American Idol Recap: It Moves Us All, Through Despair and Hope [UPDATED]
Cue your local locust swarm and saddle up the proverbial four horses, American Idol fans: The end times are definitely nigh!
How else to explain Zoanette Johnson being named by the show’s rebooted judges’ panel as one of the 10 most promising unsigned female singers in the country? Yes, Zoanette Johnson, the same chick whose tattered, Season 12 audition cover of “The Star Spangled Banner” caused Keith Urban to literally fall out of his chair — and was punctuated by an alarming booty drop.
Honestly, is it time to put down the remote control and pick up the Book of Revelations? Or could one of the following theories explain the judges’ thinking:
A) Nigel Lythgoe made sure the microprint in Keith, Nicki and Mariah’s contracts allowed him to override their common sense and good taste at least three times per season. (He is, after all, producing a TV show.)
B) By virtue of his 11 previous seasons on the panel, Randy’s vote counts for double — allowing him carte blanche approval on various contestants, no matter how aggressively Nicki throws her side-eye (see accompanying screengrab, captured at the exact moment when Randy tried to justify cutting Candice Glover in the Season 11 Vegas round). (Let’s hear it for the girl, girl, girl!)
C) The judges deliberately chose to advance a few cannon-fodder contestants into next week’s Top 20, thereby ensuring speed-dialing Idol voters will advance their true chosen pets.
D) At the end of Thursday’s telecast, the judges will give a reprieve to all five women who got axed tonight, send five additional male contestants to the guillotine, and give us a gender-imbalanced, 15-chica/5-niño semifinal round. (MAKE THIS HAPPEN, @DizzyFeet!)
E) Zoanette was put here on this Earth to disprove the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
F) Somebody spiked the Coke cups.
Me? I’m going with some combination of A, C, F, and E — no, Zoanette wasn’t good in a note-hitting kind of way, but she definitely made me feel…something (though by morning I could just attribute it to indigestion).
Anyhow, let’s cut to the set list for the second “sudden death” episode of Idol‘s 12th season — along with my letter grades for every performance:
Melinda Ademi: Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect” | Melinda showed tons of promise in Hollywood Week solo, but much like the ill-advised bottom half of her outfit tonight (black booty shorts over purple tights, with black knee-high boots!?), her “Nobody’s Perfect” was a bit of a mess — perhaps, as Mariah pointed out, due to nervousness that put a peculiar “waver” in her voice. The good news is that Vegas-week ejectees can still come back for Season 13 (a fact I confirmed with Fox publicists), which means the 19-year-old might be able to take another crack at getting her vocals to match her outsized charisma and appealing stage presence. (Conspiracy theory side-note: Anyone else find it funny that Nicki complained about Melinda having covered Jessie J more than once this year, while failing to call out the same habit in Angela Miller, who also sang “Nobody’s Perfect” last week, as well as two additional Jessie J. songs for her initial audition and her Hollywood Week a capella solo?) Grade: C+
Candice Glover: Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” | From the restrained opening verse that showcased her bell-clear tone to the sensuality (and “come to mama” hand gestures) that informed the “ooh, baby what ya done to me” bridge to the outsized runs that ended the set, Candice’s vocal was an undeniable triumph. (Bonus points for the steel in Ms. Glover’s eyes as she’s performing, too.) Perhaps more than any contestant this season, in fact, Candice brings a sense of authority to the stage that makes me feel at ease with wherever she wants to take a song’s melody. I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t admit just a slight bit of ennui with the expectedness of Candice’s song choice. Girlfriend needs to bear in mind that, since she doesn’t have a ton of room to grow vocally (I mean, how much better can her voice actually get?), she’ll have to compensate by growing artistically — and not fall into a pattern of using her No. 2 pencil to fill in her standardized test of big-voiced soul divas like Aretha, Alicia, Mariah and Whitney. Grade: B+