Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Top 9 Perform: Lennon/McCartney Week

Welcome back. Last week we saw the elimination of Curtis Finch Jr and the introduction of a new format of the results show. They are now including actual rankings for everyone besides the Top 3. This week the Top 9 will be performing Lennon/McCartney songs. Song choice shouldn't be an issue for these contestants given that The Beatles are one of, if not the greatest band in music history. Several years ago during Lennon/McCartney week a few contestants foolishly admitted to not knowing their songs, it'd be wise for the contestants to not look ridiculous and choose wisely.

As we did last week we will do our regular recap as well as our weekly rankings (including where they stand from last week). We know that the show is giving out the actual audience rankings but ours differs because we are thinking more long term rather than just short term/week-week. The criteria of our rankings is again: potential to win, audience reaction, judges reaction, performance success and personality. So with that, let's get to it:

Weekly Rankings
1. Candice Glover-Up 1 From Last Week (Officially Top 3)   
2. Kree Harrison-Down 1 From Last Week (Officially Top 3)   
3. Angela Miller-Up 1 From Last Week (Officially Top 3)    
4. Amber Holcombe -Up 1 From Last Week (Officially 5th)   
5. Burnell Taylor Up 1 From Last Week (Officially 7th)             
6. Devin Velez -Down 3 From Last Week (Officially 9th)
7. Janelle Arthur -Same as Last Week  (Officially 6th)             
 8. Paul Jolley -Up 1 From Last Week (Officially 8th)        
9. Lazaro Abros -Down 1 From Last Week (Officially 4th)

Results of Sing-Off
Last week Charlie Askew and Aubrey Cleland performed for the last spot on the American Idol Tour. 

And the winner is...Aubrey Cleland. Aw, poor Charlie. He at least knows he was the 6th best guy on the show this year, so it's not saying a lot, but it's something. So congrats to Aubrey.


Kree Harrison
(A Little Help From My Friends)
Jimmy Iovine helps in the studio this week. He calls Kree a natural and she should have a big night with this. She is doing the Joe Cocker version of the song. Jimmy said that this song fits her like a glove and he is right, it suits her. The band and backing singers are very loud this week, but when the band pauses and we just hear Kree's voice it is so strong and beautiful. I wish we heard more her and less band, but given it's Beatles songs I understand. Really well done. Probably not her best but still head and shoulders better than most. A-
Keith=Great way to start. Loves that no matter what song she sings she is herself. Should have no trouble getting by with help from her friends in America. [Nice one Keith...jeez]
Nicki=Doesn't sound like the original, always makes the best musical choices. Loves how she looks, she is starting to become a superstar. The whole package.
Randy=Thinks it was the bomb. Came out and blew the vocals out of the water. The confidence is amazing.
Mariah=Didn't think it was was fan-freakin-fastic.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Definitely. Kree has killed it every time since we have seen her and she did again tonight.

Burnell Taylor
(Let It Be)
Burnell doesn't know this song and he admits that he doesn't know it, so I'm unsure why he chose it. I guess he just didn't know any Beatles songs.  Jimmy thinks if he learns the song well he can kill it. Burnell's voice is incredibly smooth, his hand gestures are still a little chaotic but I enjoy his voice a great deal. Burnell gets 8 backing voices to help him out, not sure why 8 people are needed on this particular song, but there they are. I like the way that Burnell pushed his voice to different places tonight, he really got into the grittiness of his voice. It was a very gentle, sweet version of this song. B+
Nicki=Didn't even sing the song, caressed it. Treated it like a new born baby. The musical choices made her feel like it was church.
Randy=Although he didn't know the song he made it his own, and made smart choices.
Mariah=Always consistent and is so proud of him. Loves the realness.
Keith=Loves the fact that he is the most easily recognizable tone. Is very soulful.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yup. Burnell did a really nice job tonight. Very consistent.

Amber Holcombe
(She's Leaving Home)
Jimmy thinks that Amber will murder this song. Jimmy says, "Amber, her voice, this song, a winner". This is secretly one of my favorite Beatles songs because of the story-telling of it and the sweetness of the orchestra behind it.  Amber hits some of those notes with incredible grace and ease, there were some lulls in the middle sections of song, but that last note really ended the song in a really wonderful way. B
Randy=Started a little slow and unsure, but by the second chorus she found herself in the rhythm.
Mariah=For someone that didn't know the song she did in a fearless way. She got to the places where it could have went detached.
Keith="Absoutley one of my favorite Beatles song". Although its 46 years old it sounded completely fresh.
Nicki=Vocal is unmatched. Was in her brain too much. Shouldn't ever look defeated because her vocals are crazy good.
Do The Judges & I Agree?Yep. They mostly think she did a fine job but there was a few rocky moments, mainly in the beginning of the song.

