‘American Idol’ Top 4 Night: One-Hit Blunders
photo: Michael Yarish/Fox
photo: Michael Yarish/Fox
You see, I was hoping for a bit of irreverent, even silly fun after a long season that's been full of negative energy and plenty of low-energy performances. But alas, I didn't get my fun fix, and that was a problem. However, it wasn't the only problem.
"Are there any one-hit wonder songs from at least the last decade?" decried judge Keith Urban, in his most astute critique of the season. The man had a point. The songs the girls went with weren't contemporary (all of them were from the 1970s or earlier), and on a show that keeps losing its younger viewers to "The Voice," this was not a good thing. Another issue--a particularly troubling one, especially for the music trivia geeks at home who tend to shout at their television screens--was that really none of the song choices were true one-hit wonders. Or they at least fell into a very murkily gray area. Come on, are songs really one-hit wonders if they were hits for multiple artists…and some of those artists actually had multiple hits? Do songs that were also hits for Donna Summer or Destiny's Child really qualify for this category? Why not just play it fair and square, and have the contestants cover "Call Me Maybe" and "Pumped Up Kicks" instead?
To borrow a phrase from in-house advisor Jimmy Iovine, who was none too thrilled with contestant Amber Holcomb's choice of "MacArthur Park" this evening, I think these girls were "smoking a little bit of that green icing on that MacArthur Park cake." But it was the judges who really seemed to be smoking something--especially when, with smoke practically streaming from their ears, they angrily came down way too hard on some performances that actually were impressive.
Here's a rundown of the night's hits…and misses:
Once again, the judges did their blatant best to make Amber happen. Part of me couldn't blame them for championing Amber so aggressively--she's a great talent, a very pretty girl, and probably the most marketable contestant left in the top four. But their Amber-pimping reeked of desperation…and it could backfire in the votes, eventually. Anyhoo, in the first hour of the show, the contestants sang songs of their own choosing, from any genre and any era, and Amber went with…Celine Dion's "Power of Love." This was disappointing--not because she sang it badly (she did an admirable job with the difficult song), but because it was such a ho-hum "contestant's choice" for a NINETEEN-YEAR-OLD. Really? Celine Dion? This is a song that a teenage girl actually chose for herself? But the judges of course fell all over themselves trying to convince America, and maybe even convince themselves, that this performance was "current." Mariah Carey said, "You took a classic song and you gave it flavor." Keith said, "If ever there was a song that was tailor-made for everything in your voice, that was it. Amazing, perfect song choice. There's a reason you're still here in this top four, baby." Nicki Minaj called the white-pantsuited Amber a "big sexy glass of milk," declared Amber's beauty worthy of its own moment of silence, and raved, "We're just at your show--you don't even feel like a contestant anymore!" Said Randy Jackson: "You're the contestant with the most growth. You came in as a baby, and you are now a pro!" This performance was fine, but it was not worthy of the standing ovation and endless fawning it received.