The judges lie 23 times during the Top 4 performance night. Let's count them all!
Short version of my Top 4 performance night recap: The judges let out a huuuuuuge group fart and then walked away. Except for Mariah, who remained seated. Dahling.
Long version: The judges claimed Angie Miller won the night, criticized Candice Glover for being old-fashioned, and demanded more from Kree Harrison — beautiful vocals are not enough. Meanwhile, Amber Holcomb is the girl Nicki Minaj would most like to be friends with, even though she called her “Angie” within seconds of announcing this. You know — just in case you were on the edge of your seat wondering whom to vote for in this singing competition.
You know what? I just went through my notes — oh, the trauma! — and the judging was SO absurd tonight that I’m going to keep an official tally of lies throughout the recap. Here we go.
Amber Holcomb, Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love”: While she hit a few pretty high notes, Amber is not the unbelievable vocal thriller the judges are making her out to be. After calling the 18-year-old “a big sexy glass of milk” and requesting a moment of silence for how beautiful the milk looked, Nicki called Amber’s standing-still cover of a 1990’s hit “so current.” (1)
And she felt like she was at Amber’s concert: “You don’t even feel like a contestant anymore.” (2)
Mariah agreed: “You took a classic song and gave it flavor.” (3) Over in his offstage hideaway, Jimmy Iovine admitted he heard a strain on the top end of Amber’s voice. “But I have to say,” he clarified, “That song is going to be very difficult to beat.” (4)
Four whoppers already! And we’re just getting started.
Candice Glover, Drake’s “Find Your Love”: Still starstruck over a year after she met the rapper, Candice delivered a slowed-down, jazzy interpretation of Drake’s single. But instead of acknowledging the original twist Candice had put on the song, the judges pigeonholed it as old-fashioned and too church-like…and then had the audacity to claim they didn’t want viewers to feel that way! “A big part of me wished you would have stuck to the melody,” said Nicki. “I don’t want people to start seeing you as an old-fashioned artist.” (5) Randy reminded Candice that not every phrase needs a run (as IF that’s what she does!) and claimed, “I don’t want people to think, ‘There goes that church girl.'” (6)
Mariah, on the other hand, appreciated the adult contemporary spin, and Keith complimented Candice’s continuing quest to find herself.
NEXT: Nicki declares Kree ‘NOT Top 4-worthy’ Kree Harrison, Susan Tedeschi’s “I Hurt So Bad”: Sadly, I don’t think Keith is ever gonna get the “guttural, shredding” performance he wants out of Kree. But I still thought she showed good energy and audience connection here — better than other weeks, at least. I actually had fun watching her and was surprised (7…do my own lies count?) that the judges eviscerated this one so hard. “I felt like parts of it were disconnected for me,” said Randy. “But I love you!” (8)
The Dawg was simply “waiting for something else.” Yeah, so am I, Randy…. for a genuine word to come out of your body! When are we gonna get it? In it to wait it out! Tonight! Meanwhile, Mariah praised Kree for her occasional ability to get lost in the song, even though “It’s difficult because we’re looking at a monitor.” (9)
Nicki was the harshest, announcing to Kree, “That is NOT a Top 4-worthy performance” before requesting that she “get back into being Kreedom.” (10; ‘Kreedom’ is a nonsense word)
Angie Miller, Jessie J’s “Who You Are”: Out of all the performances tonight, I saw the most fiery eyes from Angie, who has really perfected that sideways smolder from her perch at the piano. This was a smart choice for her — a current song a lot of people know that could be arranged/whittled down to feature various lighting schemes along with the changes in tempo. At times Angie appeared to be drowning in agony amidst the alternating blue and red plasma — very convincing. Keith liked how the song got looser and looser until some of the usually prim and proper singer’s “consonants went away.”
“So far, the best of the night!” cried Randy. “Guess what else? SHE IS IN IT TO WIN IT. That’s how you win! 10 out of 10 out of 10!” (11; implausible math)
Amber and Kree, Adele’s “Rumour Has It”: This was a big ol’ mess, but the judges somehow twisted their critiques to make it seem like, as Nicki said, “Little shy Amber dominated Kreedom with personality onstage.” (12) Neither singer was to blame for the poor performance, yet Nicki kept on screaming at Kree. “I don’t want you to get lost, thinking we’ve been praising you the whole season. If you’re doing a duet, DO A DUET! Like your favorite divas!” The random favoritism was just painful.
