It was Beatles night on American Idol and Keith Urban was like a kid in a candy store. He couldn’t make up his mind which song was his favorite. Nicki Minaj just wanted Jimmy Iovine to cool it or get lost, whichever came first, but just quit messin’ with her fav’s heads. She thinks it’s Jimmy’s fault that Lazaro Arbos has lost confidence in his singing and his stage presence, putting too much pressure on him and confusing him. Randy Jackson pointed out that contestants not only need to prove they can sing just about anything, but do it under pressure. Lazaro bombed with “In My Life”, and tried desperately to hide his tears after the judges’ comments. I like Lazaro and would like to hear him sing in the right range for his voice. But he is not American Idol material. I believe he could sing great with a few voice lessons, but that needed to happen before he got on the show.
Candice Glover once again put the pedal to the metal and zoomed out ahead of the competition, though the judges must have put the brakes on standing ovations. Not a one jumped up the entire evening, though daughter-in-law Tammy and I were nearly standing on our heads by the end of Candice’s rousing performance of “Come Together”. It put some fire into an otherwise lukewarm evening. Solid performances are fine, but it’s not what viewers tune in to see. Both judges and audiences want to be wowed. And that ain’t happenin’ at a very brisk pace this season.
Amber Holcomb, an early-on favorite, has the voice to get the blood flowing, but not only did not do justice to “She’s Leaving Home”, it was unrecognizable. In fact, my own viewing trio must have missed the introduction with the title of the song because I had to call out for that information. Still didn’t get it because sister Kate and her Randy, big Beatles fans — as who is not?– didn’t catch the title and didn’t recognize the tune or the song. I had to Google it and still don’t recognize it. So, if a contestant is not going to do a really breakout performance of a relatively obscure song, it might be a good idea not to do it at all and pick something more familiar to themselves and their audience.
Angie Miller did a heart-warming version of “Yesterday”, which was good up to the point where she ended with that unanticipated and jarring trill at the end. It seemed to stop the beautiful and haunting flow of the song so she could suddenly and unexpectedly vaunt her voice. It’s like she was saying, Okay, I’ve shown enough heart and emotion here, let’s get back to what really matters. My extraordinary voice. And even though Randy gave her props for it, I don’t think he really liked it, either. It was more like he was implying that she had suddenly abandoned a great performance, and in one awkward flip, made it merely commercial. Great and lasting music becomes a commercial success because, first of all, it touches people. Not the other way around.
In the same vein, Devin Velez nearly ruined an otherwise fine performance of “The Long and Winding Road” by nearly drowning it in trills and frills. Randy Jackson did warn this singer about going down that long and winding road. It can bore people to the point of being voted off and having to take the long road back home.
On the other hand, Janelle Arthur was the step-up vocalist of the evening by doing a Goldilocks — not too much, not too little, but a JUUUST right performance of “I Will”. It touched, it pleased, it conquered. She was a hit with the judges, the audience, and definitely the viewers in my circle. She’s a contender.
Kree Harrison kicked off the show with her usual impeccable performance, this time choosing “I’ll Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”. Burnell Taylor was a standout performer with his smooth to raspy R&B blend in “Let It Be”. Among the men, he may be the last one left standing before the girls take flight for the top. Paul Jolley trashed Eleanor Rigby because he still can’t find where his vocals belong in pitch or in genre. I believe it’s a toss-up between him and Lazaro on which gets voted off tonight.
On a lighter note, I liked Angie Miller’s hair a lot better than the high school prom queen curls. I think Jimmy Iovine made a comment recently about offsetting her beauty contest style with a more current look. And she got it. She’s always beautiful, but now she looks more like a singer on her way up to a star.
However, Candice needs to downplay her overabundance of big caboose and legs (as does Kree). And tight and patterned is definitely the wrong end of the spectrum from “downplay”. Otherwise, she is gorgeous. A standout in wardrobe, however, was Burnell Taylor. That jacket was to die for. Loved it. He looked FAB-ulous, dahling. But Devin, in case he doesn’t go home, should lose that dorky hairstyle.
Oh yeah. And Aubrey Cleland got the nod for the American Idol Live Tour over Charlie Askew. All I can say is, she’ll blend.