We’ve finally reached the Top 10 on Season 12 of American Idol! And your regular recapper had to bow out at the last minute, so you’re stuck with little ol’ me breaking down the highlights. Since I’m all late and stuff, much like Nicki Minaj was tonight (13 minutes; possibly due to Mariah Carey draining her gas tank. She looked super guilty, didn’t she?), this won’t be the most in-depth take on the proceedings, but I definitely have some thoughts on how this first round of the finals went down. Scariest part of the night? A tie between Jimmy “The Cryptkeeper” Iovine and his annoying backwards baseball caps and the fact that Randy made some actual, cogent observations and didn’t call anyone “dawg”.
Let’s get to the singing!
Curtis Finch, Jr.–”I Believe” Curtis dusted off Fantasia’s coronation song, which is schmaltzy, but perfect for his gospel wheelhouse. He even got the choir backing him to kick off the season. It wasn’t bad, but I agreed with Randy, who told him to try changing it up just a little next time. At least he toned down the smarm tonight, but he sort of cancelled that attitude change out with a very loud red dinner jacket.
Janelle Arthur–”Gone” Trying to capitalize on her desire to be a “traditional” country artist, Janelle selected Scotty’s cover of this Montgomery Gentry tune, and tried very hard to pull a Pickler in her interview segment. No kidding, she was trying to sound ditzier than ever, talking about the lead singer of Rascal Flatts. The trouble with Janelle is that while her voice is perfectly pleasant, she’s a little boring and not very good at song selection. The title alone should have put her off of this particular tune. We’ll see how she lasts on the sheer strength of the country vote.
Devin Velez–”Temporary Home” Apparently, this is a Carrie Underwood song. It’s a sad little ditty about a boy who seems to be stuck in the foster care system, but it sounds like it was written for some sort of telethon. Why Devin thought this was the song to kick off his Idol journey, I have no idea. Again, he is completely competent, but this is Dullsville.
Angie Miller–”I Surrender” Kelly Clarkson belted this Celine Dion classic way back when, and Angie evidently stayed up way past her bedtime to watch, since she was about 5. The judges liked this one a lot more than I did, falling all over Angie, from her styling to her artistry to her actual vocals, but I still like Angie. I just don’t think I like the song that much. I look forward to her Top 9 performance.
Paul Jolley–“Amazed” Scotty also crooned this Lonestar song in his season, and he killed it. Paul has been told by The Cryptkeeper to be less theatrical in his performances, and because of that, he totally held back on what should be a very emotionally charged song. He looked great, as Nicki pointed out, making us all uncomfortable by talking about her sexuality, so that should help his cause for at least a couple more weeks.
Candice Glover– “I Who Have Nothing” This was the performance of the night for me. Candice cited Jordin Sparks’ performance of this Shirley Bassey classic, but let’s not forget that Haley Reinhart also slayed it, even if the show doesn’t choose to remind us. Candice also did the dramatic song proud with her vocal horsepower and incredible presence. I would say that of the three women, she’s the most complete package on this. Jordin broke out of the pack with it, Haley proved she had the performance chops, but Candice just looked effortless, as the whole panel put it, setting herself a very high bar to clear each week. I think she’s the one to beat.
Lazaro Arbos–”Breakaway” It’s not enough that Lazaro has a crippling stutter, but the show made him follow Candice?! That’s just mean. It’s too bad that he couldn’t at least come out and be as good as he was last week, instead he was flat and somewhat lifeless on his cover of Kelly Clarkson’s hit. By all rights, he should be the one to go, but he’s got a lot of goodwill for his story built up. And it was probably helped by the fact that Keith asked him a question tonight that required more than a one word answer and it was very hard to listen to him struggle.
Kree Harrison–“Cryin’” While she should be safe as a kitten going into tomorrow, this Roy Orbison classic (sung by Carrie Underwood) was a little on the snoozy side to me. Her voice is like butter, though. She didn’t need to pull out all the stops quite yet, so maybe she’s saving it for later on in the competition. Regardless, she should outlast Country competitor Janelle easily.
Burnell Taylor–”Flying Without Wings” Wow, did anyone else actually remember the title of Rueben’s coronation song? I’d forgotten it, of course, but it all came rushing back thanks to Burnell and his cute little vocal flourishes. He really stands out in this group with his look, personality and the unique touches he puts on songs he sings. Though this song is not good, Burnell sang the heck out of it.
Amber Holcomb–“A Moment Like This” We weren’t all jaded and cynical when this song came to be, plus Kelly’s adorable rendition sung right after she won the title gives it all a warm, fuzzy glow. Amber sang a much more R&B arrangement, and it was strong. I wasn’t sure I quite saw Whitney in her, as Nicki did, but I think she should be around awhile. She is very polished and smooth, which may start to grate when she stands next to some of the less mannered and more laid back ladies as the season wears on.
So, who do you think is going home tonight? My money is on Lazaro for generally being out of his depth, or Devin for being super boring. I’m just pretty sure it won’t be a female.