Was Amber Holcomb really that good?
I couldn't stop thinking about the question after the April 24 episode of "American Idol," when the four remaining contestants each performed two songs. One theme was "free choice" and the other theme was "one-hit wonders."
The judges gave Amber two standing ovations on the show, but I'm still not entirely sold on her marketability. However, the judges appeared convinced she could be a current recording artist. As usual, I think their praise was a bit excessive.
Kree Harrison didn't fare as well. In fact, after critiquing her second performance, judge Nicki Minaj predicted Kree would be in trouble this week. Candice Glover occupied the middle of the pack, while Angie Miller delivered two solid performances.
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Despite the panel's praise for Amber, judge Randy Jackson said Angie won the night. I agree.
But maybe these critiques won't matter on Thursday's results show. Host Ryan Seacrest ended Wednesday's show by telling viewers he'll unveil an "Idol" twist on results night.
Think we're due for a non-elimination week? Share your predictions in the comments section.
Here's a full recap of Wednesday's show.
Amber Holcomb kicks off the free choice round by performing "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion. She starts the song a cappella, then enters full-on belting mode. She's rocking a serious '70s vibe with curly hair and a jumpsuit. I'm not sure if it matches the feel of the performance. Amber hits some nice big notes and I enjoy the early moments of this song. However, I still sense a slight disconnect between Amber and her audience. Three of the four judges give her a standing ovation -- everyone except Mariah. In a post-performance interview, mentor Jimmy Iovine says he heard a slight strain in Amber's voice, but her performance will still be hard to beat.
Keith: "That was (an) amazingly perfect song choice for you."
Nicki: "I have to just have a moment of silence for how beautiful you look...That song was made for you."
Randy: "You came in as a baby. You are now a pro."
Mariah: "I love that you did a Celine Dion song."
Candice Glover covers "Find Your Love" by Drake. Immediately, I'm intrigued. Candice definitely changes up the arrangement. While accompanied by a piano, she delivers a slowed-down rendition that deviates from Drake's melody. It sounds like something you'd hear at a jazz club. I'm divided. For some reason, I like this much better than Candice's performances last week. However, despite all the creativity surrounding her song choice, I still end up somewhat bored toward the end of the performance. Something's missing, and that makes me sad. Jimmy says Amber out-sang Candice.
Nicki: "A big part of me...wished that you would've stuck to the melody...I don't want you to get lost in that old-fashioned bracket."
Randy: "It can't always sound like you're in church."
Mariah: "You can sing anything...please don't veer from taking those musical chances."
Keith: "I love what you did with the song."
Kree Harrison sings "It Hurt So Bad" by Susan Tedeschi. I appreciate the energy that Kree (sort of) brings to the stage with this performance. She still appears a little stiff, and this performance isn't exactly the Kree moment I've craved in recent weeks. It's not a train wreck. I'd classify it as "fine." I enjoy certain moments, but when she wraps up the song I really can't remember much about her performance. The bottom line? Kree probably played it a little too safe this round, but I think the judges are too harsh. Jimmy says, "Kree is going to hurt herself with her song choices."
Randy: "I could tell you were right there in your element...I don't know if it's the best vocal I've heard from you."
Mariah: "I did feel you on certain sections."
Keith: "You've gotta make my heart break and I know you can do it."
Nicki: "That performance is not going to give you what you need for next week."
Angie Miller sings "Who You Are" by Jessie J. She's performed Jessie J songs at multiple stages of this competition. She sits at the piano for this performance. On one hand, I'm happy because this is definitely where Angie fits in the musical spectrum. But it's not a perfect effort. I still think she over-sings to a certain extent. However, I give her serious props for knowing her strengths. Three of the four judges give her a standing ovation -- everybody except Mariah, who apparently is having wardrobe issues again. Jimmy says Angie is right up there with Amber.
Mariah: "That was a professional moment."
Keith: "It's OK not to be OK -- keep that in mind, Angie."
