[REVIEW] ‘American Idol’ Season 12 x Top 5 Performances

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With Jordin Sparks being the last female to win the show, the show starts by boasting the first all-girl season in six seasons. Lazaro’s officially gone and now the real competition begins – all-female style. All five of the guys this season were horrible, and now America has it right. This week the contestants were asked to sing two songs – songs from the year they were born and songs that represent their favorite divas.


ROUND ONE – YEAR YOU WERE BORN
Angie Miller – The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” (1994)
Grade: A
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[February 17, 1994 (Pisces)] Angie claims that she looked like an elf when she was born, then she became fat. Her parents say that she was very loud and annoying, singing every song she could remember the words to. Angie returns to the piano again this week and sings the Pretenders, dedicating the performance to her hometown of Boston. From the first note, the conviction is on full assault as Angie pours herself into the songwriting. As the only pianist of the season, Angie stays at a huge advantage over the other contestants. When the smoke begins to pour in, so do those earth-shattering notes, giving Angie the clear round one win and the first standing ovation of the night.

Quote: “You’ve got such an amazing voice and a tone that just makes me wanna cry every time.” (Keith Urban)


Candice Glover – Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” (1989)
Grade: A-
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[November 22, 1989 (Sagittarius)] Candice’s baby pictures were absolutely adorable, and her parents reminisced on her younger days as a star play-fighter. Candice asserts that she isn’t a mean person, but she’s quick to wrestle anyone who gets in her way. Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” has been a staple on the Idol stage, but strangely hasn’t been sung by too many women. Candice brings so much soul to her rendition paired with a stellar banjo/violin arrangement. The runs during the verses were just amazing and she gets major points for showcasing her scatting. Strangely, the song wasn’t nearly as oversung as many of her previous performances, and was a great way to open the show.

Quote: “You have such a beautiful control of the runs and you really feel them.” (Keith Urban)


Kree Harrison – The Black Crowes’ “She Talks To Angels” (1990)
Grade: B+
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[May 17, 1990 (Taurus)] Kree says that her parents nicknamed her “Snow White” and say that she’s always was a well-behaved child. Her grandmother shows pictures of Baby Kree with her parents in the cutest frou-frou dresses I’ve ever seen. She takes on the Black Crowes’ song “She Talks To Angels”, possibly as a tribute to the loss of both of her parents. The midtempo number is guitar heavy and tells the story of a girl who keeps everything to remind her of lost ones. Towards the first chorus, Kree turns up her vocals several notches and commands the stage after a somewhat sleepy introduction. While the song itself is very touching, something feels a bit missing from Kree’s powerful vocals. The song was already hard enough for her to sing, but maybe this week could be the first that she’s bitten off more than she could chew.

Quote: “I don’t know if it was flawless, but emotionally I got a lot from you tonight.” (Randy Jackson)


Janelle Arthur – Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name” (1989)
Grade: B
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[December 12, 1989 (Sagittarius)] It’s adorable that every single one of Janelle’s baby photos features cowboy boots. As a child, Janelle loved to sing – even when she didn’t know the words. Her mother asserts that as a child, Vince Gill’s voice was the only thing that could get her to stop crying. Singing the #countryclassic “When I Call Your Name” and paired with a guitar, Janelle started off the song very emotional. As she wells up during the first verse, the poignant songwriting really pours through her voice. I never knew Janelle was a guitar player, but she uses it well although sometimes forgetting about the notes at hand. The performance would’ve been better if Janelle sung a more uptempo song, especially since she’s on week three of having a rough time making her mark on the show.

Quote: “I would persuade you to continue doing performances with your guitar because it works very well for you.” (Nicki Minaj)


Amber Holcomb – Badfinger’s “Without You” (1994)
Grade: B-
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[March 17, 1994 (Pisces)] As a child, her parents said that Amber looked like a baby doll. She recalls memories of wanting to be a newscaster. Amber also says that she’s nervous about singing Mariah Carey’s version of Badfinger’s “Without You”. She starts off the song very strong and you can just tell she’s going to hit every big note. I like to think of Amber as a younger Leona Lewis with her incredible vocal talents, but incredibly boring stage presence. When it’s time to approach the chorus, Amber looks angry and not confident in her abilities. A choir accompanies her towards the end of her performance and she tries to make up for the sleepy first half, but the judges weren’t as impressed at all.

