American Idol Top 4 (Redux) Performance Recap: Standards Operating Procedure [Updated]

Candice Glover American IdolIt’s no secret that American Idol‘s ratings have slipped in Season 12, and tonight — despite some stellar performances by the Top 4 ladies — we witnessed several moments where you could practically feel the Nielsen numbers dropping by tenths.

There was Randy Jackson leering at Angie Miller after a particularly harsh critique and declaring, “I do like the leather shorts!” [Tonight’s mathematical truth: Randy + the word “Leather” x Sexual Innuendo = Saw-level horror.] There was Nicki Minaj, trying to insert herself (her favorite pastime) into the middle of one of Mariah Carey’s critiques, and later, Ryan Seacrest breaking up one of the female judges’ tiffs with a “someone needs to be put in the corner!” scolding that played up the anti-feminist notion that “girls” simply can’t get along. Oh, and in other Nicki news, we had the “Starships” rapper telling the incomparable Candice Glover that she’d suddenly become marketable — then asking if she’d lost weight.

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And if that wasn’t soul-crushing enough, the show’s producers flashed an onscreen hashtag of Randy Jackson’s most irksome catchphrase, you know, the one that makes America collectively cringe every time he barks it: #inittowinit. Hashtag: HOW?

All that went down, of course, before guest mentor Harry Connick Jr. and Randy hijacked poor Kree Harrison’s second performance critique to get into an extended pissing contest regarding their level of music credibility. Harry won, obviously, but was it worth claiming poor Kree’s dignity as collateral damage?

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Practically lost in all the low-brow shenanigans was another jaw-dropping evening for Candice Glover — who fought back from last week’s shellacking to score back-to-back standing ovations from the panel (not that they mean anything anymore, but…). Combined with Kree’s magnificent first performance and Amber’s solid (albeit rehashed) second number, it left presumed front-runner Angie Miller as the contestant who endured the most difficult night — both in terms of “having a moment” and suffering from so-so feedback.

Still, last week’s 38 million votes are being added to this week’s tallies — and knowing that Candice and Amber were last week’s Bottom 2, Thursday night’s results-show telecast may be the most suspenseful of the season.

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With that in mind, let’s jump to my letter grades for tonight’s performances:

“Now” (Songs Released/Charting in 2013)
Angie Miller: Rihanna’s “Diamonds” | Angie came into this week knowing she was already in the Top 2 vote-getters, so I appreciated her refusal to play it safe, instead choosing an unexpected artist like Rihanna and reimagining her huge recent hit as a dramatic piano ballad. Despite Keith’s complaints about missing the “percussive muscular weight” of the original, I thought the arrangement worked. Angie managed to breathe added life into the new-agey love story that, in Riri’s nasal bleat, sounds like little more than a cryptic chant. The problem here, though, was that Angie’s actual vocal wound up being a little flawed — thanks to the haywire glory note on “toniiiight” and the intermittent sharpness as she pushed her upper register at the end. Plus, as Mariah noted, Angie worked so hard at maintaining eye contact with the camera that it started to become a distraction. None of those issues were deal-breakers, mind you, but they left this one shining more like a cubic zirconia than the full dazzling diamond it could’ve been. Grade: B+

Amber Holcomb: Pink & Nate Ruess’ “Just Give Me A Reason” | For the contestant who’s been most lauded by the judges as “current” and “commercial,” Amber sure seemed out of her element in the “Hits of 2013” part of the competition. And no, I’m not buying the judges’ excuses about how hard it is to learn new lyrics or to be a “carefree,” “relatable” girl under the pressure of Top 4 Week. Amber’s got a big, lovely voice — there’s no denying it — but she’s never shown the kind of emotional rawness or sly conversational delivery necessary to tackle anything in the Pink songbook (not even “There You Go”). Perhaps even more troubling, though, is that when Amber is faced with a tune that doesn’t fit her as snugly as her many pairs of Daisy Dukes, she hasn’t exhibited the musicality or creativity to reinvent or reinterpret it as her own — or even to act on advice as simple as Harry’s note to snap her fingers and stay in the pocket. Thus, what Amber ended up delivering was a rote recitation of “Just Give Me a Reason” — mostly on pitch except for that high note that sounded like a small dog had gotten caught underfoot — but without any guts or passion or high-wire audacity. Good thing Mariah was there to hold the party line and tell voters that she already knew Amber’s second performance was going to be great. Wait, did Paula leave her Idol crystal ball at the judges’ table when she stopped by the other week? (And here I thought Jason Castro had smashed it out behind the dumpster back in Season 7!) Grade: B-

