It's crazy to have such a huge disparity between the best and the worst on "American Idol," but Wednesday night (April 11) proved it possible, thanks to Candice Glover and Lazaro Arbos.
While taking on the catalog of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Arbos hit arguably the lowest note of the season with his song, continuing a downward slide that will keep many viewers baffled if he remains on the show longer than he already has.
Meanwhile, the show's second half, including songs the contestants wish they had written, featured arguably the season's best, and perhaps one of the top performances of the previous few years, with Candice Glover going beast mode on The Cure's "Lovesong."
If anything's for certain following Wednesday, it's that Glover is far and away the show's best singer still remaining, and even if she doesn't win, she'll have something to do in music, whatever that may be. But as always, it's not about the best singer (hey, Phillip Phillips), but about the total package as well. The next few weeks shall be very interesting.
Check out a rundown of the night's performances, from best to oh god what were they thinking!
1. Candice Glover - "Lovesong"
It's tough to even describe how phenomenal Candice Glover was on Wednesday night, particularly with her jaw-dropping final song of the evening, The Cure's "Lovesong." Glover took a page out of Adele's book (she's covered it in the past) for the song, presenting a jazzy rendition that showcased her effortless runs and amazing control. Just watch and take in the longer-than-usual ovation from the judges and audience that follows. League of her own.
2. Candice Glover - "Don't Make Me Over"
Even before her magnificent "Love Song," Glover turned in the best performance of the show's first half with "Don't Make Me Over," during which she transitioned slowly from a simple, solid beginning to a second half that absolutely soared. In fact, it was because of the dynamic between beginning and end that the performance ended up winning as many people over as it did. Glover was technically on-point before, but when she raised the bar, it was all that sweeter.
3. Amber Holcomb - "I Say a Little Prayer for You"
WHOA. Much has been said about Holcomb's inability to connect with audiences on a major level, and while this performance may not have changed that, it's hard to deny its technical brilliance. It was great to see her venturing out of balladland, because her take on the up-tempo "I Say a Little Prayer for You" found Holcomb really seeming comfortable, not going through the motions. I wrote down the word 'breezy' in my original notes, something Keith kinda backed up. She's showing some turns lately that are finally making her seem like a relevant performer in the 2010s.
4. Amber Holcomb - "Love On Top"
Another Holcomb up-tempo performance? This I could get used to! Amber wasn't as astounding on her second song as she was the first (actually, she was the only singer in that situation, in my opinion), but there were some moments in Beyonce's "Love On Top" that proclaimed her as a powerhouse vocalist that really could do something in the industry. Prior to last night, I wasn't sold on Holcomb becoming a star; I didn't believe the hype. Now? Call me a believer. She's improved the most of the remaining contestants too, which should count for something.
5. Angie Miller - "Love Came Down"
Finally, Miller turned in a performance that recalled her original song, "You Set Me Free," which will undoubtedly stir some interest in folks who might have grown tired of her the past few weeks. "Love Came Down," done by contemporary Christian artist Kari Jobe, really did its thing for Angie in the verse, when she was able to show off a breathy, hushed vocal before crescendoing into her usual bigger vocal. The verses were great, the chorus good. One thing's for certain: when Angie Miller gets behind the piano, there's a real connection there between the song and her that isn't always there otherwise. This is the type of music she'll end up playing on her eventual record, I'm sure.
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6. Janelle Arthur - "The Dance"
Arthur's rendition of the beautiful Garth Brooks number (written by Tony Arata) was solid, certainly one of the country singer's better performances. But if you know the original well, you'll know what a lost cause the arrangement of the song ended up being. Keith hinted at this, noting that if it had been a more intimate song with only an acoustic guitar, things might have gone better. I think Arthur was the victim of an arrangement that just didn't really suit the song well enough. Had it been something closer to Brooks's original, this might have been much higher.
7. Kree Harrison - "Help We Make it Through the Night"
For good ol' fashioned country, look no further than Kree Harrison. She took on Kris Kristofferson's "How We Make it Through the Night," a song also done justice by the likes of Wilie Nelson and many more. All in all, Kree sounded authentic, singing the tune with such effortlessness that one wondered if she really was trying at all. Like her first performance, not her best, but nowhere near the worsts of many other singers still left in the competition. That arrangement by the instrumentalists, though! The musicians were in it to win it, Ryan!
8. Kree Harrison - "What the World Needs Now"
Kree didn't knock this one out of the park; in fact, if there was one contestant who kind of coasted through the show, she was that singer. She put a country twang on the tune that kept it fairly personal to her, but compared to some big vocals the rest of the night, hers here was just OK -- especially by her usual standards. One of her more forgettable turns on the show.
9. Angie Miller - "Anyone Who Had a Heart"
The problem with Angie Miller is that she'll always be compared to that performance of her original song during Hollywood week. That might be a good problem to have, as it implies Miller to be totally ready for prime time. As far as "Idol" goes, it means she has to really show a connection and blow the song she's covering out of the water, and with "Anyone Who Had a Heart," she continued a trend of not being able to meet that point -- that is, until her
second performance of "Love Came Down." Her performance, the first of the night, was intriguing, but was pretty much just the vocal, sans much noticeable emotion and connection. Just not where it needed to be.
10. Janelle Arthur - "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"
The problem here? Too pageant-ish. Arthur never sounded bad (though she was miles behind some of the other singers here); she just couldn't do much with the song. She smiled the whole way through in a way that seemed manufactured, rather than sincere. And man, I don't know how much say she had in the song's arrangement, but that wasn't doing her any favors either. Just really boring, plain and simple.
11. Lazaro Arbos - "Angels"
Um... it was better than his first song? "Angels" can be done so much better on a singing talent show, though. Look at Heejun Han last season -- he didn't pull it off great, but it was still better than this. Arbos opened up a bit and soldiered through the chorus a little better than the verses, but that actually seems to be fairly par for the course from him. Props for coming out looking fairly strong after being torn apart after his first performance, but wow. This wasn't even cruise ship good, and apologies to cruise ships everywhere.
12. Lazaro Arbos - "(They Long to Be) Close to You"
I just don't even know what to say. Do I have to say anything? Can you just listen to the song (click it above) and see what you think? I just can't anymore with him. I can't. Worst of the season, worst in a while. The distance between Candice's "Lovesong" and this is astounding.
Should Be Going Home: Lazaro Arbos
Will Be Going Home: Lazaro Arbos or no one at all. I'm convinced that if any of the other five are in the bottom, they'll use the save. The only lady who should be sweating a little more is Janelle.
- Reality Check