Lazaro Abros
(My Life)
Lazaro chose this song. Jimmy thinks it's an ambitious and risky choice. I love the song, but I don't think it did much for Lazaro. I am glad he got out of the chair and stood up but it still didn't go really anywhere. It was nice vocals, but if I was gonna take a nap I'd put this on to put me to sleep. Kinda boring rendition. D
Mariah=Commends him on his bravery. Thinks for such an intimate song he should have went just acoustic and thinks it was a little too low for him.
Keith=Doesn't think the tone of his voice stood out tonight. Knows it is in him but wasn't showcased during this performance
Nicki=Is still not back to the same Lazaro. Doesn't want him to be in the same room as Jimmy. Thinks his confidence is way off. Thinks the outside forces are getting to him.
Randy= Thinks it was his worst performance ever. Out of tune from beginning to end. Wonders where the vocals went. Not hitting it on full cylinders vocally.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. We all give Lazaro a ton of credit for going out there and comend him on everything but his vocals just weren't there tonight. I know Nicki wants to blame Jimmy Iovine or someone else in production but at one point responsibilty has to fall on Lazaro even though after commercial Ryan and the judges spoke again about how it might be outside forces changing Lazaro. Idol seems to really want to save Lazaro here.

Candice Glover
(Come Together)
Jimmy think this is a hard song lyrically and Candice has to dig deeper, despite that he thinks she will kill this song and should have no problem with it. I love this song choice, it brings out the rock side of Candice and gets her away from the ballads. She really seems to be having a good time on stage. I love that we are seeing a different side of Candice, it takes her out of a very specific box. Obviously it wasn't as emotionally charged as last week, but that wasn't its goal. Her vocals were pretty flawless and she still hit her runs and big notes when she needed to. A-
Keith=Loved seeing her whole other vibe. Loves the rock chick side of her. Her range is so far out there she could have even went further.
Nicki= Vocal is insane and crazy BUT, sometimes her face doesn't match her attitude.
Randy=The voice is crazy. Loves that she did uptempo and not just ballads. 
Mariah=It is was like a prize fighter. Murdered the song. Can't wait til she gets even more jazzy and creative than she is already.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. Candice's voice is just crazy good, and everyone loves that that she switched it up and moved away from ballads.

Paul Jolley
(Eleanor Rigby)
This is also one of the coolest Beatles songs. Jimmy thinks if puts it all together he can kill this song. Paul starts the song in a weird falsetto. Accompanied by violins, cellos and the band Paul sings a pretty standard version of the song. I feel there were more big moments he could have had. There was a point that he really pushed his voice and it sounded nice, but there weren't enough moments I think it was good, just not great. C-
Nicki=Didn't like the performance. Very safe and bland and forgettable.
Randy=When he hit his sweet spot it was great but it all felt disconnected. Never felt he got there.
Mariah=Thinks it was a great song choice. Needs to give emotion when singing softly as when he is singing at the top of his vocal range. 
Keith=Didn't like the falsetto at the end. There were parts in the middle that allowed some soft-rock. Thinks his voice has some angst to it.
Do The Judges & I Agree? We do. It was a very safe and standard version of the song. I remember when David Cook did Eleanor Rigby he blew it apart and really pushed himself. Paul's version just went nowhere.

Angie Miller
Jimmy thinks sometimes Angie oversings and performs but it won't work for this song. He wants her to use her heart not her head. Jimmy thinks she is a natural she just needs to believe that. I'm not gonna lie I thought we'd get Angie doing some piano this week given the band and artists being covered but she goes simple with limited band support and backup vocals. I enjoyed this performance and I love that she pushed herself vocally, I just don't think it was her best performance she has done on the show, but still fantastic job. B+
Randy=One of favorites in the competition. Stellar performance, emoted from the heart. Thinks that she has some fire in her and could throw out some rock.
Mariah=Did a respectful version of the song. Really showed simplicity and loves that there is more sides to her that we haven't seen.
Keith=Felt like there were times she looked like she was thinking about everything but then came back and was great. It drifted back and forth, but she still did a great job.
Nicki=Unbelievably amazing. Loves that she picked the correct key and it allowed her voice to do crazy things. Can do anything she wants with her voice, from movie soundtracks, to rock, to Broadway.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. They almost applauded her as a singer and a person more than this individual performance so it's tough to say. But she was really good. They might have liked it a bit more than I did.

