So to my friends who were looking for my responses, well, what can I say. I'm humbled and flattered. And even though this and last week has truly proven that for me and my house, American Idol is not the "must see TV" that it once was, it still holds a special place in my heart - like the weird guy who used to work at the Blockbuster, and you wonder to yourself, "what is that guy doing nowadays since there's no way he fits inside a redbox?" ...What was I saying?
Oh yes, the final four - the ladies got quite the reprieve last week - Candice was clearly rocked by being in the bottom two. Will she come to play or will she fade away? Here's my take on last night's proceedings, and as always, I say what I say before I've heard anyone else say anything else. And away we go!
Themes for tonight: Songs from 2013, and "standards." Harry Connick Jr. is the mentor.
Angie: "Diamonds" - Loved the interplay between her and Harry. I liked everything about this arrangement except for the unnecessary background vocals. She knew just when she had to ratchet it up and belt some awesome notes to transform this from a dance hit with a predictable melody to something with emotion that told a story. Well played, Angie. See you next week.
Amber: "Just Give Me a Reason" - I really wonder what the disconnect is between her and the voters - because this girl can saaang. I wasn't a huge fan of this song, when it picked up tempo and energy it just kinda got off running and couldn't catch up. She wails, but will it be enough?
Candice: "When I Was Your Man" - She's doing okay, but until the bridge, she hadn't really committed to the moment. It worked, mainly because the word "man" only shows up once at the end of each chorus, and by that point, she's wailing to the point that you almost can't hear what word she's using. This had the kind of emotion needed to get back in the race.
Kree: "See You Again" - Apparently Kree is after the one ring to rule them all... I think that she did a really good job, but I also think that the difference between this arrangement and the power that she held in that room with Harry when it was just her and a piano was significant. She did do very well, but I think she got lost in the arrangement a bit.
Angie: "Someone to Watch Over Me" - Well it isn't fair, this is one of our favorites (wedding song and all that) - loved it, probably her most successful apart from the piano. That being said, i didn't like how rushed the bridge was, and that orchestral run that was so aggressive made no sense to me. Keep it simple! The last chord progression on the final note, too, was totally unnecessary.
Amber: "My Funny Valentine" - Well isn't that interesting, one of her more memorable previous performances, and it turns out that she didn't really know what she was singing about - kudos to Harry for a firm but graceful probing of her interpretation to get her to be better and not run on auto-pilot. Oh and also she was born to sing this song for all times please I only want her to ever sing this song lordy lordy.
Candice: "You've Changed" - I don't have much to say about this one - it was really good, she's really good. Not sure if she was able to sustain the storytelling for the whole time, but it was simultaneously sad, sultry and fantastic.
Kree: "Stormy Weather" - Well, she certainly didn't take Harry's advice, which made her face seem like she felt guilty, instead of seeming like she was deep in the lyrics. If she wasn't in the top two last week I would say that she was in trouble.
We're just all going to pretend that the group number at the end didn't happen. Like at all.
Random Thoughts: Okay, ultimately, Harry was right with regards to standards - you have to know the melody first, you have to know the song, what it means. The fact that Harry's mentoring shocked the girls into stagnation and challenged every fabric of their interpretation points more to the fact that prior to this point, they have not been given challenging training or preparation - what Harry was saying should not have been shocking or revolutionary - it should have been an addendum to things that should have already been a part of the experience of American Idol. If anything, the fact that Amber was able to kill it in previous weeks with a song she didn't even come close to understanding, is a huge indictment on the judges and the process that is so easily rocked by a Harry Connick Jr. saying the radical statement that someone should know what the heck they're singing. And I loved that they gave Harry a chance to defend himself and put that poser Randy Jackson in his place.
So who's going home? I think it's Amber - while she did very well, if she wasn't getting the votes last week, there wasn't anything about tonight that pushed her past anyone. They are all very good, and someone has to go home.