Oh the possibilities of Lennon-McCartney songbook theme night! Granted, the kids don’t have full run to pick any tune they want, but since the majority of songs are top-notch in terms of lyrics and melody, those cleared provide a wide opportunity to make winning moments. How do you blow a Lennon-McCartney song? Well, as past seasons and Lazaro showed us, it can be done. Lucky for us, the remainder of our Top 9 provide highlights of their craft.
Kree Harrison (“With a Little Help from My Friends”)– It is no secret Kree’s one of the voices I love this season. She’s a little hoarse with a cold, but no worries because it gives her a touch more raspy soul to the tone. My main concern with her starting out on the show was the lack of consistent outside star vibe. Kree rectifies that via her classy all black ensemble and spiffy heels. She keeps to her own style in having a blouse and pants versus a suit or dress that makes her look stuffy. It works and she’s great. I’d listen again.
Burnell Taylor (“Let It Be”) – I like that he doesn’t overdo the delivery of the song. He adds touches to show his connection and feeling. His style allows him to move with a smooth pace and provide unexpected caresses and flairs in parts. Burnell is growing on me. I’d listen again.
He states he didn’t know the song prior to this week. He wins points from me when he admits that he knows of The Beatles “but not as well as I should.” That’s an honest kid versus someone pretending to know it all.
Drinking game check in – By Burnell, we are three shots in with Ryan screaming out it is American Idol time and two judges praising both Kree and Burnell for bringing their own style/flavor to songs. I think we might be at four with Mariah wanting Burnell to keep doing him, but I see some people staggering so we better pace ourselves. 🙂
Amber Holcomb (“She’s Leaving Home”) – I’m coming into tonight wanting to hear some evidence of why they keep pimping her. Like put up and connect or I start heckling. She connects. No smiling in the midst of serious lyrics. Control in her voice to build the song. What might hurt her a bit is that it isn’t as well known a song choice. From their comments, maybe the judges have been given a “Debbie downer” script to read for Amber’s offering, but I find it to be her best performance to date. She makes me look up to pay attention. I’d listen again.
Lazaro Arbos (“In My Life”) – At times, he is so quiet and smearing his words into each other that I think he might be about to doze off. Excuses about changing his song at the last minute, paired with tears, ramble out of his mouth after getting bad reviews from the judges. His meltdown does nothing for me.
Okay, have I grown cynical after so many seasons? I don’t think so. Idol game theory tells me that whining about last minute song changes, in-ear sound that doesn’t work or having a cold is a potential voter alienating move. Now if you are singing through a true life-changing event—like family bereavement—we aren’t heartless and will give you kudos for holding it together as professional singers are expected to do while understanding you might be a little vacant. Excuses for other stuff? Yeah no. Buck up and keep it moving. This performance is bad. Lazaro has been phoning in below par performances for a bit now and his back story isn’t enough to excuse it. Here’s your door prize.
Wait, what is this? To help his sympathy case, we come back from break with Ryan at the judges’ table asking them for their take on Lazaro’s showing of emotion. Really?!
Candice Glover (“Come Together”) – Interesting that Candice and Lazaro switch order this week with her now following him. Candice rocks this and coaxes me off my Lazaro ledge. My hope is that she brings a funky edge to the guitar riff driving pulse of the song. I find myself dancing towards the middle. The arrangement towards the end of the song isn’t my favorite (the part where the background singers voices are heard above Candice), but she claims the end with a big note run. She is clearly one of the best of the night and in our finals. I’d listen again.
Paul Jolley (“Eleanor Rigby”) – I expect him to have a good showing. He has the vocal chops and I agree with Jimmy that he has the capability to “kill” the song. He hits a hot note about three-fourths in, but I still find myself a bit detached. Nikki goes in and tells him point-blank that she didn’t like the song because it is “bland and safe.” Randy hits him as being detached from the song. Yeppers.
Earth to Paul. What happened to your spirit, man? It is like they neutered his happiness. With his lean towards the “theatrical,” he has the capability to deliver a dark haunting take on the song. Nope. Stop listening to the judges’ misdirection, Paul. You are not meant for faceless and emotionless pop drivel. Meh, however I think it might be door prize bottom three land again for him tomorrow.
