The remaining six hopefuls on “American Idol” pulled double-duty on Wednesday night, taking on both a selection from the Burt Bacharach – Hal David songbook, and a song they wish they’d wrote. And, as has been the case for much of season 12, the results were mixed: the usual suspects rose to the top, while some (OK, just hopelessly overmatched Lazaro Arbos) sunk to the bottom.
Still, for the first time this year, we may have witnessed history, as Candice Glover surprised pretty much everybody by singing the Cure’s “Lovesong,” then wowed the judges with a performance that left Keith Urban bowing, Mariah Carey showering the stage in glitter, and Randy Jackson proclaiming it was “one of the greatest” moments in “Idol’s” lengthy run. Oh, and thanks to some rather long-winded critiques from the panel, this one also felt historically long, with producers and host Ryan Seacrest scrambling to wrap things up before their two hours were up.
But, aside from complaining about the running time, let’s praise Glover, who not only won the night, but proved she may be the favorite to take home the title. Her version of “Lovesong” was smoldering and emotional, and her earlier take on “Don’t Make Me Over,” was equally emotive, and earned equal praise: Jackson deemed it the “best vocal of the night,” though, as we’d all learn, the best was yet to come.
Amber Holcomb was also strong, putting a modern spin on Dionne Warwick’s “I Say A Little Prayer,” and then, to borrow a phrase from Nicki Minaj, “working” her way through Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” which garnered high praise from the panel. And we learned a little bit more about her personal life, too … namely, that she has a boyfriend named Curtis (sorry Burnell).
Kree Harrison continued her solid run with a pair of pro-level performances, first with Jackie DeShannon’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” and then Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night.” The judges praised her song choices and the effortless way she sang the tunes, though her performances were perhaps a tad too nuanced to stand out on this night.
It was a mixed bag for both Angie Miller and Janelle Arthur. Miller’s take on “Anyone Who Had a Heart” was criticized by the judges for lacking passion, though she rebounded tremendously with her personal pick, Kari Jobe’s “Love Came Down,” that saw her sit down behind the piano and rekindle her flame, and, in the process, receive a standing ovation from the judges.
Arthur, on the other hand, never seemed to be able to get in a groove; her version of Bacharach’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” was sunny, but also sort of sleepy, and her second performance, of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” had a few nice moments, but was held back by a wonky last note and earned her only middling praise.
Of course, no one struggled quite like Arbos, who probably made America re-consider their decision to send Burnell Taylor packing last week. He mumbled his way through a version of the Carpenters’ “Close to You” that left the judges agape — Carey struggled at length to find anything nice to say, while Jackson proclaimed it to be “horrible,” and “the worst performance you’ve ever had on the show” (which, for Arbos, is saying something). He didn’t fair much better on his second song, Robbie Williams’ “Angels,” but, hey, at least he was on key this time. At this point, he’s lagging far behind the girls, and If he survives again, it’ll be a minor miracle … especially since the judges all but buried him.
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