Wednesday (April 3) night is Classic Rock Night on “American Idol,” apparently. Given that our Top 7 has devolved into a talented, but familiar assortment of weekly ballads, we’ll see if the Classic Rock theme means a change of pace or a lot of cheating.
One thing that’s for sure is that we can expect a lot of padding and we can also expect whoever gets paired with Lazaro Arbos on their group performance to struggle.
Click through for the full adventure….
8:01 p.m. ET. Per “American Idol,” Classic Rock means Queen, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Jopin and… Evanescence. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong.
8:02 p.m. Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are matching again. I guess this is a Wednesday thing for if Nicki makes it to the studio on time.
8:03 p.m. Ryan Seacrest says the theme is “Rock,” not Classic Rock. So either he just made a change at the line of scrimmage or… I dunno what.
8:03 p.m. Orianthi is performing with the Top 7 tonight. This is exciting.
Singer: BURNELL TAYLOR
Song: “You Give Love a Bad Name”
My Take: Per his fellow contestants, Burnell talks funny and laughs funny. Burnell somehow misses the beginning of the song, but you’ve gotta give him full credit: He’s singing a straight-forward arrangement of the Bon Jovi song. He isn’t tinkering or finessing or Blake Lewising it at all. Full credit to Burnell for that, because he’s going to get voted out for this performance. He’ll get the Judges’ Save, so don’t worry about him. But the lack of rock ‘n’ roll attitude in this performance is just a wee bit hilarious. And doing a by-the-numbers rock vocal takes away absolutely everything distinctive about Burnell. He has no fun with the melody, no fun with the phrasing and I have no fun listening to it. But damned if he didn’t go for it! He isn’t even conducting during the song. He’s doing rock kicks and cringing next to Orianthi because somebody must have showed him a YouTube clip illustrating what “rock” performances look like. I guess if you’re going to be bad, you might as well be amusingly bad. Somehow, though, Burnell has made us expect more than slightly-better-than-Sanjaya.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: “Wow. OK. That last kick was almost like a dare,” Keith says, calling Burnell uncomfortable and saying that rock just isn’t his thing, urging him to make songs his own if he isn’t comfortable with them. “You reminded me of a little Teddy Ruxpin bear today,” Nicki says, claiming that he was still lovable even if rock isn’t his thing. Randy wants to give Burnell tips. He tells Burnell he has to ride the beat harder. “I was proud of you,” Mariah says. “I been know the song,” says Burnell, who says this was the only song from the theme that he recognized.
Singer: ANGIE MILLER & LAZARO ARBOS
Song: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
My Take: Oh, poor Angie drawing the Lazaro straw. And on a Queen song? Seriously? Are they trying to get rid of poor Miley Jr? Angie is just fine. Lazaro is awful. He’s not even trying anymore. For the second straight duet/group number, Lazaro forgets the lyrics and the melody. He’s trying to musically Nancy Kerrigan Angie, who probably didn’t deserve this. Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: Nicki calls them “Ken and Barbie.” “I had fun watching it,” Nicki claims, mocking Lazaro for forgetting the lyrics and praising Angie. Randy asks if Lazaro had heard the song before. He hadn’t.
Singer: KREE HARRISON
Song: “Piece of My Heart”
My Take: Kree is a den mother and she knows absolutely everybody on the “Idol” crew. And she’s a hugger. Awww. There’s a certain predictability to Kree doing Janis that I don’t especially love. She also doesn’t have the notes tonight. I’m not sure why note. But she’s coming in just under nearly everything. I don’t know what’s wrong, but she’s just not quite getting the big notes that build into the chorus. She’s got the attitude entirely and she closes decently, but I really wanted that to be a lot better than it was. I mean… it was better than Burnell or the Angie-Lazaro duet?
