I have two major questions about Wednesday's episode of "American Idol."
Why are so many of these singers unfamiliar with Beatles tunes?
What made Fox censors bleep "Idol" judge Nicki Minaj?
The top nine singers performed the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney on a predictably ballad-heavy episode Wednesday night. Unsurprisingly, the women out-sang the men.
Candice Glover's rendition of "Come Together" was easily the highlight of the night. The weak spot? Lazaro Arbos' shaky rendition of "In My Life." After his performance, Lazaro got emotional and said he had to change his song at the last minute. I think it'll guarantee enough sympathy votes to keep him around.
My pick for elimination: Paul Jolley. Nicki Minaj best summarized his performance -- "very bland and forgettable."
Speaking of Nicki, I believe Fox censors bleeped her at least twice. I'm sure some of her critics wish it would've lasted longer. She acknowledged the bleeping during a comment involving the word "pianist."
Here's a full recap of Wednesday's show.
The episode kicks off with the results of last week's sing-off. Aubrey Cleland won a spot on the "Idol" tour. She beat Charlie Askew in the contest.
Kree Harrison talks about losing both her parents. "Now I have guardian angels, so that's a blessing," she says in a pre-performance interview. She sings "With a Little Help from My Friends." It's a pretty good song choice and Kree puts a nice country spin on the tune. The performance gets gospel treatment, as lots of backup singers join Kree on stage. Overall, it's a solid effort. My only criticism? I kind of wish this performance wasn't so chorus-heavy. Can't tell if that's due to the arrangement or simply the song itself.
Keith: "You're just all the cool things about country."
Nicki: "The choices that you make musically are always the perfect choice for your voice...You are the whole entire package."
Randy: "I think it was the bomb, too...We love you."
Mariah: "It was fan-freakin'-tastic."
Burnell Taylor tells us he paid his sister to record his performances when he was younger. He performs "Let It Be," a song he apparently didn't know until this week. Huh?!? Before I get to the performance, I must address Burnell's bizarre jacket. It looks like he's wearing somebody's hardwood floor, with buckles. Back to the performance: This song also gets gospel treatment. I suppose the performance is fine, though it doesn't exude much uniqueness. I wish I could be more enthusiastic. It just seems like something's missing.
Nicki: "You didn't even sing the song. You caressed it."
Randy: "You made it your own."
Mariah: "You're always consistent."
Amber Holcomb has a mom, a stepmom, a dad and a bunch of siblings. She performs "She's Leaving Home." It's an interesting song choice and I wonder if choosing a lesser-known Lennon–McCartney song (comparatively, at least) could affect the response she receives. The performance seems a little shaky during the opening verses, but eventually Amber enters her vocal zone. She hits some really nice big notes and manages to add some contemporary appeal to the tune. In the end, I'm divided. I like Amber's voice, but I'm less excited about the song choice.
Randy: "It started a little kind of slow and unsure for me...at least you found your rhythm in the middle."
Mariah: "I think you did a beautiful job."
Keith: "You came out and made it sound as fresh as it was just written this week."
Nicki: "Your vocal is unmatched."
Lazaro Arbos performs "In My Life." OK, folks...I'm rapidly approaching my ballad limit for the night. To make matters worse, this is a pretty rough one for Lazaro. He's visibly nervous and seems to lack any emotional connection to the song. He rushes through the performance, and the chorus in particular gets lost. He should have opted for a more intimate performance style. Nothing makes this performance special. In a post-performance interview with Seacrest, Lazaro says he picked the song at the last minute.
Mariah: "Maybe it was a little bit low for you...When I look at you, it's about your courage and your perseverance."
Keith: "Choosing the key of the song is really important."
Nicki: "I still feel like you are not back to the Lazaro that I remember...your confidence is different now."
Randy: "I think that was your worst performance ever."
Candice Glover sings "Come Together." Yes! Something that's not a ballad! I am officially awake. Predictably, Candice delivers a nice performance filled with lots of big notes and tons of energy. Thank you, Candice, for saving the night and my personal sanity. This is a confident, entertaining rendition of the song. Her vocals are spot-on and she does a great job of rocking out without over-singing. Awesome overall. This is easily my favorite performance of the night so far.
Keith: "I thought that was absolutely killer."
Nicki: "I love your vocal...just stay in it with your face."
Randy: "The voice is crazy."
Mariah: Loved it
Paul Jolley tells us he grew up in a trailer. He sings an especially dramatic rendition of "Eleanor Rigby." There is an orchestra and fog on stage. Slightly bizarre. Why does this performance somehow remind me of "The Phantom of the Opera"? I suppose Paul isn't an awful singer -- he just always over-sings so much. In this performance, he seems like he's pretending to be a singer, rather than actually being one. There's a certain genuine quality that's missing. Overall, there's too much flair and not enough substance.
Nicki: "I did not like your performance...very bland and forgettable."
Randy: "I thought you were disconnected from the song."
Mariah: "I think it's a great song choice...I just never understood the country thing with you."
Keith: "I don't hear the country thing, either."
Angie Miller won the award of "Next American Idol" in her high school yearbook. She sings "Yesterday" -- and we're officially back in ballad territory. On the plus side, this performance has the intimate vibe that Lazaro's song needed. It's filled with genuine emotion and Angie hits a really awesome big note. She definitely can sing. My only criticism? It almost seems more like a theater performance than an "Idol" performance. It's a solid effort, but it gets a little too Broadway at points.
Randy: "Very good."
Mariah: "I think you did a very respectful version of the song...You showed your voice and you showed simplicity."
Keith: Loved it
Nicki: "Unbelievably amazing."
Devin Velez attends military high school and he loves it. Devin sings "The Long and Winding Road." This song choice does not surprise me at all. I'll answer two of your burning questions right away. No, he does not sing in Spanish this week. Yes, this performance is better than what he delivered last week. It's not complete redemption, though. Devin still seems a little boring. I want his performances to be fun and youthful -- they're just way too sleepy. Devin tries to put an R&B spin on the tune, but I don't see much of a difference.
Mariah: "You never really cease to amaze me...it would be a travesty if you did not go through."
Keith: "I need your heart to be in there to engage me as well."
Nicki: "I like that you are committed emotionally all the time."
Randy: "I think Devin is back tonight."
Janelle Arthur sings "I Will." She begins the song sitting down and delivers a very intimate performance. She stands up as the song progresses. Of course, she puts a country spin on the tune. I've never been the biggest Janelle fan. It always seems like she's trying way too hard to be another Kellie Pickler. Her smiles just seem a little too forced. That said, I actually kind of enjoy this performance. At least it doesn't sound like she's over-singing. On the flip side, it gets a little boring.
Keith: "You know who you are...I thought that was really, really beautiful."
Nicki: "You are great...you pulled us in with such a subtle performance."
Randy: "I think Janelle's back tonight...I think that's one of the best performances of the night."
Mariah: Calls it a "beautiful, elegant performance."