American Idol Top 4 recap, again: Harry Connick Jr. mentors, viewers ponder meaning of 'I Am The Stig'

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comMay 1, 2013 

If Keith Urban's T-shirt was the only thing that confused you during the May 1 episode of "American Idol," this show is making progress.

On Wednesday's show, the four remaining "Idol" singers each performed two songs -- one tune from 2013 and one musical standard. Harry Connick Jr., one of my favorite "Idol" guest stars, mentored the contestants this week.

Who won the night? I'd say Candice Glover, who regained her momentum with two very solid performances. Who's in trouble? Amber Holcomb, who has struggled to connect with viewers, might finally go home.

Prediction time: Who SHOULD be eliminated this week? Who WILL be eliminated this week?

Remember, since nobody went home last Thursday, this week's votes will combine with last week's votes. Last week, Candice Glover and Amber Holcomb were the bottom two vote-getters, while Kree Harrison and Angie Miller were the top two vote-getters.

Also on Wednesday's show, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey had a few minor fights. For what it's worth, Keith Urban's T-shirt read "I AM THE STIG." That's apparently a reference to "Top Gear," a British TV show.

Here's a full recap of the episode.


Round No. 1: Songs from 2013

Angie Miller kicks off the show with "Diamonds" by Rihanna. Harry jokes with Angie and says everyone in his household loves her, but he doesn't. "There's something about you that doesn't click with me," he says. I assume he's kidding. Angie sits at the piano and delivers a slowed-down version of the somewhat upbeat Rihanna tune. Angie successfully delivers a contemporary vibe, and I appreciate how she's gone for some bigger notes in recent weeks. My biggest criticism? I get bored midway through the song and I never recover.

Keith: "I didn't feel like that's the song to do that to."

Nicki: "It was bland, it was lackluster. You can do a lot better."

Randy: "It's a great song...I didn't love it."

Mariah: "You tried to take it to another were playing to the camera more than the usual Angie." At this point, Nicki interrupts and unsuccessfully tries to get Mariah to acknowledge she agrees with Nicki's critique.

Amber Holcomb performs "Just Give Me a Reason" by Pink featuring Nate Ruess. She forgets the lyrics while practicing with Harry, but he doesn't seem to mind. "Amber's a very sweet young lady and charismatic," he says. Immediately, I have concerns since sometimes it's hard for individual singers to tackle duets. But that's not really the problem. The end of this performance is better than the beginning. Her lower register doesn't seem like the best fit for the opening verses, and she seems to over-sing much of the tune.

Nicki: "I felt like sometimes you were in, sometimes you were out."

Randy: "It has to be fun...Something's a little different tonight...That was not stellar."

Mariah: "We need to see that confident Amber that we've been seeing."

Keith: Mumbles a lot, but concludes that Amber is still "fantastic"

Side note: Did you see Ryan Seacrest walk past former "Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart in the audience and not even acknowledge her presence? Kind of weird, right?

Candice Glover sings "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars. No, she doesn't change "man" to "woman" during the performance. During practice, Harry clarifies that Candice is NOT a man. "If you were, you'd be a really attractive man," he says. Even though I have some issues with Candice's song choice, I enjoy this performance overall. It's not my favorite performance ever from Candice, but it's easily the best effort of the night so far. Plus, she seems to have regained some of the power/energy she lost in recent weeks.

Randy: "If you can sing, you can sing anything...That's how you sing a song...Congratulations, that was amazing."

Mariah: Loved it

Keith: "That's a winning performance right there, baby."

Nicki: Asks the judges to give Candice a standing ovation. They agree. "Today you gave me every single thing that I was talking about last week." Says Candice looks great and suggests she lost weight. Awkward.

Kree Harrison sings "See You Again" by Carrie Underwood. Harry seems like a HUGE Kree fan. "I would help Kree if she did a record...That's how good I think she really is," he says. Despite Kree's promises that she'll connect with the audience more this week, this song choice isn't a huge departure from what she's delivered in previous weeks. However, I feel a slightly different energy from Kree tonight. That's a good thing. She seems comfortable on stage and her voice doesn't seem strained like what we've heard in the past.

Mariah: "I felt like you were very connected...I was really happy."

Keith: Didn't love the presentation of the song, but also (kind of) acknowledged Kree's strengths

Nicki: "You sang with your eyes."

Randy: "You've got an amazing voice and that was a great vocal." With that, Harry shows up on stage.

Round No. 2: Standards, also known as classic songs

Angie Miller sings "Someone to Watch Over Me." We see more footage of Angie and Harry joking around during practice. He seems to advise her to scale back on over-singing, which makes me like Harry even more. Still, I'm not a huge fan of the performance. I like the subtle, controlled beginning better than the end. That's when things get a little manic and Angie seems to enter theatrical mode. It's not a complete train wreck, but it probably won't gain Angie any new fans.

Keith: "You sang it so beautifully...The song choice for me didn't matter."

Nicki: "It definitely was better than the first performance." She compares Angie to a Disney princess.

Randy: "I did not love the arrangement in the middle...this girl can sing and that was an amazing vocal."

Mariah: "Just sing from your heart the entire time." Then, she criticizes Nicki's Disney princess line, which leads to some slight drama on the judges' panel.

Amber Holcomb sings "My Funny Valentine," which she sang at an earlier stage of the competition. I love how Harry (gently) calls her out during practice for not understanding the meaning of the lyrics. "To be perfectly truthful, she had no idea what that song was about," he says. I loved when Amber initially performed this on "Idol," and the repeat performance is no different. It's a solid, emotional effort packed with lots of really nice big notes. It's ALMOST enough to help me forgive the repeat song choice.

Nicki: "That was so beautiful, Amber...You're a superstar, you have fans everywhere."

Randy: "That last half of that song was absolutely unbelievable."

Mariah: "Tonight that spirit is there, bigger and better than ever before."

Keith: Says she hit her zone midway through the performance

Candice Glover sings "You've Changed." Harry tells her to really connect with the song, and she achieves that goal. This is a really, really solid performance. It has a smooth, jazzy vibe and lots of nice power notes. This the most I've liked Candice in quite some time. It's easily the best performance of the night so far. Tons of attitude and compelling vocals. Pretty excellent overall. The judges give her a standing ovation.

Randy: "It's about feeling what you sing...That was stellar."

Mariah: "Your voice is spectacular...and the subtleties were just magnificent."

Keith: Says it was a great performance

Nicki: "I'm not going to add anything else."

Kree Harrison sings "Stormy Weather." Harry admits it's a pretty tough song, and emphasizes she must be really familiar with the melody. The result? Well, I'm divided. I really like the tone of Kree's voice during this performance. I can't succinctly explain it, but she seems to go places vocally that we haven't heard in the past. That said, the song sort of loses steam as it progresses. I end up a little bored. Basically, I like parts of the performance but not the whole thing.

Mariah: Wanted her to do a gritty blues tune, but adds, "I thought it was clear as a bell and beautiful."

Keith: "I would've chosen a different song...Your instincts are beautiful and they set you apart from everybody else."

Nicki: "I wish you guys would've paid more attention to the song choice."

Randy: "Always stick to who you are...but I think you still did a good job." With that, Harry approaches the judges' panel and has a slight fight with Randy.

The show ends with a group performance of "Wings" by Little Mix. I really love this song.

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