Angela Miller (“Yesterday”– I see the stylists have straightened her hair. This will please some of the complainers in the Twitterverse. Jimmy’s right that she needs to just sing this natural versus tacking on “look I’m performing” vibes. Well, she loses me with the loud, held, dead-stop note mid-performance. It is “look at me” and not connected to any core base, thus pulls me out. Vocal tone and range is an A+ beautiful, but for me, we are at zero with connection and believability. Take a drink for Keith saying a version of “you know what I love about…”
Angie is hitting in Carrie Underwood territory for me. That is Carrie’s time on Idol. I thought she was a robot and admit to hurling items and mocking her. No denying her great voice, but the performance quality was at some times stilted and at others unbelievable. After winning and hours of live performances on the road with crowd energy, she’s much improved and well-rounded. I’m hoping Angie can bridge that gap a bit more while on the show. I’d listen again for her voice, but I’m meh on the missing emotion.
Devin Velez (“The Long and Winding Road”) – I wonder if he will sing “Imagine” a la little David Archuleta and have a moment. I say a silent prayer that he digs deep and sings beyond a safe place so the rest of America can hear what I’ve fallen in love with about his voice. He says during rehearsal that he’s channeling Brian McKnight and those soulful runs are evident. I hope his arrangement changes do not anger Beatles purists. Mariah sputters her love for him and says it would be a “travesty” if he doesn’t go through. Me too, Mimi! Take a sip for Nicki telling us what she loves about Devin. I’d listen again.
Keith hits what is going on with the audience not connecting to Devin—it is his laid back vibe. I’ll argue that Devin has one of the best voices of the season. Close your eyes and listen. Superb. I’ll also admit that I’m still waiting for him to unleash it and go all out. He’s much better this week, but he needs a “moment” fast. There are too many standouts with more camera time (e.g., fans) on the season so the position of safety he’s playing from will get him kicked off. I will be sad, but it is like DeAndre last season—a younger contestant that isn’t fully seated in their glorious capabilities yet and needs more time to round it out.
Janelle Arthur (“I Will”) – I suspect I’ll get to nap for the next 10 minutes of Idol. At this point I’m just waiting for the phone lines to open so I can vote for Devin. She is too breathy at the end of some of her phrasing and the words trail out. If we are comparing country singers, Kree sings circles up and down and around the pavement of Janelle.
Once again the judges sing her praises all the way into the back alley behind the studio. I hear Keith babbling about what he loves about what she’s done. Anyone not draped over their keyboard can saddle up for a shot. It will help you handle the gushy praise the judges are tossing her way. Double Meh.
Summary – Worst of the night for me is Lazaro. He is not up to the level of the others. Paul is in trouble from his lack of connection and limited screen time from earlier rounds. Devin has the limited camera time and doing “just good” curse, but I hope he can push past that this week. I don’t want to name him to my bottom three and you can’t make me. I’ll toss Janelle down there as a placeholder.
- Please let Devin be safe. Yes, I’m starting out putting my intention energy into the world.
- Ryan tells us we could be in for a surprise. This can mean some kind of fun rule twist is coming or absolutely nothing. He’s the king of the tease spin.
- Yes, Jimmy, for pointing out the judges’ inconsistent commentary. He’s right that they are shouting out circle talk. Double kudos for calling out Lazaro for having the worst, “bottom of the pile” performance and for lying (yes, lying) with his excuse about only learning the song the previous night. Jimmy said the footage of them working on the song together was from Saturday. Why didn’t the judges call that out when Ryan chatted with them after the commercial break on Wednesday?
- Please, Amber, do not wear Daisy Duke shorts on Idol again. Yes, you are a cute kid with rocking legs, but the ensemble comes off as too casual and also a touch risqué. Remember the audience viewing and voting.
- Lazaro being safe is a shame. We can only hope he gets the negative bounce next week. Seriously, I don’t have time for his shenanigans.
- Amber being in the bottom three is wrong.
- Paul must sing for a save we know he won’t be getting.
Who would have been in your bottom three? Who do you think will be our top 2 in the finale?