No, I haven’t recapped American Idol all season, and you know what gems my recaps were last year. You’ve really been missing out, huh? A couple of reasons I haven’t put in my two cents until now:
1. The Top 10 were very lackluster–I really wasn’t fully committed to this season until Top 6, and even then I zoned out through maybe 50% of each episode.
2. I’ve been reading three excellent recaps every week–here, and here, and here–and reading so much about AI and then recapping it myself seemed excessive.
But this week we went into the hometown visits, and if you were with me last year you know how these hometown episodes in particular TEAR. ME. UP. I figured instead of rehashing the entire season, I could just give my general thoughts about this episode and the season as a whole. Continue reading if you feel so inclined!
The contestants each sang 3 songs- a pick from Jimmy Iovine, one from the judges, and the last from the “production”. I’ll review each contestant in turn.
Can I start by saying I’m one of those people who has loved Candice since that moment in Season 11, when she received that totally undeserved dismissal? I actually converted a copy of this video to mp3 soon after it premiered and still listen to it regularly.
UGH, so good! [Sidenote: I wish Jessica Sanchez had been on this season instead of the last, so Nicki Minaj could have given her some good, constructive advice on how to be a current artist. Last season’s judges did NOTHING for her.]
So anyway, Jimmy’s choice for Candice was “One” by U2 (but really the version with Mary J. Blige). I love this song, and I love her singing it. I didn’t love the arrangement. There’s a moment in the song where the music swells to the “love is temple, love is higher law” section, and instead of letting the song naturally get there, they cut out a big chunk of the middle portion (for time’s sake, I guess), and she sort of went into this incredibly emotional moment with no buildup. Let her sing the whole song, “production”!
The hometown visits always get me. It’s the contestants’ jobs to make me cry as much as possible during these montages, and Candice delivered more than anyone else.
Candice’s mom: “When she rolled up in the limo, that did something to me.”
ME TOO, Candice’s mom! It was touching to see how affected Candice was by going home and feeling the love and support of her community. The judges’ pick was “Next to Me” by Emeli Sande, which I have on repeat at this exact moment. It’s great. Nicki can barely speak because she is trying not to show that she is a human with real human tears, and I’m crying and Candice is crying and we are all just a MESS by how proud we are of Candice. Randy congratulates the judges on a job well done, and then I punch Randy in the face. Also, Mariah comments on how she can’t believe Candice was once a Travel Agent instead of a singer, because we all know that to be a supahstah singer is the ULTIMATE and having a desk job when you are a kind and talented person is just a waste. Ugh.
The “production” picked “Somewhere” from West Side Story for Candice’s final number. I am confused by this, but she of course sings the h*ll out of it, so I don’t care. If the winner of American Idol should be based on talent and not on how much money Nigel Lythgoe thinks he can make off of you, then Candice should easily win.
Jimmy’s pick for Kree was “Perfect” by Pink, which didn’t really make sense to me. Kree sort of lazily walked around the stage, smiling and interacting with the front-row crowd. When Pink sings this song, you can imagine her singing it to someone who is really broken, and she’s practically demanding them to see that they are more than their insecurities. It’s really a powerful song that was sort of bubblegummed (not a word)-down for the radio, and Kree sings that sort of pop-feel-good version. It’s vocally very nice, but underwhelming.
My one compliant about Kree has always been this bored, lack-of-enthusiasm she carries around every week. Don’t get me wrong, she seems like a genuinely nice person, but she also seems like she doesn’t really want to be there anymore, and has definitely had trouble creating emotional or meaningful performances (in my opinion. Duh, it’s all my opinion on here). So I was glad to see her go home to Texas, because I was reminded that this is a girl who has been through so much, losing both of her parents and having to find a strength to go on. No wonder she seems to have trouble letting her guard down–she’s probably had to build it up pretty high to remain strong after all of that. It is good to be reminded that, in the midst of one of the most overly-produced, hokey shows on television, these are real people.
The judges chose Rascal Flatt’s “Here Come’s Goodbye,” during which she hits a lot of bum notes, but the judges love it and at this point, so do I.
The productions’ choice for Kree was “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry. I thought maybe I was just being overly sensitive (it happens) when I was APPALLED by their choice of this song for her after the whole hometown video about her two deceased parents, but it turns out everyone else noticed how tasteless this choice was. It was sabotage, I tell you, because it was so not her style either.
I have a real love/hate with Angie. I like her voice, I like that she writes her own music. It freaks me out that she looks just like Miley Cyrus. I do think she’s the smartest contestant of the bunch when it comes to picking songs and marketing herself. She’s just so…ugh, how do I say this without sounding like the pessimist I really am? She just so cheery. She’s a teenager. So it’s understandable, but my heart is made of stone and she’s just too peppy!
Jimmy chose “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John. The judges are all confused as to why she’s not playing the piano, and I like that she’s honest and admits it seemed too difficult and too short a time to learn the vocals and the piano and be able to do it well in a week, along with all the other junk they force these kids to do. I preferred that she wasn’t at the piano. She seemed less rehearsed than usual, and I was able to notice some of the really beautiful qualities in her voice that might not have come out if she had been focused on trying to do Elton John justice on the piano.
Angie is from Beverly, Massachusetts, which is relatively close to Boston, so a good portion of her hometown visit focuses on that. I was reminded while watching this package how young Angie is. I think she’s someone who will only get better with time, and has a lot of potential. The judges chose “Try” by Pink, and I’m not sure why they are making these girls sing Pink. None of them are really “in” that genre, and this turns out to be a bit shout-y. She does seem very comfortable “working the stage” (I hate that I just typed that). I felt that she was relaxed and enjoying it, which made me enjoy it, too.
The productions’ pick was “Maybe” by Emeli Sande, which I had never heard. It actually sounds like a song Angie might record, but I am distracted by the fact that she is sitting behind the piano, but not really doing much actual playing of the piano. I just wish the judges would stop associating her name with the word piano!
Ultimately, I think Kree will be going home and it will be an Angie/Candice finale, which I would actually look forward to. Who am I kidding, we all know the real winner of this season (and last) is hot guitar guy. Check in later for a results update.
SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE! If you didn’t waste enough of your life reading my recap, let’s waste a little more by judging the judges. While I think Jennifer Lopez is maybe the most beautiful woman on the planet, I do not miss her or Steven Tyler on the panel. I wish they had taken Randy Jackson with them. This year, we have a fresh perspective–
Keith Urban – I was raised in Kentucky, so I’m allowed to admit I like country music without you hating me! Fun fact–I saw Keith Urban as an opening act in concert once. And I really love him as a judge. He seems to be genuinely focused on giving actual advice which is (sadly) just incredible on American Idol. It’s so rare. I’ve found myself weirdly attracted to him over the season. My sister says it’s because he wears open-collar shirts and lets his tattoo peek out just a little bit, which makes viewers want to see more. Oh man, she might be right. And he’s always calling contestants “baby,” but not in a creepy way, which I really enjoy.
Nicki Minaj – I am legitimately a fan of Nicki’s music (the Pink Friday album, at least). I enjoy Nicki in this platform; she, like Keith, seems to be really intent on actually giving the contestants advice and honest opinions. I appreciate that, I really do.
Randy Jackson – Just leave, Randy! PLEASE!
Mariah Carey – I had high hopes for Mariah, because we all know she can sing. Unfortunately, she’s not the most well-spoken of the bunch. She tends to ramble in a very robotic way, and barely moves her body in her seat, which makes me think she is, in fact, a ROBOT! It would explain so much.