While at least half of the contestants admitted that they were totally unfamiliar with the Beatles’ catalog, a number of them still managed to step up to the plate and crush it.
Candice Glover, Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller, Janelle Arthur and Burnell Taylor did Lennon/McCartney proud, but, once again, Paul Jolley and Lazaro Arbos swung and missed, getting us one step closer to the first female winner in half a decade.
Who made us feel fine and who just can’t buy our love? Read on to find out!
Candice Glover: It’s about time someone pulled us out of the ballad basement! Glover set the stage on fire with the raunchy “Come Together,” bringing a sexy, gritty Tina Turner edge to a show that has been stuck in low gear. It was a savvy move to put some daylight between her and the rest of the competition, showing her versatility and confidence on stage. Grade: A+
Amber Holcomb: Mentor Jimmy Iovine promised that Amber would murder “She’s Leaving Home,” and he was right. Nicki Minaj could tell that Holcomb wasn’t in her comfort zone singing a song she didn’t know, but it didn’t matter, because Amber sold it with a graceful, emotionally rich cover that veered from soul to Broadway ballad, in a good way. Grade: A
Angie Miller: The former theater nerd dialed back the drama and kept it simple and classy for “Yesterday.” She gave it a bit of a rock edge, drawing comparisons to Paramore’s Hayley Williams from Randy Jackson. Less is more. Grade: A
Janelle Arthur: When Jimmy’s only advice is to remember to breathe, you know you’re in good shape. Arthur put a classy country sheen on “I Will,” turning it into a pedal steel and fiddle weeper that was elegant in its understated strength. And yeah, Nicki, she did look like a “beautiful swan goddess.” Grade: A
Burnell Taylor: I’ll give BT a pass for not knowing “Let It Be,” only one of the most beloved and frequently covered Beatles songs of all time. He gets that pass because his raspy, soul-stirring cover had a tenderness and charm that you just can’t fake. Grade: A-
Kree Harrison: Let’s just get this out in the open: Kree is a great singer. She put some legit gospel country stank on “With a Little Help From My Friends,” but the fact remains that she lacks stagecraft and a distinctive personality. She sounds like Grace Potter, but she moves like a potted plant. Grade: B+
Devin Velez: “The Long and Winding Road” took this Rickover Naval Academy kid solidly into the middle of the pack. His buttery vocals are always on point and strong, but there’s an emotional connection with the audience that he’s just not making. Grade: B-
Paul Jolley: Jolley claims to be a perfectionist, but his “Eleanor Rigby” was another imperfect ball of light opera cheese. While Amber put some drama into her performance, Jolley tried to do the same and Minaj said he just came off as “very bland and forgettable.” I’m already trying to forget it. Grade: C-
Lazaro Arbos: When the best thing the judges can do is praise your bravery, you know the vocals just ain’t there. Lazaro seems like a sweet kid, but he just doesn’t have it and his unsteady, boring “In My Life” fell totally flat. Grade: D-
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