American Idol Season 12 Top 8 Perform Motown

FOX's "American Idol" Season 12American 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.

American Idol Season 12 Top 8 Power Rankings

american-idol-top-8-season-12-American Idol Season 12 showed themselves quite well with the Lennon and McCartney song book.  During the results show Jimmy Iovine said the judges were not critical enough with the performers and then proceeded to praise just about every one of them.  The American Idol Season 12 Top 8 includes 7 Christian musicians, at least 5 of whom are contenders to win it all.

American Idols Season 12 Top 8 Power Rankings

1) Candice Glover- I ranked her performance of “Come Together” down the pack in our American Idol Season 12 Top 9 performances, not because she was weak but mainly because there were so many other good performances.  More importantly, with this rocking performance Candice Glover moved further away from the stereotype of a gospel/R&B singer into the image of an accomplished, versatile singer.

2) Kree Harrison- We featured her wonderful delivery of  “With A Little Help From My Friends” in our performance post.  Kree Harrison continues to power through American Idol Season 12 with one powerful performance after another.  As we see her each week, I think her likeability rises as well.  Right now Candice and Kree are performing as the favorites, but we still have a ways to go.

3) Angie Miller- Last week was Angie Miller‘s first misstep of the season.  I agreed with Jimmy Iovine that she went over the top with her dramatic interpretation and vocal gymnastics with “The Long and Winding Road”.  Angie Miller set an extremely high bar for herself early in the competition, still needs experience at this level of performance and has moved away from her strengths.  Angie needs to try to stop competing with Candice, Kree and Amber for vocal supremacy and moved back to the heart of her appeal, singing from her soul with her piano.

4) Burnell Taylor- There appears to be one guy who can compete with the girls in American Idol Season 12 Burnell Taylor‘s “Let It Be” was the best performance of the Lennon and McCartney songbook.  He has the unique tone, vocal strength and interpretive vision to hang in this competition well into May.  We need to see something other than ballads from him, but I think he is definitely top 5.

5) Janelle Arthur- Here she comes.  Janelle Arthur was somewhat discounted early in the season.  However, her artistic maturity, magnetic stage presence and appealing persona have all blossomed since American Idol Season 12 has moved to the big Hollywood stage.  She has already staked her claim in the long line of country artists to emerge form American Idol.  I would be surprised if she won but I would not be shocked to see her in the Top 3.

6) Amber Holcomb- This is a wonderful singer who has a real future in American pop music.  She is daring and has been mostly flawless.  However, her personality has not yet emerged from her performances.  Is she attempting to deliver performances that are so difficult that she loses herself in technical concentration?  I am not sure, but with after a visit to the Bottom 2 last week, she needs to figure this out quickly.  If she can hang around a few more weeks, I would expect to see a breakthrough.

7) Devin Velez- Another performer with a great voice and some really good instincts, he just has not yet connected with the audience.  I thought his R&B arrangement of “The Long and Winding Road” was outstanding last week, but it was more interesting than amazing.  I am afraid that Devin Velez will not have an opportunity to develop his magic.  He seems to be particularly vulnerable to the popularity of Lazaro Arbos.

8) Lazaro ArbosAmerican Idol Season 12 seems too big for Lazaro Arbos.  He has a wonderful voice but we have yet to see it in the live performances.  He does not seem prepared each week and seems terrified during his performances.  Yet, he continues to be popular.  It looks like Lazaro Arbos may be the contestant that will spark some shocking eliminations over the next few weeks.

This week, American Idol Season 12 moves to Detroit to perform the “songs of the motor city”.  That means mostly Motown songs, but do not forget that Detroit also has a rich heritage of rock and roll. Check in with us on Thursday morning when we rank the performances and make some guesses about who is going home.  We are two for two so far.

 

American Idol Season 12 Top 9 Performances

American-Idol-2013-Top-9-Performances-Live-RecapThe Lennon and McCartney song book created some interesting turns in American Idol Season 12.  Christian musicians Burnell Taylor, Janelle Arthur and Devin Velez had their best moments of the season, Kree Harrison maintained her excellence and Christian musicians Candice Glover, Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb took side steps with good performances.

I was amazed at how musically ignorant these contestants and even some of the judges are. Come on, Mariah you are required, as an experienced singer, to know the entire musical catalog of  The Beatles!  I will grant the young contestants some leeway for not knowing “My Life” or “Leaving Home”, but how can you live in Western Civilization and not hear “Let It Be” or “Eleanor Rigby”.

 

American Idol Season 12 Top 9 Performance Rankings

1) Burnell Taylor- “Let It Be”
Even after deducting from Burnell’s performance for not knowing this song, fantastic. This maybe the best re-envisioning of “Let It Be” that I have ever heard. Burnell Taylor’s tone grounded him this classic and enabled him to modernize it with R&B runs and jazz phrasing. This was an exceptional interpretation of a 45 year old classic.

