"The level of singers tonight is crazy. It's through the roof," Keith Urban said after Candice Glover's performance during last night's American Idol. It was a mostly accurate assessment of the show that featured ballad after heartfelt ballad.
Four of the 10 women who performed last night were distinct standouts, leaving the rest of the pack far behind. Angie Miller once again accompanied herself on piano with equally stellar results, while Glover gender-flipped a John Legend song into a performance Randy Jackson deemed "ridiculous," in the best way possible. Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb also moved to the head of the class. So who goes and who stays? It's up to America now, as voting begins by phone, text, the web or even on Idol's brand new app to determine who goes to Hollywood as part of the top 10 and who stays in Las Vegas and hopes for better luck at the craps tables than on the reality show circuit.
Here's what happened last night on American Idol:
Zoanette Johnson, who apparently raided Nicki Minaj's wig closet, opted for a more Idol appropriate song: Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It?" Unfortunately, the judges weren't wild about it. Keith didn't like the song choice, Randy thought it was "a mess" and Nicki suggested a career in the performing arts.
The judges gave Breanna Steer completely contradictory feedback about her performance of "Flaws and All." Keith thought it was perfect, while Randy thought it was safe but lacked "big moments." Nicki told her the song choice was completely wrong and she shouldn't get too comfortable and Mariah Carey tried to direct to conversation back to herself.
Aubrey Cleland's version of "Big Girls Don't Cry" was Idol-perfect. "You so obviously have multi-platinum potential," Mariah said. "You could be someone big in the industry. Just keep doing it." The other judges more or less agreed.
Nicki called Janelle Arthur's performance of "If I Can Dream" the "best performance of the night so far." It was a much-needed comeback from last week when Janelle was almost sent home and, arguably, was only saved because of past performances.
Tenna Torres fixed her hair after Nicki, a noted hair expert, called her out on it last week. The judges enjoyed her vibrato-filled version of Faith Hill's "Lost," with Keith giving the performance his country-fried seal of approval.
Former Idol contestant Colton Dixon's legend lives on with the help of Miller, who performed his song "Never Gone." While it's hard to imagine that Angie incidentally selected Dixon's song out of the Idol catalog, her performance was perfect. She returned to her well-received piano playing and belted out the tune, thrilling the judges. Nicki demanded that Nigel Lythgoe put out her album right now just so Nicki can buy it. Keith, for his part, was agog that Dixon wrote the song.
The judges were so dazzled by Holcomb's performance that Randy was forced to resurrect last season's catchphrase, announcing, "Amber is definitely in it to win it!" Mariah chimed in, "I love you tonight, I love you every night," and Nicki scored her a reasonable "10 billion." The accolades almost made up for the fact that Ryan Seacrest no doubt fomented Holcomb family drama during the intro when he accused Amber's mother of accidentally poking him in the eye during the audition round, when, in fact it was her step-mother. Awkward! Also, someone is getting fired for that mix up.
Nicki started her critique of Harrison by stating, "Well, we already know that you're my wife." Then she demanded to know how Kree made herself even sexier this week. Kree shrugged, "I'm just trying to do my wife proud." After the laughter died down, Randy announced that he is sure that Kree can "probably sing anything" and Faith Hill's "Stronger" was just the starting place.
After first-rate performances by Angie, Amber and Kree, Adriana Latonio's "Stand Up for Love" fell so flat that Nicki suggested she should go on back to Alaska, practice and come back next year. Randy thought it was "boring" and pageant-y, although that may have been due in part to the ball gown Adriana inexplicably wore.
In an unexpected turn, Mariah thanked Candice for her performance of "Ordinary People." Randy thinks Glover is one of the best singers in the whole competition and Nicki's only comment was a salute.
Best Editing Moment: As Ryan questioned Zoanette about her new wig, Zoanette chortled, "It's mine, 'cause I bought it!" Then the camera cut to Nicki who looked simultaneously amused and annoyed.
Most Nicki Moment: Nicki told Tenna Torres: "I like your hair like that. I like your boobs too." As Randy guffawed and high-fived himself, Nicki chided him, "Oh shut up, Randy, acting like you're some goodie two shoes." A close runner-up was Nicki telling the audience, "If y'all keep on booing, I'm just going to keep on talking."