American Idol 12: Seven and the Ragged Tiger (Finals Round 4: Top 7 Perform)

I haven’t done any research, but I am 100% certain that there has been at least one guy in every Top 5 through the first 11 seasons of Idol.

There is every reason to believe there won’t be a guy in the Top 5 this season.  The two remaining male singers are as weak as any Finals performers in the show’s history – it’s not even close.

What may tip the scales is that the two guys aren’t white guys with guitars.  They’re non-white guys with backstories, and the people who’d vote for the stories are starting to flee the show – the ratings are a disaster, and some say the lack of a strong male singer is part of the reason.  Be that as it may, the show must go on, live from Television City…

THIS!is American Idol!

The theme was supposed to be “Classic Rock with No Ballads” (sounds like a radio station slogan, actually)… but if the spoilers are right, they’re fudging on the ballads… after a rather perfunctory open, here we go…

…with Orianthi on guitar tonight.  You remember her, helping Allison Iraheta’s post-Idol debut album… well, now she’s Idol family, so she’s back…

The B-roll this week is the annual tradition of the remaining finalists mocking each other.  We’ll pretend it didn’t happen.

Burnell Taylor
”You Give Love A Bad Name” (Bon Jovi)
Well, we start out terrible (and that’s with the mic cut off for the first line).  It’s clear that he’s about as comfortable with rock as I’d be with hardcore rap.  They’ve ramped up the background vocals and music to try to drown him out – it’s not working.  This is frankly awful, and the elimination battle may have ended in the first seven minutes of the show.

Sadly, I’m watching live, so I couldn’t even throw in the towel on this awfulness.  I had to listen.  I’m just glad there were no pencils nearby to stab into my ears.  Hopefully things get better after the break…

…I may have spoken too soon.  Not only with the duet, but now the fans get to nominate a theme via Twitter.   This can only end badly…

DUET: Angie Miller & Lazaro Arbos
”Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen)
Lazaro might singlehandledly kill off the Idol duet/group numbers (while VFTW cheers him on).  He fumbled the lyrics again this week, and dragged Angie down as well.   She needs all the help she can get to stay relevant, and this was just not it.  The less said, the better.   Moving on…

We may be saved… Kree’s doing Joplin.  Sure, this song has been done 5 times before on Idol, but still… why not 6?

Kree Harrison
”Piece Of My Heart” (Janis Joplin)
They turned out the lights on Seacrest before he finished the intro.  Seems appropriate.   Kree doesn’t quite have the grit for the chorus, but then again, who beside Janis ever did?  That said, this was a solid (if maybe a bit too restrained) performance, and there was no doubt she’s going through to next week, so why not just sit back and enjoy?  Interesting that Kree’s grandmother went to school with Janis.  Small world?

We have another duet… but their song comes with an asterisk… it’s not really a rock song, it was just covered by a rocker… AFTER THE BREAK!!!

DUET: Candice Glover & Burnell Taylor
”The Letter” (Box Tops via Joe Cocker)
What a difference in the first 60 seconds… Burnell is tentative.  Candice is forceful.   Give him credit, he did come across better here than in his solo, but it’s probably too late.  I’m not a fan of the audio mix that nearly buried Candice under the background while pumping Burnell up too much.  All in all, though, it wasn’t bad.   Not great, but not bad.  OK, the duet/trio segments might not have been buried by Lazaro.  Yet.

Even the judges couldn’t find good words for Burnell… nice knowing you, kid…

Time for the Product Placement Red Zone with our next singer…

Janelle Arthur
”You May Be Right” (Billy Joel)
A Tennessee girl doing a New York song?  Let’s see how this goes… (two minutes later) Good heavens, she pulled it off.   This was really, really good.  And she worked the stage like nobody has on this season yet… for the first time in a while, it felt like a concert performance instead of a karaoke bar.   I know I’ve been saying this is Kree’s season to lose, but if Janelle keeps doing performances like this, she could steal it.

From high point to potential train wreck – just wait until you see the song they gave Lazaro…

Lazaro Arbos
”We Are The Champions” (Queen)
Yeah, I know, right?   Welcome to the Vegas version of “Champions”, a song that has been abused by sports teams for years, but never quite like this.  And really, the Idol producers give this song to someone who likely has no more than 8 days left on the show?  That’s just wrong, guys…  and it was about as lifeless as you could have expected.  Not as awful as Burnell’s ill-fated show opener, but not good.

Up next, the only song that wasn’t spoiled by VFTW… and yes, Kree and Janelle are together again, are we surprised?

TRIO: Amber Holcomb, Janelle Arthur, & Kree Harrison
”It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” (Billy Joel)
This was just fun.   That’s it.  No critique.  No snark.  Just, for once, a flat-out enjoyable couple of minutes of rock.  Maybe Idol could try doing this more often?

They’re letting Candice loose on the Stones… AFTER THE BREAK!!!

…and AFTER Candice gets to tell about the April Fool’s prank on Lazaro that wound up with Candice breaking her toe (no other details) in the Product Placement Red Zone…

Candice Glover
”(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones)

Give her credit, she wasn’t the least bit intimidated by the song… clearly she was a bit hampered by the fact she can’t move much, but she got everything she could out of the song.  Another solid performance.

Next, we get to see if Amber can finally do a performance I like… and as I said last week, it’s not her, it’s me…

We get a quick interview with Orianthi to plug her new album… before…

Amber Holcomb
”What About Love” (Heart)
What about “no ballads”?  I mean, this song is the definition of a power ballad… but hey, I’m not a big-shot TV producer.  And yes, this time, I liked Amber’s performance.  There were a couple of points where her voice wasn’t big enough for the song, but that’s the producers’ fault for making her do the song.  Overall, she did a very good job with a very tough song.  

We’re taking it home with a complete change of vibe, with a song written after all of the contestants were born…

Angie Miller
”Bring Me To Life” (Evanescense)
They’ve put Angie back on piano tonight… for about two lines before she takes the mic and goes to center stage.  I had concerns about this one, but the arrangement kept Angie from having to go to Amy Lee’s extremes… and allowed her to showcase her singing range.  Probably her best performance of the season, and a good way to take the show home.

The Recap

Nothing fancy here – Burnell is toast.   It’ll be Lazaro and the girls… and he’ll be on danger watch for next week.

The results blog will be out in near-real-time tomorrow, although I may start the DVR playback at 8:30 and zoom through it… and no, I won’t be blogging the post-results clips scheduled to air during New Girl and The Mindy Project tomorrow night, because that would be silly.  And when am I ever silly?

See you tomorrow night…  as we’ll hear from Casey James (live) and Carrie Underwood (probably pre-taped), and we’ll get the official word that Burnell’s not going to be saved…


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