American Idol Season 12 Top 6 Performances

Last week, three of the four American Idol judges left Candice Glover out of their top 3.  They may have awakened the beast.  Last night Candice Glover brought the house down, brought the judges to their feet and to their knees and inspired Mariah to share her glitter.  After Candice Glover‘s two song tour de force last night, anyone who does not include her in their top 3, is just wrong.

Candice Glover Love Song

American Idol Season 12 took us on quite a journey last night.  First they took us through one of the most boring book of songs in popular music- the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song book.  Listening to these songs back to back to back was trying. The second half of the show, where the Idols sang songs they wished they had written was much better.  Now that we are on to two songs each week, singing talent and popularity took a back seat to maturity and broader musical talent, in a big way.

In addition to the show that Candice Glover put on, we also saw the return of the  Angie Miller we all love.  The judges all screamed that the difference was Angie back at her piano, but that is secondary.  Angie Miller returned to worshiping our God with Kari Jobe‘s “Love Came Down” and delivered a transcendent performance that brought many people in the audience and on Twittersphere to tears.

Kree Harrison delivered two very strong performances, but the other big news of the night was the meltdown of Lazaro Arbos and the judges painfully difficult critique.  His first song “Close To You” was never on pitch and he did not even make a key change with the band.  The judges did everything they could to encourage him, but there was nothing good they could say.  His second performance was not much better.

The only thing that may save him was the surprisingly weak performances by Janelle Arthur.  I really expected Janelle to do more magic with this broad array of songs and she played it pretty straight forward. That decision exposed her voice and left her in trouble.

American Idol Season 12 Top 6 Performance Rankings

1) Candice Glover – “Love Song” by The Cure/Adele
The original Cure version is one of my favorite rock songs.  Candice Glover performed a slow, smokey, jazzy interpretation I never that possible. This was not The Cure, this was not Adelle, this wass a revelation.  This girl is the best I have seen on American Idol in years.  Keith Urban bowed at her feet.  Mariah went on stage and threw glitter.  Amazing is not a strong enough word for what we saw last night.  Randy said that may have been the greatest performance he has ever seen on American Idol.

2)Angie Miller – “Love Came Down” by Kari Jobe
Give Angie Miller a song she believes and she soars.  She just swallowed up the entire theater.  Angie Miller  overwhelmed the big Idol stage with a big production of angels and smoke.  She did not need it. She took Los Angeles to church and it was a fabulous trip.  That was Angie Miller at her very, very best.  Angie Miller singing about Christ is magical.  Yes, I cried.  Standing, whooping ovation from the judges. Randy said “amazing, unbelievable.”

3)Candice Glover – “Don’t Make Me Over” by Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick
Candice Glover is amazing!  She took another old boring Bacharach song and turned it into a 21st century, flaming, soul barnburning show stopping performance.  I want this song now.  I want her album now.  The runs, the growls, the key changes, the power notes, the falsettos- she brought it all together.  This is one of the best vocals of American Idol Season 12.  Nikki said it all “oh goodness gracious”.

4) Kree Harrison –  ”What the World Needs Now” originally sung by Jackie De Shannon by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Brilliant.  Kree rearranged this sixties anthem into a country ballad.  It gave her voice room to soar and it pulled us hard into the lyrics.  A really fabulous performance from Kree Harrison. I would buy this record. Keith pointed out that we feel the humanity and compassion of Kree Harrison in her performances.  He called it her best performance of the season.

5) Kree Harrison –  ”Help Me Make it Through The Night” by Kris Kristofferson
Kree Harrison calls this song simply beautiful.  I agree.  That performance was simply beautiful.  We  saw Kree Harrison in her full-on country persona.  That interpretation took me back to my childhood when my mom would blast this song out into the neighborhood.  Another special performance by a great singer.  Randy calls her a natural singer.  Keith called it a “buckle polisher” and just predicted that Kree Harrison would be admitted into the Grand Ole’ Opry.  No bigger compliment for Kree Harrison is possible.

6)Amber Holcomb – “Love On Top” by Beyonce
I liked this performance much better than her first performance.  The start and finish were a little pitchy for me but the middle was strong.  The entire vocal was fun and bouncy.  What, Mariah half criticized her vocal?  Every other judge continued to fawn all over Amber Holcomb.

7) Janelle Arthur – “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
This was not a great song for this moment.  Janelle Arthur really needed more at this moment.  We saw Janelle’s voice in all its glory, its sweet tone and perfect pitch.  Her performance was engaging and deep.  However, there was no breakthrough moments here. Keith was right that this might have been stronger if she had just played her guitar. Janelle Arthur needed a breathtaking performance and she delivered a solid, sweet performance.