Candice Glover: Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” | I couldn’t believe all the pre- and post-performance discussion of Candice not changing the word “man” in the chorus of Bruno Mars’ current chart-topper. I mean, even a dimwit like Randy has to recognize that music isn’t some kind of algebraic exercise where a misplaced decimal or a miscarried digit throws the whole thing off, but rather an entirely visceral art form. Candice’s performance served as a stark reminder of this fact; she didn’t so much try on the song like a sweater off the rack as she did shed her own skin and temporarily inhabit the narrator’s body. When she hit the lines, “I’m probably much too late/ To try and apologize for my mistakes,” a shiver went right through me, and her use of pronouns was the furthest thing from my mind. I just wanted to throw a hand up and be like “You shoulda bought flowers! And now it’s too late, fool!” And oh that sweet falsetto note right at the end, the one that led into one last jazzy run — it was seriously so good I couldn’t even kvetch when Nicki belatedly made her fellow panelists get up and give a standing ovation. Yeah, there’ve been too many instances of Tweedle T-Shirt, Tweedle-ME!, Tweedle-Duh and Tweedle-Dahhling on their feet all season, but this one actually was worthy. Grade: A

Kree Harrison: Carrie Underwood’s “See You Again” | I know Kree is, at heart, a country artist with a bluesy underbelly, but I was still a little flummoxed when I heard she was tackling Carrie Underwood’s current radio hit — one that, to my ears, has always sounded a little blah and impersonal. How interesting then that The Contestant Most Frequently Berated for Not Feelin’ It — and who even desperately told Ryan in her pre-performance interview that “I need to connect” — found an unmarked access road right into the heart of the song. As her entire face lit up with emotion, and the insanely pretty silk of her voice occasionally crackled with pangs of sadness, it wasn’t hard to imagine Kree singing the lyric to her late parents. Who knows if that was actually Kree’s intent, of course, but I got lost with her in the lyrics and transported into a different headspace. And isn’t that one of the many things good music should do to you? Maybe it’s blasphemous to say this, but I’m with Harry: Kree’s cover actually improved on Carrie’s original, her understated approach adding an ache and a vulnerability that have me eager to download it come Thursday morning. Grade: A

“Then” (Standards)
Angie Miller: “Someone to Watch Over Me” | Angie’s standard started promisingly enough, with just her and Hot Idol Guitarist Dude serving up a quiet little lullabye. Alas, though, that gentle approach was short lived. As Angie began to float across the stage in her violet nightgown getup, the band kicked in with (apologies for agreeing with Randy) a confounding and noisy arrangement that managed to sound equal parts old-fashioned and perturbingly garbled. The end result was that Angie’s voice trailed off a bit in spots, while her vibrato became just a wee bit overwrought in others. (I could’ve also lived without the dramatic, wide-eyed inhalation before the finale “Meeeeee!” but it sounds too bitchy to actually type the words.) I don’t think Nicki helped by noting the “Disney princess” quality of Angie’s “look, voice and disposition,” but hey, at least we know “Someone to Watch Over Me” has “special significance” for Mariah, and that’s really what it’s all about, right? Except they didn’t give the number to vote for Mariah! Or Nicki for that matter! “Hashtag: Urgh!” Grade: B+

Amber Holcomb: “My Funny Valentine” | Randy was correct… OH EM GEE, I just had a thought that if God struck me dead about 11 seconds ago, my last act on earth would be typing “Randy was correct,” and my entire life’s work as an American Idol recapper would be tarnished forevah, dahhling. Sorry, let me get back to my point. Randy was correct that Amber took the stage looking defeated, but I mean, wouldn’t you do the same if the show’s producers had devoted an entire segment with Harry Connick Jr. trying to drive home the message, “She’s cute, but maybe not that bright”? Yeesh, that was brutal, especially after Amber’s first package was all about her failure to remember her lyrics. Granted, it was great to see some real, actionable mentoring happening — and I kinda wish we’d had that happening all season long — but I can’t imagine being in Amber’s shoes and having to take the stage seconds after a video in which it’s pointed out that you couldn’t even use basic comprehension and deductive skils to determine the meaning of the lyric “Is your figure less than Greek?” Or that you have no idea what your signature Idol song is actually about. I’d suspect a case of producer sabotage, but given how hard Uncle Nigel and the judges have pushed Amber for the last six or seven weeks, that theory seems a little tenuous.

Whatever the case, though, Amber gave another lovely performance of “My Funny Valentine,” one that was slightly more sophisticated but perhaps a little less surprising than when she first did it during Top 10 Girls performance night back in Vegas. And that’s the problem of a repeat performance on a reality singing competition: There’s simply no recreating a magic moment at two separate points in time. (Doctor Who should probably devote an episode to this topic.) However, Amber’s post-performance tears — combined with a standing ovation from the judges and Nicki declaring her a “beautiful budding red rose” regardless of whether or not she goes home — might score her enough votes to put Candice or Angie or Kree at risk. That would be unfortunate, though, because to me, “Funny Valentine” (Part 2) wasn’t enough of a statement to shake the feeling that Amber is the No. 4 contestant behind three other women who just happen to be savvier strategists, bigger risk-takers, more creative thinkers and more believable interpreters. Grade: B+ (downgraded from A- because we already heard it before!)

