After last week’s possibly series-killing non-elimination, it’s time for the second half of the Final Four. I won’t go into how much of a mistake 19 and FOX made in how they handled this, as I think that particular dead horse is beyond beating. I’ll just say that looking at the second half of the show, it appears that the producers want to beat on Idol’s corpse a bit as well. Why? One word. “Standards”.
With Harry Connick Jr. in the house to “mentor” the girls on singing songs that may be older than their great-grandparents…
THIS! … is American Idol!
We start with post-show footage from last week’s not terribly surprising developments. Because THAT WAS THEN and THIS IS NOW (and there’s your official dual theme). Cue the opening titles.
Seacrest reminds us that they’re singing for the Hometown Visits tonight, before sending the singers offstage – and introducing Connick Jr.
Fortunately, the first half of the show is more current – THIS IS NOW, or without flying caps, the Hits of 2013. But first… yes, before even one song, we head to…
BREAK!!! (For some reason, I’m watching this live instead of off DVR. It’s going to be a long night.)
Round One: Now
For the first round, the B-Roll is scenes of Connick mentoring the singers on their 2013 songs…
Big surprise, she’s on piano. Bigger surprise, she has no idea of any songs Connick ever sang. Can’t wait for Round Two. As to Round One… there’s not a lot of passion behind her performance of “Diamonds”, at least not at the start. As she got into it, there was a little more emotion there, but something was still missing. As always, she’s technically precise, but this is very much NOT the moment to fail to connect with a performance. She might need a boost from last week’s Top Two ranking to stay around for next week… but that depends a lot on what Amber does after a…
We get a quick visit to the Product Placement Red Zone with Amber before we go back to the mentoring sessions…
“Just Give Me A Reason” (Pink & Nate Ruess)
She’s doing the current #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. No pressure. Especially since she’s shown bungling the lyrics in the B-Roll… the problem with Amber doing a Pink song is that Amber doesn’t seem capable of the raw power Pink brings to a song. So we get the words, and the melody, but not the actual song. Add some pitch problems, and Amber may have just saved Angie from elimination. I can’t imagine why she would pick a song that showcases her weaknesses – other than, as usual, I expect we’ll find they had about a 9-song list to choose from tonight…
BREAK!!! So, should I start blogging The Voice? They’re doing their Top 16 recap show tonight – which is something I’ve begged Idol to do for years the week before the live shows start. At least there’s only two more weeks of this increasingly joyless grind.
Just to finish the thought, rumor is that the song list for the One Hit Wonders round last week was just 15 songs long. The girls didn’t have a prayer.
“When I Was Your Man” (Bruno Mars)
From this week’s #1, we move to the #4 song (a former #1). For Candice to say “I’m not a pop singer” in the B-roll is either an admission of how far the show has strayed from its pop roots or a big mistake on her part… while the swaybots in the Television City audience sway along with the song, Candice continues the trend of underwhelming performances tonight… I’m not sure how a woman could connect with a song called “When I Was Your Man”, and I can’t say that she really did. She tried, but it wasn’t fully there (at least for me). Like Angie, technically good, and it was “good”, but still not “great”. Of course, I do have a high bar for “great” at this level…
BREAK!!! I wasn’t going to say this, but for crying out loud… someone turn down the volume on Randy Jackson’s blazer, it’s blinding me…
And speaking of gaudy red colors, it’s time for another Product Placement Red Zone visit for Kree…
“See You Again” (Carrie Underwood)
Now THIS is a risk. The single debuted in a live performance just a few weeks ago on the Idol results show. Comparisons will abound (Connick made one in the pre-tape, so I won’t). It’s definitely stripped-down from the debut… and while Kree gave a solid performance, I’m kind of burned out on ballads, really. I want one of the girls to take a chance at some point, and they are all absolutely refusing to. That said, I enjoyed this best of the four performances in this round – but that’s like saying I enjoyed flogging over waterboarding.
Oh, look, our guest mentor turned up to congratulate Kree for her performance. How totally random. And just think, Seacrest invited Connick to stay for the second round.
And we have the Standards round ahead? Yes, we do. Right after the…
Round Two: Then
“Someone To Watch Over Me” (1926)
Right. Angie, a somewhat-sheltered teenager, is going to sing a 90-year-old song. I have no idea what Idol is about anymore, and neither do the producers… OK, so it developed in the B-Roll that Angie’s mother sang this song to Angie when she was younger. I’ll give her this, she seems to be more into this song than her first one, and does another solid job – so on that level, it worked. I guess it’s a good audition for soundtrack work sometime down the road… it’s a nice performance. I think she’s safe to plan her hometown visit.
BREAK!!! Quoth Keith Urban in the last segment: “Does ‘Then’ have to be SO ‘Then’?” I’m guessing he’s giving up on being back next season?
Wow. The new jcpenney ads (which aired during this break), basically begging for customers to come back, are the saddest kind of pathetic.
“My Funny Valentine” (1937)
Amber did this one back in Hollywood Week. And since she needs something big to save herself, I can understand going back to it… although Connick just buried her in the B-roll, showing that she had no idea what the song was about at all. After her performance, it’s clear she still doesn’t know. She was singing like she was reading off a cue card. I can’t see her coming back next week – even if the judges threw her a lifeline with a standing ovation.
Nicki all but wrote her off in her critique – “no matter what happens tomorrow night, you’re a star”. Gee, Nicki, why would you think that????
And Connick gets more face time out of the break. Interesting.
“You’ve Changed” (1941)
She’s chosen a song that is about as stripped-down as anything… just her and a pianist, basically, with a bit of light accompaniment. Thing is, we know she has a powerful voice, so at this point, the challenge was to show something else, I think. Something different. Don’t get me wrong, she did a solid job with the song, and the theme probably didn’t give her a lot of choices, but I can’t imagine she reached any new voters with it, either.
“Stormy Weather” (1933)
I always thought this song was about the pain of separation. If so, Kree didn’t communicate it at all. That was something Connick hinted at in the B-roll, where he said that he thought she’d be able to do a good version for Idol – but not really understand the song – in the few days she had to learn it. And she even indulged in Idol Theatrics that Connick advised her to avoid. As always, she sang it well. But I don’t think she got it. Despite that, she’s a lock for next week.
BREAK!!! Credit to Connick for taking the air out of Randy Jackson’s alleged critique. If his schedule allowed, and if there is a season 13 (which is NOT a guarantee), I’d like to see Connick as a judge.
And in an interesting choice, to fill the two hours, the girls will do a group number. Personally, I think this is an audition of sorts – as the producers may be trying to salvage this season by testing the waters for the four finalists to record as a group… due to time constraints caused by judges with no “off” switch, they dive right in with no intro…
“Wings” (Little Mix)
With the pressure off for a few minutes, the girls had some fun with this just-released-in-the-USA single done last year by the first group to win X-Factor UK. Hmm… an X-Factor song on Idol? What next? All kidding aside, it was a cute way to kill the last few minutes of the show, even if they had to scramble to avoid a massive overrun…
Really, I can’t express how… pedestrian… this has become. The producers were really excited about having a girl win this season, to the point where they deliberately sabotaged any chances for a male singer. What have they gotten for it? Four singers who are going to struggle in today’s music industry, in part because the producers have done such a horrible job teaching them how to use their talents. They are still, at best, the same raw talents they were several months ago. It may take years for them to undo the damage this experience has done to them…
That said, Amber almost has to be the one going home tomorrow night, with Angie following next week before the battle of the big voices between Candice and Kree in two weeks.
Tomorrow, we get songs from will.i.am, David Cook, and Harry Connick Jr., along with an actual result! See you then.