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American Idol Season 12 - Top 7 Recap - Classic Rock Week
I was really psyched about this theme, being a rock guy myself. I was even more pumped when the show kicked off with Rush's "Limelight" and a promise of covers by some of my favorite rock gods. Could these kids really handle tunes sung by such icons as Freddie Mercury (Queen), Ann Wilson (Heart) and Janis Joplin? Would the presence of contemporary guitar shredder Orianthi give this week's theme some credibility? Will Lazaro know all of his lyrics?
Let's find out the answers together as we get to listen to songs that were again made popular before all of these contestants were born:
Burnell Taylor - "You Give Love A Bad Name" (Bon Jovi)
To fill the 2 hours this week, we're served with taped comments by the other Idols about the upcoming singer's personality, quirks, habits and funny-isms.
For Burnell, we learn that he has a loud, infectious laugh and people find it difficult to understand what he's saying half of the time. Also...the hand thing.
Keith - "I'm gonna assume rock and roll is not your thing. I've never seen you look more uncomfortable in a song."
Nicki - "You still were lovable to me."
Randy - "Everything was so behind the beat."
Mariah - "I felt you had fun with it."
The best cover of this song in the history of Idol was by Blake Lewis six years ago. Unless a singer can do it as well or better than JBJ, or pull out a unique arrangement like Blake did in Season 6, it's always going to fall short. Couple that with the fact that it's not even close to the type of song he should be singing, then it makes for a forgettable 90 seconds. Both the genre and lyrical content are wrong for him. The thing that people loved about Burnell in the beginning was the authentic passion and soul that he brought to the table. This performance had none of that. C-
Angie & Lazaro - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (Queen)
Our first duet of the evening is a very odd pairing of perhaps one of the best and definitely the worst singers remaining in the competition.
Keith - "It wasn't a great duet for you guys."
Nicki - "I think that was a nice twist for you Lazaro. You seemed to be comfortable up until the point where you forgot the lyrics again. That was a good key for you Angie."
Randy - "Angie you were amazing as usual."
Mariah - "It's hard because the song was not a duet originally."
Much like Nicki is running out of words to describe how amazing Candice is, I'm running out of adjectives to convey the vocal abomination that is Lazaro. As a professional musician myself, it's infuriating to see someone be given the gift of this platform and not take it seriously enough to learn the f*****g lyrics. He had just TWO songs to get down and still managed to botch one. He was also out of tune for most of it and looked completely lost. Awful. This song wasn't all that well suited for Angie either, but at least she knows how to sing. Angie: A- Lazaro: F
Kree Harrison - "Piece Of My Heart" (Janis Joplin)
Kree is the den mother of the group and knows everyone associated with the show. She also loves to hug. A lot.
Keith - "I knew something was wrong. (we learn that Kree has a pinched nerve in her arm or maybe her shoulder).
Nicki - "That was magnificent."
Randy - "I love seeing this bluesy side of you."
Mariah - "Tonight's performance, for me, was possibly my favorite."
I'm still not "feeling" this girl. She sings well, She looks good. Last week I said that I figured out what was bothering me about her but now I'm back to not being sure. Even though her execution is spot on, she's never really moves me. I feel like she's hiding something. Maybe it's the blackness of her eyes, or the blankness of her overall expression. But this is a singing competition, and I'll grade her on her rendition as compared to the late, great Janis Joplin. B-
Burnell & Candice - "The Letter" (Joe Cocker)
Another song that has been sung to death on Idol (with the best rendition being performed by Michael Johns and Carly Smithson during the Season 7 finale).
Keith - "I loved it. I thought it was a great song for you two."
Nicki - "Your voice is clearly superior, Candice."
Randy - "Burnell, this was much better for you. Candice, you already there."
Mariah - "I don't know if you would have selected this as your duet."
When you put two singers side-by-side, it's hard to not compare. The judges are right in that Candice clearly outshines Burnell. That being said, I didn't really feel that this song worked well at a duet in this case. Either one of these two probably could have done a better job if they were just singing it by themselves, which is what this performance felt like. It's another duet pairing that didn't really click. Candice: A- Burnell: B-
Janelle Arthur - "You May Be Right" (Billy Joel)
Janelle is "as country as it gets" according to the other Idols. She tends to be over-dramatic about everything from simple forgetfulness to the diets of the other contestants.
Keith - "I love how you work the stage. You come out like a professional. Every week you get better and better. You're such a contender."
Nicki - "Girls are going to love you because you feel like every girl's best friend."
Randy - "Authenticity at its best. I'm gonna call her the GREAT contender."
Mariah - "I really loved this key [for you]. I totally agree with the relatability thing."
