The only guy in the Top 6 crashes and burns; Candice Glover is in a class by herself

By Annie Barrett
Updated April 11, 2013 at 05:58 AM EDT
Fox

American Idol

S12 E26
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Sure, this episode featured possibly the worst performance ever on American Idol. But might it also have God’s-gifted us the very, very best? CANDICE. FREAKING. GLOVER. You know when Mariah Carey throws glitter on someone instead of giving her a hug (can’t touch the commoners, dahling) that you’ve witnessed something truly special. Let’s dive in.

THE BACHARACH/DAVID CATALOG

Angie Miller, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”: Despite some mightily pleading eyes on the line “Oh what am I to do” (and others), there was little genuine connection on Angie’s first number, and the judges wanted more passion. “You can make it look and feel too easy, and I’m missing the humanity in there,” said Keith. I too felt like this was missing something. I was lazily googling the “hilarious and embarrassing videos on YouTube” that Angie does with her best friend, and basically lost interest in that and in this performance at the same time. Angie gets some costuming points, though, as I was mildly intrigued by the diagonal boob-belt extending from the regular belt on Angie’s burgundy dress.

“Maybe this just isn’t a song you’re passionate about,” suggested Nicki Minaj. Bingo!

Amber Holcomb, “I Say A Little Prayer”: “WHAT IN THE HELL JUST HAPPENED RIGHT NOW?” demanded Nicki, in her turn-one-sentence-into-seven way. I was a bit confused — she seemed too excited to be bringing up the fact that Amber had messed up some of the lines. But no! Amber is Nicki’s new favorite. Hmmm.

You know, I love the quality of Amber’s voice, and I’m glad she had fun here, but I wasn’t totally feeling it! I get why they think she’s so marketable, but I still don’t quite know what “You’re just…being Amber” really means. It feels forced. Am I missing some signature quality she has to her beyond “smiley” and “crystal-clear voice”? Maybe I just wasn’t into the ’70s pantsuit.

Amber: “It’s like a shrimp popsicle, because it’s frozen. But then when you put it in your mouth, it’s not frozen anymore.” Just let that roll around in your mind for a while. Do you taste the delicious seafood yet? Me neither, though I totally respect anyone’s bizarre food habits, no matter what they are. And just so this paragraph is not a complete waste of time (too late for that!), I highly recommend doing the “popsicle” thing with lychees. Just go to any yogurt buffet and stock up. Get the biggest cup size they have and it’s a party in your mouth for hours. You can thank me never.

NEXT: Lazaro fails againLazaro Arbos, “(They Long to Be) Close To You”: Embarrassing. Awful. No enunciation. Off-pitch. It’s like the concept of key changes doesn’t even resonate with him. The guy just has no musicality — or if he does, it doesn’t matter because he’s not learning these new songs fast/well enough to prove that he does. Finalists on this show are supposed to take a song and make it better, not murder a song and pray no one noticed. Each of Lazaro’s efforts are like long, nail-biting prayers to me. I have no nails left! I AM OUT OF NAILS. He needs to go!

As Mariah said (after 15 minutes of getting to the point): “You can’t go into another key…and stay in the old key.” Hilarious.

Kree Harrison, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”: I loved the way she started the song a cappella, cloaked in total blackness. The whole performance was gorgeous — I’m always happier with a minimal setting like this, just Kree and the orchestra. In fact everything was done so simply (Kree barely moved) that I basically spent the whole time thinking about how soothing her voice is. So, not the most compelling stuff in the world, but a damn near flawless vocal.

I thought the judges went overboard in trying to disprove the rumor (?) that Kree lacks an emotional connection when she sings. “I’m sure we’re all aware of what people say about us…” Mariah trailed off, as Kree stared blankly. “I don’t need you to make faces or go OTT.” I’m pretty sure no one is demanding that Kree fake emotion, but whatever. Keith gushed about Kree’s “genuine compassion for people — you can feel it.” They all agreed with Nicki that Kree would have producers lining up with material for her first album. I always feel like yelling out “Don’t jinx it!” when this happens.

Janelle Arthur: “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”: Didn’t love this, but I enjoyed Janelle’s audience engagement, especially at the beginning when she slithered by a row of teens and made sure to touch them all. Really not as inappropriate as it sounds. Somehow her caressing of Keith’s shoulder was much more awkward. Go figure. He mouthed the words along with her to break the tension — smart. Her vocals were better when she wasn’t concerned with off-stage choreography, I thought. Otherwise, they were shaky. And after Janelle’s Quirk Snippet about playing a male role in a school play, I couldn’t help but make the connection that against better competitors like Candice and Kree, it sort of is like Janelle is play-acting in her quest for the Idol throne. She’s so spirited, though!

ALLERGIC TO FEATHERS.

NEXT: A different type of murder Candice Glover, “Don’t Make Me Over”: Her second song created such an Idol Moment that one might forget: Candice KILLED THIS SONG. Not in a Lazaro-uncomfortable-murder-y way. Just a hearty, had-to-do-it, sorry-I’m-not-sorry power slay. Her rearrangement of the song allowed for a huge high-note climax and then a jazzier cool-down with a few more sly wow notes in there. That’s how you show the judges who should’ve been in their Top 3’s, girl! (For the record, Keith has changed his tune.)

In this performance and her next, Candice was so clearly in a class of her own. She finally took it to church, like Mariah had been wanting, and inspired Nicki to start a “women’s revival in here.” So crazy good!

