So instead of Seacrest doing the cold open, the show starts with this montage of the Top 10 and their road to the finale, and includes clips from past winner announcements. And what do you know, the theme for this week is "Songs by Former Idol Winners". This doesn't just restrict the contestants from picking songs from the winners' post-Idol careers, however. They can sing something that the winner sang on the show as well. So I'm expecting mostly Kelly and Carrie and at least one song by one of the WGWG winners.
Nicki is apparently late because she was stuck in traffic.
Curtis - "I Believe" by Fantasia
Jimmy Iovine said: Don't be too retro.
Better Sung on Idol By: Fantasia (duh). This was her coronation moment. Singing a former Idol winner's coronation song is a bad idea because it will never stand up to the original and it will never have the emotion from the original performance.
I laughed when Curtis said he was singing "I Believe". But then again, it makes sense because anything by Ruben Studdard is really not that memorable. The song lyrics are so cliche that I almost wanted to stop watching. Some of Curtis' runs are off-key. But he amuses me by doing the patented baby mama "yeah yeah yeah" in the middle of the song for no reason. That last run of notes was painful.
Randy wanted Curtis to try something different (I agree).
Grade: D+. Curtis tried to create a gospel moment with the background singers but it didn't work. The performance as a whole was unremarkable.
Bland Janelle - "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry
Jimmy Iovine said: Find a way to stand out, because there are so many interchangeable bland, blonde country singers that I can't remember your name anymore. Is it Carrie? Taylor? (I might be paraphrasing a touch.)
Better Sung on Idol By: Not a clue. Maybe Scotty did it better? I didn't watch his season.
Janelle is singing something Scotty McCreery (WGWG #4) sang on Idol. I had no idea this song even existed. The clip in the video package showed him getting up and jumping around a little so I have a feeling it's something uptempo. Right away, Janelle is off-key, and her lower register is spoken rather than sung. She tries to put in some big notes but fails because she doesn't have the voice for it. One of them was particularly off-key.
Randy thought the song didn't go anywhere (true). Mariah wanted to hear her sing a ballad (apparently she wasn't paying attention the last couple of weeks).
Grade: D. Janelle is just not interesting.
Tintin - "Temporary Home" by Carrie Underwood
Jimmy Iovine said: Don't get caught up in the adult contemporary genre.
Better Sung on Idol By: I don't know if anyone's ever sung it on Idol before.
And it's a ballad. Ugh. Can Idol have a "No Ballads" theme week? Given the song choice, I think Devin was forced to sing this (who actually believes he's a Carrie Underwood fan, especially when he called her original?) Devin's vocals are underwhelming and that last falsetto note was off-key in places.
Keith thought it was the wrong choice. Nicki made funny faces during Keith's critique, and there was complete and utter silence after he finished. Randy thought it was too safe.
Angie Big Hair - "I Surrender" by Celine Dion
Jimmy Iovine said: When you perform, you can be pretty pageant-y.
Better Sung on Idol By: Kelly Clarkson, by far. Kelly can outsing all this season's contestants combined without even trying.
I groaned at the song choice because it's Celine's most dreck-iest song (save for "My Heart Will Go On"). She doesn't take Jimmy's advice and her performance is still pageant-y. Angie sings it fine, she hits most of the notes, but a) it's nowhere near Kelly's version and b) she's not all that interesting. She never does anything but ballads. For the whole performance, she just wanders around the stage.
The judges pimp her to high heaven. I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that she'll be the victim of the token shocker elimination (bonus points if the judges already used their one save of the season and Angie is sent home).
Grade: D+. These people are fucking boring.
Flamin' Paul - "Amazed" by Lonestar
Jimmy Iovine said: Don't oversing (thank you!). Jimmy says he's theatrical and compares him to Broadway singers, which is Idol-speak for "Stop being so gay". Paul says he's never sung Broadway (that is a goddamn lie).
Better Sung on Idol By: Again, not a clue. Apparently, Scotty sang it, but this has been one of the most oversung country songs in the history of the show, and every version I can remember has sucked.
He's off-key right at the start. His lower register is drowned out by the band and background singers. The last note is not even in the same key as the song. Paul is trying to look straight again, but he can't do it. If he went full-out queen the next episode, he might save the the show for me.
Nicki said he stimulated her sexual appetite (you're not his type, Nicki). Randy said he wasn't gonna talk about the sexuality.
Grade: D-. I want him to pull a pre-Idol Lambert next week, but that will never happen in a million years.
