith is stuck on her vocal power presence and clarity (albeit it is pretty dang fantastic), Niki talks about the “movements” Candice produces, Randy – well whatever, and Mariah is obviously in love with the elements of her voice and ability to sing anything. They all FAIL to mention collectively that her arrangements, embodiment, transcendence, and charisma are what live shows (concerts) are made of. I for one cannot WAIT to buy her album and see her live. Her tastes are so diverse that a show from her will never be just OK. If (and come one she will) she carries forward the type of artistry she’s displayed on Idol, you will never know what stage set you’re going to get and that is AWESOME. She may be with a choir, or a stripped down “swaying jazz ditty, muscled up with upright bass and bongo drums for good measure”, always giving you a SHOW. Excellent job on “Straight Up” – I didn’t get it at first when I heard what she doing, but I should’ve known better. It’s in her wheelhouse to mix it up and drive it straight into awesome. You go girl. Jimmy was so out of place with that critique.
    Kree Harrison: The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels” “Kree kept smiling at the most inopportune moments — and then added to the weird vibe with a series of head shimmies that almost made it look like she was dismissing the notes that had just come out of her mouth.” <– YES! That is exactly what I thought, but I do love Kree.
    Angie Miller: The Prentenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” “going shrill on her high notes, going flat in her lower register, flubbing her cues on the lines “when the night falls on you” and “standing at the crossroads,” <—YES again.
    Amber Holcomb: Mariah Carey’s version of Badfinger’s “Without You” I think that Amber was thinking way too much about how to sing the song verses giving us the emotion it needed to drive it home.
    Janelle Arthur: Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde” Janelle’s heart is pure. She is beautiful inside and out, and my consensus is/was she just wants to “give everyone a rompin’ stompin’ good time.” I don’t want to see her go. I agree with Keith about the “pain/angst” in her voice he knows is there and I’m sure if she really wants to go there, but on the other side of her beautiful sunny disposition, she can – but I totally appreciate her showmanship. You can definitely tell Dolly is her idol and I don’t have any problems with that. Do you Janelle.
    Angie Miller: Beyoncé’s “Halo” “ Angie’s repeated ad-libs (“pray it won’t fade away!” “don’t fade away!”) dissolved into a shouting, not-entirely-musical chant. That mood shift, to my ears, missed the point of Beyoncé’s rapturous anthem” Exactly. I LOVE that song and I do mean LOVE – but the mark was missed for me. I don’t know why I can’t seem to “get” Angie but I just don’t. Maybe her trying instead of doing is what makes me go… ? I don’t dispute her singing talent.
    Amber Holcomb: Barbra Streisand’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” Gorgeous.

  29. PSC says:

    Michael’s “A’s” are getting as effusive as the judges’ standing ovations. Unlike last week, when she killed it, “Straight Up” is not the performance that I will remember from this week. Both Candice and Kree could have chose cooler songs from their divas. Same applies to Amber: I can not believe “Without you” was the only song from 1994 that they had clearance. Thankfully, she redeemed herself with her second choice. And although she is not my favorite, I did not find her the worst of the night and her “Halo” rendition was not that badd

  30. darcy's evil twin says:

    Why don’t I remember Badfinger’s version of “Without You”? I only remember the Harry Nilsson version (he wrote the song). Oh well, I “Binged” it and sure enough, Badfinger covered the song.
    I went back and listened to Angie’s “I’ll Stand By You” and I didn’t hear the bum notes.
    Candice needed a ball gown for her performance of “when You Believe”. :-)

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Agree regarding Candice, disagree on Angie.

    • Joy says:

      Oh, DET, you’re drinking the Mariah Kool-Aid…Harry Nilsson’s version was the cover. His was the first one released as a single, I think, but Pete Ham and Tom Evans from Badfinger wrote it, and the original recording was on one of their albums a year before Nilsson did it. You, however, I will forgive for not knowing that — Mariah, never. :-)

  31. as says:

    I really really don’t get the Angie love on AI…..that take on the Pretenders was awful….she’s so not a cool girl and she doesn’t have a cool voice or vibe. That AI wants Angie or Amber to win must be based on looks.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Cool? Okay then.

      • as says:

        Cool… know like previous contestants Lilly Scott, Hayley Reinhart or Elise Testone…all ‘cool’…all could have covered that song. Angie’s version of Chrissie Hines and The Pretenders was as sanitized as it gets….take away the grandiose staging and costuming and Simon would have called it karaoke….High School talent show.

