American Idol Season 12 has entered a forest of bland that has seen some interesting performances but mostly just the same old trees over and over again. I don’t know if it is the tired old themes, leveling off of the top performers or the transition to a new stage, but Season 12 has ground to a crawl. The American Idol Season 12 top 8 performed songs from Detroit (not just Motown) and most of the performances were more of the same we have seen since Idol arrived on the L.A. live stage. Kree Harrison and Candice Glover sang exceptionally but did not reach the heights of earlier weeks. Angie Miller actually had her second misstep in a row and needs to right herself if she is going into the Top 3. The highlight of the evening was the surging Janelle Arthur who delivered one of the most original performances of the season.
American Idol Season 12 Top 8 Performance Rankings
1)Janelle Arthur – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
This was a brilliant moment for Janelle Arthur. She performed an quiet, subdued arrangement of this big “wall of sound” song. Her arrangement was dark and brooding and seemed to fit the mood of the lyrics even more than the original recording. Keith said her arrangement brought out the angst of the lyrics. Janelle Arthur took the night without attempting big vocal histronics. She stayed in her zone, played to her strengths and delivered a stunning professional performance. Is Christian musician Janelle Arthur the David Cook of American Idol Season 12?
2)Candice Glover – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”
Once again Candice Glover showed off her tremendous pipes, but more importantly, her performing savvy. She made just enough changes to the song that it was fresh without abandoning the song’s essence. Her slow quiet start just pulled us in and then Candice Glover walloping us with a growling, rollocking take off. She did soften the performance with some sweet falsetto moments and then closed with just a nasty finishing run. With all of that said, I think Candice is an example of what is happening on American Idol Season 12. She is delivering every performance and is showing a lot of versatility, but she has wandered from what has made her special to us. Candice Glover needs to return to her roots and deepen our connections with the singer we fell in love with a month ago.
3)Amber Holcomb – “Lately”
Everytime Christian musician Amber Holcomb steps onto the stage she takes big risks and delivers in a big way. Crazy phrasing, daredevil runs and perfect notes, big and small. She did it again with a moving, stuning performance of “Lately”. Mariah called it a ‘tour de force” and resorted to profanity when the audience did not seem to understand the gravitas of her statement. Amber Holcomb was spectacular, but I still do not connect with her and I think the American Idol audience is struggling to meet her as well. That may be why she was in the bottom 2 last week.
4)Kree Harrison – “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”
A cool country blues twist of one if my favorite songs. Kree Harrison smartly chose to not try to match Aretha’s crazy vocals but, instead, took it into a little more rock twinged country style. There is a deep, primordal connection between blues, soul and country. They come from the same rural roots so it is pretty easy to move from one to the other. Listen to Hank Williams (the original) and try to tell me where the blues and soul stop and country begins. I agree with Keith that Kree successfully takes us on that journey from blues and soul with her country voice. However, we have seen Kree Harrison better and I hope we are going to see her start to push herself in the coming weeks.
5)Devin Velez – “Tracks of My Tears”
He just seems so comfortable on stage. Devin Velez slightly altered “Tracks of My Tears”, delivered a perfect performance and probably did not do enough to save himself. He held back some of the runs and stayed more into the melody of the song than he has in past weeks. However, Devin Velez needed to wow this week and this was not a wow.
6)Angie Miller – “Shop Around”
Where did Angie Miller go? Is she over confident or is she focused too much on winning, on showing all of things she can do. The Civil Wars did not become one of the most successful groups of the past few years by showing all that they can do. Angie Miller, we love you at the piano singing from your soul about what matters to you. That is our connection with you. That is what made you a front runner in American Idol Season 12. Go back to yourself and allow our relationship to grow with you. Mariah said it all when she said “that was not Angie”.
7)Burnell Taylor – “My Cherie Amour”
I am glad you latched onto “Let It Be” last week. I have grown tired of your maudlin ballads week after week. You are a cool and interesting singer but I will not buy a cd of ballad after ballad. We need you to take your great instrument and wrap it around some more interesting material. Burnell Taylor ran some nice scales in the middle and finished with some soul phrasing at the end. It is not about how you sing it is about what you are singing.
8)Lazaro Arbos – “For Once In My Life”
Lazaro Arbos seemed defeated during the judges critiques this week. I think he is tired of hearing how courageous he is. This was much better than last week but still not up to the standard set by the other 7 on American Idol Season 12.
I will be shocked in Lazaro Arbos is not in the bottom 3 tonight. I think her will joined by Devin Velez and probably Amber Holcomb. Unfortunately, I think Christian musician Devin Velez goes home tonight. However, do not be surprised if we have a surprise tonight and Angie Miller or Janelle Arthur slip into the bottom 3.
Join us on Monday for our American Idol Season 12 Top 7 Power Rankings.