The American Idol action unfolded in two rounds last night: First, the top six contestants had to sing from the Burt Bacharach songbook, followed by a song they wished they had written. The producers let Candice Glover close the show, and she brought down the house.
Two notes in to her syrupy slow jazz cover of Adele’s version of the Cure’s “Lovesong,” the house was hooting and hollering as the room crackled with electricity. By the end of the goosebump-inducing performance, the judges and audience were on their feet, roaring. Randy Jackson instantly declared it “one of the greatest performances in the history of 12 seasons of American Idol.” And it was. Candice not only got a standing ovation, but Mariah Carey walked up stairs (in heels!) to hug her, while Keith Urban bowed to her. It was a performance for the pantheon.
On the other end of the spectrum was Lazaro Arbos, the last man standing, and if Randy has any say in it, Lazaro will be leaving the show sooner rather than later. When faced with the Bacharach songbook, Lazaro opted to sing “Close to You.” The result was so poor that Randy blurted, “All I can say is no, no, no, no. Dude, that was horrible.” The performance also rendered Mariah incomprehensible. “Darling, help me out, Lord in heaven,” she began, before giving up and saying the song was in the wrong key.
In the second round, Lazaro attempted a comeback with Robbie Williams’ “Angels,” but by then it was clear that the judges had completely given up on him. Keith just shrugged and said that “the girls are just so crazy-good” and then the rest of the judges nodded in agreement. Whoever is voting for Lazaro at this point in the competition is facing a seriously uphill battle.
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Here’s what else happened on Idol last night:
Angie Miller delivered a very Broadway performance of Bacharach’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” standing center stage backed by silhouetted musicians. The judges weren’t moved by her song, though: Keith thought she relied too much on her talent and not enough on her passion. Nicki noted that she sounded “old fashioned,” which seemed unfair, given that the assignment was to sing Bacharach songs.
To ensure a spot in the top five, for her second song, Angie chose to sing about Jesus while seated at a piano on a fog-filled stage. The song (Kari Jobe’s “Love Came Down”) was perfect for her purposes. As Mariah put it, “Angie, that piano and you, you never lose.” Nicki Minaj added, “Don’t stray from that!” before delivering some brutally tough love: “This is the only time when you are going to be remembered at the top of the pack.”
After admitting that she eats frozen shrimp as a snack, Amber Holcomb effortlessly breezed through, “I Say a Little Prayer For You.” Nicki declared her “unbelievable” and anointed Amber her favorite in the competition. Until Candice sings again, anyway. Amber followed it up with a peppy cover of Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” which Keith declared “beautiful.”
Kree Harrison’s “What the World Needs Now” was a welcome palate cleanser after Lazaro’s dismal performance. It was simple and understated but perfectly executed. Nicki predicted Kree would be performing at the Country Music Awards next year, while Randy was just glad that Lazaro was off the stage.
For her second selection, Kree delivered a sweetly stripped down version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” which led Nicki to tell her that she was at the head of the class. Randy called her a “natural, natural singer,” but Keith took the cake by saying he predicted a future in the Grand Ole Opry, which means something when Keith says it.
Janelle Arthur failed to distinguish herself with either her Bacharach song (“I’ll Never Fall in Love”) or with “The Dance,” which was popularized by Garth Brooks, but written by Tony Arata. Nicki felt that Janelle stepped it up, but wasn’t sure it was enough for Janelle to outpace the other women. The judges were bored, but Nicki at least saw the potential commercial appeal. Randy wanted Janelle to find “cookies that were in her voice.”
Most Mariah Moment: After Kree finished her performance of “Help Me Make it Through The Night,” and received many accolades, Mariah couldn’t help but bring it back to herself, “I had to sing that in a little movie with my friend Lee Daniels.”
Previously: Carrie Underwood Sings, Burnell Taylor Is Cut