2) Janelle Arthur- “I Will”
What a lovely performance. This is the best we have seen from Janelle Arthur all season. She twisted this rock band ballad into a country ballad without sacrificing one ounce of the song’s beauty. The shifts were subtle and perfect. We finally were able to hear the full beauty of Janelle’s voice. We now have a five girl race for American Idol Season 12. This performance in the closing spot should carry Janelle Arthur into the Top 5.

3) Kree Harrison- “With A Little Help From My Friends”
As a singer, Kree Harrison is perfect. It really is not fair to most of the other Idols. Her country interpretation of the psychedelic rocker was filled with blues influences and overwhelming power. At one point I thought Keith Urban was going to fall out of his chair. I think Kree Harrison could sing in the dreaded opening spot every week and still make the American Idol Season 12 Top 3.

4) Devin Velez- “Long and Winding Road”
We watched Miguel open for Alicia Keys last night and I kept thinking that Devin Velez is capable of what Miguel does. We saw a little hint of those R&B chops with this performance. With short tasteful runs and cadence changes, he gave this classic a sweet R&B twist. It showed off the beauty of his voice perfectly. Mariah was speechless and should have been.

5) Candice Glover- “Come Together”
A great strategic move to do this off center rock anthem. She did not feel as infused in this song as we have seen her in past weeks but she sang it perfectly. She commanded the stage with aggressive moves. There was no R&B here only Ann Wilson quality rock and roll wailing.

6) Angie Miller- “Yesterday”
This was her weakest performance of the year but the judges fawned all over her? This felt more like showing off than performing. Angie is a wonderful singer but her real strength is her ability to engulf a song and bring the audience into the message and the emotion of the song. Tonight she just sang a bunch of notes, in a really good way, but still. Performances like this will not push Angie Miller to the American Idol Season 12 Top 3.

7) Amber Holcomb- “She’s Leaving Home”
Amber delivered a roller coaster performance of a great song. She started off uncomfortably shaky, but, my gosh, once she found herself she took us on an amazing ride. Her vocal choices were daring yet subtle and perfectly delivered. The last minute of this performance was probably the best vocal of the night. However, she was inconsistent and she seemed a little distant on stage. If she is given enough time to mature in American Idol Season 12, she could be a contender.

8) Paul Jolley- “Elanor Rigby”
Once again Paul Jolley oversang and tried to wring too many vocal moments from this subdued song. I don’t really like the way he pronounces his lyrics. Nikki said “safe, bland, forgettable”.

9) Lazaro Arbos- “My Life”
Just a mess. He was rushing, he was off key. Lazaro seemed lifeless and strained. I think American Idol Season 12 has become too big for Lazaro Arbos.

Popularity does not always track with talent or performance. At some point talent will prevail. I am concerned that Devin Velez will be in the bottom 3 this week with Paul Jolley and Lazaro Arbos. I think Paul Jolley goes home tonight.

Check in with us on Monday for our American Idol Season 12 Top 8 Power Rankings.

American Idol Season 12- Top 9 Power Rankings

American Idol Season 12 Top 9The American Idol Season 12 Top 9 Power Rankings include 7 Christian musicians with Candice Glover leading the pack for the second straight week. There is really very little change from the American Idol Season 12 Top 10 Power Rankings.  We did lose one of our top 5 when Curtis Finch Jr combined the deadly lead off post with his worst vocal performance of Season 12. 

Last Wednesday’s show was the first for the Top 10 and their first live competitive performances in American Idol L.A. studio which is actually really professional and count with the best tech and insulation for recording from TheHomeInsulators company. I was surprised at the safe song selections and timid performances.  Candice Glover and Janelle Arthur both made bold song selections and they both delivered.  Kree Harrison and Angie Miller both performed beautifully but with boring song choices.  Burnell Taylor and Amber Holcomb also delivered stellar vocal performances, but I could not tell their perorfmances this week from any other week we have seen them.

I saw some insight into why the girls seem to be so much more talented than the guys this year.  While Candice Glover, Kree Harrison, Angie Miller and Janelle Arthur  all seem to be relevant, radio friendly, demographically current artists; the guys are all referencing old tired adult contemporary performers like Boys 2 Men and Josh Groban.  You are not going to win the hearts of American Idol voters if you strive to be their mothers’ favorite artist.

