The Top Nine Remain Unfamiliar With Allegro

Alright, contestants. We get it. You’re all sensitive creatures with wonderfully emotive balladeer faces. Now do something else. Anything else. I think I’d be more receptive of these ballads if they made better use of the hilarious staging opportunities. Give me a random couple on a park bench! Light a piano on fire! A bagpipe player! Anything but the choir. Eight of these contestants actually have the promise to give a good performance. And most of them are at least giving decent ones. Which, y’know, is nice. (But it’s nowhere near the fun we had last season.)

In somewhat more seriousness, it was Lennon-McCartney week, which means everyone on the internet gets to spend today complaining about how some of these kids don’t know songs that were probably released before their parents were born. I enjoy the Beatles a lot (especially given my music tastes) and respect their importance to pop music a whole lot more. But really now. The collective gasp of horror at someone not knowing a fifty year old song is getting to reach comedic levels at this point. Yes, yes, these god damn kids will get of your lawn, you can quiet down now.

Kree Harrison – “With A Little Help From My Friends”
The judges really are pushing this “Kree is growing before our very eyes” narrative, aren’t they? Look at how much more confident she is this week! And by that I mean, not really all that much more than last week or the week before… or the week before. She still has a superb voice which she uses to perfection. But I’m still not wowed. I am still uneasy when she stares directly into the camera. It feels too aware. I also wouldn’t mind if she maybe showed a little creativity – vocally or musically – at this point, as this week she shaded capably in the lines of the Joe Cocker version. We know she’s a great singer and has a relatable personality, time for her to go digging for some moments.

Burnell Taylor – “Let It Be”
Burnell’s horrifying! and disrespectful! and unforgivable! lack of Beatles knowledge aside, I am actually surprised he hadn’t encountered “Let It Be” somewhere in the wild before. I can’t really be fair to Burnell this week. “Let It Be” is on a very short list of songs where the melody is somewhat sacred to me, not that all changes are bad, but I’m definitely much more critical. Burnell’s interpretation was nuanced and well-practiced, but the strength of the melody in the verses was lost. He remains the most interesting guy in the competition with the most potential to give a truly great performance.

Amber Holcomb – “She’s Leaving Home”
Alright. I didn’t know this song prior to last night, but neither did Mariah Carey, so I’m in good (… err coolly indifferent?) company. While Amber hasn’t definitely been outperformed by Candice in the finals, she’s still easily my favorite. She has this naturally jazzy vibe going on that somehow doesn’t feel dated at all and she continually tackles some of the most sophisticated vocal arrangements week after week. I don’t know, she sold the song to me. (Though, let’s be real, she could probably sell “How You Remind Me” to me.) It’s a shame that the very act of me liking her puts her in imminent danger of being booted.

Lazaro Arbos – “In My Life”
Lazaro is a really bad singer with nonexistent performing abilities and a frail self-confidence. But he cried. So on to the next round for you, Lazaro.

Candice Glover – “Come Together”
Candice gets a lot of points for being a phenomenal singer with intelligent arrangements and great stage presence. She gets way, way, way more points for liveliness. Seriously, as much as I loved her actual performance of “Come Together,” I loved the choice of song even more. I don’t particularly care that it’s been done three times before on the show. These are Beatles songs. They’ve all been covered by a million artists a million times. This was great, Candice is great. If there is any justice, Candice should easily win this show. There is never justice on American Idol. Only heartache. And that Armageddon song.

Paul Jolley – “Eleanor Rigby”
Okay, so Jolley was like, “you know what? Screw it. I’m just going to be dramatic and maybe a little theatrical and I’m gonna own it.” And then he did. And yes it was all very amateur stage production-y, but I enjoyed it, even if the judges did not. I think Mariah nailed the issue when she told him to sing dance music. He shouldn’t be toning down the gay. He should be toning up the gay. He’s clearly not fooling anyone here. Just camp it up on that stage to some 808s with a fleet of backup dancers and then I’ll vote for you.

Angie Miller – “Yesterday”
So remember when I was complaining about Angie Miller turning everything into a Switchfoot song? Well that was much preferable to her turning every song into “The Climb.” I don’t know who told her that the world was aching for a Disney Channel Presents: The Beatles album, but they were wrong and she should ignore them from now on. She has a pretty voice and a pretty face and her hair was much less all-the-hair and much more Hannah Montana and absolutely none of it is clicking on any real level.

Devin Velez – “The Long And Winding Road”
Remember last week when Devin Velez told us that he wanted to prove he could sing things other than ballads and then sang the worst ballad in the Carrie Underwood catalog? Well he’s still proving it to us by picking the worst ballad in the Beatles catalog. He’s got a sincere voice and is pretty good at the dreary ballads. But they are still dreary ballads that I have no interest in hearing, sung well or otherwise. (Well, perhaps if he sung them while juggling, I’d change my tune. I bet he can juggle.)

Janelle Arthur – “I Will”
Relentless balladry aside (and at least Janelle flicked the metronome last week), this was exactly what Janelle needed to do this week to get votes. She sang a sweet song really, really well and made it distinctly country. She’s carving out that country vote all for herself and this should help solidify that. I still love her tone and she does the pure country so, so well. (Although, god damn Jimmy Iovine for making me notice all of her breaths the entire time.)

Bottom 3: Amber, Paul, Burnell
Going home: Burnell


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