Here we are fans — maybe the most talented Top 5 “American Idol” has ever seen … and Lazaro Arbos. Who is voting for him? Are they deaf? We honestly don’t even know anymore.
Tonight’s theme is Burt Bacharach/Hal David for round one and Songs the Contestants Wish They Had Written (which … OK). So for round one, we’re definitely in for a lot of slow songs.
1. Angie Miller, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”
Good choice for her, though with Bacharach songs, we’re disappointed she’s not at the piano. And while she sounds really nice, vocally, we wish there was a little more emotion behind it, a little more oomph. She seems … hmmm. She seems passionate about singing, but not necessarily the words behind the song? Does that make sense? Still a nice vocal.
Keith asks her not to rely on her good voice alone and wants more passion from her emotionally, then the other judges totally agree with him. Nice to hear, it wasn’t just because we were at home. There’s just a disconnect there.
2. Amber Holcomb, “I Say a Little Prayer”
First off, that jump suit is killer. Secondly, this is fabulous. She’s rocking her Whitney tone, she sounds totally effortless, the runs on the bridge are spot on and not over done. She also looks positively effervescent. Amber is SO GOOD, you guys. She might be the best pure vocalist in the competition, honestly.
“Oh, oh, oh my gosh. What in the hell just happened right now? I am bowing down for you, little girl … You OWNED. THAT. SONG. Yes, ma’am,” says Nicki. That sums it up, y’all.
3. Lazaro Arbos, “Close to You”
Well, he’s completely off key almost the entire song — flat, flat, flat. The low stuff is too low, it’s out of his register. And then the key change is hideous. Awful. So, so, so bad. This joke wasn’t funny four weeks ago, guys. We’ll ask again, who is voting for this joker? He seems like a nice guy, is that it? Because we’ve heard better male vocalists at the local bar karaoke night and we are not joking in the slightest.
Randy says it was horrible. At least he’s honest. But he kind of piles on and that’s dangerous, because that will motivate his crazy-butt fans.
4. Kree Harrison, “What the World Needs Now is Love”
The opening is beautiful and then it just keeps building to a really nice “enough to last ’til the end of time” and final chorus. Not the most exciting performance she’s ever done, but she’s just so consistent and solid. Also, Kree sounds a lot like Carrie Underwood on this one, moreso than she usually does. There is no reason she can’t go on to have a huge country career.
Mariah says she’s natural as can be, which is spot-on. Then Nicki says, “If you’re not performing at the Country Music Awards next year and the after that, then my name ain’t Onika Tanya Maraj, honey child, ’cause you are ready.” Preach it, Onika.
5. Janelle Arthur, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”
Weird choice. Seriously, who is advising this girl on song choice? It’s like one week is perfect, the next week is terrible. This is a weird mid-tempo song that isn’t showing off her voice and in fact is kind of drawing attention to her weaknesses, like tending to get a little flat on faster parts. Hmph. Janelle is still >>>> Lazaro, but this was not a good offering on the first week when a girl will probably go home.
The judges are complimentary, but not gushing. Yeah. That was very middle-of-the-road and compared to Angie, Kree and Amber, that’s not gonna cut it.
6. Candice Glover, “Don’t Make Me Over”
This might be our favorite Candice offering so far in the competition. She is so restrained — really holding back her instrument, which is actually very nice to hear. The runs are kept to a minimum and the big shouty stuff is absent. Not that that isn’t great on certain songs, but it’s great to hear her pretty, quiet side too. It also sounded very current, which is tough on this theme.
Minaj jumps right on how it didn’t sound old-fashioned — totally.
7. Angie Miller, “Love Came Down,” Kari Jobe
We aren’t familiar with this one, but we’re ecstatic to see her back at the piano. This one is not only a better vocal than her first song, but the emotional connection is palpable. You can tell this is a song she actually cares about, as opposed to the one the first time around. If she doesn’t go mainstream, contemporary Christian music is going to be bananas over her.
Randy says that is exactly who she is and praises her emotion.
8. Amber Holcomb, “Love on Top,” Beyonce
We don’t like this as much as her first performance — it’s not really showing off her vocals, but at least it’s showing off a contemporary side of her and she handles a tricky key change with aplomb. However, she seems to be a little out of breath near the end. The song is getting on top of her a little. Overall, though, pretty strong. Not her best, but not bad by any means. We hope the voters remember her first performance.
Mariah points out that it’s not her favorite Amber vocal, but that she’s got great star power coming on.
9. Lazaro Arbos, “Angels,” Robbie Williams
OK, we’re done critiquing this. This is ridiculous. Moving on.
10. Kree Harrison, “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” Kris Kristofferson
Of course she loves Kris Kristofferson. We could not love Kree more. Anyway, this is beautiful. She sounds so sexy on such a simple piece, with very subtle lyrics. It’s hot and steamy without being overt and gross. Kree is just lovely. She’s so quietly lovely. Also, that steel guitar is rockin’. Love that instrument.
Nicki says she’s something very, very special and she’s going to be around a long time in the industry. Randy then lauds her naturalness. Keith calls it a “buckle-polisher” and predicts she’ll be a member of the Grand Ole Opry eventually. Wow. High praise, indeed. But he’s right — she’s real country, not pop-country.
11. Janelle Arthur, “The Dance,” Garth Brooks
Beautiful, beautiful song. Hope she can pull it off. It’s interesting how she has to change octaves since it’s normally sung by a man — and she has to cheat on some of the low stuff. Plus, she’s making it way too big. The reason this song is so heartbreakingly good is because it’s not all fancied up with too much accompaniment, and backup singing and runs and big notes. The arrangement just didn’t work for us. It would’ve been better just Janelle and the piano. Could’ve been a real moment for her.
The Brooks version starts with just that bare piano, it’s so pretty. And Garth stays pretty quiet the entire time. Janelle should’ve gone more in that direction.
It’s kind of hilarious Mariah doesn’t know this song. Maybe the judges shouldn’t get on the kids for not knowing Billy Joel when Mariah doesn’t even know a pretty famous Garth Brooks song. Anyway, suffice to say it wasn’t Janelle’s best — but Mariah is right, she didn’t need to get up, she didn’t need to get loud.
12. Candice Glover, “Love Song,” The Cure
Interesting choice, but she totally, absolutely slays it. This arrangement is haunting, it’s incredibly gorgeous and Candice sounds beautiful. Her “however far away, however long I stay” is goosebump-inducing. She is certainly the most current-sounding of the finalists, this song sounds like she could release it tomorrow. Fantastic job.
The standing O by the judges is all we need to know.
So, we think ti’s safe to say that thes
e five girls should be the Top 5 and that that Top 5 would be the most talented Top 5 “Idol” has ever seen. We challenge you to find another season with five people this good.
Do the right thing, folks. Send Lazaro home.