THE SONG I WISH I’D WRITTEN

Angie Miller, Kari Jobe’s “Love Came Down”: As a reward for being an obedient little girl and following orders, Angie’s second-round piano recital got the extra special BIG ASS BIRDS treatment! They started out tiny, in aimless flocks, then gradually grew along with the crescendo-ing passion of the song until they were giant. At one point Angie leaned forward and threatened to be lifted by the massive magical wings of song. I could not stop wigging out at these birds!

All the facial dramatics Angie pulls when she’s standing up somehow work when she’s behind the piano — and the judges explicitly pounded it into her head (again) that this is pretty much the only way they will tolerate her. “This is the ONLY TIME you’ll be remembered at the top of the pack,” yelled Nicki. “If you knew what was good for you, you’d do it! This is something the other girls can’t do. That is the ONLY TIME you’ll win! If you don’t step up with these performances, you’re outta here.” There are more sentences I took out. This was some rant!

Huh. I suspect Angie is getting the votes either way, but I have to agree with the sentiment here: Angie is better on the piano. I just wish it didn’t seem like she was resigned to it. I mean, shouldn’t she want to be there? Kids. Who knows what they want?!

NEXT: Are you fully engaged in the Kree-dom? Amber Holcomb, Beyoncé’s “Love On Top”: I’m just going to be a horrible objectifier for a second here: THOSE DAMN LEGS. I’m sorry! With those absurd frayed cutoffs as a “hat” and those sky-high pink pumps, they sort of came to life as their own (extremely vivid) cartoon characters. I was just mesmerized is all. Not creepy. Kind of creepy.

This song is tough to sing, and no matter how you do so, you’re still a teenager pretending to be Beyoncé. I give Amber major props for even attempting it. I loved seeing the crowd go nuts for her, even if they were simply relieved to finally know one of the songs. “Baby girl. Baby girl. Baby girl. Yes ma’am. YOU HAVE ARRIVED. In every sense of the world,” claimed Nicki. It’s like the little tyke blossomed into a sexy young woman in just that one majestic sentence!

Lazaro Arbos, Robbie Williams’ “Angels”: Okay, this one wasn’t as awful, but the judges strained to find something positive to say. Nicki refused to comment. Randy delivered this stunning bulletin from the Dept. of the Obvious: “It’s a girls’ race right now for me.” Even Mariah struggled to say something nice, ramble-wondering whether Lazaro’s second try was “more in the direction…of a performance…that would maybe be…preferable?” Cringe. Also, LOL.

Didn’t Laz’s shirt look like a lacy black negligee at times? Bold move.

Kree Harrison, Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night”: This was exactly what I for one wanted out of Kree — a pure country song, one she’s always loved, in a romantic, understated setting. Did anyone else notice that some of the shadows made it look like Kree was wearing sex-kitten over-the-knee boots? Can’t get more romantic than that! Seriously, though, this made me love her and love the song — like Nicki, I am fully engaged in the Kree-dom.

She’s still not the most dynamic performer, and if Candice wasn’t a part of this season I might feel underwhelmed with her as a frontrunner. BUT. If you isolate the vocal of any of Kree’s performances (often I just listen to the audio on my computer while I write these up), it is drop-dead gorgeous every single time. Will she one day become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, like Keith said? I don’t see why not.

NEXT: Oh, shoot, that other country girl still has to go Janelle Arthur, Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”: This was some unfortunate placement for Janelle tonight — following Kree directly. Pretty blatant ploy, Idol! I don’t mind it too much, though. Someone has to go and if it isn’t Lazaro (God help us all), it should be Janelle. Her vocals are just not as consistent as the others’, and despite her infectious energy, it wouldn’t make sense for her to win this particular singing competition.

Still, this was a really nice performance from her, by Janelle standards. She looked amazing (legs! again!) and I was almost moved to tears for the sheer, sparkly fact that she’s loved this song since she was 11 and was now singing it on TV. This girl is sweet and pretty and talented enough to very often get it right. I think she’ll be fine.

Candice Glover, Adele’s version of The Cure’s “Love Song”: Ha, I loved Keith rushing to the floor and BOWING DOWN after this. A mere standing O on his judging pedestal was not enough — he needed to be a true fan, worshipping the goddess at her own concert! I just want to watch this whole thing over and over. Candice’s first number would have been enough for her to win the night, but after this moody, sensual, heart-wrenching MOMENT I’d say she has unofficially won season 12 of American Idol.

Once again: SO CRAZY GOOD. There was only one minor tragedy — that wretched audio f—up near the beginning of the song that sounded like one of the red light-rosettes at Candice’s feet had turned into a skull and started screaming. Of course, this wasn’t her fault, but it will corrupt the song on my sure-to-be-endless YouTube viewings, so I’m pissed.

Even with that killer final note complete with a “watch this” hand gesture to guide it along, my favorite moment of this segment was when Candice finally broke out of diva-character, cracked a grateful grin, and started to cry. Don’t wipe them away, woman! IN IT TO WIN IT TONIGHT!

What do you all think? Is anyone voting for Lazaro with a straight face? Can Candice take the whole thing?

Follow @EWAnnieBarrett

Read more:

Which 2013 ‘American Idol’ judge is your favorite? — POLL

All ‘American Idol’ recaps on EW.com

Mariah Carey gets the Nicki Minaj phone call: A dramatization

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