Wednesday, May 01, 2013

American Idol Top 4- Part II

As it turned out, tonight, both of Chicago's playoff teams were off, so I was able to watch American Idol live, and now I am going to offer some comments. I really want to keep this brief though as I just do not have a lot to say. I always enjoy Idol season, but the past few seasons, it has started to get a bit tedious at this point in  the competition. I really feel my ratings are somewhat irrelevant to the process for me now, because I pretty much always come up with the same results. It's just really all about personal preference at this point, and for some time, Candice Glover has been the only contestant who has managed to make every performance interesting. So, it's hard for me to ever get to a place where she is not ranked at the top.

While the other three girls are also quite talented, something just seems to be missing, as it relates to the competition. The girls were clearly better than the guys this season, but it does feel like there should be some greater diversity, at least stylistically at this point.

Tonight, the contestants sang songs as they did last season, from the "Then" and the "Now," except Now started off the evening. I wish it was the other way around, because I really found most of the last hour, which was dedicated to Standards, pretty boring. Finally, after a night of almost exclusively ballads, the kids did some sort of weird group number that involved dancing, and I am forced to rank them on it.

Harry Connick Jr. was the guest mentor tonight, and I find him sort of unlikable. I think others out there may share my view. Others though had talked about him in recent years as a potential addition to the Idol judges' panel. I probably would not like that, but I am basically tired of all four of the current judges this season now as well.

There was some scripted interaction and fighting between Nicki and Mariah tonight, designed so people might have something to talk about tomorrow in the media.

Round 1, Songs from 2013-

1. Angie Miller- "Diamonds"

Playing the piano once again, Angie put her own acoustic take on the recent Rihanna hit. I thought it was pretty good all around and was surprised that the judges did not seem to like it. Perhaps it is because I do not like the original song, but I thought Angie was able to bring some vitality to it. After spending weeks of building her up, the judges seemed intent on "busing" her after this performance.

2. Amber Holcomb- "Just Give Me a Reason"

Amber entered the night as the contestant most at risk of missing out on the Top 3 Homecoming visit, and she chose to sing the song that is currently number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

I actually sort of like this song by Pink and that guy from the group Fun, but maybe this was not the best idea for Amber to select, because she clearly did not know the lyrics in her mentoring session and she seemed really sort of hesitant tonight, as if she was focused extremely hard on just not messing up as her buddy Lazaro would have. I thought it sounded decent, but that it was a  bit off rhythmically  and not Amber's best showing.

3. Candice Glover- "If I Was Your Man"

Before she sang, much was mentioned about how Candice would be singing the Bruno Mars hit, without changing the pronoun. It's not really that shocking in 2013 to hear songs done that way on competition shows I suppose, but I note that if Candice were a man, winning Idol would have been easier from the outset!

This was really good to me. Candice and Angie both seem like the contestants who are most focused on actually winning, and while Lazaro might have made some comments a couple weeks ago about how one of the females was too focused on winning, I actually think those are good traits for someone in a competition.

Vocally, Candice is the most interesting and the most technically proficient all season, by far and whether she is deemed marketable or not, she would be a deserving winner.

4. Kree Harrison- "See You Again"

I was thinking that the first three contestants had all done songs that were number one on the Billboard Hot 100 so far this year, and I wondered if the only two remaining were "The Harlem Shake" and "Thrift Shop." Which one would Kree cover?

Well, instead Kree sang a Carrie Underwood song, which the artist herself performed on the Idol stage a few weeks back. A lot of people noted that Carrie sounded sort of pitchy singing that live. From what I remember, I think Kree was superior to the original vocally.

While the judges found much to criticize, I actually thought this was one of Kree's better performances. To me, she seemed quite emotionally attached to the song (perhaps because of the lyrical meaning) and I thought her voice was pretty much spot on.

Round 1 rankings, pretty much just as I would have expected-

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

Round 2- Standards:

5. Angie Miller- "Someone To Watch Over Me"

Katharine McPhee did this song on Idol, and I guess it was nice, and then Allison Iraheta did it a few years later, and that was interesting, but I really was dreading having to sit through this song again.

Angie has a very nice and pretty voice, but this song is just so boring, and her version made it even worse. In fact, I was most distracted while she was singing by the fact that I caught a brief glimpse of what appeared to be a very large tattoo consisting of several words (perhaps a Bible verse?) along the side of her upper body. That is a side of her we have not seen before. I wonder if a lot of people noticed, because it was pretty brief. She's only 18. I assume her parents knew about it before tonight, especially since her whole family seems to be inked up. The brother has some sort of tattoo on his skull. I just do not understand these things.

