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American Idol Season 12 - Top 9 Recap - Beatles Week
Ever since the Lennon/McCartney catalog was given the green light to be used for America's most highly-rated singing competition, Nigel & Co. have taken full advantage by ensuring that we are treated to a Beatles theme week every year. While some of these songs have been covered by more artists than have ever graced the Idol stage in twelve seasons combined, there were a few refreshing surprises with song selection; including one that Ms. Carey never even heard - and a handful of Keith's favorites.
Before we get to the singing, Ryan has the results of the online vote for the 11th spot on the Idol tour between "awkward turtle" Charlie Askew and leggy stunner Aubry Cleland. Lucky for the concert going folks that America got this one right and elected Aubry. Sorry, Charlie.
We gotta fill up two hours with only nine performances tonight, so we get to learn a little more about each contestant with family and friend interviews and Jimmy Iovine in the studio. (Oh joy!)
Kree Harrison - "A Little Help From My Friends"
In the first interview reel of the night, we find out that Kree has lost both her father when she was 12, and her mother just three years ago. There is some sweet interview footage with her sister who was the close family member that encouraged her to try out for the show. Cut to the recording studio with Jimmy Iovine where he provides no advice whatsoever, but rather, jokes with and encourages her...and thinks she's a natural.
Keith - "You're all the cool things about Country - bluesy and soulful."
Nicki - "The choices that you make musically are always the perfect choices for your voice."
Randy - "You look like you ready."
Mariah - "I didn't think it was good (long dramatic pause) I...umm...I thought it was fan-friggin-tassssstic."
Me - Kree took a Classic Rock song and made it sound Country, added flavor with some beautiful runs, and hit some really cool notes. I'm partial to the Joe Cocker version, but Kree made it her own. She's been consistent week after week thus far, and is showing that she knows who she is and what kind of artist she wants to be. B+
Burnell Taylor - "Let It Be"
New Orleans native Burnell doesn't know this song, and as Jimmy points out, the rest of the world really knows this song. Iovine tells us that he has to learn it. Genius.
Keith - "You come from such a good spiritual place."
Nicki - "You didn't even sing the song - you caressed it."
Randy - "You made it your own. You found a way to make smart choices."
Mariah - "There's a realness about you that never goes away."
Me - I wasn't crazy about this performance. Some of the higher notes felt strained and his timing was off in a couple of spots. It's difficult to sing a tune that's not in your wheelhouse, and this wasn't in his - largely due to the fact that he doesn't even know the Beatles. I think if he was more familiar with the song that it's a good choice as it fits in with his brand of inspirational material. C+
Amber Holcomb - "She's Leaving Home"
Amber was raised on a farm in a small town in Texas and has an extremely large family. She never heard this song before either. Jimmy thinks she murders it.
Keith - "It's my favorite Beatles song of all time. You made it sound fresh as if it was written this week."
Nicki - "Don't ever look defeated. You're vocal is amazing."
Randy - "It started a little slow. I think you ended it well."
Mariah - "I think you did a beautiful job."
Me - This girl has a stunning voice, but there was an obvious lack of confidence in this performance. Randy hasn't pulled out the "pitchy" comment in quite a while, but he should have for this song. Her notes were pretty much all over the place throughout. Like Burnell, not knowing the song nor being able to internalize the lyrics made it difficult to sing with any sort of conviction. C+
Lazaro Arbos - "In My Life"
Lazaro's family is from Cuba and we get to hear from his Spanish speaking mother who is very proud of what he is accomplishing on the show. He seems to be struggling with the timing in the song while rehearsing in the studio. Jimmy tries to help him out by having him sing along with a click track.
Keith - "Choosing the key of a song is really important."
Nicki - "I need them to stop putting you in the room with Jimmy."
Randy - "That was your worst performance ever. It was out of tune from beginning to end."
Mariah - "It was a little bit low for you."
Me - This was not good. At all. I think the pressure is getting to him and it's showing in how he sings. This is such a beautiful song and he had no business singing it. It's a shame because he and his family seem like really nice people. But "really nice" does not an artist make. D+
Candice Glover - "Come Together"
In the recorded interview package, we learn that Candice is from St. Helena Island, South Carolina and is the oldest of seven children. Jimmy tries to help her identify with John Lennon's 'sort of esoteric' lyrics, being that this is a new song for her as well, but he still thinks that she'll kill it.