8)Angie Miller – “Anyone Who Had A Heart” by Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick
This was a great song choice for Angie’s voice.  It really highlighted her low register.  The song is a typical bland Bacharach adult contemporary but Angie Miller sang this beautifully.  She held back while showing great range.  Keith asked for more passion. Missing passion from Angie? really. Nikki and Keith were right that it seemed a little old fashioned.

9)Amber Holcomb – “I Say A Little Prayer” by Burt Bacharach/Dionne Warwick
Amber Holcomb‘s voice sounded great but she struggled with the pace of the song.  She seemed to struggle to catch-up at times and that caused some pitch problems.  I think this was Amber’s worst performances of the season. The judges once again fawned all over her.  They thought Amber Holcomb was amazing.

10)Janelle Arthur- “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” by Burt Bacharach
I was hoping for more from Janelle Arthur with this performance.  I had hoped for some special Janelle interpretation.  This was more of a middle of the road performance that did not show Janelle’s voice in the best light and brought nothing new to the song.  Keith said, ‘that was good”. That is the best I can say as well.

11) Lazaro Arbos – “Angels” by Robbie Williams
This performance was okay for a few moments during the chorus when Lazaro could sing big.  That is about all I can say. The rest of the song was off key and he was over run by the music. Nikki had nothing to say. The other judges hemmed and hawed around criticizing Lazaro Arbo without eviscerating him.

12)Lazaro Arbos“Close To You” –  originally sung by The Carpenters (Bacharach/David)
It is really hard to listen to this song without hearing Karen Carpenter.  Lazaro did not compare favorably.  There were pitch problems all over the place.  This was as bad a performance I have heard from any performer all season long. Randy said it was horrible, probably his worst performance of the season.  Mariah nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to criticize his performance. This was another example of Lazaro Arbos coming to the show under prepared.

I do not understand American Idol Season 12 voting this year. I am 3 out of 4 in my predictions but never have I predicted Lazaro Arbos in the Top 3.  I think last night’s performances lands him the bottom 2.  However, I think Janelle Arthur was weak enough to save Lazaro for one more week.  I don’t think the judges will save Janelle Arthur so I think she goes home tonight.  If anyone else is voted off, I think the American Idol Season 12 judges save them.

 

American Idol Season 12 Top 6 Power Rankings

American Idol Season 12 Top 3Time for a little rant about American Idol Season 12.  How can anyone watch this show week in and week out and have a top 3 without Candice Glover?  How can America vote a top 3 that includes Lazaro Arbos?  I have questioned all season that Lazaro should not be in the top 20, the top 10, etc.  I know that America’s votes are fickle and unpredictable but this is a travesty.

However, I am less upset with America than I am with the American Idol  judges.  Keith Urban, Nikki Manaj and Randy Jackson all had top 3′s that excluded Candice GloverCandice Glover‘s “I (Who Have Nothing)” is the high point of the live shows.  Every duet or trio has been dominated by Candice Glover. Every week Candice Glover has been one of the best singers.  Sometimes you see things that are so perplexing that you must question the honesty of what is being said.

American Idol Season 12 Top 6 Power Rankings

1) Candice Glover- We can only hope that this week’s shocking exclusion of Candice Glover from everyone’s top 3 and the elimination of Burnell Taylor will light a new fire in Candice Glover. She has sang exceptionally well week after week, but she has seemed to fall into a complacency of easy song selections. Let’s hope she now digs deeper and begins a six week mission to wring amazement from each and every song she selects. We know Candice Glover can sing rock and pop but it is now time to turn this season into her own personal gospel and soul revue.  Say goodbye to Burnell Taylor and watch Candice Glover strut her stuff with”The Letter”

2) Kree Harrison- She continues a high level march through American Idol Season 12. Kree Harrison is the best country singer singing to an audience that prefers country. She has performed well each week but her performances have been devoid of peaks and valleys. Kree Harrison has yet to amaze us. That could hurt her in the end.

3) Angie Miller- She has had peaks and valleys. After an astonishing start Angie Miller had suffered through several weeks of perplexing, overwrought missteps. Will this week’s “Bring Life To Me” start her comeback. Angie Miller needs six weeks of deep, heartfelt performances of songs she cares about. And for heavens sakes, get back to your piano Angie Miller.

4) Janelle Arthur- This was not an amazing week for Janell Arthur and she wound up in the bottom two. She needs to wow America each week with her personality and her depth as a performer. Janelle Arthur can make it to the American Idol Season 12 top 3, but it will be because she surprises America each week with amazing arrangements and show stopping performances.

