"American Idol" is down to just six contenders (five if you don't count Lazaro Arbos). But do you think that fazes the show's producers? Oh, heck no. They're STILL padding this thing out to a couple of hours.
That means lots of filler, plenty of verbose critiques and two songs apiece from the singers. Fortunately, the evening gave us two extraordinary performances by Candice Glover, who is making it known that she's a force to reckon with.
First up on are numbers by the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David -- a theme that undoubtedly sent the contestants rushing to Wikipedia. Then comes
songs that the contestants wish they had written.
Here we go:
Round 1: Bacharach/David Tunes
-- Angie Miller ("Anyone Who Had A Heart"): It's a smooth and easy, if fairly routine performance, and we're totally with Keith Urban who says he wants a little more passion out of Angie. Nicki Minaj agrees, adding that it felt "old-fashioned." (Um, this is Burt Bacharach. It IS old fashioned). Randy Jackson is basically on board with that. Mariah Carey says something about over-pronouncing the lyrics, but we're not sure because we don't have an interpreter on duty tonight.
-- Amber Holcomb ("I Say A Little Prayer"): Wow, Amber looks amazing again. Bonus points for her fashion savvy (light demin pantsuit, highlighted by rhinestones). As for the performance, it's solid, with just a couple shaky notes in there. Nicki absolutely loves it. "You have just become my favorite girl in this competition," she raves. "You owned that song." Randy blurts, "The competition just started tonight." Mariah gives it an "A+" and Keith compares her to a summer breeze.
-- Lazaro Arbos "(They Long to Be) Close To You": OK, we're getting really ticked off at the people who are voting to keep Lazaro in this competition. It's torture for us -- and for him. Poor guy. This is a dreadful slog. Just painful. Almost as hideous as his green and blue suit. Says Randy, "I'm actually kind of speechless .... All I can say is, 'No. No. No.' That was horrible." Mariah says she's been accused by the "powers that be" of being too nice, and amid a lot of dizzy rambling, she points out that he's not keeping up with the key changes. Keith says more about the key changes and Nicki, mercifully, tells Ryan Seacrest to give her a pass because this is taking forever. Meanwhile, Lazaro is sweating.
-- Kree Harrison ("What the World Needs Now Is Love"): Kree, as usual, is smoothly confident, gliding through this old-time hit with tenderness as clouds of dry-ice fog gather at her feet. We want a little more power. It's as if she's holding back. Still, it's Kree and it's pretty. Mariah likes it. Keith says he feels the compassion and humanity in her voice. Nicki calls her "endearing" and says she's ready for the Country Music Awards. After suffering through Lazaro, Randy is just happy to hear a melodic voice. "This is a singing show. That girl can sing. ... America, that's what it's about."
-- Janelle Arthur ("I'll Never Fall In Love Again"): Janelle brings her twangy sweetness to this standard and it works for the most part, though it's a little sleepy. At least she puts a really sweet touch on her closing line. Keith says he saw a different side of Janelle during the song. If that's true, it was a "really boring" side, according to Nicki. Meanwhile, Randy uses the word "lackluster," saying he wants more "good nice cookies" in her voice. Mariah appreciates Janelle's "effervescence."
-- Candice Glover ("Don't Make Me Over"): Maybe Candice came into the night with a chip on her shoulder after most of the judges didn't include her in their personal Top 3 last week. Maybe she has something to prove. Whatever the case, she's right on the mark here, with power and grace to spare. It's easily the best performance of a pretty boring first round and earns a standing "O" from the judges. Nicki praises Candice's commitment to the song, saying she made it sound like a current R&B hit. "That was exquisite," she says. The others, of course, agree. "It was simplistic, beautiful and I loved it," says Mariah. Keith tells her she has set the bar high and that Candice has now jumped into his Top 3. It's about time.
Round 2: The Song I Wish I'd Written
-- Angie Miller (Kari Jobe's "Love Came Down"): It's an obscure choice, but one that Angie says has helped her stay focused. She's on the piano again and that's where she thrives. Pure magic. The judges are on their feet again. Randy raves ("Unbelievable. So good."). Mariah can't express her praise, which is par for the course. Nicki lays on the love, but warns that Angie NEEDS to stay on the piano. Angie sheds tears.
-- Amber Holcomb (Beyoncé's "Love On Top"): Amber says she likes this song because it's about a guy who put his woman first. Again, it's a solid performance, but it seems like she gets lost in it and just can't muster that Beyonce-like swagger. Mariah says it's not her favorite Amber vocal, but gives her kudos anyway. Keith calls it a "natural fit." Nicki says Beyoncé better watch out -- Amber has arrived. Randy trots out his moldy ol' line, saying "Amber is in it to win it!"
-- Lazaro Arbos (Robbie Williams' "Angels"): It's not the disaster that his earlier number was, but it's not great either. Too sluggish. Too easily forgettable. Keith points out what we all know: The girls are "crazy good" and Lazaro is just kind of hanging in there. Nicki passes again and Randy and Mariah agree that Lazaro's performance was "slightly better" than his previous one. PLEASE, don't vote for this guy. End the nightmare!
-- Kree Harrison (Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through The Night"): Personal admission: LOVE this song. Always have. Kree delivers a stripped-down version, which allows the words to breathe and, yes, she feels every one of them. It's lovely in its simplicity. This woman just has IT. Nicki says that Kree, unlike her country counterpart, Janelle, can take a song she's never heard of and "make me fall in love with it." She just knows how to sell it. Randy calls Kree a "natural" singer who brings the right amount of emotion to a song. Keith calls it a "buckle polisher" (Huh?) -- just beautiful and pure. He also predicts that Kree has the Grand Ole Opry in her future.
-- Janelle Arthur (Garth Brooks' "The Dance"): What happened to the momentum Janelle seemed to be building just recently? This is better than her first performance, but she's losing ground to the other girls. "I didn't think this was your best performance ever, but I believed your story," Randy says. Mariah had never heard the song before, but she appreciates the heart that Janelle put into it. Keith thinks she should have done it while strumming a guitar. And Nicki says what we've already said: That Janelle wasn't able to get a leg up on the other girls.
-- Candice Glover (Adele's version of The Cure's "Love Song"): Wow, just wow. Another hauntingly beautiful performance by Candice. Another standing "O' by the judges. Mariah even walks up on stage and tosses a handful of glitter like a fleshy Tinker Bell. Randy calls it one of the best performances in the 12 years of "American Idol" and the judges leap to their feet again. Candice is in tears. She's overwhelmed.