[REVIEW] ‘American Idol’ Season 12 x Top 9 Performances

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The theme for ‘American Idol’ this week was centered around The Beatles – specifically songs written by Elton John and Paul McCartney. While standouts struggled, those competitors in the #middleofthepack took the time to snatch their rightful spots back, leading to interesting results. This week also announced that Carly Rae Jepsen will be writing this season’s #coronationsong ”Take A Picture”, which will be performed by the winner during the season 12 finale.


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Angie Miller – The Beatles’ “Yesterday”
Grade: A+


At her high school, Angie won the ‘Next American Idol’ superlative just under a year before she auditioned. Her comedic family pulled out embarrassing pictures and referred to her as #youngfatty. Jimmy tells her not to oversing because there’s real power in her subtleness. “Yesterday” starts off exceptionally well, giving an acapella solo to the true richness of her lower register. The song’s climax includes an eleven second high note that brings the audience to their feet as if it were First Sunday in a Baptist church.

Quote: “You gave the audience a little twirl in your false towards the end of this performance to let us know that you’re always a top contender.”


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Kree Harrison – The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends”
Grade: A

Kree’s touching story about losing both of her parents before she turned 19 really struck close to home. Referring to them as her #fallenangels, Kree belted out “With A Little Help From My Friends” with an overdone five-ensemble background singer accompaniment. The singer complained about having a cold but still hits the biggest of big notes in perfect unison with her stage friends, wowing both the judges and the audience.

Quote: “I love that you’re serving in these five-inch heels, giving me all-black realness.” (Nicki Minaj)


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Devin Velez – The Beatles’ “The Long And Winding Road”
Grade: A

Chicago native Devin Velez’s family were definitely the quirkiest of the night with their comparisons of his vocals. Devin chose the most recognizable Beatles song of all, and cited Brian McKnight as an influence for this week’s theme. Devin’s vocals commanded the audience’s hearts, and nearly had Nicki in tears just after the first verse. With someone who has had a rough few weeks on the live shows, Devin showcased his #finalistpotential and redeemed his sultry vocals with this performance.

Quote: “You’ve sung every genre of music since the audition round, but this was just beautiful.” (Mariah Carey)


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Janelle Arthur – The Beatles’ “I Will”
Grade: A

Janelle’s mother takes the award for #beatfaceofthenight, showing where the Tennessee native gets her beauty from. Jimmy is worried that the subtle Beatles song may affect her performance and cautions her to slow down. Also taking the award for the best stage design of the night, Janelle brings one of the most memorable vocal showings of the season. For an artist usually known for country uptempos, the delicateness of Janelle’s “I Will” rendition is her most commendable effort to date.

Quote: “You’re always true, you stick to who you are, and your performance was really really beautiful tonight.” (Keith Urban)


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Candice Glover – The Beatles’ “Come Together”
Grade: A-

Coming from a family of seven where she’s the oldest, Candice’s parents speak of how proud they are of their daughter. Candice took a risk tonight and chose one of the Beatles’ well-known uptempos “Come Together”, but Jimmy Iovine is worried that the tempo may take away from her soul. As usual, her performance includes her swaggy #churchstomp (evolving from a #churchbounce) as she delivers the chorus with true grit. The verses were a bit shaky, but it’s kind of hard to notice when everything else is so above vocal standards.

Quote: “Sometimes, I want you to wear your vocals on your face – always have that attitude to really get your point across from the viewers.” (Nicki Minaj)


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Burnell Taylor – The Beatles’ “Let It Be”
Grade: B+

Burnell’s story starts with his little sister (a spitting, country image of him) who shares her undying for her uber talented brother. He shares his sentiments with Jimmy Iovine that he’s never heard the song, possibly due to his sheltered R&B background, but delivers another strong performance. Burnell, wearing the infamous Maison Martin Margiela H&M jacket, had a few sleepy moments during the song’s verses, but quickly picked up the pace (and notes) during one of the biggest rock/pop choruses of all time.

Quote: “You have the most instantly recognizable tone of everyone here.” (Keith Urban)


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Amber Holcomb – The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home”
Grade: B


From Shepherd, Texas, Amber’s bio starts with her large family at a cookout, rocking her #unknownuntilnow septum piercing. Singing the technically difficult “She’s Leaving Home”, Jimmy Iovine also warns her of not oversinging the song’s classical arrangement. Her elderly woman dress definitely distracted from her vocals, but she murdered the increasingly difficult notes throughout the song. The only problem here is that Amber’s vocals (sans high notes) doesn’t leave as much of an impact than her higher register does. If the song she sang includes three minutes of high notes, she would’ve won the show already.

Quote: “Yo, I mean it started a little slow, but you found your rhythm about two-thirds through and ended it well.” (Randy Jackson)


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Paul Jolley – The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”
Grade: B-


Paul’s story touches on how he helped his family build their farm/house, happily singing throughout the entire process. As the vocalist who the media feels needs the most development, Paul starts off somewhat weak, only accompanied by four violin players. He quickly regains ground as the arrangement picks up, and the second half of his performance attempts to mirror Clay Aiken’s lower soulful register, but by this point its way too safe for comparisons.

Quote: “I think by the time you hit your sweet notes at the end, it’s good. But that’s it.” (Randy Jackson)


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Lazaro Arbos – The Beatles’ “In My Life”
Grade: C+

The Naples, Florida native chose to spotlight his extremely loud Spanish family, who have been responsible for the strange, random bouts of screaming during his performances and critiques. Jimmy Iovine challenges Lazaro’s song choice, calling the romantic arrangement very risky. I do love Lazaro’s voice, but the performance sounded more like a #poetryslambonus than a Top 9 finalist. Some vocalists are limited in their approach to taking new takes to classics, and Lazaro definitely showed his utmost vulnerability with big songs tonight.

Quote: “For me, when I look at you, it’s about your courage and perseverance – not your vocals.” (Mariah Carey)


Who Should Go Home: Paul Jolley

Who Will Go Home: Lazaro Arbos

Bottom Three (My Vote): Lazaro Arbos, Paul Jolley, Burnell Taylor

Bottom Three (By Votes): Paul Jolley, Devin Velez, Amber Holcomb

Safe (In No Order): Kree Harrison, Candice Glover, Angie Miller, Janelle Arthur, Lazaro Arbos, Burnell Taylor

Eliminated: Paul Jolley

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