6. Amber Holcomb- "My Funny Valentine"

It has to be said. Amber already did this song during a "live" round (impressively), back in Las Vegas. It is an awfully risky preposition to reprise something at this stage in the competition, when there are so many other options. Usually, that is only done in the Finale. If other contestants had attempted to do such a thing in past seasons, I think the judges would have criticized them for it. At least Amber would be quite familiar with the lyrics in this round, as she promised to be after her last performance.

Vocally, this was a good performance by Amber, maybe even better than when she originally did it, but I am sick of this song on Idol, and really wish Amber had attempted something else.

The main thing that people will remember though was that there were many tears from Amber (and her father) after the performance. It seemed like she was more sad/angry than emotionally proud of her performance. Before she sang, she probably had heard the audio of the interaction of her mentoring session with Connick for this performance, and she received an extremely bad edit. Perhaps so much for her being "The Chosen One." After her not knowing her lyrics for the first song and being called on for that, she really came across as sort of dumb in not knowing what the lyrics of this song really referred to. I am mixed as to whether Connick was just being a jerk or if Amber, at age 19, and having sang this song multiple times, probably should have understood it better.

Will the tears have won Amber some much needed votes? After the commercial break, Harry Connick, seated in the audience, inferred that he disagreed with the judges and did not think Amber had a good performance. That absolutely has to be a first for an Idol mentor, after the song was sung on stage (although Connick himself was invited to make comments when he performed on stage with the contestants back in Season 9.)

7. Candice Glover- "You've Changed"

I do not know this song, and I am sure would normally find it boring, but Candice sang it very well, and at least it had never been done on Idol before. She is extremely good at the sort of jazzy old school thing. After being de-pimped a bit by the judges last week, they seemed to be back on board tonight.

8. Kree Harrison- "Stormy Weather"

I do not think this song has been done before on Idol during the frequent "Standards" theme nights, so that was a plus. This was the first time Kree had been given the pimp slot (although technically there was one more performance to come), and I thought she sang this old song very well and it was a nice (although somewhat boring) performance.

The judges were not all really feeling it though and neither was Connick, who had advised Kree to sing it without runs, which Kree seemed to disregard ultimately. There was a big fight afterwards between Randy Jackson and Connick regarding if she should have sang the original Lena Horne version or the more bluesy Etta James. Personally, I think Kree should have added in the runs, because at least it would have made it seem more current. I suppose that is what she did after all. I guess.

Round Two rankings:

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

Group Performance:

9. "Wings"- Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller, Candice Glover, and Kree Harrison

With about a half hour left in the show, it seemed like things were running fast and there would be a lot of extra time. This was what they had planned though.

I had to look up this song title and I see it is by Little Mix, who I believe were from The X-Factor UK. Do people in this country really know who they are?

This was just weird all around but I guess I had no choice but to rank them. At first, I was not even sure if the contestants were singing live or if there was a backing tape, as they did their thing, alongside some female backup dancers.

Honestly, the only voices I was able to even distinguish here were Candice and Amber. Did Angie and Kree even have any solo parts? It just felt so out of place, after having had so many ballads precede it.

If I am forced to rank this:

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

Composite rankings:

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

No more saves. Someone is definitely "going home"  tomorrow night (when I will be watching the NBA Playoffs) , and by going home, I mean staying in Hollywood to prepare for the Finale, while the other three will literally be going home for emotionally powerful visits, and potentially vote-altering production pieces that will air next week on the show.

I think Angie had the weakest night, I suppose, but it is really hard to say that Amber was all that much better. Angie was better I thought on the current stuff tonight. If anything, Amber cheated a bit by reprising a song, but I do think she was better in that round. So, in a way I really do not care which one of them is eliminated, but I do hope it is one of them.

The votes from last week are going to carry over, and thus Amber and Candice have the most at risk. I think Candice came out with something to prove tonight, while Amber seemed a bit resigned to an unfortunate fate. Will the crying thing though get her votes after her second song? I have not bothered to vote tonight, but it would be a tremendous shame if Candice becomes a shock boot tomorrow night. That would sure create buzz for the show though. A lot of people will seem to think that Angie and Kree are very much at risk of leaving tomorrow, but they were the Top 2 last week, and have those votes in the bank and I do not think they are going to be losing any of their already established fanbases.

My macro prediction at this stage in the competition:

Amber leaves tomorrow and then Kree leaves in third place next week. The Finale will be between Candice and Angie, where Candice will deserve to win, but the victory will go to Angie.