Amber Holcomb took American Idol to new heights last night with her beautiful rendition of “Lately” by Stevie Wonder. By far the best performance of the evening, and earned her the only standing ovation of Motown night.
But Mariah Carey celebrated her birthday with a new low in Idol’s 12th season, acting very un-Mariah-like, which was definitely not a crowd-pleaser. She not only tried to toss in some Nicki-like idiosyncrasies – very badly I might add — she tried to do her quirky panelist one better. Beginning with Nicki’s naturally bizarre way of tipping her hat to legendary singer Smokey Robinson, who has held up well through the years, Mariah grabbed her a piece of that action and ran with it.
Determined not to be outdone by Nicki in the eyes of Smokey Robinson, not only was Mariah the biggest suck-up of the evening, she did her hoity-toity bit by calling Amber’s performance a “tour de force”. She was out to impress, and when she got no immediate response to her French, she insulted her audience and fellow judges by saying she would speak to the lowest common denominator. So she did. Excuse her bleeping French. I was impressed all right. She has topped Nicki for greatest embarrassing Idol episodes – sans the Minaj panache.
I was not impressed with Janelle Arthur’s unrecognizable version of “You Keep Me Hanging On”, ignoring the advice of Smokey and Jimmy to start it out on a high note. Back in the studio, when she did what they told her, those lines sounded great. She certainly didn’t do it on stage. In spite of one judge saying she captured the angst, I totally disagreed. All she was out to capture were votes, certainly not the heart. Smokey and Jimmy try to tell these kids, if you get the heart, you’ll get the votes. But ignoring this advice is sending American Idol into a downward spiral from which it might not ever recover.
Another who ignored the advice of two legends in the music business, was Angie Miller, who doesn’t seem to know how to “get with it” and get out of the Voice-Lesson 101 mode. She was advised to quit enunciating so perfectly and chop off the “nows” in “Shop Around”. When the judges weren’t wowed by her performance, she got stuck on “I’m just having fun. It’s all about having fun”. NO it is NOT. It’s about getting to the top by being the best performer. She hasn’t been the best since she did her own song. So far, she’s clueless, won’t take good advice, and, if she doesn’t change, may be one of the first of the girls to go.
The best of the guys was Burnell Taylor with “My Cherie Amour”. Though he ended many of his words with an odd “N” or “M” sound, he still has a unique voice. He just doesn’t blow anybody away.
I hated all the group songs. “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” with Candice Glover, Amber Holcomb, and Angie Miller had none of the spice of the original by The Supremes. None of the girls had great moments through the first half of the song, and I couldn’t bear to listen all the way through so I muted it. And Angie Miller needs to lose the shorts. It’s the second time this season she has worn them and they don’t do a thing for her. Kree and Janelle did a forgettable version of “Like A Prayer”.
And I disagreed with the judges on “I Can’t Help Myself” with Lazaro, Devin, and Burnell. I thought the song started out well and Lazaro, who should already be home watching the performance instead of being in it, totally screwed it up for the other two. He missed a cue, missed an entire line, and got the whole performance off track so badly even Smokey could not have gotten it back. I thought someone should have thrown Lazaro under the train for that little derailment, and thumbed their nose at Mariah and her little speech about his courage. What took courage was for Devin and Burnell to get up there on stage with him. And to add insult to injury, not only does Lazaro fail to apologize, he makes excuses.
I was looking forward to Kree Harrison’s solo of Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Play That Song” when I heard those few bars in the studio with Jimmy, and Smokey Robinson. The two mentors loved her voice so well Smokey said he was going to call Aretha. “No pressure,” Kree quipped. But I think the pressure got to her because, though it was a good performance, it wasn’t great. Her beautiful, full-volumned voice came out a little high and tight to me, and the judges weren’t jumping out of their seats. But Kree is in it win it, as Randy Jackson likes to say. And so are Candice and Amber.
I have read that Idol manipulated the outcome this season by getting rid of any good, guitar-playing white boys, therefore none to tempt voters into another season of cloned American Idol winners. If they did, they have manipulated their way into a pretty sorry season. There are three exceptional singers this year. But there’s no electricity, no voices that are out-of-the-mainstream unique as well as current, nothing to really make viewers keep coming back for more. Even the singers who didn’t get chosen on The Voice were better than most of this season’s American Idol line-up. And that’s a crying shame.