Nicki: "It was exceptional."
Randy: "It was sheer perfection...This to me, so far, is my best performance of the night."
Before the second round starts, let's pause for some duets.
Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb sing Adele's "Rumour Has It." This performance doesn't do any huge favors for either of them, though I enjoy Amber MUCH more than Kree.
Keith: "That was really good...Cut loose."
Nicki: Suggests Amber out-sang Kree -- "You have to add personality now on top of the voice."
Angie Miller and Candice Glover sing "Stay" by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko. I enjoy this duet significantly more than the first one. It's actually pretty awesome. Both of them are great, but Angie exceeds my expectations. This is my favorite part of the show so far.Three of the four judges stand up -- once again, everyone except Mariah.
Randy: "Unbelievable...That's how you do it right there."
Mariah: Loved it
Time for the second round. The theme is one-hit wonders, a viewer-selected theme.
Amber Holcomb sings "MacArthur Park." I have a slight issue with this song choice. Sure, it was originally performed by Richard Harris. But Amber sings the Donna Summer disco version, which I'd hardly classify as a one-hit wonder. But in the end, the definition doesn't really matter. This song isn't going to produce a life-changing moment for any "Idol" hopeful. The melody is just too convoluted. Sure, Amber hits some big notes. I still sense a serious personality void, though. Three of the four judges stand up -- everyone except Nicki, I think. Jimmy disagrees. "That song is corny," he says. THANK YOU, JIMMY!!!!!
Keith: "You're dominating tonight, baby."
Nicki: "It's like you're blooming for the world to see." Says that out of the four girls, Amber is the one she'd like to get to know.
Randy: "You look amazing, you're current...you've got mad, crazy vocals, too...I would sign her right now."
Mariah: "It's called star quality."
Candice Glover covers "Emotion." Again, I must dispute the definition of "one-hit wonder" here. Samantha Sang originally recorded the song, but it's been covered by acts like the Bee Gees and Destiny's Child. Apparently, the debate over defining "one-hit wonder" can get intense. I was watching Twitter during the show. Check out Lyndsey Parker's feed. Anyway, Candice hits some nice big notes toward the middle of the song, but this isn't exactly her most memorable performance. Overall, it's another fairly safe choice. I doubt it'll make or break her chances in this competition. Jimmy says Candice was better than Amber during this round.
Nicki: "You're a superhero and I'm proud of you." Then, she disputes Jimmy's criticism of Amber's performance.
Randy: "I thought it was another great performance by you."
Mariah: "The way you've been singing from day one is just beyond comprehension."
Keith: "Are there any one-hit wonder songs from at least the last decade?"
With that, Jimmy shows up on stage and the judges have an awkward exchange.
Kree Harrison says she's trying to redeem herself with this performance of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum, Kree seems a little more comfortable this round. The energy doesn't seem as forced as it did during her first effort. It's a nice, controlled performance and at points, I feel like Kree has a genuine connection with the audience. That said, this isn't really anything that we haven't already seen Kree deliver. Much like Candice's second-round performance, I don't think this is a game-changer.
Randy: "You redeemed yourself right there for me...You sang your face off."
Mariah: "Feel good about what you just did, honey."
Keith: "Next week, think about the song that's really going to let you come out or bring us in."
Nicki: "I loved that performance," but adds she doesn't think the performance will keep Kree out of the bottom two
Angie Miller closes the show with "Cry Me a River." No, not the Justin Timberlake song. You wish, right? Anyway, Angie is performing a Julie London song. I actually really enjoy this performance. It's controlled, emotional and I appreciate the bigger notes that Angie hits this week.While there's a certain dramatic element to the song, it doesn't have an over-the-top theatrical vibe. I think Angie's first song seemed more current, but this performance is nice.
Mariah: "That was an elegant number."
Keith: "Mystical and celestially powerful."
Nicki: "Tonight was your night."
Randy: "The best of the night. Angie wins the night, hands down."