Wednesday, April 24, 2013

American Idol Top 4

This entry may be a bit shorter than usual, because if I am being honest, I found tonight's Idol show to be a bit tedious.

Yes, the talent was good, and in many cases closely matched, but something just felt off about the performances and the song choices. There just really is not much in the way of surprises among these ladies at this point in the competition.

Everyone sings well and everyone did well tonight for the most part, but it was all sort of on the same plane, and when that happens, it pretty much comes down to preferring the voice you have liked the most from the beginning. For me this season, that has been Candice Glover. Behind her has typically been Kree Harrison, and while Amber Holcomb and Angie Miller deserve to be where they are, they have usually been about even for me, a step behind Candice and Kree.

Tonight, it felt like the judges went way overboard in praising Amber and Angie and were deliberately critical at times towards Candice and Kree. It really does feel like manipulation at this point in the competition, but we really just have to enjoy the ride I suppose. I think Idol would prefer if Angie and Amber battle for the crown, but to me, it looks like Candice and Angie may be the last two standing.

Tonight saw the contestants sing two solo songs, with duets stuck in between those rounds. I found the first round to be extremely evenly matched from first to fourth. I found both duets pretty good and also evenly matched for the most part. The third round saw one performance I did not like and three that were pretty good. Nothing was spectacular tonight though, and I was somewhat let down by the failure to capitalize regarding song choices in what could have been a really fun final round.

If past seasons of Idol were the model, there would be no save available tomorrow night, and then the three that advance will get the big emotional hometown visits this weekend. It seems like something is going to be different this week though, and at the end of the show, we heard Seacrest, who had said nothing about the Homecoming visits all night, say there would be a special "twist" revealed tomorrow. I think I know what that might be.

Anyways, let's take a quick look at the ten performances.

Round 1, contestants choice:

1. Amber Holcomb- "The Power of Love"

Amber came out with a distinctive look tonight and sang this first song very well. I just wish she could have found a way to do something more "current" than a Celine Dion ballad. The judges may have loved it, but I do not think that if she is signed by Interscope, this is the kind of music they will have her do. She sounded good, but I thought I detected some fatigue or weakness in her voice as she tried to belt out the big notes. The judges went a bit overboard in praising it, with Jimmy Iovine then speaking afterwards. Throughout the night, I thought he made some good"voice of reason" comments, but I did not always agree with him either though.

2.  Candice Glover- "Find Your Love"

I really do not know much about Drake, other than Chris Brown got into a fight with him at a club, and the very troubled Amanda Bynes recently tweeted something about him. Still though, I give Candice great credit for doing something current and what I assume was putting her own spin on the song. She has been a very imaginative and definitely un-karaoke contestant throughout this season.

The song was not really that exciting to me, and it felt like it did not have much in the way of melody, but I still cannot help but always enjoy Candice's powerful vocals. She seems to have so much going for her, but the judges surprised me a bit by giving her some criticism regarding the song choice. Could it be that they are trying to de-pimp her a bit?

3. Kree Harrison- "Hurt So Bad"

This is another song that I just do not know, but I give Kree credit for doing something a bit different than a ballad in this round. I thought she gave a very credible and nicely done bluesy performance. The judges seemed to be critical though. Since it has been about three hours now, I find the specifics of Kree's first song to be a bit forgotten by me at this point.

4. Angie Miller- "Who You Are"

I must be really old, because while I have heard of Jessie J., I do not know this song. She seems to be Angie's favorite though (at least as far as secular artists) as she has covered her several times throughout this Idol process.

Playing the piano again, I thought Angie started off the performance very well and I had high expectations, Then, it started getting a bit overwrought and vocally flawed to me though. She continues to be a very engaging performer, but while it was decent overall, something about her voice graded on me. The judges really loved it though and of course proclaimed how Angie was "in it to win it."

Afterwards. Angie's very emotional grandmother was allowed to come on stage and hug her. If senior citizens types are voting, that is definitely going to benefit Angie greatly. 

Round 1 rankings: 

4. Angie Miller
3. Amber Holcomb
2, Kree Harrison
1. Candice Glover

Round 2- Duets (sorta seemed similar to the Battle Rounds on The Voice)

5. Amber Holcomb and Kree Harrison- "Rumor Has It"

There was not really any attempts at harmony in this duet, but Amber and Kree both sounded pretty good in their solo parts, taking on this Adele song.  It was very evenly matched, but I suppose I would have to give a slight edge to Kree. The judges, especially Nicki Minaj seemed to give the edge to Candice, and at one point in the evening, Nicki seemed to predict a Kree elimination.

6. Angie Miller and Candice Glover- "Stay"

There certainly had been a lot of recent songs at this point in the evening, as Angie and Candice took the stage to sing a Rihanna song that one of the male contestants had done in the Vegas round.

