Wednesday, April 24, 2013

American Idol 12 • Top 4 Sing One Hit Wonders & More

The Top 4 of American Idol Season 12 take to the stage tonight, the first time since Season 3 that the remaining four are all women. Heck, that is the only time in the history of the show one sex has dominated the top 4 positions. But in season 3, the producers stacked the deck, as the Top 12 was made up of 4 men and 8 ladies, as opposed to the 5-5 split this season. But that was also back in the day when the contestants needed to adhere to the themes of the shows, unlike this year, when the announced themes seem more like loose generalizations, "as long as we can praise Amber." This week, the fans voted what musical theme they wanted to see/hear, and they picked One-Hit Wonders. But after seeing the list of spoilers, I seriously am confused about the concept of what exactly makes a One-Hit Wonder. Procol Harum had three songs in the Top 40, and yet their biggest hit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale", makes the list here. "McArthur Park" was a one-hit wonder for Richard Harris, although he did appear in the film version of Camelot playing the lead on a fairly successful soundtrack album. Of course, most people will remember the version by the late, great Donna Summer, which is more like the version we shall hear. The second theme of the night, Contestant Free Choice, is perhaps the best of the season, as we finally get to hear music that is hopefully more current so we can judge how the young ladies sound in a contemporary setting, rather than a karaoke contest. Oh, let's just get this thing started.

American Idol 12 Top 4 photo american-idol-season-12-top-4_zpsf841ecbd.jpg
Left to right: Candice Glover, Angie Miller, Kree Harrison, and Amber Holcomb.

The show begins giving us a look of the Top 4 during their auditions, to give us a thought toward how far they've all come. Thankfully Angie reminds us that we have a really tough choice to make, and then we are introduced to the judges and Crusty, who comes down the steps to the delighted screams of the audience. He reminds us there are only a matter of a few weeks left, and Amber, Angie, Candice and Kree all want to be in the final. He introduces them, and the audience goes crazy. Crusty sends them back to get ready for the show, and tells us about the ladies going to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles. First up, we hear Amber's thought on her trip, and hear her singing a song by Celine Dion. She will be singing "The Power Of Love", originally sung by Jennifer Rush, and then popularized by Celine Dion.

As she begins to sing the song, I hear she is doing nothing really new with the song, and her voice lacks the volume and power of Dion. She does bring the song to a soft landing, easing off the volume. In truth, that is where her vocal strays a bit, sounding strained. I have yet to hear her really bring anything new to a song, save maybe costuming. Keith loved it, and thought it was a perfect choice for her. Nicki loved it as well, and thought the song was made for her. Randy thinks she has come the furthest this season, starting a girl, but now a woman. Mariah also loved her range and tone, and gave her the "hashtag POW" critique. I guess I remain "hashtag HUH?" Jimmy gets a chance to talk, and also heard the strain as well. But he still thinks the song will be tough to beat. Candice is up next, and she will be singing a song by Drake, who she had met a year ago and liked him. But first she tells us how moved she was by the kids at the hospital, who she saw as being so strong and brave. She will be singing Drake's "Find Your Love".

She slows it down a bit, taking it in the jazzy ballad route. She is in great voice, and this is a fantastic performance. She owned the song, and could not have sounded better. It was radio-ready, and I would buy it myself. Nicki starts off the critique, and wishes she hadn't changed it up so much, and thought it sounded too old-fashioned. Randy thought she over-worked the song, and needs to get out of church sometimes. Mariah disagrees, and thinks she takes chances, and takes her on the journey with her. Keith agrees with Mariah, and thinks she brings so much with her music. I am stunned, for I didn't see that critique coming, and just don't know what they are thinking. We don't get to see Jimmy this time, and go right to Kree and her time in the hospital. She seems very sweet and tender with the kids. She is going to be singing "It Hurt So Bad", a bluesy song by Susan Tedeschi.

I love the song, and think Kree delivers it so well. She added just the right amount of grit to her gorgeous voice, letting her star shine bright. I thought that was beautiful. Randy came on to basically feel the performance was alright, but nothing special. Randy is confused by it. Mariah loved it, and thought she delivered, and also connected to the audience. Keith thought she lacked the emotional connection to the song, and Nicki thought it was just not good enough. Wow, I am at a loss. After the stellar critique of the mediocre karaoke performance, and the beating down of two singers trying to give some artistry. Jimmy returns, and not only downs Kree's performance, he also disrespects the song. Sweet. Angie seemed to come alive with the kids, all smiles as she remembers the kids. She will be singing "Who You Are" by Jessie J.