Candice Glover: “You’ve Changed” | Yowza! I know Candice’s “Lovesong” is widely considered the Performance of the Season, but if for any reason that Cure cover is unable to fulfill its duties, the title will be handed over to first runner-up “You’ve Changed.” I mean…do I need to count the ways I loved this performance? The world-weary toss-off of that first “you’re breakin’ my heart.” The way Candice doubled up on the “I can’t, I can’t” and then had to double-time the “realize that you ever cared” with an unexpected rhythmic flourish. The transition from a huge, growling “You’ve changed!” to a heartbreakingly whispered “the sparkle in your eye is gone.” Yes, Randy managed to drop another offensive “church girl” dismissal, and Nicki actually passed on offering any feedback on the night’s inarguably best vocal, but to quote Harry — whose mentoring got a little heavy on the “stick with the melody!” ranting, but was delightfully specific and actionable — “14-year-olds” probably weren’t ever going to get Candice anyhow. Grade: A+

Kree Harrison: “Stormy Weather” | I have to agree to an extent with Nicki that Harry’s unvarnished brand of mentoring may have been “startling” to the Top 4 ladies — especially when they had to hear a highlight reel of his critiques seconds before their performances. Perhaps that explained Kree’s almost timid stage presence during “Stormy Weather,” which to me is supposed to be sung by a woman who thinks of herself as a broad or a dame or a tall glass of water. That wasn’t the case for Kree, whose phrases drifted off like the down on a dandelion, and who seemed to lose her cadence when she hit the bridge. The tone of Ms. Harrison’s voice never fails to thrill just a little — it’s the ace that she’s got in every hand — but after such a deeply connected “Now” number, the “Then” lacked the urgency of a contestant knowing this could be her final time on the big Idol stage. To make matters worse, Kree had to stay on said stage for a loooong and drawn out argument between Randy and Harry that ended with the guest mentor shouting “Randy! Stop! Stop!” (We’ll dive deeper into said dustup and its origin in next Monday’s Idology episode.) And while we’ve all wanted to yell “Randy! Stop! Stop!” for about 12 seasons now (or maybe even put it on a t-shirt), I’m just not sure it was fair for Kree to have to be in the middle of the fracas. Maybe next time Harry could send out a strongly worded Tweet instead? Grade: B

Top 4 Ladies: Little Mix’s “Wings” | Yep, they sang it.

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 12 Top 4 performance night (Part Deux)? What did you think of the judges’ comments? Who was your favorite? Who’s going to be in trouble come results night? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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

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  1. Dcast says:

    iF Candice goes home American Idol must be OVER!!!!!! but apparently its more about the looks and the marketability stuff than real, pure TALENT!!

    • Timmah says:

      It would be nothing new. I can only recall two, maybe three seasons out of the 11 I’ve watched where the most talented person won.

  2. chris says:

    1.) Why does Mariah feel the need to thank contestants for their performances? I don’t understand it. That’s what they’re there to do.

    2.) Amber’s video package pre-‘Valentine’ was cringe-worthy. Really made her look like a fool.

    • Name That Tune says:

      Oh I don’t know but if I was singing in front of someone of Mariah’s stature in the music business a Thank you would make my day. It is a nice touch to thank someone for delivering a good performance.

  3. TVDIVA says:

    In all the years that Randy has been on American Idol, this is the first time I wanted to slap the stupid out of him. Harry is a musical prodigy who has been singing American standards since he was a boy. He is much more qualified than Randy to teach how to sing this type of song. I personally would have also had all of the idols pop Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson and some others into their MP3s to hear how you really tell a story in a song, and I would have showed them live concert performances of the same. Granted, these contestants are not going to be jazz divas, but learning to tell a story while you sing will certainly get people buying your records.

    • marie says:

      Candice just might become a jazz diva. She has the ability, the style, and a love for the genre.

    • The Beach says:

      1. That was really this first time? You have a lot of restraint:)
      2. Oh, you just made me think of Nancy Wilson’s “Guess Who I Saw Today”. Candice could have killed that song.

  4. Jessica says:

    My thoughts- I only enjoyed 1 song- Candice’s 1st Bruno Mars one. I found the other song choices to be boring, especially the 2nd half. Contestants 1st- Angie: She isn’t my style, I can’t listen to her anymore so I fast forwarded pretty quickly into her 2 songs. No idea whether it’s her or me but I have no other comments towards her. Amber- I did not understand one of her mumbles in the 1st song. 2nd one-loved her hair but what a horrible theme night! She looked super defeated! Where is her in music over votes/a TV show? Candice- I love her and she can sing anything but the 2nd songs I blocked out all of them (and I just watched just now!) I feel her only weakness is she needs to be nicer when talking to others but at least I know she loves what she’s doing and is dedicated to singing. Kree- Love her also, think she is 100x better than Carrie and I’m still not fully bought on her singing new country. Onto judges Harry- Finally someone saying it. The girls need to hear this-that is what they will hear in the real business. He knows his stuff. I hope he is on the panel. The 4-add Psychologist to another one of his many jobs-he has been great this season! All this said I so need a “Volcano” performance. This girl old school stuff is getting aggravating! Sorry for being a bummer a bit-just my thoughts.