This was a really good effort for both, but I cannot help but notice that Candice was able to overpower Angie at points, especially when they attempted to harmonize.

Duet rankings:

4. Angie Miller
3. Amber Holcomb
2. Kree Harrison
1. Candice Glover

Round  3- One-hit Wonders

The Idol public had decided on this theme, and I thought it had great potential. I thought that instead of some really new songs, or really old songs, we would hear some of the beloved tunes from the 80s, 90s, and 00s, that were surprise hits for a singer or group who never managed to achieve any success.

Perhaps some "Rico Sauve" or "Come On Eileen", or "We Are the World." Let's face it, USA for Africa never amounted to much after that one song. The songs chosen by all four of the girls though was a bit confusing, both as to why they picked them, and why they should be considered one-hit wonders. I suppose it is what it is though.

7. Amber Holcomb- "MacArthur Park"

My first thought upon hearing the song choice, was how this was a one-hit wonder, if the only version people really know was by Donna Summer, and second that if anybody is going home tomorrow night, Amber just accomplished that distinction.

This was a bad song choice of a bad song, and Amber, while a very good singer, did not sing it well, despite what the judges said. At least Jimmy Iovine kept it sort of real on that. Even Carrie Underwood had a poor performance of this song on Idol back in her season, and I thought Amber was even worse vocally. I thought her lower notes sounded pretty off here, and while it was not a Lazaro-like mess, it was the one really subpar vocal of the night.

8. Candice Glover- "Emotions"

So, I learned that someone may have originally done this song, but everyone associates this with the Bee Gees. They were hardly a one-hit wonder and this song has also been done before on Idol. 

I have to say that Candice sang this extremely well and made it enjoyable, but it definitely did not have the impact of some of her other performances this season. Who knows how long the list of songs to choose from where for them, but I think she could have slayed a more creative song choice and had a real "moment."

9. Kree Harrison- "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

I have heard of this song, though I guess I never really heard it before, because it seemed unfamiliar and a little boring. That is not to say that Kree did not sing it very well. Her tone and voice in general are really so good but I still wish she would show more "fire."

10. Angie Miller- "Cry Me a River"

No, this was not the Justin Timberlake song from the last decade. It would not have been a one-hit wonder then, but instead was apparently a really old song, that nobody under the age of 60 would likely to be familiar with. My parents knew it though of course.

I am not sure what Angie was trying to accomplish with this song choice, and I have no memory of how the song actually goes, but I do remember that Angie sang it very well and exceeded expectations. I guess she can claim that she was able to show some versatility. The judges said this was the best vocal of the night. I would not go that far, but I think Angie had a strategically productive evening.

Round 3 rankings-

4. Amber Holcomb
3. Kree Harrison
2. Angie Miller
1. Candice Miller

Overall rankings-

4. Amber Holcomb
3. Angie Miller
2. Kree Harrison
1. Candice Miller

As I mentioned early on, in making these rankings, it may just be about personal preferences now, though I tried to be as fair as possible in judging the vocals. I just think that Candice, even when she is not at her best, has the best voice, and Kree is very good too, even though she should be even better.

Tonight, I basically had a tie between Amber and Angie, but gave a slight edge to Angie, due to her having a much stronger showing than Amber in the the last round.

The numbers were given and people are voting, so what will happen? A lot of people think that Kree is now in very serious jeopardy, but I think she is going to pick up a lot of country music votes from the recently departed Janelle Arthur fans. She may be in the Bottom Two, but my hunch is that she will survive.

Despite some incredibly strong praise by the judges, I think Amber Holcomb will be at the bottom. She has been in the Bottom Two before, and it may very well happen again, especially as she is likely splitting African-American, R&B, and diva fan votes with Candice. She might also be splitting Lone Star votes with native Texan Kree, although Kree probably now has Nashville, TN to herself. (Speaking of Texas, best wishes to a great American and a great President,George W. Bush, as his Presidential Library will be dedicated tomorrow in Dallas.)  Going first in the night and having such uninspired song choices definitely will not help Amber either.

So, while Amber is a very good singer, if anybody is going home tomorrow (while I will be watching the NBA Playoffs), I think it will be Amber. Is there still a "save" to sing for? I have no idea. If so, I could imagine the judges saving her, but we heard late in the night that a "twist" will be revealed. My suspicion is that everyone will be safe, after we hear the results, and then just one person leaving the following week, with the Final Three getting their Homecoming visits, and then Finale week happening as scheduled.

I will be fine with that, as long as this week's votes carry over to combine with whatever the people decide next week. If that does not happen, this entire evening of singing and voting was for naught.

Congrats to all of the very talented Final Four. I just wish it was a more exciting evening. Hopefully, the sick children whom the ladies visited in the hospital this week, enjoyed being part of the show, and that they will all one day experience good health, that will allow them, like Amber, Angie, Candice, and Kree, the opportunity to live their dreams as well.