Quote: “We’ve got an Amber Alert going on.” (Keith Urban)


ROUND TWO – DIVAS
Angie Miller – Beyonce’s “Halo”
Grade: A+
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Angie’s diva is Beyonce’ and she feels that she has it all. She chooses to take on “Halo” – the biggest selling ballad of Beyonce’s career. The performance features candid shots of Angie in the background as she belts out high notes with the greatest of ease. Towards the end, Angie takes her performance to #church literally with ad-libs I never knew she was capable of. The strength of her voice burrows through the audience, leaving a vocal that snatches Queen Beyonce’s wig right off her head.

Quote: “Beyonce’ has a specific way of singing songs, and you did more that I could ever imagine.” (Mariah Carey)


Candice Glover – Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s “When You Believe”
Grade: A+
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When Candice heard that her diva Mariah Carey was going to be a judge, she vowed to never sing a song by her. As the song starts, Candice has a slight issue formulating her words, but picks it up to the point that it’s barely noticeable. A full orchestra accompanies her subdued vocals as she belts out the well-known chorus. During Mariah’s infamous high note on the song, a chorus completes the arrangement and Mariah looks like she’s in complete shock with her talents. Towards the end, Candice takes the vocal around the park like it’s a home run in the last five seconds of the MLB finals.

Quote: “That is how you do a Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston song.” (Nicki Minaj)


Kree Harrison – Celine Dion’s “Have You Ever Been In Love”
Grade: A
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Celine Dion is Kree’s diva and she feels that she’s the best female vocalist out. Instead of taking on a well-known Celine song, she takes a bluesy arrangement to “Have You Ever Been In Love” and has a genuine moment on the Idol stage. Unlike her emotionless first performance, Kree’s performance of “Love” is really powerful and moved the judges. Also different is Kree’s styling, which was paired with Nicki Minaj’s ‘Pink Friday’ MAC lipstick. Kree’s end note was probably the softest that we’ve ever seen her vocally, and will hopefully work to her advantage when it comes to voting next week.

Quote: “You aren’t country – you’re worldly.” (Nicki Minaj)


Amber Holcomb – Barbara Streisand’s “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?”
Grade: B+
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Amber’s diva is probably the most unpredictable of the night – Barbra Streisand. Attempting to make up from round one, Amber tries to take the somber route to her performance. The dark stage is set as she sings Barbra’s words, and starts off on a slow note. The chandeliers are giving more stage presence than her tonight. Vocally, she sounds great but there’s not much feeling that comes with her performances. Thankfully, her performance of “Life” was better than her first round.

Quote: “You’re like this young Rihanna with this giant voice.” (Randy Jackson)


Janelle Arthur – Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde”
Grade: D+
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Of course Janelle would be singing Dolly Parton (her diva choice) – it’s only fitting. Country uptempos make Janelle seem like she’s channeling Carrie Underwood, and she definitely fits the part. The hardly recognizable song comes off somewhat childish, but Janelle just wants to have fun with the audience. Pairing black cowboy boots with the tackiest #glitterskirt ever, Janelle’s fashion choices are definitely detracting from her vocals. As a whole and very similar to Burnell, her performances are very limited to one genre. There’s no way that Janelle would succeed as a mainstream artist if her idea of performance is so restricting as a musician.

Quote: “I would’ve liked to have heard a little more vocal from you tonight.” (Randy Jackson)


Who Should Go Home: Janelle Arthur

Who Will Go Home: #judgessave

Bottom Three (My Vote): Kree Harrison, Amber Holcomb, and Janelle Arthur

America’s Top Three (By Votes): Candice Glover (1st), Angie Miller (2nd), Amber Holcomb (3rd)

America’s Bottom Two (By Votes): Kree Harrison (4th) and Janelle Arthur (5th)

Eliminated: Janelle Arthur

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