“Don’t be boring” was the overarching theme of the night as top four on American Idol performed one-hit wonders, duets and a personal choice song. “You have to add personality on top of the voice or that’s where it’s going to end,” Nicki Minaj yelled at Kree Harrison after she fumbled on her duet with Amber Holcomb on Adele’s “Rumour Has It.”
The judges didn’t hold back last night telling usual frontrunners Candice Glover and Kree that they needed to step up their song choices and throw in some drama if they wanted to make it to the finals. Both women chose songs they could handle with ease, but ended up sounding boring (Candice did a gospel-tinged version of Drake’s “Find Your Love,” while Kree chose Susan Tedeschi’s “It Hurt So Bad”). As Randy Jackson reminded Candice, “It can’t always sound like you’re in church.”
Candice redeemed herself during her duet with Angie Miller on Rihanna and Mikky Ekko’s “Stay,” which Randy deemed “incredible.” Kree, though, never quite rose to the occasion. Unless fans suddenly decide to vote for the underdog, there’s a good chance she will be the next to go home.
For her part, Angie will probably stick around until next week on the strength of her cover of Jessie J’s “Who You Are.” Performing at the piano, Angie connected with the song, the audience and the judges. “No one compares to you when you are behind your piano,” Nicki noted, while Randy added, “You made me forget that was a Jessie J song.” Then Angie’s grandma climbed up on the stage in her white sneakers and cried as Ryan Seacrest urged America to vote for Angie. Coming in a close second for the night was Amber, who opened the show with a strong and stripped-down version of Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love.”
Angie dominated the second act of the night, dedicated to one-hit wonders. Keith Urban praised her “mystical and celestially powerful” take on Julie London’s “Cry Me a River.” As Angie closed the show with her second stellar performance, Nicki declared, “You came out tonight to snatch some wigs off some heads!” Minaj added, “Tonight was your night.”
Candice’s version of Samantha Sang’s song “Emotion,” which was popularized by the Bee Gees, was beautiful but still veered toward boring. Same for Kree’s version of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” which almost won the judges over, but they still seemed to believe she would be going home.
The biggest drama of the night occurred when Amber finished off Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park,” which has been covered by Donna Summer, among many others. “It’s like summer has come in for you,” Keith said, with Nicki, Randy and Mariah Carey all adding their two cents, which added up to the fact that she did a great job. However, Jimmy Iovine didn’t buy any of the compliments.
“I didn’t believe that song when Richard Harris sang it. I didn’t believe it when Donna Summer sang it. Not even Amber can pull off that song,” he said. Iovine came on stage to defend his position, telling the panel, “You guys are smoking a little bit of that green icing on that ‘MacArthur Park’ cake.”
That’s when Nicki rushed the stage with Randy at her back. Nicki just hugged Jimmy, but it was more sparks than we have seen this season.
Most Nicki Moment: Nicki told Amber that she looked like, “A strong sexy glass of milk.”
Most Mariah Moment: After Angie’s performance of “Who You Are,” the judges were all on their feet, except for Mariah who said, “I’m standing in spirit, darling, but my train is stuck on my chair.”
Best Diss of the Night: When discussing Candice’s performance last week, Mariah said Paula Abdul’s hit “Straight Up,” “wasn’t meant for a singer singer.” Zing!
Best Nicki and Mariah Moment: When Ryan asked the divas how they would perform a duet, they immediately turned to each other and started yelling with Mariah even clearly mouthing “muthafucka,” before dissolving into coldly cordial smiles.
Previously: Paula Abdul Returns, Janelle Arthur Goes Home