American Idol: Harry Connick, Jr. Mentors the Final Four
Candice Glover | Photo Credits: Michael Becker/ FOX.
If anyone felt a sense of déjà vu on Wednesday's American Idol, you weren't alone. Like last week, it was the Top 4 girls performing. But the key difference? Someone's definitely going home this week, as host Ryan Seacrest repeatedly assured viewers throughout the broadcast.
With no more remaining saves, sort-of saves, or other shenanigans that the judges could pull out of their sleeves, the final push for Idol's 12th season began in earnest, with the four finalists each performing two songs, from the themes "Songs from 2013" and "Standards," after coaching from guest mentor Harry Connick, Jr. Here's a critique of the performances:
-"Diamonds" (Rihanna): After footage of a very endearing mentoring session with Connick, during which Angie improvised lyrics to pretend that she knew more of his current material, Angie went back to her sweet spot at the piano for an inventive, calypso-tinged arrangements of the Rihanna radio staple. Keith Urban applauded Angie's creativity, but said the song's original percussive arrangement got a little shortchanged in her version, and Randy Jackson agreed. Nicki Minaj called the performance "bland" and "lackluster," saying that Angie chose to focus on connecting with the audience more (and then forced Mariah Carey to admit that she agreed with her). Well ... we liked it. Grade: A-
-"Somebody to Watch Over Me": The idea behind having the finalists do classic standards, presumably, is to challenge them to make a song that's decades old sound fresh and current. Unfortunately, Angie did not rise up to that challenge with the Ella Fitzgerald number. Though it was a vocally strong performance, the song itself felt dated. The judges disagreed, however, with Urban calling the performance "beautiful" and Minaj comparing Angie to a Disney princess or Broadway star. Grade: B
-"Just Give Me a Reason" (Pink): Amber admitted to Connick during rehearsals that she was having trouble memorizing the words, and unfortunately that wasn't her only problem during the performance itself. Perhaps because she was concentrating so much on remembering the lyrics, Amber seemed to be holding back when it came to the delivery, often punctuating the ends of her lines with clunky notes and cutting off runs too early. Average karaoke at best. Minaj said Amber felt disconnected, and Jackson suggested that the pressure may be starting to get to the finalists. "That was not stellar, and it needs to be stellar at this point for me," he told her. Grade: C
-"My Funny Valentine" : Amber "had no idea what the song was about," Connick warned during the lead-up to her performance — but he thankfully gave Amber a heads-up that the song wasn't a lighthearted ditty about a goofy guy, and Amber's discovery of the darker undertones of the song served her well in her performance. Though she missed a few notes, the performance was a step up from her Pink cover, and the judges rewarded it with a standing ovation. Her segment took an uncomfortable turn, however, when Amber started crying after she finished singing, saying she felt "overwhelmed." Based on the judges' critique, they seem to have gotten a reality check that, despite their promotion of her, tonight may be Amber's swan song based on viewer votes. "No matter what happens tomorrow, you have a lifetime ahead of you to make incredible moments in music," Minaj told her. Grade: A-