The Diva battle royale commenced Wednesday night on “American Idol,” with the show’s first all-women top five slugging it out onstage for the chance to become the first female “Idol” champ since Jordin Sparks. At the end of the two-hour show, success was measured in standing ovations, and the competition proved to be as thick as it has been at any point this season.
Five of the show’s 10 performances earned standing Os from the judges’ panel, and two of those belonged to Angie Miller, who dedicated her opening performance of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You” to her hometown of Boston. She later turned in a rendition of Beyoncé’s “Halo” that brought the judges to their feet. “You just did that song justice like a queen could,” Nicki Minaj told her at the close of her second song, which fell under the “Divas” category (the first song represented the year the contestants were born). “You did your thang!”
Amber Holcomb earned high marks for tackling Mariah Carey’s version of Badfinger’s “Without You,” and closed the show in grand fashion with her take on Barbra Streisand’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,” which Randy Jackson called “the most difficult song” anyone has taken on this season. All four judges rose to their feet when she was finished, and Jackson compared Holcomb to “a young Rihanna,” saying she was “so current, so modern, so the thing for right now.” Minaj told her the song was “simply perfection.”
Kree Harrison was no slouch herself, opening with the Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels” and closing with a moving rendition of Celine Dion’s “Have You Ever Been in Love?” that, yes, earned a standing O from the judges. “You’re not country. You’re worldly. You’re iconic,” Minaj said, after Harrison spent the night well outside of her country music roots. “You are Adele; you are Celine Dion… You are one of those divas that we can watch when they’re 20 and when they’re 50 stand on a stage and just sing. You just elevated your net worth.”
Candice Glover opened the show with a shout-out to “American Idol’s” past, putting a jazzy spin on Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” She later took on Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s “When You Believe,” and the judges — Carey included — sprang to their feet when it was finished. Randy Jackson called it “the best vocal of the night,” and praised Glover for having “one of the best voices in the known world.” Carey deferred to her partner on the song, saying Glover “did Whitney justice.”
Janelle Arthur was the only performer who didn’t get a standing ovation from the judges Wednesday, and with all of her competitors taking on big songs at the end of the show, she faltered with her choice of Dolly Parton’s 1967 single “Dumb Blonde.” “I don’t feel like it was the best song for you to shine,” Keith Urban told Arthur, while Nicki predicted she was “in jeopardy” of going home this week. Her earlier performance of Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name” earned mixed marks, with Carey calling it “magnificent” and Urban saying she struggled to find the emotion of the song.
The top five contestants weren’t the only ladies making waves Wednesday; judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj made a rare acknowledgement of each other’s existence, with Carey interrupting one of Nicki’s critiques and Nicki spitting back at her former sparring partner, “Simmer down, sir.” Later in the show, Minaj made nice by gushing over how much Carey meant to her on “Without You” and “When You Believe.” So everyone is friends here, yes? Right?
Thursday’s elimination episode is poised to be a dramatic one, and seems like it could result in the use of the judge’s save if anyone except Arthur gets the boot. The show is also set to feature performances by Clay Aiken and Fantasia.
What did you think of Wednesday’s “Idol” performances? Let us know in the comments!