    • Jessica says:

      Sorry for the typos with Amber. I did not understand any of the words in her 1st song-it was a mumble. and “where is her *love* in music…?”

      • Jessica says:

        Well parts got cut out obviously before posting- 4 judges no comment on b/c I’m still kinda upset from last week. and Ryan seems to have taken Psychologist role on this show and making the show interesting for me.

  5. This is my conspiracy theory, 1st – they wanted a female to win, so they only allowed boring guys through, then they really hyped Candice and Kree all through the top 6 (until the last boy left the competition). Then they realized how hard they have been hyping Candice and Kree, and went into overdrive to support Angie and Amber. Could they be using some sort of reverse psychology here? Get us pissed and galvanizing the Candice/Kree fan bases so that we will actually vote for them…?

    • Mark says:

      I agree with the first half of your theory, but not the second part. They switched to Angie/Amber love because they equate “current” with thin, pretty, and young. Since day one they have wanted a teenage winner. That is the goal every year.

      • Lola says:

        Mark is right. The 14 year olds that Harry referred to cannot appreciate music without the looks (i.e. pretty and thin).

  6. Chris says:

    Nice recap, although I would rate Kree slightly ahead of Candice in round 1, and flip Angie and Kree in round 2. Overall Candice won the night for me with a slight edge over Kree, then a big gap to Angie and Amber.

  7. daynamonet says:

    No one mentioned anything about how beautiful Candice looked when she sang you’ve changed. she said she doesn’t like wearing dresses and hasn’t up until that point. i think candice looked very elegant and poised.

  8. init2winitdawg says:

    After reviewing the videos the best vocalist are Candice and Kree hands down. Angie and Amber are both good singers with Angie being the better performer. I see the finale being one vocalist versus Angie who has the biggest online following. Although I believe Angie will have the votes to win she is not the best singer. We saw that last year, P2 is a great performer but could not touch Jessica Sanchez (or Joshua Ledet for that matter) vocally.

    I would really like to see Candice win, but if not I really would like to hear an album of her original material, more than that, to hear her sing live.

    OAN, I believe Candice was sent home last year in Vegas in hopes she would come back this year. The producers knew about Jessica Sanchez, she had been a youtube and SoCal sensation for the past couple of years and I believe they did not want to cancel these two talents out. So Candice was cut when she was just to remain eligible to come back another year. Works for me because both Jessica and Candice are tops in my book.

  9. Mark says:

    I have to disagree a little bit with Michael. I think this show did stanch the bleeding from last week’s travesty to some extent. It wasn’t a great show, but it does seem that Nigel and the judges did respond to some of our criticisms. The song choices and the performances were mostly meh, but at least there was an attempt to make the show watchable. The “Now and Then” theme could have–indeed, should have–worked. Unfortunately, none of the contestants chose a great song in the “Now” portion that truly showcased their talents. Kree came the closest to choosing the right song, and Candice did the most with her selection, but overall the first half was kind of a snooze. The second half, which should have required an adrenaline injection to keep me awake, was actually the better half. For that we can thank Candice, who had her second “Idol Moment” of the season. For those keeping score at home, that’s two “Idol Moments” for Candice, and zero for everyone else combined.
    Where this show improved was in the the judges mostly doing actual judging instead of reading from an approved script, and, the contestants received actual mentoring instead of being told to run Forest run. Since at least season 2, this show is increasingly becoming American Runner. Nearly every song is sung the same way–cram as many runs into 90 seconds as possible, and then end on a glory note, whether the song requires it or not. I blame this on Kevin Costner. Ever since he rescued Whitney Houston and prompted her to sing the longest, bumpiest, runniest song in history, almost every singer on this show has tried to copy that singing style. On Idol, it is glorified.
    Harry Connick, Jr., finally stood up and said “No–start with the melody. Listen to the words. Anything you add or change should be for a reason. Just because you can, is not a reason.”
    The contestants struggled with that advice, but most of them tried to implement it. Of course, that conflicted with Idol orthodoxy, and the suddenly brain unlocked judges rebelled. Michael blames Jimmy and Harry for interrupting the critiques of Candice and Kree, but they only responded when asked directly. Last week, Ryan called Jimmy out after the judges disagreed with him. This week he asked Harry to respond to Randy’s rant. Why is no one hammering Ryan? He’s the one who keeps escalating these squabbles.
    As for the singers, Angie was OK, nothing special but nothing terrible, either. She does stare at the camera too much for my liking, but she has been doing it since week one. Her song choices were so-so, but I did like what she did with that insipid Diamonds song. She made it listenable.
    Candice was the clear winner last night. I didn’t really care for her first song, but she at least took a chance with it. She is the only one who consistently takes chances. That’s why she is the only contestant with 2 Idol Moments. Of course, she killed on her second song.
    Amber was just OK, also. I didn’t like her first song choice. Pink is a great singer and an even better songwriter, but that is not one of her best songs. Even thought it’s not Pink’s grittiest song, Amber doesn’t even have enough grit for that. She actually did better on the Nate parts than the Pink parts. Her MFV wasn’t that great to me. I still don’t think she understood the lyrics. However, I didn’t think it was fair of the producers to show her looking like an idiot when Harry questioned her about it. That moment could have been kept private.
    Finally, Kree was also disappointing, but I have become used to disappointment from Kree. She has a beautiful voice, but she just doesn’t have the drive and personality to be a big solo singer. If she isn’t going to attack the big songs, then she needs to retreat and do smaller songs. Other great singers like Sade and Norah Jones have made a career out of staying in the soft lane. Kree could be that kind of singer. The midtempo songs, however, are killing her. They are the biggest snooze on the entire show.
    I expect Amber to go home tonight. She was probably in last place after last week, too far behind to make a comeback. That most likely explains why the OMG AMBER IS THE GREATEST MOST CURRENTEST SINGER SINCE THE CAVEMEN FIRST CLANGED TWO ROCKS TOGETHER nonsense finally disappeared. She’s doomed.

