There were so many changes to this year’s American Idol. Not only did they add Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, and Mariah Carey to the mix, they changed the way the finalists were put together. But because they seemingly make changes every year, I can’t even tell you what it was like last year or the year before in comparison. All I know is that instead of twelve (and sometimes thirteen), there are only ten finalists this year which means either the show is going to go more quickly than ever, or they have some shenanigans involved that will extend the season somehow.
Speaking of changes, my American Idol recaps will be less of a live blog and more of a recap. But, if you read my X Factor posts from this past season, you’ll be familiar.
Before we get to the recap of the first finals show, Tiffany (@TVProducerLady) and I put together a list of the top 20 American Idol contestants ever. You can read both lists at your leisure (part 1 and part two).
The show theme was songs that were performed by American Idol alumni. And considering that Tiffany and I just went through all American Idol contestants in history for our lists, I think Nigel and company were listening in on our Skype conversations. Can you bug a Skype call?
Overall, the show was a mixed bag. While they were some really good performances, most were shaky and nervous. And some of the song choices were outright terrible (Charles Barkley voice).
Performances Of The Night
Some may not agree with me, but I think there were only three really good performances. Angie Miller deserves props for setting it off after three shaky performances started the show. She performed Celine Dion’s I Surrender like she’d done it a million times before. And while I don’t think it was in the same league as Kelly Clarkson’s famous Idol performance, much of it is because Angie doesn’t really fake emote well. Jimmy Iovine made a point that Angie performs like she’s a beauty pageant contestant. But Angie seemed to believe that it meant she was pretty rather than the fact her performances are a bit stiff and over rehearsed-looking.
(I don’t think Angie will win this show because the voting females are going to hate her by mid-season. Let’s just call it a hunch.)
The best performance of the night was Candice Glover’s cover of I (Who Have Nothing). Candice talked about Jordin’s performance of the same song and it reminded me how good that performance was. I’d forgotten about it when it comes to all-time great Idol performances. It was the perfect song choice because it’s a song that hasn’t been overdone. I guess Haley Reinhart, Tiffany’s favorite, performed it, but it must not have been super memorable if I can’t remember it. But Candice belted it. She’s the one powerhouse vocalist in the group and I hope she didn’t peak early because it really was good.
The third best tonight was Burnell Taylor’s performance. I really liked the way he performed, but I wasn’t sold on the song. You have so many songs to choose from and you choose Ruben Studdard’s Flying Without Wings (or whoever originally performed it before Simon snaked it for Ruben). If you wanted to go Ruben, you could’ve gone Superstar, A Whole New World, or even Sweet Home Alabama. But what Burnell did was really put his own vocal spin on it that made it sound much fresher than it had any right to. And he ditched the glasses which was good because he was starting to remind me of a 2013 version of Nikko Smith.
Kree (Summer) Harrison was very solid, but unspectacular with her version of Roy Orbison’s Crying. And Amber Holcomb‘s performance of Clarkson’s A Moment Like This was a little cheesy, but her vocals are just too strong to be denied. They get the honorable mention awards.
Who Dropped The Ball?
While there were some boring performances, there were only two that I would really define as bad. Curtis Finch, Jr. opened up the show by doing Fantasia’s I Believe. If you remember Fantasia’s performance, she was so emotional, yet her performance was still impeccable. Curtis decided to sing it while smiling and without any real emotion. He didn’t seem to really believe.
The only other person who I thought dropped the ball was Lazaro Arbos. I’m absolutely not a fan of Lazaro and while I won’t be insensitive and say that the only reason he’s on the show still is because of his stuttering issue, if someone made that argument, I would listen. I’ve never found any of his performances interesting since his heartbreaking audition. It’s been the rule of diminishing returns ever since that performance. On Wednesday, he tried covering Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway. Lazaro left an easy win on the table. He could’ve covered nearly anything Clay Aiken sang in season two, but instead he tried to do Clarkson. The problem with doing anything Kelly has done is that unless you have those powerhouse vocals, it’s going to come off completely copycat which Lazaro’s performance did. But he’s not going anywhere. His story will carry him for several more weeks no matter what.
Who Goes Home?
I think our friend Curtis will be in the bottom three for sure. Devin Valez’s Temporary Home was as easily forgettable as he is. And Paul Jolley’s performance of Amazed was fine, but lacked any sort of special quality, which is kind of what he’s missing as a performer. He’s the same generic male who is eliminated before week eight every season that no one remembers (except for Tiffany and me). But if I’m betting money, I think Curtis is going home sweet home.
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