American Idol began much the way it always does, with Ryan Seacrest announcing the four judges. To see Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, both so trussed up in tight dresses and heels, that they could barely walk and needed to be supported by Randy Jackson and Keith Urban as they precariously stumbled across the stage was also nothing unusual. With such a platform, it would be refreshing to see Nicki and Mariah resist the pressure to eschew basic human abilities, like walking, in favor of caricaturing themselves as hyper-feminine barbie dolls. Its enough to make you pine for Ellen Degeneres to return.
Things then took a surprising twist when Ryan announced that he'd be starting the show with results. Sure, viewers don't need to listen to the American Idol contestants sing before knowing they are going to send another boy home, but aren't we even going to go through the motions? Of course we are. The results being announced were not elimination results but the hotly contested race for the AT&T Idol Tour Fan Save. Turns out that unlike Dumbo's magic feather, Charlie Askew's turtle token wasn't enough to get him to the Idol tour; instead Aubrey Cleland gets the distinct pleasure of going on tour and having everyone ask, "Who's she?"
One person that people will definitely be buying tickets to see on tour is Kree Harrison. Kree chose to sing "A Little Help From My Friends" Wednesday night, adding that her father, who she lost at the age of 12, was a big fan of The Beatles. As usual, Kree gave a solid performance but it didn't make quite the emotional impression that viewers have come to expect. Although, the judges loved it. Mariah called it, "'Kreely' amazing." No, really. She did. B+
Burnell Taylor performed one of The Beatle's most beloved songs, "Let It Be." Burnell started with a deficit since somehow he was unfamiliar with the song but by the time he finished, the idea that he hadn't been performing that song every day of his life seemed inconceivable. With just the right amount of finesse, he managed to make the song sound distinctly Burnell without stripping it of the melody that people love. It was one of the best performances of the season and while the judges gave him praise, the fact that they weren't on their feet was an injustice. A
Next up was Amber Holcomb who performed, "She's Leaving Home." Coach Jimmy Iovine stated up front that Amber would not be leaving the show because she kills the song. Presumably Jimmy meant that as a good thing but it was hard to be sure since, Amber's performance certainly didn't have the impact that Burnell's did. Randy said that it started off slow but ended well and Nicki told Amber that it was obvious that she wasn't enjoying herself on stage. Seems like Jimmy may have spoken a bit too soon. C
Lazaro Arbos selected, "In My Life," which Jimmy felt was a risk for him. Turns out Jimmy got it right this time. Lazaro struggled with the tempo throughout the song and his vocals were no where near good enough to make up for it. Mariah suggested that Lazaro could have chosen a higher key and Keith agreed. Randy brought Lazaro to tears when he said that it was his worst performance and Ryan brought the rest of us to tears when he wiped the tracks from Lazaro's cheeks while comforting him. Juliana Hough is probably moving back in as we speak. D
Candice Glover performed "Come Together," and her vocals were as exceptional as ever. Keith was delighted by Candice's "rock chic side," but Nicki complained that she couldn't always see the attitude on Candice's face. B+
Jimmy helped Paul Jolley navigate the line between screeching and singing for his performance of "Eleanor Rigby," but it didn't do Paul much good with the judges. Nicki called Paul's song "very very safe, very bland and forgettable," and Mariah instructed Paul to emote as much when he's singing the softer notes as the big notes. Although the critiques seemed harsh, Paul should be concerned especially since American will probably take pity on Lazaro, which could very well mean Paul would be the next to go. C
It was very exciting when American Idol finally got to Angie Miller's performance. Not only was her hometown video package filmed in part at Jaho Cafe in Salem, Mass., (a coffee shop where this writer spends a third of her annual gross income) but Angie was also rocking a new and improved hairdo! Jimmy suggested that Angela take a more laid back approach to, "Yesterday" and to avoid over singing. Though her performance certainly maintained a theatrical element, it worked for her. Let's face it, when you have a voice like that, the threshold for over singing is significantly higher than, say, Curtis Finch Jr.'s. A-
Devin Velez chose to sing, "The Long and Winding Road," and the old-fashioned feel of the song made it feel like a long road, indeed. Although his vocals were impeccable it certainly didn't inspire people to use up their 50 votes for him. Keith hit the nail on the head when he said that Devin runs the risk of being too laid back and not emotionally connected to the song. Randy, Nicki and Mariah all disagreed with him, which is a shame since he was right. B
Janelle Arthur wanted to do Oliver Springs, Tenn., proud with her performance of, "I Will." Jimmy worked with Janelle on her breathing but there were still a few instances in her performance that sounded like she was struggling for air. But Keith was so enamored with the cowboy boots she wore under her gown that he was smitten, as were the rest of the judges. B
While Randy may have called Janelle's one of the best performances of the night, this writer would argue that it was actually Burnell Taylor who stole the show on Wednesday night. With that being said, let's formulate the predictions:
The Top Three: Angie Miller, Kree Harrison, and Burnell Taylor.
The Bottom Two: Paul Jolley and Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro's tears should be enough to keep him around another week, so in all probability it will be Paul Jolley leaving us on Thursday.
Who do you think was the best performance of the night - sound off in the comments below!