Keith - "I thought that was absolutely killer."
Nicki - "I want you to always have that attitude in your face."
Randy - "You can own it 'cause you got it."
Mariah - "It was like a prize fighter. You murdered this song."
Me - From note one she owned this song. For the second week in a row Candice gave the best performance of the night. For her it didn't matter that she was unfamiliar with the tune. She knows who she is and works the stage like a seasoned pro. There is no doubt that this girl is ready to go on to big things. A
Paul Jolley - "Eleanor Rigby"
Paul grew up in a trailer on a farm in Tennessee. He's a perfectionist in the studio, and Jimmy thinks he can kill this song if he doesn't get too self conscious.
Keith - "I don't hear the Country thing. I think you have more of a Pop/Rock edge."
Nicki - "I did not like your performance. Very, very safe, very bland and forgettable."
Randy - "I thought you were disconnected from the song."
Mariah - "I think it's a great song choice. You have to be able to give as much emotion when singing softly as when your belting."
Me - While I didn't feel this was his best performance (some notes were shaky), I still think that this guy can be a star. He has a really nice tone to his voice and a marketable presence. He'll be safe this week. B-
Angie Miller - "Yesterday"
Angie won the award of "Next American Idol" at her high school before she graduated a year ago. Time will tell if this information further legitimizes the Law of Attraction. Jimmy thinks that she over-sings sometimes - and that won't fly with this song. He says that she's a natural but needs to believe in herself.
Keith - "I felt you drifted in and out of thinking what everyone is telling you, but you're in there the whole time."
Nicki - "Unbelievably amazing."
Randy - "That was a stellar performance and you emoted from your heart."
Mariah - "I feel like you did a very respectful version of that song."
Me - Another beautiful vocal with just the right amount of tenderness and emotion. Angie has impeccable breath control and intonation. She injected true feeling into the lyrics and did a brilliant song justice. A
Devin Velez - "The Long and Winding Road"
Devin goes to military school in Chicago and lives with his mother, step-father and two siblings. Jimmy encourages him to draw from his R&B influences to bravely alter the song.
Keith - "The only thing I feel I'm missing is a little emotional connecting."
Nicki - "I like that you don't try too hard. I feel like it's very truthful."
Randy - "You got that R&B flavor in your voice. I love that you brought the swagger back."
Mariah - "You never cease to amaze me."
Me - This was another pleasant sounding and well executed performance. I'm not sold on his star potential, but I believe he can have a career as a professional singer in a variety of capacities. A-
Janelle Arthur - "I Will"
The small town of Oliver Springs, Tennessee is embracing their Idol star and bonding together to support her to victory. Jimmy thinks she needs to practice breathing properly. I think she already knows this.
Keith - "You have this Country thing in your voice that's always present in the most beautiful way."
Nicki - "You look like a beautiful swan goddess. You are great."
Randy - "I think that's one of the best performances of the night."
Mariah - "I feel like you really have been listening to what we're saying."
Me - Of the three Country singers remaining (Janelle, Kree and Paul), this girl is the most authentic. She's been picking the right songs all along and much like Kree, made a Beatles song sound like a modern Country hit. If Kellie Pickler can have a successful career, then Janelle's future is already written on the wall. A
A few thoughts:
- Why is Idol suddenly messing with the order of critique by the judges? Just when I thought they've learned from their mistakes, they have to go and change things up again. Starting with a different judge every time disrupts the rhythm and consistency of the show. Just start with Keith and work down the line - left to right. It works best that way for the casual and dedicated viewer.
- I love the Beatles, but it would be nice to see the show get a bit more creative with themes. Hearing the same songs year after year gets a bit monotonous.
- A very good show overall, and again the girls dominated.
Top 3 - Candice, Angie, Janelle
Going home - Lazaro
Use Save? - No way
What do you think? Will we be left with 5 girls standing in a few weeks, or are we in for a shocker?
After seeing the results, I realize that I jinxed Paul by claiming that he'll be safe. He's the only one I said that about. My bad.
I guess they're not doing the top 3 thing anymore and reverting back to the tried-and-true bottom 3 tension. I'll adjust my predictions accordingly next week. Can we just pick a system and stick with it guys?...'cause that would be great.