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: “I feel like the show finally started tonight,” Randy says and adds that she’s in it to win it. Mariah says Kree has an innate ability to choose the right songs and predicts that she’ll be able to steer her own career in the future. Keith is impressed by Kree’s ability to perform in knee-high boots, suggesting that she may have been struggling to move around in them. Kree says she has a pinched nerve. And I SWEAR that could be what was hampering her from hitting the big notes. Or I’m willing to accept it could be. Keith raves at her professionalism. “That was magnificent,” Nicki says, telling “Kreedom” that she would get all 50 of her votes for the night. If that’s true, can we just call it a night?
Singer: BURNELL TAYLOR & CANDICE GLOVER
Song: “The Letter”
My Take: Redemption time for Burnell! Why the heck didn’t he sing this as his solo? Doing a Burnell-affected take on Joe Cocker’s affectations would have been (and is), pardon the pun, letter-perfect. Then again, Candice is also great and Burnell and Candice are both vocalists trained at performing with other singers, so they harmonize effortless. This isn’t a duet-ready song, but they make it seem like it is. That was good on its own merits and it was great for Burnell. I’m very happy for that young man. He needed that.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: Mariah wanted to hear them do an R&B classic. For their duet. On Classic Rock night. Whatever, Mariah. “I loved it,” Keith raves. Nicki says that Candice’s voice is awesome and that this was Burnell doing a rock song, unlike his solo. Randy says “Oh my God” several times about Candice and also says nice things about Burnell.
Singer: JANELLE ARTHUR
Song: “You May Be Right”
My Take: Janelle is really, really, really, really country. She’s also really, really, really dramatic. It’s fairly charming. Anyway, Janelle’s doing a country-fried version of Billy Joel. Honestly, I think I’m liking Janelle more and more each week. She’s getting more and more comfortable with making songs fit her strengths and with using the “Idol” stage. Is this a perfect vocal? No. She struggles when the song gets too low. And she loses breath when she covers too much of the stage. But she makes the song country and it still rocks a tiny bit and she has fun doing it. That was enjoyable and, for me, more successful and fully realized than Kree’s performance.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: Keith loves Janelle’s bedazzled boots, the second straight female whose boots have instigated conversation for Keith. He loves the way she works the stage, though he isn’t sure if that was the best song for her to do. Keith also praises Janelle’s improvement week-to-week. “You’re not allowed to critique on fashion. That’s my thing,” says Nicki, also craving the boots. Nicki also praises Janelle’s “relatability as a female.” “You’re real, you’re honest, you’re true to who you are,” Randy says, dubbing Janelle “The Great Contender.” Mariah liked Janelle’s key choice.
Singer: LAZARO ARBOS
Song: “We Are The Champions”
My Take: Lazaro wears bright colors and loves drama and flipping his hair. I’m not sure those were affectionate critiques from his peers. Sigh. The Queen song has been lowered at least one octave and every time it threatens to go too high, the key gets changed. But it’s better to work around Lazaro’s weaknesses than to subject us to Lazaro trying to do a straight-forward version of Queen. He has no attitude, but he seems to get every word. Or most of them. And he doesn’t sound dreadful, just mumbly and unremarkable. That means it was a good week for Lazaro and that will contribute to the dooming of Burnell. I think for Lazaro fans, that performance will be totally acceptable.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: “It was crack juice,” Nicki says, saying Lazaro did it justice. This is one of Randy’s favorite songs and he think Lazaro did a good job. “I really do feel like you did a good job on a song that is an anthem,” Mariah says. “That was a really good song choice for you,” Keith says.
Singer: AMBER HOLCOMB, JANELLE ARTHUR, KREE HARRISON
Song: “It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me”
My Take: There really *are* rock songs that are designed for groups or duets. Why couldn’t “Idol” have chosen *any* of them? This is three very good singers singing a very poorly arranged Billy Joel song. And what the heck is up with Amber’s jeans? They’re more hole than denim. I’m not even sure what I’m looking at. But I’m paying way more attention to Amber’s jeans than anything else in this performance. Oh and Amber’s also wearing a vest with rhinestones and spikes. It’s awesome.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: “Wow wow wow,” Randy says, calling that “unbelievable.” They agree they had fun. “True professionalism,” coos Mariah. “You girls are great together. You should do more,” Keith says. Nicki says the song choice put her to sleep. “What’s tonight without a good boo,” Nicki says as the audience reacts, but she says she loved Amber’s style. “I’m obsessed with all three of you, but I hated the performance,” Nicki says.