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      @Mark – largely agree

    • The Beach says:

      What an intelligent post. Kudos!

    • karen says:

      Kree’s poignant rendition of “See You Again” was hardly a snooze fest. It was one of her finest moments on the Idol stage. And she has sung many uptempo tunes this season including Aretha, Susan Tedeschi and Janis Joplin. Don’t know what you’re talking about.

  10. PK says:

    I can’t help myself. I feel the need to share my personal observations on the mess we call American Idol.

    First, am I the only one who is reminded of Marie Osmond every time I see Angie perform?

    Second, Angie and Amber are like Candice and Kree’s little sisters. Wonder if that was on purpose?

    Third, my final two is Candice and Angie. Come on, how cool would it be to watch such complete opposites compete.

    Fourth, sorry, but Kree bores me. Great voice but the head rolls and dead pan facial expression do nothing to make me want to see her perform again. However, she’s the girl I want to be friends and hang out with. She has a laid back cool factor that I wish she brought to her performances.

    And lastly, Candice won the whole thing with her cover of the Adele song a couple of weeks ago, even with the weird audio slip. It has been one of the only Idol-worthy top 10 performances I’ve seen. I don’t care what she sings for the rest of the show. But…..I would have loved to hear her cover Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”. Really think she would be amazing with that song.

    Okay, this is for real the last thing. Was Angie’s mic turned off during their last minute performance of whatever song that was? I watched it back twice and confirmed that Amber had two solo parts where the camera focused exclusively on her and Angie had no individual camera time. Even Candice and Kree had their moments during the song. Hmmmm……

    Honestly, this season of American Idol began it’s death knoll when Vonetta made it past the producers and onto TV. When I watched her audition, I thought it was one of the out takes of one of the singers who can’t sing but don’t know it, audition anyway, and don’t realize they just made fools of themselves until the judges start laughing at them. I was stunned when they handed her a golden ticket. I thought it was a practical joke. It wasn’t, but the show has turned into one. Sad. RIP AI.

  11. Jake says:

    Is there any doubt that Amber is the one going home tonight? The other three are clearly far more popular, and Amber couldn’t even stay out of the bottom two after rave reviews last week. I’ve been an Amber fan for awhile now, but she has been losing her touch recently. When Amber inevitably goes, I’m 100% Team Candice. She’s such a standout vocalist, and she picks interesting, relevant, and sometimes strange song choices, but she always nails everything. Despite a beautiful tone, I don’t find Kree to be a particularly engaging performer, and Angie is a bit inconsistent vocally, has too many pre-show fans to earn my underdog support, and has this “thing” about her that makes me think she is all smiles in public but ready to murder you in your sleep to win. That last part MIGHT be a bit of an exaggeration. Just a bit though.

    • Aly says:

      Jake, you took the words out of my mouth.

    • daynamonet says:

      I agree w/ u; I love Amber but she really would’ve had to slay tonight in order for me to feel like she wouldn’t be eliminated. She’s been fighting from the bottom since top 10; Candice is creative and original and i love her. I like Kree and I love her voice, but she can come across a little bland, and i also believe angie can be inconsistent, but one thing amber, angie, and candice all have in common are they had standout performances where they were considered best of the night, while Kree has not had that moment, IMO;

  12. snubbed says:

    Best part of the show was seeing Haley Reinhart in the audience!!! Too bad Ryan couldn’t take a second to say hi to her on air, I mean he walked right by her and just ignored her. Bleep you Ryan!

  13. Anna says:

    It was interesting that the judges pointed out that Angie was trying to play to the camera too much during Diamonds. Have they not being paying attention? — she has played to the camera way too much in the majority of her performances this season. That is the thing that annoys me about her, and has resulted in some performances that, while vocally fine, were not very connected to either the song or the audience. In general, she ignores the camera more when she is behind the piano, but she didn’t do that last night, and IMO that resulted in her worst performance (of the ones she has had while playing the piano) all season. She needs to learn how to ignore the cameras.