I was worried when I heard that she was singing this song...both because of the lyrical content and that it's a pretty straight ahead rock song (I've been singing it for years in rock cover bands). But from the first note, Janelle remarkably made it sound like a modern Country song - with her natural twang and a unique approach to the meter. This girl may be the contestant that is the most firmly grounded in the kind of artist she wants to be. A-
Who gave the best performance during Classic Rock week?
Lazaro Arbos - "We Are The Champions" (Queen)
The contestants talk about the bright colors that Lazaro chooses for his wardrobe and the dramatic poses at the end of his performances.
Keith - "That was a really good song choice for you."
Nicki - "I think you did it justice."
Randy - "Dude you did a good job."
Mariah - "I was concerned, but I really felt like you did a good job."
The judges again coddle to someone that is clearly under-qualified to be part of a nationally televised singing competition. It's times like these that I really miss someone like Simon Cowell who isn't afraid to tell it like it is. D+
Amber, Janelle & Kree - "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" (Billy Joel)
For the last group number, the three remaining girls take on the 1980 #1 hit from Long Island's favorite son.
Keith - "You girls are great together. You should do more."
Nicki - "That particular song choice put me to sleep."
Randy - "That was unbelievable." (really!?)
Mariah - "Very nice blending."
We find out after the performance that the girls only learned this song 24 hours prior, so the visible and audible uncertainty with some of the lyrics is forgivable. I thought that Amber's voice sounded thin and pitchy. Kree did well, but Janelle led the trio displaying conviction throughout. Amber: C Janelle: B+ Kree: B-
Candice Glover - "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Rolling Stones)
Candice broke her toe trying to play an April Fool's joke on Lazaro. We learn that she's the only one that has her own room at Idol contestant HQ, and that she and Burnell have a comical love/hate relationship.
Keith - "Your voice is soooo freaking good."
Nicki - "What else am I gonna say about your voice? Your voice is amazing."
Randy - "Rock is really an attitude. You brought that girth(?), that rock, that attitude to it."
Mariah - "Every single performance brings a different part of you to stage."
This started a little shaky for me in the lower register, but as soon and she dug in and belted the lyrics she was right back into her groove. Even though rock is not her genre of choice, she still sounded like a pro. If this girl is not in the top 2 next month, there is something seriously wrong with the voting public. A-
Amber Holcomb - "What About Love" (Heart)
Amber talks to herself a lot. She also likes to take a lot of pictures of herself. Burnell has a big crush on her.
Keith - "That was a great song choice."
Nicki - "It was striking. My favorite performance of the night."
Randy - "What I love is you didn't lose [yourself] in there."
Mariah - "I think you did a great job and you can hear all [of] your natural inflections."
Ann Wilson is arguably one of the greatest female voices in rock and roll. This performance didn't even come close to the quality of Heart's chart-topping hit. As it's been with Amber, there were several pitch issues throughout. Why none of the judges (especially Randy) ever point this out is beyond me. Contrary to what Ms. Minaj thinks, I didn't feel that she connected with the lyrics all that well. The only thing I agree with the judges about is that she is indeed a beautiful girl. C-
Angie Miller - "Bring Me To Life" (Evanescence)
Angie gets excited about everything and claps a lot. The other Idols point out how she works the camera with her constant eye contact and think it works well for her.
Keith - "Part of me wants to make sure that when you choose these songs that you feel it."
Nicki - "I think that this was a perfect choice for you given the circumstances."
Randy - "I know [this type of music] is where your heart is."
Mariah - "I felt that this was you. I really appreciated this song."
Next to her original song, this was my favorite performance by Angie. It doesn't hurt that I already love this track, and I have to agree with the judges that it was a smart choice to pick a tune where she starts at the piano and then gets to rock out. I agree with Nicki about her wardrobe choice (I also like that the stylists chose not to straighten her hair). She seems to translate better and more honestly when she's not going for the sexpot look. Like every other performance tonight, it still pales a bit in comparison to the original artist's vocal, but all in all I think she won the night. A
- It wasn't until I was writing this recap that I realized there was no mentor this week. No Jimmy Iovine. There is a God!
- I like it better when there is one hard-ass, antagonist type on the judging panel...and that goes for any reality/competition show. It keeps things real. Randy can be that guy...sometimes, but not this week. Nicki comes close too, but she's not a singer nor does she have the trained ear and experience of a, say, Simon Cowell. Someone needs to step up and be brutally honest without worrying about hurting anyone's feelings or fielding a chorus of boos.
- I hope that next week, if the show is going to take up 2 hours again, that the producers opt for having each contestant sing two songs rather than pair the Idols in under-rehearsed group numbers.
Angie, Candice, Janelle
Lazaro, Burnell, Amber
It's time to stop the nonsense. Lazaro is not good...at all. I'd like to get through this show without cringing several times.
I believe that they will use it this week if anyone other than Lazaro is at the bottom.