Thursday, March 14, 2013

AI Recap: I'd Stand Up, But My Skirt's Too Short...

On last night's show, clearly brought to you by Jimmy Iovine and Interscope Records, was mostly a snoozefest, punctuated by a few star-worthy performances. (Seriously, what was with every contestant talking about how amazing it was to meet Jimmy, how nervous they were, blah blah blah?) And the snoozing, I believe, was mostly due to one of the worst theme choices ever—"Songs of the American Idols," a mishmash of songs sung by the winners on the show plus songs they've recorded post-Idol. As you might imagine, there were some tired songs on this show.

Nicki was about 7-10 minutes late for the episode, ostensibly "stuck in traffic" on her way to the studio. Or she heard Curtis' tepid and off-key performance of Fantasia's I Believe in rehearsal, and figured she could skip it. Seriously, dude. You said you didn't want to "top" Fantasia's performance? Well, no danger there! (Syesha Mercado covered this in Season 7, and I thought she did a pretty great job.) First of all, Curtis was wearing a jacket made from bandannas or horrible paisley curtains, and oh, vocally he was an utter mess. He was off-key nearly the entire song and the choir didn't help him any, and the sharp high note he threw in at the end smacked a little of desperation, like when figure skaters throw in a triple salchow at the end of their routine because they fell on another jump earlier on. For some reason, however, the judges wouldn't criticize his vocals, although Keith said Curtis' adrenaline "caused you to sing above where you were supposed to." Randy said "a couple of things were great," but said Curtis kept trotting out the same type of inspirational songs, and he wanted him to do something different. (Like sing on key and be less pompous? Oh, probably not.) Mariah disagreed with Randy, saying she wanted more of Curtis' "gospel-tinged" vocals, and even mocked Randy, saying that "Randy wants you to do a rock album."

Jimmy told Janelle she needed to stand out because there are "lots of blonde country singers" out there right now. She decided to sing Montgomery Gentry's Gone, which Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery sang. (LMFAO when Jimmy said that Scotty took "lots of genres" and turned them into country songs. No, he sang everything the same way.) While Janelle's performance was upbeat and pleasant, she just doesn't have a particularly strong or memorable voice, and again, I don't think she should have made it even this far. She is by far the weakest woman in the top 10. She said she got "cotton mouth" during her song. Keith said Janelle was "burning it up" onstage (hardly) and he liked her "LeAnn Womack-y runs." Nicki told "King Arthur" that last week's song suited her better, and she wished that she'd sing songs "that show the pretty part of your voice," but still called her "electrifying." (Take your hood down and your sunglasses off, Nicki. Maybe then you'll hear and see what's going on.) Randy said "the song didn't lead anywhere," while Mariah contradicted herself as always, saying she would love to hear Janelle sing a ballad or mid-tempo song, but that her "aura was giving us 'star'."

Devin chose to sing Carrie Underwood's Temporary Home. I love the song and think, when it's done right, it has the power to move you emotionally. Devin mentioned in his meeting with Jimmy that he identified with some of the lyrics because he was raised in a single-parent home. Regardless, that emotional connection didn't translate into a memorable performance. I thought he was bland and disappointing, although he hit all his notes. Keith said it wasn't one of his better performances and said that while the song was good for Devin's voice, he appeared to be nervous, unlike his usual confident self. Nicki disagreed, saying that Devin didn't look afraid, he looked professional, and felt this showed another facet of his talent. Randy called it "way too safe," saying he mistakenly underplayed it, because "you got to go for broke every time." Mariah explained it wasn't Devin's vocals necessarily, but "we expect so much from you because you have the ability to do so much vocally." Ryan said, "If you're here next week, you'll show a different side of you, right?" Devin corrected him, saying, "When I'm here..."

Jimmy warned Angie that she has a tendency when performing to seem like she's performing in a beauty pageant. She shuddered and said, "I would never want to compete in a beauty pageant." I'm going to stay off my anti-pageant-bashing soapbox for the time being, but just say, if you don't want to sound pageanty, perhaps you shouldn't sing a song that has been performed better by pageant contestants, in this case, Jill Brooks, who won a talent prelim at the 2011 Miss Tennessee Pageant. Anyway, Angie chose to sing Celine Dion's I Surrender, originally sung by Kelly Clarkson, and covered by Anthony Federov in Season 4 and Season 8's Lil Rounds. When Angie finished singing, Keith said, "As do I, surrender." He called Angie "such an artist, because you can take any song and make it feel current." (I didn't feel this one was current, actually.) He also said that Angie's higher register was very pleasing to the ear. Nicki said Angie looked like a billion dollars, that her "legs are giving me everything I need today." She called Angie "perfection on every level," said her voice was flawless, and that she was "a thousand billion percent amazing." Randy did his all-too-tired declaration combination of "The competition starts now!" and "This girl is in it to win it!" Mariah said, in her shortest critique of the evening, "What did I think? Stellar."

Jimmy reminded Paul not to oversing, not to overthink, and for goodness sake, don't be theatrical. "You're not running for president!" Paul chose to sing Lonestar's Amazed, which Scotty sang in Season 10. (This song has been covered to death on this show—by Josh Gracin in Season 2, Matt Rogers in Season 3, even Baylie Brown in Season 11. And there's no video proof of any of it.) Truthfully, I thought this was Paul's best vocal, as he hit some big notes but didn't overdo it. He certainly deserved more praise than I think he got. Keith said it sounded as if Paul had been listening to the judges' critiques, and called it one of his better performances, suggesting he "stay on this track." Nicki told Paul, "This is the first time you've stimulated my sexual appetite," and said this was a good song for Paul's voice. Randy told Paul he wasn't going to comment on the sexual appetite (thank you, Dawg) but called it a "great song choice," although he wanted Paul to stay in a higher register longer. (Of course, last week he told Paul that when he got intense, it wasn't pleasant to listen to, so what would you expect?)