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      Or maybe it’s that they look too good for you and thus you can’t give them any credit even when they sing amazingly? At the least you gotta hand it to both on the second song and at least say that Angie tried to bring something, some kind of feeling and energy to the first round trying to slow some parts and having it make a couple cues get a traced out of sync or not.

  32. Libby says:

    Agree about the Angie Images behind her. Just no.That was so weird.

  33. janet says:

    I don’t get all the hate for Angie. Way too hard on her. I’m rooting for her because she has more stage presence and personality than the others combined. And that has to count for something. And while her vocals aren’t the best, they’re pretty damn good and they’re not nearly as bad as you make them out to be Slezak. She should be around til top 3 at least if there’s any justice in the world.

    • Mary says:

      I don’t think it is hate, but I’ll stand by you was off. It definitely was not standing ovation worthy.
      She was over praised but I guess it was due to dedicating to her home town. I also hated Candice Straight up. She sang it well, but it just lack something – It just seem behind the beat some how. All of the girls have nice voices but with these themes the show just seem to drag. I personally put Angie at 4 but it really doesn’t matter.

    • Lola says:

      She’s a good entertainer, but her voice needs more training. She shouts. Her vibrato is hit-or-miss. Janelle has better control over her vocals than Angie does. Candice/Kree/Amber are my top 3.

  34. Mary says:

    I was not impressed with any of the first songs, if I had to choose I guess Kree and Amber’s were the best. I had to laugh as much as I like Amber’s the judges stood for her then proceeded to say it wasn’t perfect only Nicki was spot on. I guess Jimmy really wants her but I think it might backfire and she will be going home tonight or the imfamous safe will be enforce. Second round was better, but no one really stood out for me.

  35. Zen says:

    Sorry Slezak, I agree with Jimmy on Candice’s version of ‘Straight Up’. I don’t agree with you that she turned in into a ‘swaying jazz ditty’. There was nothing even remotely jazz about that arrangement. She tried to make the song ‘bigger’ by adding her runs and notes but none of them really fit with the song. They all seemed really desperate and out of place. The melody was definitely holding her down. This is definitely not something that Candice would ever choose to record and put on her album. I absolutely love what she’s done with Ordinary People and of course Love Song, but this one really did not work

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      I agree. It didn’t seem authentic. I still enjoyed her performance, though. That girl can give face and sang!

  36. MADmadWorld says:

    Haven’t seen this episode but with everyone saying Angie had the best performance of THE SEASON,not ONE OF…just THE BEST!!!topping even the alien invasion whilst pigs flew that happened last week..I now expect to see nothing less than Angie levitating,whilst the Hulk turns defiantly into Bruce Banner,plus my headphones melting,and being so overwhelmed by vocal magnificence to the point i enter a trance state and discover the single instant instrument for world peace….nothing less than that would validate such a claim…..

  37. Jamie says:

    I’m so tired of Angie always mugging for the camera. If you’re constantly aware of the camera, there’s no way you can lose yourself in a song and give us the emotion we crave as listeners. I really hate it when any singer looks directly into the camera.

    • deedee says:

      ^^^ 100%

    • Ed says:

      Kat McPhee was guilty of the same thing. And, her voice was similar to Angie’s, in that there was no warmth whatsoever.

      • darcy the slutty twin says:

        McPhee seems like a mean woman. I remember actively rooting against her. I totally voted for Taylor. On a related note, Taylor looks hot now.

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Well, I don’t mind them occasionally looking at the camera but Angie is eye-raping the camera to Constantine Maroulis levels, and I thought Constantine was the most disgusting, vile creature ever whenever he performed. I am totally a hater.

  38. Cat Lady says:

    TPTB have GOT to talk to these ladies about the way they dress. Nikki’s “top” last night was a distracting disgrace and Mariah is letting it all hang out every other week. COVER UP AT LEAST A LITTLE, LADIES!

    • Adam Fachry says:

      Why are you so mean to their respective “twins”? They just wanna breathe, that’s why both Mariah and Nicki let them hang out.

  39. Mateo says:

    …………What was up with Nicki’s choice of wardrobe? It literally looked like her butt was on her chest. Made my eyes hurt.

  40. The Final Say says:

    Amber should win. Angie must join the Christian contemporary list. Candice, trim down and try to look younger. Kree, also trim down those fats and express emotions when singing. Janelle, go home and listen to the winner’s album over the radio. That should settle everything!!