American Idol Season 12 Top 9 Power Rankings

1) Candice Glover- Wow, wow, wow.  When she said she was singing “I(Who Have Nothing)”, I thought it was a bad idea.  First, she was trying to top one of the all time best American Idol moments when Jordan Sparks staked her claim to the Season 6 title with this song.  Second, Candice skews older and needs to work hard to position herself as a currently relevant soul singer.  I was wrong on both accounts.  She took the performance title away from Jordan Sparks when she updated this 50 year old jazz standard with new and excited soul phrasing and subtle R&B riffs.  I agree with Randy that this was the best performance of Season 12 and with Nikki when she said that the song should be retired because no on else will reach the standard Candice set.  Check our Candice Glover‘s performance of “I (Who Have Nothing)”

2) Kree Harrison- Kree did a fine job with the Roy Orbison‘s “Crying” but I think that is one of those songs that should never be sung.  I found myself unfairly comparing her to Roy Orbison and it was just did not measure up. Good thing Roy Orbison is not competing in American Idol Season 12.  I hope Kree Harrison takes a song and grabs our attention this week.  We do not want another Pia Toscano.

3) Angie Miller- Angie’s versioin of “I Surrender” was the second best performance of the Top 10.  However, Angie Miller is not going to win American Idol Season 12 by out singing Candice Glover or Kree Harrison.  She has a big strong voice but that performance exposed how her voice thins out in its higher registers.  I think she can win Season 12 but she needs to do it with her artistry and her performance skills.  She has already delivered two show stopping performances this year and both were based on her passionate performance of songs that engulf her.  More of that, Angie.

Amber-Holcomb-of-American-Idol-Season-124) Amber Holcomb-  She his here because she consistently delivers flawless performances.  However, planting herself in the middle of the stage and belting big, old ballads will not take Amber Holcomb to victory in American Idol Season 12.  It is time to show the American Idol voters why they would buy tickets to her tour.  She needs to start singing to her age and excite us with a change of pace.

5) Burnell Taylor- Really, you want to pattern yourself after Boys 2 Men? At least reference John Legend or Alicia Keys.  We need more singers who bend soul and jazz into an interesting stew that gets us dancing in the arenas.  Burnell Taylor is number 5 because he has the most interesting voice on American Idol Season 12, he is compelling to watch and he has sung each song perfectly.  Time to stretch with song selection and give us more variety in your performances.  We will not buy a cd with 74 minutes of well sung ballads.

6) Janelle Arthur- “Gone” showed Janelle Arthur as a relevant, contemporary country singer.  I imagined that performance at one of the country music awards shows or as an opening act for Miranda Lambert. The judges criticized her because this song limited the range of her vocals, but Janelle is smart.  She knows that her vocals cannot stand up to Candice Glover, Kree Harrison, Angie Miller or even Amber Holcomb.  However, she is an excellent singer who has the looks, personality and performance skills to captivate an audience.  She can use those skills to drive herself into the American Idol Season top 4.  I see her journey as similar to Hayley Reinhart‘s or Syesha Mercado‘s who both stayed true to their vision even through relentless criticism from the American Idol Judges.

7) Devin Velez- Michael Buble? Josh Groban?  I know you love your mom but why not try to sing to an audience that is your age.  What about Drake or Justin Timberlake? Or why not even consider embracing your faith and going full on Christian or gospel music.  Devin Velez has the vocal and performance skills to be uber relevant and exciting.  I just hope Jimmy Iovine can mold him into the compelling, current artist I see in him.

8) Paul Jolley- I just don’t get Paul.  He wants to be country but I have not heard country from him yet.  His voting results from last week showed him to be more popular than I thought.  However, I have yet to see a performance from Paul that I remember.

9) Lazaro Arbos- Lazaro’s fourth place finish in the American Idol Season 12 Top 10 shocked me.  Through the live performances he has consistently selected songs that are too big for him and has delivered performances that seem terrified.  Lazaro Arbos has a beautiful voice but American Idol seems a little too big for him.

Wednesday night the American Idol Season 12 Top 9 take on the songs of “Lennon and McCarthy”.  This should be interesting.  This should play right into Angie Miller‘s groove but that sometimes results in disappointed expectations. How will the R&B singers (Candice Glover, Amber Holcomb and Burnell Taylor) interpret these rock and pop standards? I don’t remember many Lennon or McCartney country songs for Kree Harrison or Janelle Arthur.  Will Devin Velez, Paul Jolley or Lazaro Arbos surprise us with an exciting breakthrough?

American Idol Season 12|Top 10 Performances

Candice-Glover-I-Who-Have-Nothing-American-Idol-12-Top-10-622x349Americn Idol Season 12 started their  “serious season” tonight.  We have our top 10, we are performing on the big stage in L.A. and Jimmy Iovine starts speaking truth to the Idols.  Tonight was a good night with  a little bit of greatness mixed in.  We learned three things about American Idol Season 12 tonight:

  1. The girls, as group, are heads  above the guys.
  2. American Idol Season 12 loves  them some Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
  3. Candice Glover is a beast.