Devin Velez
(Long & Winding Road)
Jimmy thinks it was a great song choice. Thinks it was a brave way to alter the song if it comes out right. With last week's safe and boring song choice I thought Devin would go a bit bolder, but he has a voice that is very soulful and maybe he doesn't want to go to the rock/edgier side. I like this performance much more than last week's but I am still not as pumped as I used to be about Devin. I like that he changed the song at points, but it still seemed too safe and a bit predictable. The last note was quite pretty but I am still not blown away.  B-
Mariah=Never ceases to amaze. It was so good. Has done almost all genres and has yet to disappoint. Would be a travesty if he didn't go to the next round.
Keith=Feels like the emotional connection is missing. Loves his voice but his heart wasn't always there.
Nicki=Liked that he is emotional committed. Thinks he is very truthful.
Randy=Thinks he is back tonight. Loves that he brought the swagger back. Doesn't need a run after every phrase.  
Do The Judges & I Agree? Sorta. He did a nice job, but they liked him a whole much more than I did. His vocals are definitely very nice, but it still didn't do much. I agree with Keith the most.

Janelle Arthur
(I Will)
Now this is easily one of my favorite songs. It seems like such a simple song but there is so much to it, and the lyrics are just beautiful. Jimmy thinks that Janelle just needs to breathe. Janelle goes full country for this song so she really switches it up to make it her own. This song allows the singer to go really simple or really complex, Janelle does a good job at finding a middle ground. She made it really sound like someone in Nashville wrote the song, so that's pretty cool. This was the first performance in awhile that I really enjoyed of Janelle's. There were a couple rough notes but overall quite beautiful. B+
Keith=Loves that she knows who she is, and it was all pure and true.
Nicki=Looks like a swan goddess. Thinks she is great, she is everything and doesn't need to yell and scream, can pull it in with all the subtle moments. So authentic to country. Loved it.
Randy=Thinks Janelle is back tonight. One of the best performances of the night. The subtleties are better than some of the big moments.

Mariah=Really thinks she is listening to the feedback and is still so sweet and had such an elegant performance.  
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. By far one of Janelle's best performances. I loved her during Hollywood week and bits here and there but I feel like she has been lost along the way, but tonight she really flourished in the final spot of the night aka The Pimp Spot.

Bottom 3 Predictions/Who's Going Home
Bottom 3
1. Lazaro Abros
2. Paul Jolley
3. Devin Velez

Going Home
Paul Jolley.  Would have chosen Lazaro but I think the immense push by Ryan and the Idol producers to try to explain that outside people(Jimmy Iovine etc.,) and not Lazaro are to blame, will help keep Lazaro around. Plus Lazaro cried. So there ya go.

Final Thoughts
 *Kinda feels like Deja vu. The ladies did great, Burnell did great, and the rest were not so good. Lazaro, Paul and Devin were the weakest of the bunch. Best 3 of the night were Candice, Kree and Angie just like last week with Amber and Burnell right there with Janelle surging. If this is the Top 6, and it should be at this moment, then that's one of the strongest Top 6's in Idol history.

*I don't understand who decides on songs. I thought the contestants get final say, but several of the contestants including Burnell and Amber pretty much admitted to not knowing the Beatles and their song choice was supposedly chosen for them. If they don't know The Beatles that is their own fault, but they should still get final say so and not be forced into something. If they weren't forced into the song and Jimmy or someone told them that the particular song would suit them and they chose agreed than that's on them.

*Tonight was the first night the judges switched up the rotation of the feedback. Since the panel was introduced in Las Vegas they have gone Keith, Nicki, Randy & Mariah. Now they are just rotating who goes first. I know Simon Cowell went last for years and years when there were 3 judges, but going last is difficult because a lot of the times what you want to say is already said and it could get repetitive. So if Mariah decided that she didn't want to always go last I'd respect that.

So with that Top 9 performances are complete. Tomorrow we will learn the next person to be eliminated from this competition. We'll see how it all shakes out. So come on back here tomorrow and until next time, see ya!

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