  41. Marilyn says:

    I agree with you, Michael, on Angie’s rendition of “Halo.” I wish singers would listen to the lyrics more often. Since when is that an angry or desperate song? I want Candice to win, but with some of the comments I’ve read, I don’t know that that will happen. I’d love to be proven wrong!

  42. RedInDenver says:

    I see on the DialIdol website that Candice is near the bottom. I wonder if that’s because, like me, although the voters recognize her vocal prowess; they’re not always thrilled at her song choice or the genre. For instance, I don’t like jazz at all; so, although I can recognize her vocal talents, didn’t care for her performance of “Straight Up”.

    And why Janelle would choose “Dumb Blonde” (which I had never even heard of) over a more well-known and serious Parton song such as “Jolene” — (“I Will Always Love You” has been SUNG TO DEATH!!!) is a mystery to me.

    Seems to me if you want to win in a competition based on popular votes; you should pick songs the majority would know and you should stick with a genre the majority likes; and not go with some obscure song or niche genre.

  43. darcy the slutty twin says:

    I was ecstatic that Mariah and Nicki acknowledged each other! Made my night! Wow, something must be wrong with me because I thought Amber was as dull as Devin Velez. She just seems so….empty. Wow Angie for dedicating an off-key performance to Boston. I quite liked Janelle’s first song. Keith was not paying attention. Jimmy Iovine is Nigel’s puppet, that is all.

    • deedee says:

      Why would Jimmy want to be Nigel’s puppet if he’s the one who has to work with the winner at the end of the day?

      • Joy says:

        Because the money Nigel is paying him overwhelms what his label is likely to make (or lose) on any winner. Even mega-hit albums generate surprisingly low profits these days, compared to the budget of a successful TV show.

  44. Jeff says:

    For the most part I usually agree with Slezak’s ratings, but I can’t help but differ greatly on his opinion of Angie last night. I thought both performances were solid and definitely towards the top of each round.

    Personally, and I know this is almost sacrilege to say, I find Kree to be quite overpraised and have felt that for several weeks now. I rarely (if ever) “feel” her connection to the song. I’ve never been “moved” by anything she’s sung. Same goes for Amber who I feel like is being forced upon us by the judges (“Why doesn’t America get you?”). Don’t get me wrong, both Kree and Amber have nice voices, but I never ever feel like they’re connecting to their lyrics in a way that moves me.

  45. davey says:

    I have to say that I still like Nillson’s version of Without You the best so I think they should stop doing this song on Idol.

  46. NJ idoloonie says:

    2 THINGS….
    1) mr slezak – didja have to remind me of the creepy voice in last week’s performance?! I just got it out of my head!
    2) Dryer lint?! Holla!

    (does anyone really read the posts at the end of the list?)

  47. NJ idoloonie says:

    Oh yeah, one more thing!!!!!
    Dont the judges employ the ” judges pick” when there are 4 contestants left? If that is not the theme next week, then that means they are planning on using the save (besides the fact that everyone says they need to fill up 4 more weeks)

  48. I’ve been wanting Janelle to be in bottom 3 for weeks and think out of this group she is the obvious one to go. (she’s not bad, the others are just so so good). Really hoping Amber’s great performances push her up to top 3 to stand beside Candice & Kree.

  49. Cecilia Cook says:

    Hands down Candice is the best singer!!!!!!!!!!! This is supposed to be a singing contest not a fashion show or anything else. If Candice doesn’t win or gets voted off I will never watch idol again. Amber and Angie should both be models. They both got the look. Candice and Kree are the singers!!!!

  50. Jessica says:

    For me my top 2 girls are still doing amazing Candice and Kree. My bottom 2 are Amber and Angie. My issue with Amber is it’s always a little boring and way too many ballads for me. Angie isn’t my style -I really liked her in the start of Halo but then it just seemed like she wanted to get to the higher notes of it all. I may just be weird but I like the deeper, quieter notes in a song especially when they can go back to that in a song (Candice and Kree do that for me). Janelle is my top 3 girl. I think they are trying to dismiss her b/c she is country girl with a guitar. I feel she is doing everything they are asking of her and remaining true to herself. I really do like her voice and feels she knows more about music, love of music b/c of the music only over Angie and Amber. Just my thoughts though.

    • TheWiserView says:

      again you are another one country obsessed girl.. it is only nowadays that country music is considered competetive.. in the past, country is just ordinary. true enough becoz there is no challenge in vocals in country. in fact all over the world only america loves country. but hey the show is marketed worldwide, thus a lot disagree with country winners except for carrie.