Tonight, Candice Glover soared, Angie Miller and Burnell Taylor compelled us to love them even more, Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb showed us that they are in American Idol Season 12 to stay and Janelle Arthur showed us that she is a country star in the making.

The American Idol Season 12 top  10 performed three Kelly Clarkson songs, two Carrie Underwood songs and two Scott McQueery songs. Sorry you other 100+ American Idol  performers.  All the songchoices referenced prior American Idol winners.

For my taste,  there are way too many ballads  from this group.  That will need to change or American Idol Season 12 will limp to the finish without  an avid following. This  group has a chance to be one of the best American Idol groups we have seen, but we very much need to see more variety in the song selections.

American Idol Season 12 Top 10 Performance Rankings

1) Candice Glover- “I Who Have Nothing”
This was not even close. Candice Glover took a 50 year old ballad, that had been one of the best moments in the history of American Idol, and subtly turned it into a contemporary R&B ballad, without sacrificing one ounce of the songs’ power. Candice Glover says she stood up in her living room when Jordin Sparks sange this in season 6. I am sure there were many people in America jumping to their feet in their living rooms tonight. Nikki said, “they should ban that song from Idol”. I agree. Candice Glover just put the exclamation point on that song.

2) Angie Miller- “I Surrender”
This is the best we have seen Angie Miller without her piano. I marveled at her control and power. Her voice was beautiful on the low end,  controlled through the soft beginning and then she soared through the big ending. Nikki said, “flawless” and I agree.

3) Burnell Taylor- “Fly Without Wings”
I was disappointed to hear Burnell Taylor sing another R&B ballad, but that voice is so distinctive and his phrasing is so interesting that I was mesmerized. More than any of the “bottom 9″, Burnell controlled the pacing of his performance. We heard every emotion and I felt his message. I loved Keith’s comment that Burnell Taylor has a “magnetic eccentricity”.

4) Kree Harrison- “Crying”
There is no question that Kree Harrison has a beautiful tone, all the vocal power she needs and tremendous skill. I thought tonight was her weakest performance of Season 12. The pace seemed rushed, which prevented Kree from dwelling in the melody. The judges loved it and fawned all over her. I was not overwhlemed, as I have been just about every other time I have seen Kree Harrison perform.

5) Amber Holcomb- “Moment Like This”
I am one of Amber Holcomb’s biggest fans but tonight just did not connect for me. The singing was great with wonderful control and big, big notes, but her performance dynamics just did not connect with us here in Austin. The judges lept to their feet and Nikki said, “best performance of the night”. I don’t see it that way.

6) Janell Arthur-”Gone”
Janelle Arthur looked like a country star tonight and she performed like a country star. This aggressive country song did not highlight the beauty of her voice, but it did allow her to showcase some polished, professional performance chops. The judges were mostly cool to the performance but I disagree. I think tonight showed Janelle Arthur’s sweet spot on American Idol Season 12.

7) Devin Velez-”Temporary Home”
Just the wrong song choice. This was a little boring and Devin Velez did not do anything vocally to spice up his performance. It concerns me that he referenced Josh Groban and Michael Buble as the targets for his career. Devin Velez can be a dynamic R&B or CCM singer, but if he sticks with these ballads, we will not see him very long on American Idol Season 12.

8) Paul Jolley- “Amazed”
Jimmy Iovine told him he was oversinging everything and was coming off as “broadway”. Tonight Paul Jolley held back and it was a little boring. He sang the song well but there was very little that caught my attention.

9) Curtis Finch Jr- “I Believe”
Jimmy Iovine told Curtis he need to be more contemporary. So Curtis Finch Jr selected an old school, gospel tinged ballad that feels 50 years old. Unfortunately, Curtis Finch Jr delviered his weakest performance of Season 12 tonight. He missed on some of his runs and hit a few sour notes, but mostly this just seemed to be more of the same, just not as good as before.

10) Lazaro Arbos-”Breakaway”
Lazaro Arbos has consistently selected big rousing ballads. He does not have the voice to sing those songs and he struggles every time. Tonight was no exception. He missed on the big notes, struggled with tempo and seemed terrified throughout the performance. The Top 10 seems a little too big for Lazaro Arbos.

American Idol Season 12 Top 10 Predictions

I  am  afraid the Curtis Finch Jr  picked the wrong night for a weak performance.  He started the show  in the death slot and then drop his weakest performance of Season 12. Lazaro Arbos  and Paul Jolley are both weaker than Curtis Finch Jr but they are both more popular and  Curtis did not soar above them tonight.

Follow us on twitter (@one21music) while we tweet  the results and check in with us on Monday for our American Idol Season 12 Power Rankings  and performance previews.

