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American Idol Season 12 - Top 4 Recap (Round 1)

Updated on January 8, 2014

With only four contestants left, it's time for these girls to step up and show America which one can not only win, but represent themselves as the artist they're going to be moving forward. Song choice has always been a fundamental key element for those that have succeeded in the past, and this time around the girls get to choose both of the songs themselves.

In the first round the ladies can pick any song they want (that is approved for use on the show). No specific genre, theme, singer or style. Any song. This should show us who is really "in it to win it" by what they choose.

The Children's Hospital of Los Angeles welcomed each of the contestants as musical mentors where they also performed a mini concert in support of the hospital's music therapy program. We get to hear from each of the Idol's about their experience before they perform.

Amber Holcomb - "The Power Of Love" (Celine Dion)

Amber partnered with Angie visiting individual children at their bedside and was surprised at how fun kids could be in a hospital.

Keith - "That was an amazing perfect song choice. There's a reason you're still in the top 4 and that's the reason."

Nicki - "You are so current. You are so ready. I feel like we're at your show."

Randy - "I think the contestant with the most growth is right there. You are ready."

Mariah - "You took a classic song and gave it flavor. For me it's like #pow."

Tough song to sing. Amber hit most of the notes right on, but after listening to it a second time it was clear that her pitch was still off in places - especially the lower notes. It's almost as if she's not putting enough air behind the notes when there are more than two words to sing in a single breath. When she finds a good note and holds it she has a lovely tone and vibrato. She'll be great when she grows a little more after this show. C+

Candice Glover - "Find Your Love" (Drake)

Candice gave kudos to the staff of the Children's Hospital for making it feel more like a home than a place for sick people. She played a little hide-and-go-seek with 5-year old cancer patient Demi, and dedicated her performance to all of the kids.

Keith - "I love the power in the quiet moments of your voice."

Nicki - "You could have still kept it classic yet made it current. I don't want you to get lost in that old-fashioned bracket."

Randy - "It can't always sound like you're in church."

Mariah - "There were certain moments where you took me to a place I needed to be."

There were a few wonky notes in this which is rare for Candice, but it was still good. Nicki correctly pointed out though that everyone left can obviously sing, and chose to critique her on her relevance (with that song) in the current entertainment industry. I have to agree and wonder why this was the song that she chose out of anything. It doesn't strike me as something that would be a hit or even a filler track on her record. Strange choice. B-

Kree Harrison - "It Hurt So Bad" (Susan Tedeschi)

Kree got to hang with premature baby Billy and his mom to sing a little lullaby. She also fielded a string of questions from Nathan (none of which she answered) and laughed uncomfortably.

Keith - "It's a given that you can all sing. [What's missing is] the emotion. The gutteral shredding and feeling and rawness in a song. You gotta make my heart break."

Nicki - "That performance is not going to give you what you need to get to next week."

Randy - "I don't know if it's the best vocal I've heard from you. Parts of it were a little disconnected."

Mariah - "There were moments when you were truly connected to the audience [but] we don't see you get lost in the song."

Watching this a second time, I just stared blankly at the television wondering what to say about this performance and came up with nothing. So I watched it a third time. Still nothing. I've come to the conclusion that that is the problem with her and this performance. It made me feel nothing. She also looks like she feels nothing. I'm glad that the judges are finally telling the truth about this girl. She got to choose any song that she wanted to show a representation of who she is - and this was the result. C-

Angie Miller - "Who You Are" (Jessie J)

Angie seemed the most comfortable among the sick children. She's just a kid herself and looked like the only one of the four that had a genuinely good time. She played piano, presented a donated brand new acoustic guitar and was nothing but smiles the whole time.

Keith - "As the song went on you got looser and looser."

Nicki - "There's no one that compares to you when you're behind that piano."

Randy - "You made me forget [the original]. That was the best performance of the night for me."

Mariah - "The caliber of that performance was...beyond. That was a professional moment."