Candice - "I (Who Have Nothing)" by Shirley Bassey
Jimmy Iovine said: Try to find a connection to the song.
Better Sung on Idol By: Jordin Sparks. Season six is the one I remember the most. This performance solidified Jordin as one of the front runners of that season.
Before Candice sang, they showed a clip of her crying over missing her family because tears = ratings. Then Seacrest made a jab at her dad's weight saying the plane should've been afraid of him. Seriously, Shitcrest? Not cool.
I do like this song, but since Jordin's version is the one I'm most familiar with, there's no way Candice can sing anywhere near as well as Jordin. She interprets the song to be angry, and sings it with a scowl on her face, which is completely wrong for the song. The song is supposed to be full of despair and sadness. Since she's this season's token screechy diva, she oversings it to all hell and goes off-key in one of her sustained notes.
The judges pimped her because the producers want a girl to win.
Grade: D-. Leaning towards FAIL, but she wasn't off-key enough to deserve it.
Lazaro the Stutterer - "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson
Jimmy Iovine said: Pick better songs.
Better Sung on Idol By: Kelly Clarkson. No one sings Kelly like Kelly.
Lazaro didn't listen to Jimmy and picked one of Kelly's staple songs. He's breathy right away, and I honestly think the song is in a key too low for him. He's speak-singing his lower notes, which isn't good because most of the song is sung in his lower register. He ends with an Idol-trademark glory note.
Keith asks Lazaro why he picked that song and Lazaro takes about an hour to get his answer out (THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR THE SHOW'S TIME CONSTRAINT). The judges didn't like the song choice (this is making me wonder if he was forced to sing it).
Grade: FAIL. There are still three singers left but I know this was the worst of the night.
Kree the Janitor - "Crying" by Roy Orbison
Jimmy Iovine said: Don't oversing (Jimmy should've said this to every contestant).
Better Sung on Idol By: Carrie Underwood.
Predictably, Kree sings something Carrie Underwood did on Idol. Carrie is the only successful country singer Idol has produced (I don't count Kellie Pickler because she annoyed me when she was on Idol and she's on Dancing With the Stars now, which is where you go after you've peaked in your singing career). Kree's vocals are unremarkable and a little underwhelming. I got bored during her performance so I started wondering if her jacket was made of a cow or a zebra.
Keith said she could sing the phone book (no one uses phone books anymore). Nicki started randomly talking about waffles and Keith sniffs her drink (I think Nicki smoked something before the show).
Grade: D-. Idol does not need anymore bland country singers.
Burnell Urkel - "Fly Without Wings" by Ruben Studdard
Jimmy Iovine said: Try to find a genre you can fit into.
Better Sung on Idol By: Ruben.
Burnell also makes the mistake of singing an Idol coronation song. So I have to sit through more cliche lyrics. And he's off-key. Again, it lacks the emotion of the original performance.
The judges were iffy about it, mostly.
Grade: D. I was bored.
Amber - "A Moment Like This" by Kelly Clarkson
Jimmy Iovine said: Sing more uptempo (YES MORE OF THAT PLEASE TAKE NOTES EVERYONE).
Better Sung on Idol By: Kelly. This is another one of her staple songs, if not her most iconic song.
This was probably the cheesiest way to end the show. Either Amber was forced to sing it, or the producers gave her the pimp spot because she picked that song. Amber at least tried to put some emotion but it came out pageant-y. I guess technically it works, because of the cliche lyrics, but at least Kelly sang the shit out of it when she won, even when she was crying. I also couldn't tell if she was wearing a leopard print dress or one of those things that look like a dress but are actually really baggy pants. She oversings a lot too. Ugh.
Nicki said it was the best performance of the night and compared her to Whitney Houston. Yep, Nicki definitely smoked a ton of weed before the show. Amber is nowhere near Whitney-caliber singing.
I was a little surprised no one sang "Home" (I thought Paul would do it, given that he wants to be the "male Taylor Swift"). But I'm glad no one did (I'm a Fierce Five fan and I didn't want that song ruined).
I decided not to predict the results and just watch them live (I kept the volume down until the end because I didn't want to deal with the stupid Glee promos). Instead of announcing a bottom three, they just announce people safe one by one until they get to the bottom two. That bottom two is Curtis and Tintin. Curtis had the lowest number of votes and Nicki was ready to walk off the set. Then Curtis had to sing for the save (GROAN), and he sang "I Believe I Can Fly". He was horribly off-key for the majority of the song. In the end, Curtis was sent home because the judges weren't unanimous.