American Idol Season 12 Top 10 Power Rankings

Congratulations America.  You did a great job assembling the American Idol Season 12 top 10.  This is the best American Idol group assembled in at least 5 years.  There are no less than seven performers who could rightly win American Idol Season 12. The group skews heavily toward soul/R&B/gospel singers (5) then to country (2) and adult contemporary (2) and only one performer with any rock leanings (Angie Miller).

Since One21music focuses on Christian musicians performing on American Idol, we are excited that we have been able to determine that 8 of the American Idol Top 10 are Christians.  Candice Glover, Lazaros Arbos, Janelle Arthur, Curtis Finch Jr, Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller, Devin Velez and Burnell Taylor are all Christian musicians.  Except for Lazaros Arbos each one of these Christian musicians has a chance to win American Idol Season 12.

American Idol Season 12 Top 10 Power Rankings

1) Candice Glover
American Idol has not seen a true soul singer win since Rueben Studdard in Season 2. Is soul music on its way back? Joshua Ledet made a deep run on American Idol Season 11 and, in my opinion, should have won it all.  Candice Glover is a more exciting singer than Rueben Studdard and a more polished singer than Joshua LedetCandice Glover has shined brightly ever since American Idol moved to Las Vegas.  On Thursday night she made her strongest statement yet.  When most of the American Idol Season 12 Top 10 were too emotional to sing their celebration songs, Candice delivered her best performance of the season with a jaw dropping version of “I’m Going’ Down”.

2) Kree Harrison
Probably the only singer to rival Candice Glover and Curtis Finch Jr in singing talent and vocal performance maturity, Kree Harrision has the advantage of being the standout country singer in American Idol Season 12.  Not a singer limited to country music, Kree Harrison cans sing anything but chooses country music.  She should have the talent and versatility to handle any theme American Idol throws at her this year.  I would not be surprised if some of her biggest moments come when she is forced out of country music to interpret another genre.  My only knock on her has been that she has seemed serious on the verge of sad up to this point.  The backstage exposure in more casual settings should improver her  image.  She certainly came out of her shell on Thursday night with this performance of “Evidence”. Such a great voice.

3) Angie Miller
Angie Miller has made the biggest impression with Christian ballads performed at her piano. Her Hollywood and Sudden Death songs were the two best performances of American Idol Season 12. However, once she steps away from the piano she has been a little more shaky. Angie Miller should stay at her piano until American Idol takes it away from her.  The instrument seems to anchor her and balance her emotions. Angie Miller has the huge advantage of being completely unique on American Idol Season 12.  No one is doing what she does and that alone could get her into the Top 4 or 5.

4) Devin Velez
Here is the American Idol Season 12 dark horse. Devin Velez is an 18 year old high school graduate with no performance experience. I could only find two videos of him before American Idol. Both were Devin Velez performing hymns for only the camera. His performances so far have belied his lack of experience. His rich voice and vocal command lay a great foundation for his growth on American Idol Season 12. Up until Thursday night we have only seen ballads from Devin Velez but then he stepped out with “Power of One” to show that he shines on uptempo songs as well.

5) Curtis Finch Jr
Curtis Finch Jr is a master singer who has delivered amazing, powerful performances every time he has stepped on the American Idol Season 12 stage, maybe too powerful. His vocal and stage performance is so steeped in the gospel tradition that I fear America will grow tired of his deeply expressive vocals and the demonstrative stage antics. It would serve him well to pull back and perform a few songs in a controlled, subdued manner. I just hope that America can look past the style t o see Curtis Finch Jr.’s amazing singing talent.

6) Amber Holcomb
Amber Holcomb and Devin Velez are the two youngest performers on American Idol Season 12. Like Devin, Amber Holcomb does not have much recorded experience performing in front of audiences. Considering that, her two performances in Las Vegas were amazingly daring, on the verge of foolish. She delivered a beautiful, nuanced version of “My Funny Valentine” and the she threw caution to the wind with “I Believe in You and Me”. I think it is the first time I have seen someone on American Idol sing that song with nuance while injecting their own stamp on the song with run after run after run. I guess it is not daring if you know you got it. For Amber Holcomb to be a serious contender to win American Idol Season 12 we need to see much more of her personality.

7) Burnell Taylor
Burnell Taylor is the most unique performer on American Idol Season 12. He has a distinctive voice and an intriguing phrasing style that has mesmerized me so far. I think he has a stronger voice than he has demonstrated to this point. He will need to adapt his style to keep America interested. I can see him having a journey similar to Hayley Reinhart, where he struggles to find the recipe for wide approval and then, one week, he will find the formula to blend his unique vision with the demands of popular acceptance. If that happens early enough, he could win American Idol Season 12.

