'American Idol' Recap: Devoid of Ballads and Intrigue on Rock Night

Michael Becker/FOX

Lazaro Arbos and Angie Miller

Rock week on "American Idol" brings with it the potential for powerhouse vocals and star turns, from high velocity scorchers to power ballads.

Or, you know, scratch the ballads this time.

Whether it was due to criticism from viewers or by inside figures, "Idol" heavily advertised prior to this week's performance episode the fact that there would be no ballads done on the show, following weeks of live shows during which the brunt of songs were slower and, at times, sleepier. For some of the seven remaining contestants, this had the potential to be a make-or-break week (see: Burnell Taylor), while for others, it would likely be business as usual (read: Candice Glover).

In that way, "Idol" didn't exactly turn any heads Wednesday night with what happened. The good were still good, and the singers one expected to have some problems with up-tempo rock material did, in fact, have some problems.

Wanna know who those singers were? ONWARD WITH THE RATINGS!

1. Candice Glover - "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

One of these weeks, I'm not going to like Candice all that much, and it's going to be WEIRD, y'all. Actually, to be real, this wasn't Glover's best performance by far, but last night was a little lacking in the WOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS FOR DAAAAYS department, so she pulls the top spot once again. Stage presence was an A+, and she was on point vocally the whole way through, giving the performance power without overdoing it. No one really expected her to falter here; she's done rock in the past and slayed it. This was Candice Glover sailing through to the next round with no issue at all.

2. Amber Holcomb - "What About Love"

Wait, this is kind of a ballad. A POWER ballad, mind you, so it's not going to put people to sleep while she does it. But still a ballad. What's the deal, all? At any rate, Holcomb inched closer to establishing a real connection with the audience and viewing public with her rendition of the Heart classic, proving that she's not just the technically on-point voice we've heard for weeks. There's still something lacking in that department, that said. I also wasn't sold toward the end, when she hit the higher notes of the tune. Just a little off? Kinda. But still, quite the show. She might be back in the bottom three by virtue of still lacking the popularity of the other four girls (I thiiiink), but I doubt she's heading home.

3. Kree Harrison - "Piece of My Heart"

Solid, but forgettable. Most don't tend to describe Kree Harrison that way, but that's actually what her take on Janis Joplin ended up becoming. It could have been her pinched nerve she professed to having, but Kree seemed like she was going through the motions, perhaps comfortable in the likelihood that she'll be around next week even if she was absolutely dreadful. Voice was there, but she did very little with the song, which does have freedom (MORE LIKE KREEDOM AMIRITE) for some big vocal moments if one wants to take it there. This is the textbook definition of one of those songs that, when asked what you thought about it, you kind of shrug your shoulders and go, "Eh." Like, not a bad performance by any means, but you know she can do a lot better.

4. Angie Miller - "Bring Me to Life"

Eighth-grade me was PUMPED about this song choice; Evanescence was the band that got me into rock music to begin with and my copy of the band's debut album is probably worn down into a fine powder by now from prolonged play. To that end, perhaps I wasn't as sold on Miller's "Bring Me to Life" because I had higher expectations, or it could simply be that she didn't go to the heights she could have. Miller is beginning to establish herself as a singer who can belt out the piano-driven fare with gusto, but gets lost in bigger, louder arrangements. The voice was there, but it didn't soar over the instrumentation in a way that, say, Amy Lee does. I actually would have preferred her to stay at the piano throughout the song, rather than getting up after a few notes to reach out to the crowd. But after last week, it's good to see her back with better material.

5. Janelle Arthur - "You May Be Right"

After a captivating performance of "You Keep Me Hanging On" last week, it was probably natural that Janelle would pale in comparison this week, no matter what she did. That much is true, but she's still getting progressively more interesting and intriguing as a potential artist. She did the country-rock thing proud on the Billy Joel tune, so she'll probably get the country vote of the week if there is such a thing. It wasn't especially flashy or memorable, which is why it's ranked lower here. Even when some of her peers are just sailing through without doing too much, they're still often overall better than Arthur, who's in her zone when she's really reinventing something to fit her voice. This was about halfway to that point, but not quite there.

6. Lazaro Arbos - "We Are the Champions"

In the battle for not attaining the bottom spot between the boys this week, Arbos stood out a little more by virtue of not sounding so out of his comfort zone it hurt (and as we've seen all season, he has a pretty narrow comfort zone). At least he didn't forget the lyrics here (the same cannot be said for his duet with Angie Miller), but Lazaro's voice is still just so much thinner than his peers, so even when he's kind of on, his best just isn't going to compare to basically all the girls left in the competition. But props for not crashing and burning.

7. Burnell Taylor - "You Give Love a Bad Name"

The moment the whole 'rock, no ballads!' thing was announced, I knew Burnell was going to be in trouble; while he might have been able to do something fairly inventive with a ballad, singing up-tempo tunes just does not seem to be in his wheelhouse. It was basically good karaoke, but still karaoke. This just happens sometimes; "Idol" contestants approach theme weeks like OH GOD, WHAT DO I DO and tend to not impress. His usual rasp just didn't suit the song, and he seemed uncomfortable as all get out. If this ends up being his undoing, it's unfortunate he'll go out on such a low note, after some highly impressive early rounds.

Should Go Home: Lazaro Arbos

Will Go Home: One of the boys. Let's be real.


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