Angie is back at the piano, where the judges love her. I am not sure this is the right key, for her voice sounds a little shrill on the high end, and a little "pageanty" on the wordy parts. This just seems over-wrought to me, a big mess of sound that gives me nothing but a bit of a headache. She is met with a standing ovation by the judges. Heavy sigh. Mariah loved it, but wants her to deliver more original material, for that can deliver her a career. Keith loved it, but pointed out how it takes a while to get her into the performance that wasn't stilted. Nicki loved it, and thought it was amazing. Randy, of course, thought it was better than the original, and the best of the night. I am so damned lost by this panel, cause that isn't what I am hearing on my television. Crusty brings Angie's grandmother up on stage for a quiet moment, and it was sweet, but really, I am getting annoyed. Before a commercial break, Crusty tells us we are getting the first duet of the night, as Amber and Kree will be singing an Adele song. Well, isn't that original. Le sigh. Jimmy spares a few seconds to say he is thrilled Angie had control of her instrument, and has Amber and Angie neck and neck. Then back to Crusty, and her discover Kree and Amber will be singing "Rumour Has It". This is a great, but over-done song. Kree is in great voice, and there is such a depth to it. For me, Amber's voice pales next to it. Keith enjoyed the performance, but was looking for them to cut loose. Nicki thought Amber had a command of the stage, and that Kree lacked personality. Wow, I was watching another show altogether. They don't give Randy or Mariah a say this time. After the break, out second and final duet will be Angie & Candice, who sing Rihanna's "Stay", which also features Mikky Ekko. During the performance, both ladies struggle a little bit at times, and that surprised me with Candice. The performance got all messy for me, with lost notes and squandered lyrics. Of course, the judges gave them a standing ovation, and loved it, saying that is how a duet should be done. WTF. Moving on, like I am passing by an accident on the highway. The AT&T Theme contest named One-Hit Wonders as the theme, and the first one to take it on is Amber as she sings “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris, later covered by the late, great Donna Summer.

This is not good, showing a lack of a bottom end of the voice, and some rough notes on the top end. And once again, it is a cover of the Donna Summer version, with nothing new or interesting added. I was a bit bored. Donna Summer added such fullness and depth to the song, not easy with those silly lyrics. Now, of course, Keith thought it was great, and Nicki thought she is ready for marketing. Randy is ready to sign her, and complimented the high notes that I thought she missed. Mariah loved the great low notes, which I also heard differently. Obviously, I have the judges for American Idol, but the singers for American's Got Talent on my television, cause what I am hearing ain't lining up with the judges. Jimmy gets a few moments, and disagreed with the judges, thinking the song was terrible, and not even Amber could save it. Nor those bad notes, Mr. Iovine. Next up, we have Candice singing “Emotion”, the song written by The Bee Gees and sung by Samantha Sang.

Candice was singing really well, and sounding great. The backup singers were not on, however. I thought she took the song and massaged it well. Nicki loved it, and thought she was back on her game. She also bitched about Jimmy calling out the judges, and Randy joined in. He also loved Candice. Mariah loved it, and mentioned she had a cold, and Keith mentioned he wished the ladies would sing something more current. Talk to your producers, babe. Then Crusty dragged out Jimmy, and stupidity reigned supreme, and poor Candice was lost in the shuffle as the judges and Jimmy whined at one another, refusing to leave the topic of Amber. But Jimmy did say loud and clear that Candice was better than Amber this round. Go figure, he got one right. After the break, it is time for Kree to return to the stage, and she will be singing “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” by Procol Harum, alhtough it was also covered by Annie Lennox more recently.

She walks to the microphone with some attitude, which seems to be what the judges are looking for. She is once again on top of the song, pitch perfect as she tells the story. She goes big on the notes, hitting the high end with ease and grace. That was a lovely performance, one I would surely download. Randy loved it, and thought she really redeemed herself. Mariah loved it, and looks forward to download it for her phone. Keith didn't love it, and thought it was a middle-of-the-road song, nothing special. Nicki loves her, loves the voice, but fears she will be in the bottom, and maybe going home tomorrow night. Now, that would be truly disappointing, for not only do I think she was far from the weakest performer, I also seriously doubt anyone is going home - there are three weeks remaining, and only two singers to eliminate. So, in my opinion, this week is all about drama with no conclusion. But I could be wrong. And after a long break, it is time to close the show out with Angie, who is singing “Cry Me A River”, originally a hit by Julie London.

Well, Angie is singing the song, and it sounds very dated, and very beauty pageant. She also lost some notes on the shouty section, veering off to the sharp end, with no sense of current at all. Of course, the judges all love it, and in fact, Randy calls her the best of the night. How Keith could call that celestial, but not point out the out-of-date aspect is beyond me. So I will move past the critique, and get to the recap. Hearing it back, I am reminded that inherently speaking, we have two singers in the competition, and Angie and Amber, too. Candice and Kree have so much more to their voices, and a greater knowledge of music, and I fear how this season will come to a conclusion. At the end, Ryan mentions a surprise twist tomorrow night, and I have to guess they will combine the votes from tonight with next week, to get back on schedule. But if I had to rank them on tonight's performances, I would say Candice took the evening, followed by Kree. For me, Amber's wan performances puts her at the bottom, while Angie was just above her. But we won't know until tomorrow night, so turn in to your Fox station at 8PM to get the twist. Who knows, maybe they are bringing Lazaro back!

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