idol-22

It’s been quite a dry-spell for ladies on this show: Six years since the last time a girl won the title of American Idol. Which is why it seems a little bit fixed that the top 5 is entirely female this season. But don’t get me wrong: That’s definitely NOT a complaint. Lazaro is finally history! Tonight, the females (Candice Glover, Janelle Arthur, Kree Harrison, Angie Miller, and each sang two songs: One that came out the year they were born, and one from a “diva” (Ryan pointedly looked at Mariah while he said this).

First up was Candice, who was born in 1989. She sang Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” She slowed it down and added a jazzy edge. Have I mentioned that the girl can do no wrong? It probably wasn’t her best in terms of livening up the audience (which is important when starting the show), but her voice is incredible and she completely owned the song, so who cares? Keith said, “Baby, that was so good! Your vocals are incredible! You don’t choose them [the runs], you just feel them. You really, really set the bar high.” Nicki (in an out-of control cleavage-baring dress) said, “I think the performance, once again, you showed that you’re the boss. I like that you put your own spin on it.” Randy said, “I love the arrangement. I thought it made the song more current. Your so in the zone, so relaxed. Can’t nothing can go wrong for you now!” Mariah said, “Unpredictable, smart as always. The song choice? Genius! No one can do what you do like that. Putting that “Candice” on it? Amazing!”

Janelle was also born in 1989, and she chose to sing Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name,” which is apparently the song that used to calm her down as a child. It was clear the song means a lot to her, because there was so much passion in her voice and eyes as she strummed her guitar. Nicki said, “I feel like when you have your guitar, you’re so much more comfortable. It’s like you’re allowing us in to your world. It was like you were at your own concert, you didn’t care about anyone’s approval.” Randy said, “I think you did a really great job. I think the comfort you were sitting in there, that’s your world. I think people will respond more to you when you’re being completely open and honest.” Mariah said, “I believed you. You were singing with your whole heart tonight. It was so raw and real. Please keep that confidence.” Keith brought the positivity down, saying, “That song isn’t so much for me about melody, it’s pure emotion. As far as hitting as the notes tonight, it was perfect. But I didn’t feel it. I think you could have done that without the guitar tonight.”

Jumping a tiny bit further in time, Kree was born in 1990. She sang “She Talks to Angels,” by The Black Crowes. I’m not sure what the original song is like, but this version was quite cheery considering how dark the lyrics are. It was very pretty though. Randy said, “I loved your voice from note one. I don’t know if it was flawless, but emotionally, I loved it.” Mariah said, “You could sing anything. I love to hear you sing! My favorite thing is when you lose yourself in a song.” Keith said, “I find there’s moments sometimes when you perform there are things you don’t feel comfortable doing. I imagine seeing you in concert, and you wouldn’t be dealing with all of that. Your voice is so fine and beautiful.” Nicki said (partly in her British accent), “That was the best performance of the night by far. This is the first performance I felt could be current, today in 2013. I thought it was perfection!” That awkward Nicki-Mariah tension resumed when Nicki said she disagreed with Mariah. Although let’s be real, it’s been around the whole time; they’ve just been trying to skate over it.

Woah, Angie’s younger than I thought! The 1994 baby dedicated The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You.” She took to the piano, and that coupled with her dedication to Boston in light of Monday’s tragic events, sent her approval rating over the edge. The judges (save for Nicki) got on their feet along with the audience. Mariah said, “Sort of an eclectic choice, and I’m glad you made it tonight.” Keith said, “I love you at the piano, we all do. I think that was a really, really great song choice. You’ve got such an amazing voice that makes me want to cry every single time.” Nicki said, “We are all obsessed when you’re on that piano. You know who Angie is on that piano better than anyone else.” Randy said, “This top 5 girls is some of the best top 5 we’ve ever had! That was a great song choice, a great delivery. I think you’re on your way!” Even Jimmy liked it, the first one of the night that he didn’t criticize.

Amber was the last to sing a song from the year she was born. She sang Mariah Carey’s version of “Without You,” which was released in 1994, though the original (by Badfinger) is from 1970. Keith said “I thought that was beautiful. Your singing has just grown in leaps and bounds in the last few weeks.” Nicki felt like there wasn’t enough feeling in the lower notes, and it was “restricted.” Randy said, “It wasn’t perfect, but I give you mad props. I don’t know if anyone could do that, singing in front of this legend [Mariah]. I think you did a damn good job.” Finally, Mariah said, “Oh my goodness, yes! You did some things, you made some choices. I loved a lot of the choices you made. Thank you!”

The diva round began with the diva, Candice, who sang one of the greatest songs of all time, “When You Believe” from the movie Prince of Egypt, sung by Mariah and the late Whitney Houston. Needless to say, I had goosebumps before it even began. Nicki said, “That is how you do a Mariah Carey-Whitney Houston. I believed every word in that song. There’s a bigger message here, everyone needs to feel that right now.” Randy said, “Again, that’s the best vocal of the night! You are so in the zone. You know that you can do this! Amazing!” Mariah said, “I think you did her [Whitney] justice. I’m so proud as I am every time you sing.” Randy said, “I love your voice because it stops me in my tracks. Jimmy said you had to pull out the stops? You just ripped them out and annihilated them.”

Janelle took on a song by “country diva,” Dolly Parton, “Dumb Blonde.” Randy said, “I thought this was a fun song for you. Vocally it didn’t show anything for you.” Mariah said, “You were very connected to the song. I thought it was cute! You always do that fiery, Janelle thing. We want to make sure America can hear everything you can do vocally.” Keith said, “You’ve got a thing that none of the other girls have. I don’t feel like that was the best song for you to shine.” Nicki said, “You’ve kept that smile and that light inside of you is why I’ll always love Janelle.”

Next, Kree tackled Celine Dion’s “Have You Ever Been In Love,” and added just the littlest bit of a country twang to it. Mariah said, “I think it was a very smart choice. The key was in a great place for you. You’ve showed us your versatility. Keep doing it!” Keith said, “You controlled the song the whole time. It was so pleasing to listen to. You’re going to inspire so many girls.” Nicki said, “You’re not country- you’re worldly. You’re iconic. You are one of those divas that we can watch when they’re 20, and when they’re 50. You just elevated everything in terms of your career and your longevity.” Randy said, “You sang it so well. You could do whatever you want to do, really. You’re that good.”

Angie sang Beyonce’s “Halo,” which she admitted beforehand was a risk. I didn’t think she captured the emotion quite right, but the judges didn’t agree: Keith said, “Definitely top 3.” Nicki said, “My Angie Miller is back! You just did that song justice like a queen could.” Randy said, “Angie’s in it to win it y’all!” Mariah said, “Very difficult to do a Beyonce song. What I loved about your rendition of this song was the clarity in your voice.”

Finally, Amber sang Barbra Streisand’s “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” Probably the best thing about this mostly-forgettable contestant is her occasional tendency to pick unexpected songs, and often those with a bit of an old-fashioned, jazzy tone to them. She sang the hell out of that song! Nicki said, “It was simply perfection. I don’t think you get the credit you deserve. Every single note was on point. You’re always giving me young Whitney Houston.” Randy said, “That was the most difficult song for any of you to sing. You are so good, you’re like this young Rihanna with this giant voice.” Mariah said, “Classy, beautiful, elegant. You are potentially a massive star.” Keith said, “You knocked it out of the park!”

So ignore my Candice-bias, or don’t. Anyway you slice it, the rest of the season is pretty much smooth sailing, now that it’s down to these amazing ladies. We’ll (probably) be down to the Fab Four next week!