American Idol recap: Rock ‘n Roll blues

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April 4, 2013 by Susan Miller

This week’s theme was All Rock: No Ballads and it was… not much fun.  A lot of these singers are not comfortable in the rock arena, because they don’t have the stage presence or quality to their voice that enables them to successfully pull off a rock performance.  In the past, the contestants have gotten around this by slowing the song down, changing it up, and making it a quiet study of the power of the melody and lyrics.  No such luck this year with the “No ballads” caveat tacked on.  Who knew the new themes would be even worse than the old?

Instead of Jimmy Iovine mentoring the contestants, this week we were treated to videos of the contestants talking about each other.  It was a zillion times better than Jimmy pretending to help.  We found out that Burnell has an adorable laugh, mumbles and has a big crush on Amber. Kree knows everyone associated with the show by name and family tree and gives them all hugs as well as ironing everyone’s clothes.  Janelle has an accent(spoiler alert!) and makes things really dramatic and worries about Burnell’s potato deficient diet. Lazaro wears bright clothes. Candice love/hates Burnell and is the only one with her own room. Amber talks to herself and likes to take “selfies” and Angie gets excited about everything to the point where she does this adorably annoying fast clap.  About everything.   It was really cute and much more entertaining than any of the actual performances tonight.  Oops?

Burnell Taylor, “You Give Love a Bad Name – This was pure silliness, because being on this show is pure silliness, and the idea of Burnell singing a rock song is just silliness to an absurd degree.  Nicki said Burnell reminded her of Teddy Ruxpin in this performance and I completely agree.  He was just an adorable teddy bear, singing a karaoke version of a bad song, in front of an audience on a televised singing competition.  I made Steven give all 50 votes to him.  A+

Kree Harrison, “Piece of My Heart” – I really wanted to like Kree’s version of this song, but it just didn’t hold up to Hailey Reinhart’s version.  And who could, really?  Kree doesn’t have the grit in her voice to make this work and it ended up being a lukewarm cover of a recognizable tune.  That’s always a dangerous place to be.  If you do a mediocre version of an unknown song, there’s a lot more room to hide.  I think Kree might end up in the bottom three this week.  Not that she should, but that’s the danger of rock week.

Janelle Arthur, “You May Be Right” – Billy Joel was the perfect choice for Janelle.  She got to wear her crazy technicolor boots and whip around the stage in a blaze of light and smiles and rainbows and hit only 80% of her notes.  But it’s okay!  Because it’s Billy Joel!  Janelle gets praised more for performance than actual singing ability, and I suppose that’s okay.  But if she ends up winning this season, it’s really not all that different from the “white guy with guitar” scenario Idol is so desperate to avoid.

Lazaro Arbos, “We are the Champions” – This song was cool, but only because the music is cool.  Whoever told Lazaro he should tackle a Freddy Mercury song clearly doesn’t like Lazaro.  It was recognizable, fun, anthemic, and the band was so loud that you could barely hear Lazaro when he decided to remember his lyrics long enough to sing some notes.  I spent most of the performance angry about Burnell inevitably being in the bottom two tomorrow, and just maybe going home in Lazaro’s spot.  There’s no way the judges will use their save on a guy, right?  If Burnell goes home before Lazaro, maybe it will be the push I need to finally quit this show for good.

Candice Glover, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – Nicki was right.  This was snoozey.  It just doesn’t work as a singer’s song.  There are plenty of rock songs that Candice could’ve tackled and had a bigger moment with and I feel like this song choice was just kind of lazy.  It seemed like her go-to karaoke number.  She did mention that she broke her toe on Monday, so maybe that had something to do with it.  None of the contestants seemed particularly fired up about rock week, and it showed in their song choices.  Her duet with Burnell was much, much better.  Mostly because Burnell makes everything better.

Amber Holcomb, “What About Love – I was most excited to see Amber do an uptempo song on Rock week since she’s been stuck doing 20 year old pageant ballads for the whole competition.  So of course, she sang this Heart song that let her do exactly what she’s been doing the last 500 weeks of the show.  It was fine, she has a big voice, there was theatrical fog, it’s a great belt-y song, yada yada yada.  The real winners of this performance were Amber’s legs.  They’ve got to be at least 90% of her body, right?  Insane.

Angie Miller, “Bring Me to Life – Ugh.  Remember when Angie used to sing?  Like, Kelly Clarkson levels of singing?  Now she’s all in her head and not singing full throttle and getting drowned out by the band and trying to win votes on sex appeal instead of raw talent.  It’s so frustrating.  This should have been a great song for her to show off that rock edge to her voice but instead it just felt like she was holding back.  She desperately needs someone to pick her songs for her and fast.  She’s fading faster than Lil Rounds.  Remember her?

They did duets and a trio again this week.  Most were terrible, but this one really, really wasn’t.  The Burnell factor saves the day, yet again.

I fear that Burnell, Lazaro and Kree will end up in the bottom three this week, with Burnell getting sent home.  He went first, the judges were hard on him, it’s an Idol death song, and I’ve come to accept that America will only allow Lazaro to go home once he’s the last boy left in the competition.  The judges better save him.  I can say that with a clear conscience because I voted.  So there.

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