8) Janelle Arthur
She has been climbing this American Idol mountain for years only to find success in the same year as Kree HarrisonJanelle Arthur’s shiny personality, committed country stylings and strong push from American Idol Season 12 would be enough, in any other seaso,n to go deep into the competition. Unfortunately, this season has so many good singers that her great, but not spectacular, voice will cause her to fall short. I would not be surprised if she made it into the American Idol Season 12 top 5, but I cannot see her going much further than that. Does not matter, because I think Janelle Arthur has already done enough to establish herself as a life long fixture in the country music scene.

9) Lazaro Arbos
I hold my breath every time Lazaro Arbos performs. He has a beautiful voice but he picks songs that are bigger than him and then he struggles to pull through. He has succeeded so far but I think the competition is just too talented this year. Lazaro needs to be much more careful in his song selections, he needs to prepare more fully and then he needs to relax in his performances.

10) Paul Jolley
Paul Jolley is a little like “Nashville”. He says he is a country singer but he sings like Broadway. Paul impresses me as a singer who wants to succeed but has no real vision or passion for what he wants to bring to the world with his music. Before he can hope to succeed on American Idol Season 12, or beyond, he needs to find his artistic vision. What am I saying, he made the top 10 on American Idol Season 12, that ranks as a success in my book.

American Idol Season 12 resumes on Wednesday night when the Top 10 perform the “Music of American Idols”. By now, that represents a pretty deep well of songs.  It is too bad that Angie Miller has already performed Colton Dixon, she probably cannot dip into that well again.  Look out for Kree Harrison, who performed Kelly Clarkson‘s “Stronger” during Hollywood week, to maybe perform that song again.

Check back with One21music on Thursday to review the performances and speculate on who is heading home.

 

 

American Idol Season 12- America Votes

Well, America, I guess we will see what you think of the judge’s selections for American Idol Season 12.  It really is unfair that American Idol teases us with a rapturous two hours of the Season 12 girls to only follow that up with last night’s pedestrian show of 10 guys who mostly did not show that they deserve to in Las Vegas.

Curtis Finch Jr Top 12We had 12 Christian musicians in the American Idol Season 12 top 20.  Angie Miller, Aubrey Cleland, Candice Glover, Janelle Arthur, Breanna Steer, Amber Holcomb, Tenna Torres performed with the girls on Tuesday night.  Burnell Taylor, Curtis Finch Jr, Devin Velez, Vincent Powell and Lazaro Arbos performed on the guys show last night.  I believe America will vote seven to nine of these Chrisitian musicians into the American Idol Season 12 top 10.

 

Before we make some predictions let’s hand out some awards.

Most Thrilling Performance

This award goes to the performer who delivered the best combination of singing, immersion and emotional connection.  These performances brought us to tears and caused us to applaud in our living rooms.
1) Angie Miller-”Never Gone”

It is always thrilling to watch someone immersed in worship and experience the soaring emotional impact with them.  Christian musician Angie Miller took us to on a roller coaster with Colton Dixon’s “Never Gone”.  Her singing was powerful and perfect, but, more importantly, she expressed her deepest emotions with that performance.

2) Burnell Taylor- “I’m Here”

American Idol contestants are usually skewered for performing show tunes.  Not Burnell Taylor.  This song was more than a tune from Color Purple.  In this performance Burnell Taylor told his story and expressed his heart.  In other words he owned this song.

3) Curtis Finch Jr’s- “I Believe I Can Fly”

Some may not like Curtis Finch Jr’s mannerisms but man that was amazing!  My wife kept asking why he was holding back.  Most singers rush through the verses of this song so they can belt out the chorus.  Curtis Finch Jr teased us and teased us with quiet, nasty runs and then let loose in the end with some crazy power notes.  Few people can do what he did and hardly anyone thinks of doing what he did.

Best Singing Performance

This goes to the American Idol Season 12 singers who amazed us with singing acumen, vocal power and technical expertise.

1) Candice Glover- “Ordinary People”

A barrage of perfectly planned runs and sonic dynamics left us mesmerized.  Through her vocal prowess Candice  Glover transformed this John Legend classic into, as Randy would say, a Candice Glover joint.

2) Kree Harrison- “Stronger”

It is almost not fair that Kree Harrison is in American Idol Season 12.  She is so seasoned and assured.  I can see her at the Country Music Awards as easily as I can see her on American Idol Season 12. Her performance of “Stronger” was so smooth yet so technically amazing that we were wowed and we weren’t quite sure why.  I am thrilled Kree Harrison is being discovered.  I think country music will be better with her presence.

3) Curtis Finch Jr- “I Believe I Can Fly”

Not only was his performance thrilling, it was difficult and it was perfectly executed.

Most Daring Performance

This goes to the American Idol performers who took the biggest risks and delivered.  These singers stepped into dangerous songs and calmly sang us to the mountain.

