I’m going to pull a Quentin Tarantino and spoil the ending on this one: Once again, we went into Thursday’s result show expecting the judges to swoop in dramatically and use their save to keep our squad of five talented ladies vying for the title in tact, but once again, they declined to do so. I said in my recap of the performance show that if the predictable and most desirable, at least from the judges point of view, thing happened (that being that Janelle was the one going home) that they may refrain from using the save simply because she was arguably the least consistent of the five women. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s talk, first, about what performances we saw before Ryan gave us the results of the all-female top five telecast.
1. The Top 5 Girls: A Donna Summer medley: “Last Dance/Heaven Knows/Dim All The Lights/She Works Hard For The Money” – As my father said when we watched this, this medley was a better fit for some of the girls than others. For Amber and Candice, it fit like a glove. Kree can sing just about anything, so I believed her in this and Angie has a way of making things seem young and fresh, but as if to underscore the only possible outcome of the night, it felt like an odd fit for Janelle. Perhaps because it wasn’t something that could easily be made into a country tune without stepping on the toes of the other girls. Still, I am enjoying the all-girl group numbers so hopefully next week’s is even better.
2. Clay Aiken – “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon & Garfunkel) – When I saw Clay was singing on the results show, I figured because I hadn’t heard that he would be releasing new music, the only possible thing for him to do would be to sing one of his many great performances on this show, this being, arguably, the best of them (I still personally prefer “Solitaire” though). Still, I do enjoy that Nigel is bringing back different alum as a means of reminding us what this show is capable of. Clay’s voice was a strong as ever, even if his appearance has changed a lot from his originally electrical-socket shocked nerd look, and I appreciated the throwback to Season 2 on this Thursday.
3. Fantasia – “Lose To Win” – Unlike Clay, the Season 3 champ took a different route to remind us of her talent. In the past, Tasia has been given a lot of flack for her appearance and her vocals when she comes on the show, but nobody could fault her for this performance. From the opening notes, she showed the kind of restraint she showed during her pretty solid run on the show. And the further she got into the song, the more I felt it. The song was a good fit for her and a great single and when she let off the last note with her lip trembling from the emotion, I could help but cheer in my living room.
As a sidenote, I have to say that I think the guest performances this season have been fantastic. We’re getting way more Idol alum and note the usual Kelly/Carrie/Daughtry rotation. Next week we get Season 11’s Stefano Langone and Season 9’s champ Lee DeWyze (huzzah!) and the week after, Season 7 winner David Cook is performing his new single. Kudos, Nigel, on realizing that you still need your white males who play guitar to keep your ratings afloat.
Now, back to results. Ryan delivered them all at once near the end of the episode, keeping us on pins and needles the entire time like only he can do. In no particular order, Ryan explicitly said, Candice, Angie and Amber were safe – leaving our two country girls: Kree and Janelle in the Bottom 2. It was a bit of a shock to see Kree there, but I will say that she strayed a bit from her typical country-bluesy vibe on Wednesday and that may have caused more people to split their votes between her and Janelle. Fortunately, the voters got the final numbers right and Janelle was the one singing for the save. She did another rendition of the Supremes song “You Keep Me Hanging On”, this time without guitar. It was slightly less effective, but a good reminder of why we liked her in the first place. The judges did, however, agree that the voters got it right and so, refrained for using the save.
The question that still remains now is what will Nigel & co. do with that extra week in the schedule? Edit: The schedule (at fox.com) now says that May 1st’s show will be another Top 4 show and the themes are Standards & Songs from 2013. All Hail Nigel!
Also I feel like what Jimmy said on Thursday is right: these four girls will live & die based on their song choices tonight. Pick a good song, sing it well and you’re in the Top 3… fail on either count and you could be the one going home. Obviously, I still have to rank their odds of winning, but I think the race has never been closer at this stage of the game in any other season of Idol…
4. Amber Holcomb (no change) – True, the judges are trying really hard to make fetch Amber happen but America doesn’t always buy into having someone shoved down their throat, as evidenced in years past. This season, however, seems to be a whole new ball game. Still, I can’t deny the judges claims that Amber does seem to have “the whole package”. If she can nail her performances on Thursday night, her voice and her looks might be enough to keep the young female voting block voting for her. At this stage in the game though, I still get the feeling that she’s the dark horse and that this week, she’ll be splitting votes with Candice and Candice could sing circles around her if necessary.
3. Angie Miller (no change) – These next three girls are impossible to rank for me. I could make a case for why I think they all deserve to win, but Angie has been in the Top 3 twice and never been in danger, despite some mediocre performances. That, combined with the fact that she’s really coming to her own and realizing what songs she needs to sing bodes well for her chances in the coming week. Hopefully, it’s not a flash in the pan for her, otherwise she might get left out of the finale just because some of the other girls give more powerful performances from week-to-week.
2. Kree Harrison (-1) – Kree drops one spot after finding herself in the Bottom 2 for the first time since the season started. Hopefully it will serve as a wake up call to her to pick better songs in the next few weeks. If she sticks to what she’s good at, it will keep her fans voting for her and now that Janelle’s gone, she’s got the whole country vote to herself so hopefully some of Janelle’s fans will jump on her bandwagon.
1. Candice Glover (+1) – I’m still not entirely sold that Candice could run away with the title, but she’s been the most consistent of our Top 4 and not only that but she’s had some real memorable peaks that people are going to remember come voting time. We know what she’s capable of, so as long as she does that and outlasts Amber, she might still her voting block which will be just enough to boost her into the top spot and give her the first female crown in ages.
The Top 4 perform tonight. Check your local listings & tune in for another double-themed week: One Hit Wonders & Free Choice… plus duets between our ladies!