    • daynamonet says:

      to me her worst performance at the piano was “stand by you” Vocally it just wasn’t up to par, and i definitely think her “diamonds” performance was better than “stand by you”

  14. Annehedonia says:

    The judges (some more than others) can’t seem to realize that the show’s not about them. But part of the problem there is that production seems to think so too. Randy should stick to selling his watches on HSN. He’s much more credible in that incarnation.

    • Lola says:

      ahaha .. I never watched HSN before until last week when I was flipping channels and there he was! And you are right. The show is NOT about them but the ladies (sic) this year do not know it.

  15. Anna says:

    Whoever thinks Amber would automatically be a commercial success needs to check out what has happened with Jessica Sanchez. Young, thin, cute, marketable girl who sung a bunch of ballads on the show then put out an album of (primarily) uptempo r&b/pop songs. It’s not a bad album, there are actually some really strong radio-friendly songs on it. But after signing her, Interscope basically refused to promote her after her Idol-related stuff (the EP and her coronation song) didn’t sell well (honestly, except for her Idol performance and her upcoming Glee appearances, what promo has she gotten to date?) and pushed the album release back to April (instead of capitalizing on her Idol fame by releasing it last fall) and now her album is being predicted by HDD (Hits Daily Double) to sell between 15 and 17 thousand copies in its first week — which would be the lowest selling 1st week by any Idol runner up.

    Now, if Amber wins (which I doubt she will), she’d get better promo than Jessica, which in turn should result in much better sales. But there are a ton of artists doing the r&b/pop thing, it’s not like she is bringing anything different to the market.

    • Tom22 says:

      Jessica is having some commercial success. She’ll sell millions of albums in the phillipines, a natural market for her just as country music was a natural market for Scotty McCreery. She’s also getting paid well to be on Glee, which is a commercial success dozens and dozens of apriring actresses workin as waitresses in los Angeles would die for.

      If the threshold for success is superstar-dom that is like saying someone with a business career that rises to being a well paid sernior vice president or brand manager or something has had a poor carreer if they never ended up CEO of a large fortune 500 company.

      And, at 18, she’s got a long time ahead of her before any assessment can be made on what kind of success she’ll be.

    • I'm Batman! says:

      Angie will be this decade’s “Idol reboot” of the 2.0 version of Kelly Clarkson

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      I’m surprised they are going so low promo with Sanchez. Unless you win, you really don’t seem to get much shot with them now. If the first single doesn’t take off on it’s own like crazy, down with the hatchet. Sanchez seems like she has some stuff that could work and it seems mainstream modern. Surprised. Haley had sooo much on her album and they never even at least gave a second single, one of her own which i think may have worked better, the promo either. Even with P2 the winner, it’s almost like NBC did the promo job for them. That Olympic theme song for such a popular team surely did him wonders (the song fit their usage so well, almost like it was written for the storyline that played out). As they say, it’s a hella rough business and life ain’t fair.

  16. Jay says:

    “I’d suspect a case of producer sabotage, but given how hard Uncle Nigel and the judges have pushed Amber for the last six or seven weeks, that theory seems a little tenuous.” Sounds like TPTB are applying a little reverse psychology. Since pimping her backfired, then surely dissing her will encourage folks to vote, vote, vote.

  17. Aly says:

    Ok sorry to be totally out of context here but did you all notice the awful treatment Haley got when Ryan introduced Babyface with Haley clearly in the audience two rows below, and then he went down the stairs and stopped right in front of her to finish his presentation without ever acknowledging here presence on the show? I mean, come on! She was in THIRD place show a little respect!

    And now regarding the performances, one word: Candice.

    • Chris says:

      He might have been instructed by TPTB to keep the show moving quickly because they were on a tight schedule. Believe me, I’m no Seacrest fan, but he doesn’t decide every action he takes by any means. Standing near Haley seemed like his way of acknowledging her presence despite not being allowed or able to say anything about or to her on camera.

      • HitTheGroundRunning says:

        Yeah for all we know he walked there on purpose to show her even if for all we know Nigel said move it along no time to mention her (even though they actually, I think unusually, seemed to be running anything BUT late last night so there sure didn’t seem to be any rush) and was was doing what he could despite orders. Who knows. Maybe he had time and was allowed to and didn’t. No clue. I don’t know that Ryan felt like he had anything in for her during her season that I recall seeing at all though.

