American Idol Top 4 Performance Night Recap: I Don't Think That I Can Take It [Updated]
Welcome to Miss American Idol, an exciting new reality series from Fox where gorgeous, talented women take the stage and sing for your votes — and then the ones with the skinniest legs advance to the finale.
Wait, that’s not an actual show? Then please someone tell me what I spent two hours watching tonight as a white-hot rage percolated through my circulatory system and turned me into the kind of cussing, fork-throwing (yes, I may have slammed cutlery into the hard wood floor), definitely-not-enjoying-myself monster you’d typically see on a show like Bad Girls Club or The Real Housewives of the Ninth Circle.
Yes, yes, I know…Idol has always been the kind of show that wears its agenda on its sleeve — usually spelled out in the blood of the contestants it hasn’t pre-selected as its Chosen Ones (TM) — but tonight, the commentary from Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson was so despicably biased against Candice Glover and Kree Harrison that I half-expected exec producer Nigel Lythgoe to send a marching band across the stage to drown out their voting numbers as they were read. You know, just in case you hadn’t gotten the message.
Add to that the Ringling Bros.-esque parade of dancing ladies, cartwheeling elephants and tightrope-walkers to herald THE OFFICIAL SEASON 12 ARRIVAL OF AMBER HOLCOMB (hinky upper register, occasional flat notes and coma-inducing song choices not included), and you had a recipe for one of Idol‘s most blatantly manipulated, blood-pressure raising, franchise-destroying nights of all time ever.
And if you think I’m being melodramatic, please bear in mind that Candice’s second performance critique was hijacked by Nicki & Co. defending Amber’s cover “Macarthur Park” against Jimmy Iovine’s completely legitimate critique. But then again, Amber can put on a white pantsuit and perform an ancient Celine Dion ballad completely stationary atop a set of glowing fuchsia stairs and be called “current,” “2013″ and “amazingly perfect.”
Oh. Mah. GAH. I better get to tonight’s set list and letter grades before all my anger causes the internet to implode. (I’ll be back overnight to update this post with full reviews of every performance, so do bookmark, refresh and enjoy!)
But first…a pox on Nigel Lythgoe & Co. for RUINING what should’ve been an incredible One Hits Wonder theme with what you know had to be a shortlist of halfhearted, unimaginative, brutally enforced “suggestions” for the Top 4 ladies. Imagine how much fun it would’ve been if Duffy, Estelle, Concrete Blonde, Dionne Farris, The Verve, Gnarls Barkley, New Radicals, Everything But the Girl, Lucy Pearl, When in Rome, Blind Melon and Everlast were on the “cleared songs” list? Oh man…
Amber Holcomb: Laura Branigan/Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love” | Remember those innocent early days of Idol when Paula Abdul would tell a female contestant she looked beautiful — only because she couldn’t think of something nice to say about the singing? Now we’ve got Nicki Minaj asking for a moment of silence to contemplate Amber’s undeniable gorgeousness — as if aesthetic considerations are the only (or at least the most important) point of the Idol experience. Disgraceful. Anyhow, Amber started out strong with a nearly a capella intro, but by the midway point, her voice was straining to hit the high notes, and the end result was not entirely pleasing to the ear. Even worse, though, Amber’s delivery lacked the appropriate amount of fire to fully sell such a fusty old ballad. It was the equivalent of trying to cook a thick steak with a lit match. I mean, if you’re going to belt a line as schmaltzy as “I’M YOUR LAY-DAY! AND YOU ARE MY MAHHHNNNN!” at the top of your lungs, you’d better feel it all the way to the tips of your Manolos. In Amber’s case, though, this felt like more of a vocal exercise — “Look, ma, I can do what Celine does!” — more than a deeply felt interpretation. Good thing we had Jimmy on hand to acknowledge the vocal strain, then insist the perfomance would be “very difficult to beat.” (See how much easier “judging” is when you write out your script before the performances?) Grade: B-