1) Amber Holcomb- “I Believe In You and Me”

Really, she just did that? Amber Holcomb, a dark horse until Tuesday night, took on Whitney Houston and amazed us.  She did not try to belt the song over the top.  She made tasteful choices, inserted interesting runs and held back on the vocal pyrotechnics.  That was a smart, assured performance on American Idol Season 12.

2) Curtis Finch Jr- “I Believe I Can Fly”

Only considering his vocal dynamics, this was like a beginning skier turning onto a blue run and swooshing to the bottom.  Thrilling.

American Idol Season 12 Top 10 12 Predictions

I am virtually certain that American Idol Season 12 will insert two wild cards.  Given the number of remaining episodes they need more that 10 performers.  The question is will they wild card one guy and one girl or will they wild card two girls?  Based in this week’s performances it should be two girls.

American Idol Season 12 Top 10- As Voted by the Fans (no order).

  1. Burnell Taylor
  2. Kree Harrison
  3. Devin Velez
  4. Vincent Powell
  5. Candice Glover
  6. Angie Miller
  7. Curtis Finch Jr
  8. Amber Holcomb
  9. Lazaro Arbos
  10. Janelle Arthur

Top candidates for the wild card are: Breanna Steer, Aubrey Clelland, Elijah Liu, Nick Boddington.  If any of my predicted top 10 fall out, I think the judges would include them as an American Idol Season 12 wild card.

The results are tonight on Fox.  Check back with One21music on Monday as we do out American Idol Season 12 Top 12 power rankings and try to look ahead to next week’s performances.

 

American Idol Season 12- Las Vegas

One21music covers Christian musicians performing on American Idol Season 12.  We had an exciting and frustrating new twist last week and we were not here to discuss.  I apologize.  Our site was under lockdown for maintenance and we could not post.  We are back now and we will be here all season.

 

American Idol Season 12 top 5 guys vegasamerican idol top 5 girls vegasLast week American Idol Season 12 took us into the world of live audience sudden death performances. While the decision to eliminate performers after only half of them performed is a little frustrating, I like the format.  Over last week and this, we will be able to finally see all of the performers.  For the most part, I agree with the first 10 selected to go to the live show.  I was, and always am, surprised how some of the performers such as JDA and Chris Watson stumbled in their moves to the big stage.

Of the first 10 selected for America’s vote, five are Christian musicians.  Amber Holcomb, Angela Miller, Tenna Torres, Curtis Finch Jr and Devin Velez have all openly expressed their faith.  Angela Miller, Curtis Finch Jr and Devin Velez have all received substantial airplay during the auditions and Hollywood week.

Even last Tuesday, during the live performances, the judges were still raving about Angela Miller’s original song, “You Set Me Free”, which she performed during Hollywood Week.  Here’s why:

However, Amber Holcomb burst forth with the best performance of the week.  Here is 18 year old Amber Holcomb singing “My Funny Valentine”:

After the first week of American Idol Season 12 Las Vegas performances, here are my power rankings:

  1. Angela Miller
  2. Amber Holcomb
  3. Devin Velez
  4. Kree Harrison
  5. Adriana Latoni
  6. Curtis Finch Jr
  7. Tenna Torres
  8. Elijah Liu
  9. Paul Jolley
  10. Charlie Askew

This week American Idol Season 12 picks the final 10 performers to hand over to America for their votes.  The guys will perform first this week and then the ladies will perform on Thursday.  It will be interesting to see if the final 10 guys and final 10 ladies learned anything from last week’s performances.

Watch for these five Christian musicians performing on Wednesday night’s episode of American Idol Season 12: David Willis, Burnell Taylor, Vince Powell, Lazaro Arbos and Josh Holiday.  Based on what I have seen, I will be surprised if Burnell Taylor and Vince Powell do not make it to America’s vote.

On Thursday night American Idol Season 12 will feature seven Christian musicians performing live.  Aubrey Cleland, Jett Hermano, Rachel Hale, Cristabel Clack, Janelle Arthur, Candice Glover and Breanna Steer will compete to get to America’s vote.  Candice Glover has been the vocal stand out of this group so far, while country singer Janelle Arthur has been receiving as much face time as anyone on American Idol Season 12.

Join us this time next week as we preview the American Idol Season 12 Top 20 so you can get prepared to vote.

American Idol Season 12-Hollywood Girls

Well, the American Idol Season 12 boys finished their work in Hollywood.  However, the American Idol judges did not quite meet their goals for Hollywood week. There are 28 guys left after Hollywood week, we were supposed to be down to 20 by now.  So after the girls finish this week, the judges will work overtime to find eight more guys to send home. Of the remaining 28 guys we have been able to identify seven Christian musicians:

  • Curtis Finch Jr
  • Johnny Keyser
  • Vincent Powell
  • Josh Holiday
  • Devin Veliz
  • Lazaros Arbos
  • David Willis

Okay American Idol Season 12 girls, wow us in ways the boys did not.  We need drama during group night and we need begging after your individual performances.  Mostly, though cut loose and wow us with some dynamic performances.  We have already identified two female Christian musicians: Rachel Hale and Candice Glover. Watch for Candice and Rachel plus these other Christian musicians on American Idol Season 12.