  18. L says:

    I enjoyed the Now performances much more than the standards for everyone except for Amber.
    Round 1
    1. Kree-I love this Carrie song and she did a great job with this
    2. Candice-She did a great job, and I didn’t even notice the pronouns. She really is a great story teller
    3. Angie-I loved her tone. The melody didn’t really do much, but she has such a great voice.
    4. Amber-That song was never going to fit Amber’s voice. I could have told you that before the performance started. She is not that type of singer. I’m curious as to why she chose that song… She also doesn’t have the right passion/experience to really sing it and get it across

    Round 2
    1. Candice-great vocals again, but wish I knew the song. Would have made it a bit more enjoyable
    2. Angie-Didn’t quite like the arrangement at the end. The arrangement at the beginning was great though, and out of all the standards songs I like this one the best. But I still like Allison’s version the best.
    3. Kree-Great vocals, but not as good of a story teller as Candice so a bit more boring.
    4. Amber- Good vocals, but just as boring as it was the first time.

    • karen says:

      Billie Holiday “You’ve Changed.” You’ve committed a music history misdemeanor for not being familiar with this classic Lady Day song.

  19. Jess says:

    Nicki is blasting Mariah on twitter again. It’s funny because Nicki calls Mariah “insecure,” yet Nicki is so bothered by Mariah getting praise (like her snatching motion after Randy praised Mariah last night), Who is insecure, Nicki?

  20. Chris says:

    I liked Kree the most. Candice also did nicely. Unfortunately, Angie had an off night. As for Amber, she sang My Funny Valentine well, but she is SO dumb. How could she not understand the lyrics?!? They’re very straightforward and simple! Contestants are repeatedly told to feel and connect with songs, and she didn’t even try.

    I can’t even guess who will win. All of the final four are very good singers, though.

    • daynamonet says:

      i don’t think its fair to call her dumb. Sometimes when ur asked things on the spot and don’t have time to think about it, it may not be correct. Besides as a singer myself, it is not unheard of that ppl may not understand every lyric of a song or even know 100% what its about. up until this point, there’s prolly been no one who has really broke it down for her or helped her interpret songs, she’s just prolly been told her whole life she has a beautiful voice and prolly no other reasl critiques.

  21. Yo says:

    Well, sir, you took the words right out of my mind: I was thinking Amber is not terribly bright myself, but I didn’t want to go there. Yeah, she doesn’t get it. Candice was spectacular, just spectacular.

    • dj says:

      I wouldn’t assume Amber isn’t bright from just her talk with Harry. She might have been embarrassed and preferred to get his take on the lyrics rather than say what she thought. Maybe she felt intimidated and put on the spot. I think she is going to have a great career ahead and is a fantastic vocalist for her age. I think all four girls are really good. I hope Candice wins, because I feel like she is the most ready at this point, but I will be sad for whoever goes home tonight, because they have all had such stellar moments this season, I wish they could all get to experience the hometown visits.

  22. Paul says:

    The problem with Kree is, that while she has an appealing voice, she sings with little emotion or expression and picks songs that have either a too familiar, or not enough, melody. She always seems slightly dazed as if she just woke up and someone told her its time to sing. As a performer she’s just dull. Angie has the opposite problem. She has so much emotion and ridiculous expressions that it all seems like an act. Nice voice but nothing about her seems genuine. While Amber is very appealing she’s still a diamond in the rough. Only Candice is the real deal which — like most of the other second or third place “losers” before her — means its unlikely she’ll be the American Idol. At least in the short term…

    • Lola says:

      That’s it! It’s been hard for me to put my finger on why I don’t like Angie but you expressed it perfectly. Ridiculous expressions. Batting her eyes (ick). She reminds me of Marie Osmond.

  23. T says:

    Michael Slezak still upset that Amber didn’t know who he was on Twitter? Yeah, I think so.

    The funniest part of this critique was the claim that Mariah mentioning Amber’s second song was her ‘towing the party line’. Yes, because it’s not like Mariah doesn’t stick to the positives with everyone, right? And it’s just such a massive secret that the judges see rehearsals.

    God forbid the judges actually happen to like Amber because – shocker – they genuinely enjoy her.

  24. Jasmine Porter says:

    Hey, Slezak. That high note Angela hit in “Diamonds” was supposed to sound like that. Look at her Youtube version of the song and it sounds exactly the same. There was nothing wrong with it, like you and Lyndsey Parker over on Reality Rocks said. You guys need to heed Nicki Minaj’s advice. “Clean your ears out!”

  25. Carla says:

    People didnt like “See You Again”??? Seriously??? I almost cried watching it. Kree honestly should be in the top 2 with Candace she is just SO READY to make a record. Her voice is so soothing and gorgeous and she redeemed herself with that first song. How is she not a huge country star already?? It baffles me! Go Kree!!!! Win or lose she’s not going to need any help being a superstar.

    • Timmah says:

      She needs to look like she gives a crap. Her and Candice need to learn to vary their stone-faced expressions. Good for poker, not so good for an aspiring entertainer.

      • Carla says:

        Honestly if you watch “see you again” over once more, she is definitely giving some raw emotion. The most I’ve seen from her since Vegas rounds. But I know a lot of people seem to disagree……

      • kaba says:

        Yet candice has remained the front runner majority of the season. If anyone who voted for her thought that was a problem wouldn’t it be regularly addressed?