NEXT: ‘MacArthur Park’ = ‘so ready, so current, so now’ Angie and Candice, Rihanna’s “Stay”: This was my favorite performance of the night, even though (or maybe because) it was so visually absurd with all that purple smoke and drama-queen tics from the two powerful singers. Randy made sure to knock Candice down a peg by suggesting she’d just “redeemed herself” and nudge Angie up one: “I didn’t know you had those twists and turns. It made you even stronger!”
Amber Holcomb, Richard Harris/Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park”: Finally wearing bright pink lipstick like Nicki Minaj has been begging her to all season, Amber transitioned mid-song from Richard Harris’ slower 1968 version to Donna Summer’s upbeat 1978 disco version. “I think you’re so ready and so current and so now!” exclaimed Randy. (13)
None of the judges mentioned all the stank notes Amber managed to hit, but Nicki made sure to let America know: “Like, I wanna be friends with Amber.” (14)
Mariah raved about Amber’s star quality and newfound inner glow, while Randy made the astute observation that with her orange dress and pink and white necklace, Amber had made the significant leap from milk and cookies to ambrosia.
Candice Glover, Samantha Sang’s “Emotion”: Okay, this was maybe the snooziest of Candice’s performances for me, probably due to the dated song choice, but it was still worth watching just for her facial/vocal buildup to “In the words of a broken heaaaaaaaart!” Nicki must not have been too impressed, because she took this opportunity to spend Candice’s critique defending Amber against Jimmy Iovine’s spot-on comment that “MacArthur Park” was a completely corny song that not even Amber could save. Nicki later called Jimmy onto the stage so she could pretend to wring his neck as Candice was standing right there on the stage, ready for Ryan to announce her phone numbers.
BUT BACK TO CANDICE…I guess. Randy, who hadn’t word-vomited an imaginary plot in a few minutes, declared “The former Candice from last week is returning!” (15) — even though the actual Candice had not gone anywhere. Mariah got Candice to admit she was suffering from a terrible cold, then stressed how difficult it was to maintain one’s voice throughout a contest of this nature. “It’s beyond comprehension for most people,” she sniffed (16) before claiming, “I don’t wanna go on forever.” (17)
NEXT: ‘Angie wins the night, hands down!’ Kree Harrison, Procol Harem’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”: And now for another completely contrived redemption plot, it’s “CAN SHE REDEEM HERSELF KREE!” announced Ryan. Apparently she did, though I totally see what Keith meant by the inevitable limitations of a mid-tempo song choice. He’d prefer either intimate, vulnerable songs, or “burnout rockers” from her, which I get — but I also thought this was the most vocally perfect performance of the night. “I’m gonna go download that right now,” claimed Mariah. (18)
Meanwhile, Nicki dumped her TV wife right there on live TV, telling Kree she didn’t think this pretty vocal performance would keep her out of tomorrow’s bottom two and claiming that something inside Kree seems to be dimming a little bit. But here’s Kree’s consolation prize from Nicki: “If you leave tomorrow, I know in my heart you can still put out a multiplatinum album of any genre, and win!” (19)
Angie Miller, Julie London’s “Cry Me a River”: Another solid vocal from Angie, though I didn’t think the sleepy standard had quite the showstopping effect as Amber’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” from last week. Good for her for showing range, though, and daring to step away from the piano despite strict instructions not to.
Randy: “Angie wins the night, hands down!” (20)
Mariah: “America’s gonna have a difficult time.” (21)
And finally, Nicki: “[Angie] came out tonight to snatch some wigs off some heads!” (22…presumably)
And there you have it. A lackluster night, completely sensationalized. “All the vocals at this point of all four of you are exceptional,” raved Keith. (23. Whew!)
Who will go home tonight? Is the ‘surprise twist’ Ryan promised merely a non-elimination week, as everyone already expects? Discuss! And try not to lie about it.