5)Amber Holcomb- I do not how Amber Holcomb is on three of the judges top 3. She is a beautiful singer and has been very daring in her arrangements. However, I have yet to be excited by any of her performances. She seems to struggle with up paced songs. Even this week, she technically performed a rock ballad and she has struggled in fast paced group numbers.

6) Lazaro Arbos- What can I say? Lazaro Arbos struggles to maintain melody and pitch in his performances and he regularly forgets lyrics. At this point we should be hearing interesting song arrangements and commanding stage presence. Instead we get roller coaster vocal performances that we are all grateful he finishes.  As we move into the first week to double solo performances, expect Lazaro Arbos to struggle mightily.  American Idol Season 12 is too big for Lazaro Arbos.

Will we have an all girl top 5 in American Idol Season 12? Will the judges use their save this week?  I bet we have one or the other.  American Idol Season 12 will have two solo performances this week.  The first theme is “Burt Bacharach/Hal David Songbook”.  The second theme is “Songs You Wish You Wrote”. Both of these themes provide the best artists a full range of possibilities.  These themes should favor Angie Miller and should give Candice Glover room to bring the gospel.

American Idol Season 12 Top 7 Performances

American Idol Season 12 Top 7 RockHave we ever seen an American Idol episode without ballads?  Not even one? So much potential for American Idol Season 12 with a show theme of “Classic Rock, No Ballads”, so much hope. We got a too heavy dose of Orianthi but the show, solos and duets both, was fun. Once again the girls dominated.  Kree Harrison, Candice Glover and Angie Miller were all essentially tied at the top.  Burnell Taylor, Janelle Arthur and Amber Holcomb were bunched in the second group. Nobody had a standout, amazing moment this week but we had mostly solid performance and an enjoyable show.

American Idol Season 12 Top 7 Performaces

1)Kree Harrison – “Piece Of My Heart” by Janis Joplin
So Kree Harrison is the den mother of the group and she is one of the best singers ever. She can do soul, she can do blues, she can do rock and she can do country. Wonderful, powerful performance of a Texas girl by a Texas girl. She was completely at home with the song and she consumed this song. Amazingly she has a pinched nerve and she stomped around the stage like a big 60′s rock singer. Nikki said Kree Harrison would get all 50 of her Idol app votes. She would get many of mine.

2)Candice Glover – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
Candice Glover is just done. She is complete. She could go on tour right now. Candice Glover delivered perfect, powerful, aggressive singing with commanding stage presence.  My only complaint is that the song did not push her very much. Kree gets a degree of difficulty bonus but this was incredible. The judges continue to fawn over Candice Glover even though Nikki hated the song choice.  Randy was correct that she brought the rock attitude to the performance.

3)Angie Miller – “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence
All season long the judges have been telling Angie Miller to perform an Evanescence song. I think they were right. The song was big enough for her dramatics and her voice soared on this big rock anthem. I think she felt the lyrics and she stayed within the song. Finally, Angie Miller returned to her piano, even if just for a moment. Randy was right that her dynamics were great. This could be the return of Angie Miller.

4)Janelle Arthur – “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel
According to Burnell, Janelle Taylor is “horse waiting outside country”. Janelle’s thick country take on this Long Island songwriter actually worked. This was not the riveting performance she has delivered the past few weeks and the arrangement exposed her vocal weakness but her powerful stage presence made it worked. Nikki said that Janelle seems like every girl’s best friend. That translates into many American Idol votes.

5)Amber Holcomb – “What About Love” by Heart
I think Burnell is sweet on Amber Holcomb. Evidently Amber is sweet on Amber as well, because she is constantly taking photos of herself. This song skirts the edge of ‘no ballads”. This performance exposed some Amber’s shortcomings. She sang big and she sang powerfully. However, we did not see many musical dynamics from her. The song sounded like a flat plain. The judges gushed but I did not see it. Nikki even said it was her favorite of the night. I didn’t get it.

 6)Burnell Taylor – “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi
Burnell Taylor actually did much better than I thought he would with an uptempo number. The character of his voice showed through even though his unique phrasing was washed away in the tempo of this song. This gives me hope about his performance range. I hope to see some uptempo R&B from him if he survives the opening spot this week.  Burnell did “The Letter” in a duet with Candice Glover.  He should have picked that song for his solo performance.

 7)Lazaro Arbos - “We Are The Champions” by Queen
Lazaro Arbos is bright and dramatic but he is no Freddy Mercury.  This song completely engulfed him. For stretches of the song I could not hear him. When I did, he wavered all around the pitch. That was not so good. But we did have a big dramatic pose at the end. The judges generally liked the performance but I think they have lowered their bar for Lazaro.

