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American Idol Season 12 Top 5 - The Girls Have It
Whether the skeptics are right or not - that Idol producers steered the show so that a female was sure to win this year's crown - the issue is moot now. The best 5 singers remain, according to America, and according to anyone with a sense of what's right. Let's be honest - the boys weren't all that good this year, and the ladies have for the most part been consistent and entertaining.
But...who will win?
Let's rank the remaining hopefuls and take a look at their best so far.
5. Amber Holcomb - 18
Amber was cut in the Vegas round last year but came back a bit more mature and seasoned. She's been lauded by the judges every week (with no mention of her obvious pitch issues) but fell into the bottom 2 last week (probably because of her pitch issues).
I really do like her, but compared to the other girls, I don't like her as much. She's still just a little bit green for me. There's no doubt that she has a future in show biz - with her stunning good looks and stature - but I don't see her winning this thing. Perhaps she will be able to parlay this opportunity into an amazing all-around career in entertainment. In fact, she may be better off not winning.
Stand-Out Performance: "My Funny Valentine" (Vegas Sudden Death Round)
4. Janelle Arthur - 23
Of the two Country girls left, I really like Janelle better. She's more engaging on stage and on camera, and seems more authentic than Kree for the genre. But as Simon used to remind everyone when he wasn't getting his way - this is a singing competition - and Janelle is the weaker of the two. She has a beautiful tone and is on pitch for the most part, but not for the all-part. And that's kinda important when you're singing. Sure, she'll probably have a great career after the show, but unless she steps up with something that brings the judges to their feet, she'll probably be the second gal to fall.
Stand-Out Performance: "You Keep Me Hanging On" (Top 8 week)
3. Kree Harrison - 22
The first time I noticed how good Kree is was during Hollywood week. The first time I fell in love with her voice was when she was voted into the Top 10 and sang "Evidence" (by the great Susan Tedeschi...and a favorite song of mine). Kree has an excellent recording voice. She's always pitch-perfect and sounds like she injects emotion into the song. The problem that still remains is with her personality.
Thankfully, the judges pointed out that many people have called her out on her lack of an emotional connection to what she's singing. Woefully, the judges disagree and applaud her for everything that she does.
I've been pondering this issue for several weeks and ruminating as to why she isn't moving me. I really want to love her as much as I did when I first heard her sing (back when the lot was full of contestants - many of whom didn't come close to her skill level). I've come up with theories and ideas, but I haven't come to a conclusive answer as to what is still bugging me about her.
I can guess, though.
I mentioned last week in my Top 6 Recap that she's had to cope with the tragedy of losing both of her parents - separately - but both still at an early age. Understandably, this would be painful for anyone. But I don't hear the pain in her voice. I don't see it in her face. I see her hiding from it. Guarding it with sword-in-hand black knights at the gate.
Honesty and transparency make a big difference when you want to be an "artist." People that love your singing will want to know more about you constantly, and nobody can hide forever. Country music is the best platform for her to release her inner demons. Some of the greatest music ever made was born from pain. In fact, the single best selling album of 2012 was Adele's '21', a record so naked and vulnerable and truly inspired by heartache that millions of people were able to relate and grasp onto it immediately.
Kree has to go through a process first to get to the point where she'll be as relatable as Adele, but she'll get there. American Idol is part of that process - and she's lucky to have the chance to be seen and heard by millions.
Stand-Out Performance - "Evidence" (Top 10 Announcement Week)
2. Angie Miller - 18
All of these cover tunes that she has to sing week after week are pretty pointless in the big picture. As long as she picks good songs for the rest of the way, she should be a lock for the runner-up slot, largely due to the strength of her original composition that she performed during Hollywood week (see video below).
Never has a contestant on Idol gotten such a positive response before to a song they had written...and with good reason. It's catchy, memorable, lyrically inspiring and sung beautifully. Her songwriting shows a great deal of maturity, well beyond her eighteen years. So all that really matters is that she gets hooked up with the right label and producer to guide her on her way after the show is done.
Stand-Out Performance: "You Set Me Free" (Hollywood Week)
1. Candice Glover - 23
Not only does Candice deserve to win, but Idol needs her to win. Badly. For the last five seasons, the victor has been a white male that can also play guitar (known as WGWG for short). That has caused a lot of backlash, defectors and has hurt the show's rep. The two biggest selling artists among Idol winners are Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (who are also the only Idol winners to have won at least one Grammy Award). It's time to not only find a female champion, but a true artist that will have some longevity.
Candice is the epitome of a natural when it comes to her singing. She was born to do this. She was born for this moment in time. She has an incredible amount of power and real, raw emotion with every note she sings. Her one-two punch of "Don't Make Me Over" and the Cure's "Love Song" last week pretty much sealed the deal, and will go down in Idol history as the moment it became abundantly clear that this girl is a star. If justice is served properly when the confetti falls next month, Miss Candice will be the one standing center stage.
Stand-Out Performance: "Lovesong" (Top 6 Week)