This was the only song choice of the night that truly represented the artist. She didn't even look at the camera once for the first half of the song which delighted me. She's listening to the good advice she's receiving and putting it into practice. This was so good that it could have been a finale performance song. A

Amber & Kree "Rumor Has It" (Adele)

Keith - "I keep waiting for someone to cut loose, or throw a mic stand or something."

Nicki - "Think about your two favorite divas and how they would do a duet."

This rendition displayed none of the fire or emotion of the original. Amber at least comes a little closer, but her notes were still a bit shaky...especially alongside Kree. Neither of these two seemed to feel anything throughout the song. It seems as though Idol has selected these specific pairings as a precursor to who will land in the bottom two. C-

Angie & Candice - "Stay" (Rihanna & Mikki Ekko)

Randy - "That's how you do a duet!"

Mariah - "Candice I really like how you do things according to the song you're singing."

Ther highlight of this song was the way Candice and Angie harmonized so beautifully together. There were some notes that were a bit off for both of them when they sang alone, but these girls should end up being our Top 2 of Season 12. B

For round 2 the theme was chosen in an AT&T online vote. - and the winning selection is "One Hit Wonders." The contestants still get to choose whatever song they want to sing in this broad category.

Amber Holcomb - "Mac Arthur Park" (Richard Harris/Donna Summer)

Keith - "I thought that was an incredible performance."

Nicki - "Did you just try to go for the longest Idol note in history? Out of the four girls [left], you're the one I would want to get to note.""

Randy - "Dude, you got mad crazy vocals."

Mariah - "You are giving us confidence."

Her pitch is all over the place on this. I wonder if the judges go back and watch this and hear that (or notice that Nicki called Amber "Angie"). This was a very odd song choice out of all the one-hit wonders to pick from. Maybe she's going for the Donna Summer vibe...and that could work for her. I just didn't get it. C

Candice Glover - "Emotion" (Samantha Sang/Bee Gees)

Keith - "Is there any one-hit wonder songs from the last decade?"

Nicki - "That's a classic song but I still was groovin' to it."

Randy - "The former Candice from last week is returning."

Mariah - "You did a stellar performance with a cold."

This again wasn't one of her best. It's a great song but didn't have the "emotion" that the Brothers Gibb version has. She sounded better here when she strayed from the original melody. It kinda felt like the key was a bit low for her too. She's just not at the top of her game tonight. B-

Kree Harrison - "Whiter Shade Of Pale" (Procol Harum)

Keith - "Most of the songs for you tonight have been middle ground songs and I don't think it works that well."

Nicki - "Something about what's on the inside of you seems to be dimming."

Randy - "You know what will never be your problem? Singing."

Mariah - "I'm actually gonna go download that now 'cause I need that on my phone."

This was a horrible song choice. It's one of those songs that I immediately turn off when it comes on the radio. I don't get it. Why choose this song? She said to Ryan right before she sang that she's going to "try to lay all her emotion on the stage." There was zero emotion in this performance. Blecch. D

Angie Miller - "Cry Me A River" (Julie London)

Keith - "Mystical and celestially powerful."

Nicki - "You snatchin' wigs off people's heads! Tonight was your night."

Randy - "The best of the night. Angie wins the night hands down!"

Mariah - "You hit some upper register moments of clarity."

Sigh. We're back to her staring into the camera through the whole song. I don't know why but it takes me out of the song. (Maybe because it reminds me of this meme image a little too much.) That aside, it was another gorgeous vocal and smart song choice. Angie is the only one that evoked any emotion during the whole night. I didn't know this song at all but I still felt it. A-

Ryan promised us that there will be a "shocker" during tomorrow night's results show (Kree really is a fembot? That wouldn't shock me.) Since the precious "save" was never used, Idol is stuck with too many weeks and not enough contestants (the finale is scheduled for Thursday, May 16th). So it will likely have something to do with that. My guess is that they'll combine the votes from this week and next week to determine the Top 3. heard it here first!

Top 2 - Angie, Candice

Bottom 2 - Amber, Kree

Going Home? - Kree

Which judge keeps it real?

See results


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