On Wednesday night’s “American Idol,” we learned three things: 1) there’s no way this show needs to be two hours; 2) some of the contestants have an interesting definition of the term “Classic Rock,” and; 3) producers should just give Burnell Taylor and Lazaro Arbos a show where they just throw shade at people.
Yes, producers lobbed a curveball at the remaining seven “Idol” hopefuls, declaring it “Classic Rock, No Ballads” night , a move that seemed to spell doom for folks like Lazaro and Burnell, who never met a ballad they didn’t love. But, not so fast! Mixed in with the endless vignettes and group performances were a couple of actual surprises … proof that perhaps Season 12 of “Idol” isn’t quite as cut and dry as we’d imagined. So who rose to the occasion on the night when ballads were banned? And who fell between the seats like disc four of the Time Life Classic Rock compilation? Here’s our “American Idol” Report Card.
Amber Holcomb: Another night, another star-making performance form A-Hol (no, wait …), who channeled her inner Beyonce on a killer version of Heart’s “What About Love.” From the minute she strode onstage, she looked like she was in it to win it, and everything from her strut to that big-time key change backed that confidence up. She managed to make three-quarters of the judges stand and applaud (Mariah was probably tethered to her chair), and definitely moved herself to the front of the pack. I thought she’d struggle last night … but boy, was I wrong. Grade: A
Kree Harrison: This was destined to be her night to shine, and though she got stuck with an early slot, her performance of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart” managed to hold up through the show’s interminable two hours. In a lot of ways, this was the perfect song for her, and she knocked it out of the park. Also, she performed with a pinched nerve, once again proving that she’s a total pro. This isn’t going to be her signature moment, but she continues to hang tough, and she’ll be in this thing for a long time. Still waiting for her to separate herself from the pack, though. Grade: B+
Janelle Arthur: Strangely decided to go with Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right,” which is probably the least country song imaginable. Still, she did an admirable job, and at this point, she’s probably the most relatable, likeable contender in the competition … and don’t underestimate that fact as we draw closer to the finale. Her personality shone through, which is why I’m giving her the edge over Candice. Also, she seems to be the only contestant willing to take risks this season. The judges deemed her a contender, then stripped her of her wardrobe … but when Randy is complimenting something you wore, that’s not exactly a good thing. Grade: B
Candice Glover: She broke a toe in the aftermath of an April Fools prank on Lazaro (seriously, should the Top 7 be getting hazard pay at this point?), which all but eliminated her ability to move on stage. That didn’t really matter all that much, since she did the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) satisfaction” (told you! ) and decided to just sing the bejeezus out of it. For the second straight week, she was good — but not great — and given her cool demeanor, I can’t shake the feeling that she’s going to be in the bottom three on Thursday night … as if we didn’t need another reason to hate this season. Grade: B-
Lazaro Arbos: For real. Everyone on the planet predicted this one would be a disaster, but bereft of a ballad, Lazaro still managed to deliver a performance that will undoubtedly keep him in the hunt for another week. Credit his wise choice of song — Queen’s “We Are The Champions” definitely played to his strengths — and the fact that, no matter how catty he may come off behind the scenes, plenty of folks still love Lazaro. Also, Seacrest described him as “The pride of Naples, Florida” … and, having been there, I can assure you, that’s not an overstatement. Grade: C+
Angie Miller: And the slide continues. At this point, Miller is the classic “Idol” contestant who peaked too early, and for a second-consecutive week, she decided to step outside the box, taking on Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life,” which probably isn’t the first song that comes to mind when you think of “Classic Rock” … until you realize Angie was born during the Clinton Administration. She seems to be grasping at straws, which will probably lead to her downfall. But, hey, at least she kept her shirt from blowing over her head. Grade: C
Burnell Taylor: The “Classic Rock” theme definitely didn’t do him any favors, but then again, neither did his song choice: Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” was a disaster, the kind of tune an R&B balladeer should never attempt. It was too big, too fast, and he got lost in the midst of it all. Sure Nicki and Mariah may have complimented his effort, but Keith hit the nail on the head when he said Burnell looked “uncomfortable” throughout. He’s yet to truly connect with the “Idol” audience, and I think this performance may be his undoing. I look for Burnell to get voted off on Thursday night, which sucks, but, hey, this … is … “American Idol.” Grade: D
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