Singer: CANDICE GLOVER
My Take: For reason, Candice got her own room at the “Idol” House and she has a funny brother-sister relationship with Burnell. I look at Candice and I have absolutely no clue who to compare her to in the marketplace. On one hand, that’s awesome, because this is yet another full-on rock performance from Candice with almost no let-up from her eyes and facial expressions. Candice may be the first “Idol” singer I’ve ever desperately wanted to see do Tina Turner, because I feel like she could actually pull that off. She pulls off Mick Jagger just fine. On the other hand, her uniqueness has to freak out the show’s producers, because I can’t tell you what a Candice album looks or sounds like or how it would sell.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: “It’s mesmerizing to just watch you up on the stage,” says Mariah, still waiting for that gospel song of her dreams. Keith wanted to see Candice move around the stage a bit more, which is hard because she had a broken toe, but he still likes her “other-worldly” vocals. Nicki didn’t love the song, but she loves Candice’s voice. Randy compares Candice to Tina Turner and praises her “girth.”
Singer: AMBER HOLCOMB
Song: “What About Love”
My Take: Amber talks to herself. And she’s beautiful and she likes taking selfies. And Burnell’s in love with her, or so he says. As for her cover of Heart… She’s going with leather short-shorts for this one. They’re distracting, but strangely not as distracting as the jeans earlier. Wait. Actually, are those the same shorts Angie was wearing last week? OK. Now, I’m totally distracted. There’s really a lot happening in this performance. It’s raining on the screen behind her. There’s fog on the stage. And Orianthi really wanted to shine on this one. And, amazingly, Amber doesn’t get lost. It would be almost impossible not to get lost. And she doesn’t. So that says a lot about Amber. She’s hard to put in a corner.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: Keith praises Amber’s spiked high-heels and the song choice. “It was striking. You look striking tonight,” Nicki says, calling it her favorite of the night. “You look amazing. You sound amazing,” Randy says, also leering about Amber’s legs. Mariah’s pleased and hard to transcribe. Amber’s sister is in the audience in full military get-up. Vote for her, America!
Singer: ANGIE MILLER
Song: “Bring Me To Life”
My Take: Angie gets excited about everything and likes to squeal. Good to know, “Idol.” She also likes to clap her hands like a maniacal monkey and seduce the camera with her eyes. Yes, this song is a totally fraudulent cheat of the originally announced theme — No matter what Seacrest says, my cable listings still say “classic rock” — but it gets Angie back on the piano and I’ll accommodate any cheat that accomplishes that, even temporarily. The Broadway-style oversinging that has infiltrated Angie’s performances in recent weeks is apparently unavoidable at this point. And once Angie leaves the piano very, very early into the performance this becomes all too straight-forward as Evanescence karaoke. I mean, it’s very good Evanescence karaoke and she looks terrific and unawed by a ton of stage business around her, including a fierce wind machine that threatens to topple her entirely. But it still sounds really familiar.
Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey Say: Nicki has to shut down the enthusiastic audience. “I think this was a perfect choice for you,” Nicki says, also complimenting Angie on covering her legs. Randy thinks this is where Angie’s heart is. Mariah thought the song and Angie were a perfect match. Keith isn’t sure if Angie “felt” the song, but he has lots of other nice words.
9:56 p.m. It wasn’t a great night, but it was an OK night. Honestly, the Burnell/Candice duet was my favorite performance of the evening. Then Amber, Candice and Janelle were my favorite solos, with Angie reasonably close behind.
9:57 p.m. If you combine the duet and solo, Lazaro was definitely tonight’s worst, but solo-only, Burnell was very close and that’s why I still expect the vote to go against Burnell. If that happens, I expect him to get the Save.
What’s your guess? Who’d you love tonight? Who’d you hate?