        • Timmah says:

          In no way is Candice the front-runner. That would be Angie, who they pimp like crazy and has never been in the bottom 2 or 3.

    • dadang says:

      i liked “See You Again” better than the original. I am even imagining it as a soundtrack of a movie similar to “Armageddon” or “Pearl Harbor”. Keith made a good point there. Kree needs to move a bit so it won’t contradict to her voice. I’m not saying she didn’t bring any emotion from her face,, just a little bit of movement and it’ll be perfect. The way to appreciate it without flaw is to just listen and don’t look at Kree.

  26. Tammy says:

    I think Harry had a great point when it came to the standards. When Kree was asking which version should I sing… Etta or Lena? It meant she really didn’t know the song at all. Don’t try to sing a version of a version of a song. Sing the song. Learn it first. Sit down at a piano, have them give you a tape of the piano playing it or something. None of the standards needed all those vocal olympics they gave them. They obviously do not give these contestants enough time to really learn these songs. BTW…. Harry Connick Jr for season long mentor! I have seen him on other interviews talking about how you need to be able to understand the lyrics and speak (not sing, speak) the lyrics before you can sing them. These girls will thank him one day because the light bulb will light up eventually.

  27. Bob says:

    Harry Connick for judge next year.

  28. Jayce says:

    Just a note bene..because it makes any real singer crazy to hear the term used incorrectly! Especially on IDOL..GIRLS DO NOT HAVE A FALSETTO…they have a “head voice” Falsetto refers to and ONLY refers to a male “falsely” sounding like a female..using a particular part of their vocal cord. It makes me crazy to hear the judges ..3 of them..(not Mariah she knows better..) getting it so WRONG.

  29. Kate'shomesick says:

    What I don’t get is why people think it is insulting that Candice is being called a church singer…she herself said that she had been compared to Joshua Ledet a couple of times (in her audition this year) and when being asked if she was a church girl she definitely said YES to that…

  30. Fernando says:

    Harry Connick Jr. should be BANNED from the show.
    What he did to Amber is unforgivable. She’s my least favorite contestant, but definitely didn’t deserver that.

  31. ramdelossantos says:

    Candice SHOULD win! Enough said… But I think she needs another kick-ass performance next week! Something like Joshua’s Man’s World or Jessica’s And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going :)

  32. RP_Man says:

    I honestly have to laugh at some of the comments here.
    I have taught music and music theory for over 30 years, and was a virtuoso guitar player in my country of origin…I feel I know a little about music.
    Its easy to call contestants and judges dimwits and soul less and whatever from behind your keyboard, and thats what many here do, including the main article writer.
    Fact is anyone can stuff up a song they are not familiar with, even Mariah, Pink and whoever else…but you will not see it, thats why people rehearse things over a long period before a show, everyone sees the end product and expects these kids to achieve that in a couple of days…thats nonsense.
    Anyone who says different is an outsider that does not know the inner workings of these things.
    As far as raw talent goes…Amber totally has it (for those who claim she hasn’t), she just needs a little time, but she is the one of the best singers there without a doubt.
    And as far as teaching/mentoring goes, I dont think I have ever seen a worse mentor that Harry Connick, he is traditionalist of the worst order…sure learn the melody first, thats true, but the guy has no respect for these kids, yet he seems to want it himself.
    I felt he was totally arrogant and dismissive, overly full of his own self importance and worse, a terrible teacher and not at all encouraging.
    Basically he frightened the life out of all of them, especially Amber…totally ruined her chances by his “stick to tradition” comments…ridiculous.

    • kaba says:

      Teaching music needs to stop being used as an excuse to boost your credibility. Especially considering you said absolutely nothing different from the other comments

      • RP_Man says:

        Its not an excuse, its a statement.
        Ok I said nothing different from the other comments, according to you…you know best.
        Nuff said.

    • dadang says:

      I have visited numerous blog sites and people who happen to appreciate Amber are mostly claiming to be musicians or those with some years in the industry..

  33. RP_Man says:

    I just wanted to add tradition is fine…I love it.
    But it’s not what you say, its how you say it, and Harry obviously has never taught much.
    I have hundreds of hours of teaching behind me and one of the first lessons I learnt was, be respectful, they are a person, not less than you, be encouraging and make your criticism constructive, not destructive.
    Harry doesn’t know the difference, and his comments in front of millions of people show how little regard he has for others lives and careers.
    Anyway his performances are so mannered and articulated it’s ridiculous, of course he cant understand hitting high notes, improvising and losing yourself in a song is, he is not that type of musician…fine…but dont try to put every one in your box Harry, thats what Randy objected to, and I agree with him.

  34. Casey says:

    Slezak, can you use your Idol Investigator connections to find out what Hot Idol Guitarist Dude’s name is?

  35. Robin Claire says:

    Nicki Minaj has ruined American Idol this year. I DO NOT want to see her back!! I’m watching “The Voice” instead. They are doing much better there than on American Idol this year. The judges there are concentrating on the singing and not just the strutting, dress, and make-up.

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