Rock Night wasn’t nearly as mush of a challenge as one would have expected for the current crop of American Idol contestants, who have leaned hard on ballads and slow-tempo numbers this season. That’s because the top seven performers are talented and, for the most part, savvy enough to pick the right, if somewhat obvious, songs. There were some who rose brilliantly to the occasion, like Kree Harrison who is so obviously going to be a megastar that it seems almost silly to make her jump through the hoops of competing each week. Her performance of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” was practically perfect despite the fact that she had a pinched nerve and lurched around the stage like she was Randy Jackson in heels.
There were also some square R&B pegs squished into round rock & roll holes. Specifically, Burnell Taylor, who swapped his bow tie for a studded leather jacket to tackle Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart.” Unfortunately, the jacket was the edgiest thing about his performance. Keith Urban summed it up when he said, “I’ve never seen you look more uncomfortable in a song.” Nicki Minaj called him a “Teddy Ruxpin bear,” but there was no getting around the fact that his performance fell flat.
Angie Miller was given the coveted closing spot and she delivered the goods. Her version of Evanescence’s “Bring Me Back to Life” was filled with fans, fog and a piano perfect for giving a rock edge to her karaoke-esque performance. Nicki thought it was a good choice and Randy loved the “tender moments,” but Keith was the lone dissenter, saying he “always loved” her voice but wasn’t sure she “felt” the song.
One of the more surprising moments from last night’s Idol was that Lazaro Arbos did justice to Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” with his slightly Latin-tinged version. The judges admitted that they were concerned, but were not horrified with the performance. Nicki went so far as to call it “crack juice,” which was an overstatement, but Lazaro deserved the compliment, for finally remembering the words, if nothing else.
Here are some other highlights from last night’s American Idol:
After last week’s disastrous all-male trio, the producers stuck Lazaro with Angie to sing Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” with slightly better results. At least Angie got a lot of compliments, while Lazaro was commended for being “better than last week.”
Burnell and Candice Glover delivered a rousing duet on the Box Tops’ “The Letter.” The arrangement was a bluesy rock version of the song that really showed off both voices. It’s a shame that Burnell didn’t do something similar for his solo performance.
Janelle Arthur delivered a country-fried version of Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right.” It was solid, if not completely memorable. While country mentor Keith wasn’t wild about the song choice, everyone else liked the selection. Nicki and Mariah Carey agreed (alert the tabloids!) that one thing Janelle has going for her is a high relatability factor.
Kree, Janelle and Amber Holcomb got together to sing Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock N’ Roll to Me,” which three of the judges loved. The song choice put Nicki to sleep and as the audience displayed their displeasure, Nicki waved them away asking, “What’s the night without a good boo?”
Candice performed the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” for her solo turn, and Randy thought she brought “the girth” to it in a “Tina Turner kind of way,” but he meant it in a good way.
Heart’s “What About Love” was a surprisingly good song for Amber, mostly because it’s as close as rock gets to a ballad. Nicki called it her favorite of the night, which pretty much summed up Rock Night.
Best Reason to Come Back Tomorrow: If Lazaro is safe, the judges may use their save this week, especially if Burnell or Amber are in jeopardy.
Most Nicki Moment: Nicki coveted Janelle’s bedazzled boots and Janelle was willing to share so when the show came back from commercial, Nicki was wearing the boots and Janelle was in her socks on stage.
Previously: Keith Urban Performs, Devin Velez Goes Home