Amber Holcomb

Amber Holcomb is high school senior from Shepherd, Texas. She was eliminated in Las Vegas during American Idol Season 11Amber Holcomb is one of those girls who seem to excel at everything in high school. She leads the high school drill team (so she can dance), stars on the track team (so you can’t catch her),  is homecoming royalty (so she has a winning personality) andis the youth group president of her church. The American Idol Season 12 girls better watch out.  She is inspired by Carrie Underwood, Fantasia and Jordin Sparks.  We haven’t seen much of Amber Holcomb on American Idol Season 12 so we hope to get a glimpse of her during Hollywood Week.

Angela Miller

Angela Miller stormed onto American idol Season 12 with her stunning versions of “Mamma Knows Best”. The American Idol judges were lured in by Angela’s hearing loss but were knocked out of their judges’ chairs by her scorching vocals. Angela’s parents Several sites have already highlighted Angela Miller as on of the early favorites to win American Idol Season 12.

Jenny Beth Willis

Jenny Beth Willis is an Owensboro, Kentucky teenager who has been active in the Kentucky country music scene for years with her band Straight Laced. They were Kentucky State Finalists in the Colgate Country Showdown, where they performed their original song, “Purple Heart.” She will bring a strong country vibe to American Idol Season 12.

Check back with us on Thursday when we will give you our final run down of the Christian musicians performing on American Idol Season 12.

American Idol Season 12- Boys In Hollywood

American Idol Season 12‘s Hollywood week was a dismal mess for the boys.  This year American Idol has split Hollywood Week into a boys week and and a girl’s week.  The American Idol producers also selected the groups and gave the performers a list of about 20 songs.  Keith Urban and I are shocked that the performers did not know songs such as “Standing In The Shadows (Of Love)”, “I’ll Be There” or “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.  How could any musician not know these Motown and Beach Boy staples. The group performances were mostly bad and the judges inexplicably passed numerous performers through who forgot lyrics, pitch and melody.  I don’t understand what happened last night.

We started our coverage of American Idol Season 12 on Monday by introducing five Christian musicians. Curtis Finch Jr, Johnny Keyser and Lazaros Arbos received about as much screen time as anyone last night.  Curtis Finch Jr shined in his group when their version of “Lazy Song” brought the judges to their feet (yes, Nikki Mani stood).  However, Curtis’s comments about his socialy challenged partner, Charlie Askew, did not demonstrate much charity.

Lazaro Arbos struggled with his group as well.  His background in Cuba limited his musical knowledge and his severe stutter made it difficult for him to work with his team.  However, when he sang “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” it was pretty magical.  Unfortunately, two members from his group were eliminated and they seemed to blame their elimination on Lazaro.

That brings us to Johnny Keyser, who somehow survived the group round even though he forgot all of the words to “I’ll Be There”.  I think American Idol may be trying to make up for eliminating Johnny last year. Johnny Keyser better step it up tonight or he may be out of second chances.

Keep your eyes open for these four Christian musicians singing tonight on American Idol Season 12, boys in Hollywood.

Vincent Powell

This Austin-based worship leader wowed the American Idol Season12 judges with his version of “Rock Me Baby.”  Vincent Powell has extensive professional singing experience (Whitney Houston, Kim Burrel and others). Vincent was part of the Four Tones, one of the few highlights on the show last night and his acapalla performance caused me write his name down.

David Willis

David Willis is another worship leader, he is from Eustis, Florida.  If you check out the Four Tones video above you will see him rock the house with some crazy high notes. However, David is also part of the Americana tinged duo, David and Olivia, with his wife. He is a singer/songwriter with a guitar.  Could David Willis give us a twist on the run of WGWG winners on American Idol?

Josh Holiday

We did not see much of Celeste, Texa native Josh Holiday during part one of American Idol Season 12 Hollywood week.  However, Josh has sang for Dolly Parton and the VPOTUS.  Josh attended Belmont University as Joshua Eric Wright and then changed his name to Josh Holiday. Let’s hope we see a glimpse of Josh tonight.

Devin Velez

We have not seen much of the red-headed singer on American Idol Season 12.  However, his group was featured last night when they decided to perform “Payphone” a capella.  There are numerous videos of Davin Velez singing in church and signing contemporary Christian music with his guitar, but he really stood out from his group.  Keep an eye out for Devin Velez.

Check back with us on Monday when we will give you a few girls to watch on American Idol Season 12.