The results are tricky to project this week.  We could have surprise but I doubt it.  I think Amber Holcomb, Burnell Taylor and Lazaro Arbos are in the bottom 3 on Thursday night.  I think Burnell Taylor is at risk because he performed first and his was not a stand out performance.  However, his duet was great and he was featured a lot during the vignettes between songs.  I think that will be enough to save Burnell and I think Lazaro Arbos runs out of steam this week.

Check back in with us on Monday to review our American Idol Season 12 top 6 power rankings.

American Idol Season 12 Top 7 Power Rankings

American Idol Season 12 Top 7Now things begin to get interesting on American Idol Season 12. We have six exceptional competitors and one weaker singer who continues to bask in inexplicable popularity.  Lazaro Arbos takes the judges criticism week after week and continues to pile up the votes.  His popularity could result in a shocking result this week that may force the judges to use their save.  The American idol Season 12 Top 7 includes six Christian musicians.  We just do not know about one of our favorites, Kree Harrison.

Our two favorites, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison opened and closed the show with powerful performances. The real story of the past few weeks is the momentum being generated by Janelle Arthur with her smart, artistic arrangements and performances. While Janelle is asserting herself Angie Miller has stumbled the past few weeks with perplexing song choices and performances. Season 12 is still there for any of the top 6 but people better start creating some memorable moments because Candice Glover and Kree Harrison are assembling a powerful body of work on American Idol Season 12.

American Idol Season 12 Top 7 Power Rankings

1) Candice Glover
Week after week Candice Glover delivers fresh, soulful, bluesy takes on standard American Idol fare. Last week was no different when she re-interpreted “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” Her take on this classic was a little more aggressive with assertive vocals and a more driving beat. I would not want to listen to an entire album of these songs from Candice Glover but I would relish any of the songs she has done this year on her first CD. Candice Glover is putting together very strong body of work on American Idol Season 12. If anyone else wins, it will be because of genre popularity or some major stumble by Candice. Right now, Candice Glover is on a path to the finale.

2) Kree Harrison
Yes, Kree Harrison is a country singer. But she is a country singer like we have not seen since Hank Williams. Kree Harrison brings the back woods blues and the down south soul back to country. Her take on “Don’t Play That Song for Me” was brilliant. For an Aretha fan to listen to someone else make this song fresh was a revelation. If Kree Harrison keeps this up we will be headed to the best finale since, well since the beginning of American Idol. Kree Harrison is a mature performer, a tremendous singer and she has put together a consistently great Season 12.

3) Janelle Arthur
Here she comes. The country girl who was dismissed as the second best country singer on American Idol is showing, like David Cook and Phil Phillips, that there is more to winning American Idol than a big voice. Janelle Arthur put together back to back performances that wowed us. Her version of “You Keep Me Hanging On” won the American Idol Season 12 Top 8 performance rankings and revealed new vision of that song. She is highlighting the beauty of her voice and the maturity of her artistic vision. We are loving it.

4) Angie Miller
Where have you gone our emotive songstress? You bolted to the top of American Idol Season 12 with gut wrenching performances of meaningful songs. In the past few weeks it seems Angie Miller has tried to win by showing off many different sides of herself. You can do that if the different sides fit you. These past few weeks don’t seem to be Angie Miller the artist. It is time for Angie Miller to reconnect with her audience in a authentic way and build on that relationship into the finals. If not, we are going to be shocked in one of these next few weeks.

5) Amber Holcomb
Week after week Amber Holcomb has delivered some of the most stunning vocal performances on American Idol Season 12. Last week’s “Lately” was stunning. Difficult, subtly arranged, daring, perfectly sung, and yet, I was not wowed. I don’t know if it is the tone of Amber Holcomb‘s voice or the sting of ballads she has sung but I just don’t feel the excitement she will need to win American Idol Season 12.

6) Burnell Taylor
Probably the most interesting, vocally, of all the performers on American Idol Season 12, Burnell Taylor is losing me with his parade of ballads. His cool tone and jolting phraseology pull me in, but I need to hear something a little more modern. Tony Bennett has a cool tone and an interesting phrasing style but he is not winning American Idol Season 12. Burnell Taylor needs a big moment this week or we will see him exit on the next two weeks.

7) Lazaro Arbos
Lazaro Arbos was at his best last week and it still was not good enough. He has a beautiful voice and he can probably do something with it professionally. However, this year, in this competition he is out of his league. His popularity does continue to surprise but I expect him to exit within the next few weeks.

It looks like we will see Burnell Taylor and Amber Holcomb move out of their comfort zones with this week’s theme- “Classic Rock, No Ballads.” Plenty of Creedance Clearwater Revival, Journey and Heart this week.  This could be a turning week in American Idol Season 12. Join us Thursday as we review the performances.

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.