The remaining six finalists each performed two songs on Wednesday's American Idol, one "Song I Wish I Wrote" and one from the Burt Bacharach songbook. (Way to tap into that young demographic, The Love Boat Idol!) This week, the "backstory videos" featured little-known facts about the contenders. Who would have thought Angie Miller was a fan of hardcore music? Or that Lazaro Arbos enjoyed hunting? And does Amber Holcomb's enjoyment of frozen "shrimpsicles" make you curious or gross you out?
But enough about those personal tidbits. How were the performances?
"Anyone Who Had a Heart" (Dusty Springfield): Perhaps intimidated by her No. 1 slot on Wednesday's show, Angie gave a somewhat lackluster performance of Springfield's song. With the finals approaching, all the judges requested more emotion from Angie, and Keith Urban cautioned her to not rely on her voice alone. "There's moments in that song I was waiting to feel the passion. ... I'm missing the humanity in there." Mariah Carey speculated that she was focusing too much on pronouncing her words perfectly and not enough on the feeling behind them. Grade: B+
"Love Came Down" (Brian Johnson): For her "Song I Wish I'd Written," Angie was back in her comfort zone at the piano, and gave a ready-for-radio performance of the pop ballad. Urban and Jackson gave her a standing ovation, while Minaj said that her comfort at the piano sets her apart from the rest of the girls. "You're doing something all them other girls can't do, and that's the only time you're going to win," Nicki Minaj told her. "Prior to this performance, Candice, Amber and Kree were taking it all. ... If you don't come up and step up with these performances, you're outta here." Grade: A
"I Say a Little Prayer" (Dionne Warwick): Amber offered a perfectly good take on the Dionne Warwick/Aretha Franklin classic, but the judges' reaction may have been a little over the top. "Oh my God!" a speechless Minaj exclaimed after collecting herself. (And yes, you read that right. Nicki Minaj was speechless!) "What the hell just happened right now?" she said to Amber. "I am bowing down. ... You are unbelievable." She also pointed out that Amber may have been able to concentrate more now that her maybe-boyfriend Burnell Taylor was no longer around. Randy Jackson was similarly effusive. For our money, Amber looked a little drowsy — but what can you expect when you give the performers songs that were written nearly 30 years before they were born? Grade: A-
"Love On Top" (Beyonce): After clarifying her relationship with Burnell ("We're really good friends. We're getting to know each other right now." Ouch?), Amber tackled Beyonce's bouncy number. Understandably much more comfortable with contemporary material, Amber's fresh, sassy rendition proved that she's got what it takes to be a modern pop star, in addition to singing classic ballads. Carey applauded her growing "star power," while Urban commented that the song had all the judges dancing in their seats. "Beyonce, you'd better look out," according to Minaj. Grade: A
"Close to You" (The Carpenters): Though by no means a disaster, Lazaro missed a couple notes per usual, as well as an important key change. And it seems as though even the judges are over the Lazaro phenomenon, with Jackson calling this his worst performance yet. "You know that I love you, the person. I think you're an amazing guy. Your story inspires us all," Jackson hedged. "But all I can say is no, no, no. That was horrible. ... I felt like we were sitting back in the auditions in some city and we're about to say, 'OK, no, next.'" And even resident Lazaro defender Carey was unimpressed. "I've been accused of being too nice," Carey told him. (Thanks for reading, Mariah!) "[But] we can't go into another key and you stay in the old key. ... If you're not aware of that, this is like kind of a big deal." Grade: C-
"Angels" (Robbie Williams): Unfortunately, Lazaro's second performance wasn't much better than his first (though Jackson and Carey begged to differ). At least he remembered the words this time? "The hard part I'm finding tonight is that, the way the girls are singing, it's so crazy good," Urban told him gently. "And I think we're getting to that point now, we're finding the difference between the ones who seem like they're in some sort of talent quest and the ones who are really artists and they're in this to make a career." Agreed Minaj: "Yeah, what he said." Grade: C-
"What the World Needs Now" (Jackie DeShannon): Kree gave the most uplifting performance of these treacly ballads, actually putting some emotion into her voice and seeming as though she had more of a connection with the lyrics than some of her competitors. Carey praised her natural relate-ability, while Minaj focused on her future opportunities. "If you're not performing at the Country Music Awards next year and the year after that, then my name ain't Onika Tanya Miinaj, honey child," she said. Grade: A-
"Help Me Make It Through the Night" (Kris Kristofferson): This was the perfect song choice for Kree, allowing her to showcase the vulnerable side of her vocals and showcase more of that aforementioned natural grace. Minaj said the performance put her at "the head of the class," and the other judges agreed. "That was a buckle polisher right there," said Urban, who praised Kree for her "real country" technique and predicted that her talents would one day land her in the Grand Ole Opry. Grade: A
"I'll Never Fall in Love Again" (Bobbie Gentry): Janelle put a country spin on this number, but it still felt a little ho-hum, even with her breezy vocals and 10,000-watt smile as she wandered around the stage and in front of the audience. Minaj called the performance "boring," while Jackson told her: "I don't think it was your best. It was definitely a little lackluster." Grade: B-
"The Dance" (Garth Brooks): With host Ryan Seacrest reminding everyone that Janelle was fighting her way out of the bottom two, this song unfortunately did little to help her cause. Janelle looked stiff during the performance (though Carey liked the simplicity of her "just sitting there")and it wasn't a great choice in terms of showing off the full range of her vocal abilities. "If I'm being completely honest, I still don't think that was enough to get a leg up over the other girls tonight," Minaj told her. Grade: B
"Don't Make Me Over" (Dionne Warwick): Candice is the one singer in the competition who consistently seems like a professional on stage, appearing more comfortable singing behind a microphone than she does speaking in front of a camera. The standing ovation she got at the end of the song was well-deserved. Minaj and Carey praised her ability to make the "old-fashioned" song sound modern, while Jackson said it was the best vocal of the night so far. Grade: A+
"Lovesong" (The Cure): Candice brings her A game! Inspired by Adele's take on the Cure classic, Candice's inventive, jazzy rendition was, in a word, perfect. There's really nothing more to be said — as evidenced by Urban doing the "We're not worthy" bow-down after the song, and Carey marching up on stage to throw glitter on Candice, who started crying. The best performance of this season so far. "One of the greatest performances in the history, 12 years of American Idol," according to Randy Jackson. Grade: A++
What did you think? Where does Candice's "Lovesong" rank among all-time Idol performances? And who will be going home tomorrow? Weigh in below!
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.
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