All hail Candice. She sang I Who Have Nothing, covered by Jordin Sparks during Season 6. Holy frigging crap, she was that good. Control and unleashed vocal power, ridiculous range but softer parts, too. I hope she's this good every week. She just has a performance quality that is head and shoulders above everyone on this show except Kree. (Totally different vocal, but equally as slaying, IMHO.) Keith, Randy, and Nicki gave her a standing ovation. (I did, too.) Keith said, "Just know if we had more time, we'd still be standing and clapping for you." He praised her effortless command of the notes and how she "never let the audience pull you out of your zone." Nicki suggested, "It would be in everyone's best interest to never sing this song ever again," even recommending the song be "banned from the show" because Candice "destroyed" it. (Nicki, if only they'd ban certain songs from the show...maybe you can get them to do it.) She said Candice combined "vocal gymnastics fused with a fresh, current, ill style." Randy loved it, but gave her the tepid, "This is one of the greatest performances on the show...this season." Mariah said that every time Candice is on stage, she's mesmerized and transfixed, and feels her performances in her heart. Apparently last week, after Candice's performance, one of her minions Mariah tweeted, "Candice, wow!" She also explained that her skirt is too tight, which is why she can't stand up to give her a standing ovation like the other judges.

Lazaro looked dapper, like a young Bruno Mars, in a turquoise jacket and skinny black tie. Unfortunately, that was the most inspired part of his performance. He chose to sing Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway, previously covered by Katie Stevens in Season 9. He hit some good notes, but mostly the song seemed out of his range. Keith asked him why he chose that song. I felt really bad for Lazaro trying to get his words out, but ultimately he explained he identified with the lyrics because he grew up in a small town and left his family to try his hand at performing. Keith said the performance wasn't in his wheelhouse, Nicki called it her least favorite performance of Lazaro's, chalking it up to Jimmy's criticism that Lazaro often forgets his words or seems lost in his performances, which I agree is untrue. She did tell Lazaro he looked like "a cuddly Ricky Ricardo." Randy said his pitch was all over the place, and Mariah condescended, saying "people are falling in love with your courage." Oh, and Mariah knows what it's like to overcome obstacles.

I'm not sure what Jimmy was smoking when he told Kree not to oversing, something she's never done, but it didn't matter. She absolutely slayed Roy Orbison's Crying, originally sung by Carrie Underwood in Season 4. Not quite sure why that performance wasn't worthy of a standing o, though. Keith trotted out the "you could sing the phone book" compliment, but then told Kree if she made a record tomorrow, he'd buy it in a heartbeat. Nicki called Kree's performance "smooth, delicious fun," and then said something like, "Sometimes when I'm hungry, I want waffles—buttermilk waffles—and I put some Aunt Jemima maple syrup on them, and a little butter, and then put it in the microwave for a tiny bit to warm it all up. That's how your performance made me feel." Randy was perplexed, but told Kree he loves her and loves her voice, and from the first note of every song she sings, he's drawn in. He also said her performance made him feel good all over. Mariah said it was obvious Kree has an enormous range.

Of all the songs Burnell could have chosen, he chose Ruben Studdard's Season 2 coronation song, Flying without Wings. God, it reminded me of how disappointed I was when he beat Clay Aiken that year. Burnell lost the glasses for this performance, not that he would have been able to see anyway given the clouds of smoke/fog wafting all over the stage. It's a really boring song and I don't think he did much with it. Keith praised the "unique timbre" of Burnell's voice and the so-called "Burnell-isms" in his performance. Nicki admitted to being "obsessed" with Ruben's album and that song (really?), and said that Burnell is well on his way, although she loved last week's performance better. Randy said he "vindicated the dudes" with his performance. Mariah talked about how emotional Burnell makes her when he sings. Ryan snarked, "It looks like the smoke has traveled all the way from Vatican City." Hee.

Getting the pimp spot for the second time this season already was Amber, who chose Kelly's coronation song, A Moment Like This, which Jimmy inexplicably suggested she should sing up-tempo. Thankfully, she didn't, although she brought an interesting interpretation to the song, and proved her ability to sing while being battered about by the wind machine. She hit some big notes, and I really like her voice, but like her performance last week, I feel like she rushes through songs and doesn't hang on some of the notes as much as she should. Keith, Randy, and Nicki gave her a standing ovation. Keith told Amber that "the way you perform is how I feel when I listen to you, simply effortless." Nicki called it the best performance of the night (I guess her memory only lasts past one or two performances, because this wasn't better than Candice and Kree), and said that Amber's aura and voice remind her of Whitney Houston on her first album. Randy said Amber "blew it out the box," called it "so perfect," and said, "Guys, the girls are killing you tonight!" Mariah said, "Hashtag 'Pow!' To critique you is unnecessary." (Except, that, well, it's your frigging job!!)

It will be interesting to see if the bottom three is all guys tonight, or if Janelle winds up there because she sang second.

My bottom three:

What I think might happen:

I honestly think that Curtis or (sadly) even Lazaro should go home, although Devin could, because he's been slightly less pimped and doesn't have Lazaro's back story. Hopefully not, though.

Tonight, Bon Jovi, Phillip Phillips (hooray), and an utterly unnecessary "sing off" for a spot on the tour between two people no one cared about enough to vote for. Plus, if we're lucky, an awkward group routine, a Ford music video, plenty of fakeouts and manufactured drama! Who says Thursdays stopped being fun after "Must See TV" went off the air?

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