American Idol Recap: Season Twelve's Top Ten Take The Stage

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OK, folks, I'm gonna give it a shot. I've missed my talent show recapping, and American Idol seems like a good chance to get back in the swing of things (although truth be told, it's The Voice whose return I'm awaiting most anxiously.)

Image courtesy of Fox

Here we are in Season 12, and there have already been weeks of auditions and Hollywood Week and Vegas Week and so on. I am not feeling the new judges...four judges still means too much talky no enough singy for this singing fan. And the more I hear fake British accents the more I want to slap a real British person upside the head. And that's just not fair, is it? 

But here we are, Top Tenning again. And hey, maybe we won't have to worry about four judges talking, because the show starts, and. Um. No Nikki? She is late because of traffic. Because, really, who would predict hitting traffic in Los Angeles, amiright?

The theme is very meta, as the contestants will be singing the "Music of American Idol Winners", either during Idol or during their post-Idol careers (which really narrows down your choices to how many of the eleven winning Idols you can choose from).

Every contestant is lucky enough to get a coaching session with Jimmy Iovine, which we get a glimpse of.

 And away we go!

1. Curtis Finch Jr. sang "I Believe" the finale original song written for Season 3 (ultimately included on Fantasia's album)

Fantasia remains my favorite Idol winner ever, as far as actual performances on Idol. (Kelly has had my favorite post-Idol career.) Curtis' rendition of this gospel-infused ballad was pretty, but also pretty boring. He in no way has the depth of a Fantasia, nor the ability to sing his pain, so the song lost its redemptive power and simply felt like a tribute. 

2. Janelle Arthur sang "Gone" sung by Scottie McCreary

Janelle certainly sounded better than she did for the Top 20 song (I would not have sent Janelle through to the Top 10 personally), but my problem was that I didn't know how she felt about this entire story of the song. She was smiling most of the time, but then trying to pull off looking kind of pissed off at the end. I think she was adrenalized and super pumped up, but that meant the song was kind of glossy, not gritty. And it didn't go anywhere, as Randy said. For all Janelle's protestations that she didn't want to be pop cross-over and be true country, it sure sounded a lot like cross-over Carrie Underwood style to me. 

3. Devin Velez sang "Temporary Home" sung by Carrie Underwood

This is the first time I really noticed him. The song has a plaintive story and a nice melody, and he has a beautiful voice. The song did just sit in one place, but it was a quality place 

4. Angie Miller sang "I Surrender" by Celine Dion (sung by Kelly Clarkson)

If anyone is wondering why Jimmy thinks pageants when Angie sings away form her piano, it's all in her carefully placed hand gestures and in her careful prancing back and forth on the stage. She sounds good, but she seemed manufactured. And it's not just the big pageant hair. I agree with Nikki for once: Get back to the piano, and please don't sing big diva songs, even though you can pull them off vocally.

5. Paul Jolley sang "Amazed" by Lone Star (sung by Scott McCreary)

Well, good job with the critique, Jimmy…you effectively scare the hell out of Paul about emoting until he seemed so restrained it was constrained. He does have a lovely voice, but this was somewhat stultifying. 

6. Candice Glover sang "I Have Nothing" by Ben E. King (sung by Jordin Sparks)

Wow. She has amazing pipes. And she's a grown-up with depth behind those eyes. The show started right that minute, and it was a LONG time to wait. She won the night, no question about it.

7. Lazaro Arbos "Breakaway" sung by Kelly Clarkson

I love this song, and I do think the lyrics really resonated with Lazaro's story, but let's be clear. He's adorable and inspiring. And he has a nice enough tone and voice. But he's one of the least ready for this moment. Nervous, pitchy, stiff. He probably didn't deserve Top Ten, and on performance alone, he probably deserves to go home now. But I don't think he will.

8.Kree Harrison sang Roy Orbison's "Crying" sung by Carrie Underwood

Kree has a really pretty voice, and was one of my favorites from the Top Twenty night, but this was a treacly arrangement that was too uptempo, and it was also a perfunctory performance from Kree. I didn't like it at all.

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