Performer of the Week: Candice Glover

Candice Glover Lovesong American IdolA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Candice Glover

THE SHOW | American Idol

THE EPISODE | “Top 6 Perform”

THE AIRDATE | April 10, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE | Candice Glover got a rude shock a week ago Thursday on American Idol‘s Top 7 results night. When the show’s quartet of judges and mentor Jimmy Iovine were asked to name their personal Top 3 lists, only Mariah Carey included the 23-year-old vocalist from St. Helena Island, GA — despite the fact that she’s been consistently fantastic in every performance since her audition aired in January. To make matters worse, when Ryan Seacrest revealed America’s vote totals, Candice was stuck in midpack while Lazaro Arbos, who’d forgotten his lyrics two weeks running, was in the Top 3.

So, when she took the stage Wednesday night, Candice had something to prove. After her first number — a stunning, modern reboot of Dionne Warwick’s “Don’t Make Me Over” that won a standing ovation from the judges — Candice returned to close the show with an out-of-left pick for “The Song You Wish You’d Written”: The Cure’s 1989 gem “Lovesong,” which had also been covered by Adele in 2011.

To call Candice’s rendition transcendent would be an understatement. Delivering the opening verse accompanied by nothing other than band leader Ray Chew’s piano, Candice reimagined “Lovesong” as a powerful torch song — effortlessly playing with the melody and adding cool, organic riffs that were on par with the all-time jazz greats. Every choice she made in the song was as surprising as it was goosebump-inducing. It would’ve been easy to get lost in the technical brilliance of what Candice was doing if it wasn’t so emotionally transformative.

By the time Candice finished, the audience was on its feet — letting out a rapturous roar unlike any in recent Idol history. Judge Keith Urban dropped to his knees and bowed down before Candice. Mariah shimmied onto the stage and annointed the singer with a handful of glitter. Candice, for her part, wept tears of joy and disbelief as Ryan Seacrest attempted to silence the audience so the judges would have time to offer some feedback.

On its own merits, “Lovesong” was indeed one of the greatest (maybe even the greatest) performance in Idol history — a perfect storm of audaciously creative vision, deeply heartfelt delivery, and undeniable vocal mastery. (It didn’t hurt that Candice looked absolutely gorgeous, nor that the minimal production — floating rose petals against a black backdrop — was hypnotizing, too.) And in the larger scheme of things, with a two-minute display of virtuosity, Candice singlehandedly managed to bring positive water-cooler buzz to a season of Idol that’s made headlines mostly for sagging ratings and a squabbling judges’ panel. If you weren’t lucky enough to catch the performance on Wednesday, we’ve embedded it below.

HONORABLE MENTION | The Mindy Project‘s Chris Messina, who, in moment of airplane turbulence-induced terror, revealed an endearing vulnerability rarely seen in his typically tough doc, Danny. With nothing more than a sideways glance and an intense grab of his co-worker/potential crush Mindy’s hand, his walls came tumbling down — and the ‘ship factor for these two skyrocketed! (Bonus points for the hilariously realistic disgust Danny spewed at Mindy over her lack of packing skills.)