Final seven perform

I’m writing this well after the fact, so the format is slightly adjusted. I can’t predict what already happened. Ok I can, but not after I admitted that this is written well after the fact.

Burnell, “You Give Love a Bad Name” (Bon Jovi)

Yeah, right. Next up: Stevie Wonder singing “Whip It”, followed by Charlotte Church singing “I Touch Myself”. As you would have expected, Burnell’s version bore little resemblance to the original. I like Burnell himself so much that I liked it, but I knew he was going to get roasted for his version by everyone from Mariah to the guy with the ass crack hanging out who empties the vomit buckets backstage. As we now know, Burnell didn’t survive the week.

Angie/Lazaro, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen)

That was awful; Lazaro sucked, Angie sucked, the arrangement sucked, even the sound engineer sucked. Let’s move on.

Kree, “Piece of my Heart” (Janis Joplin)

She wasn’t anywhere near perfect, but I still think this was my favorite Kree performance of the year. Ok, maybe it’s second behind the Grace Potter thing in Hollywood, but she made some breakthroughs tonight. She’s starting to drop the Carrie Underwood imitator tone, and she sounds more like herself. This is a huge thing for her, because her sweet, buttery tone is her best attribute. She seems so much more relaxed, and even on the stilts they keep strapping to her feet she is starting to move around a little. She looks sort of glamorous instead of looking like she just cleaned the toilets, too. I keep ranking her lower than she seems to rank on the internet, but it’s never because of her talent. I was always worried about her focus, and her confidence. She seems to be well past that now, and I see no reason why she can’t win. Hell, she might even be the favorite right now. It’s very close between the big three.

Candice/Burnell, “The Letter” (Box Tops)

I keep hearing Dionne Warwick in Candice’s tone, and this song really brought that out. Burnell got buried in the mix, but on the stage he more than held his own. It ain’t easy to sing over Candice, even when she is holding back a little. She sang the harmony part, which is notable because rival Angie did NOT sing the harmony part on her duet.

Janelle, “You May Be Right” (Billy Joel)

Yaknow, Janelle doesn’t stack up very well against the year’s best singers, but how did Kelly Pickler stack up against Chris Daughtry and Kat McPhee? I see no reason why Janelle can’t have Pickler’s career. All she needs is good taste in songs and a dynamite producer. Her basic talent is that whatever she sings will always sound like the Nashville version of the song. She can sing Megadeath, or Led Zeppelin, or Stevie Wonder, or Gregorian Chants – and everything’s going to sound like it was written by Loretta Lynn (slow songs), Lynn Anderson (fast songs) or Tammy Wynette (songs about tossing her cheatin’ husband’s crap out on the lawn).

Lazaro, “We are the Champions” (Queen)

Laz gets plenty of crap for his flaws, and I’ve been on him plenty myself, but think about this: How many Idol finalists have competed in their second language? You speak English, I speak English, and we are watching, not competing. He still sucks relative to the competition, but I wanted to take a minute here, to render some applause for the kid. He won’t win, but what he accomplished was impressive as hell. Once his Idol run is over I expect him to put out an album in Spanish, and I expect it to be pretty good.

Amber/Janelle/Kree, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” (Billy Joel)

What a waste of all that talent, singing this piece of crap. I love Billy Joel most of the time, but he put a few turkeys out there. At least it wasn’t “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. If you like that song, I mean “Keeping the Faith”; if you like that one too…

Candice, “Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones)

Ooh, dare to challenge Adam? The song arrangement, underneath Candice’s lyrics, was exactly the same. I wanted to hate it out of spite, or hubris, or something, but she knocked it out of the park as she always does. She wasn’t Dionne this time, though. She was Gloria Gaynor or Cissie Houston, doing it like the Motown singers did Disco back in the 70’s. I was, as they say, thoroughly entertained.

Amber, “What About Love” (Heart)

We finally found the top of Amber’s range, right near the end when she almost squeaked, and got a little thin and tinny at the top. Well, we didn’t find it, a Saint Bernard wearing a brandy keg found it; but we know it’s there now. I listened to her studio version of this song, and it was both blow me away amazing and a reminder that Amber is still very much a work in progress. The Taj Mahal was once a work in progress, too. If Amber isn’t the most talented performer Idol has ever had; considering age, vocal chops, range, tone, looks, personality…

That’s a good question, isn’t it? Who is Idol’s best talent combination ever? Kelly, Carrie, Kat McPhee, Adam, Crystal, Cookie, Archie, Clay…. there have been a lot of them. If I were to compare Amber to any of them I think I’d compare her to Kat McPhee, but with Jennifer Hudson’s vocal potential. She looks like Natalie Cole, and she sings like Whitney Houston. Candice is so good that she is rendering Amber an afterthought, though.

Angie, “Bring me to Life” (Evanescence)

She isn’t as good a singer as the big three (Candice, Kree and Amber), though she’s probably better than Janelle. She picked her perfect song, laid out about as strong a performance as her talent is capable of – and lost her status as front-runner. At this point I think she’s doomed to finish third or fourth, and that’s fair. She is roughly the third or fourth best contestant. It wasn’t more than a month ago that she looked like she was going to run away with it.

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Burnell got the green weenie and I’m going to stack my top six recap on top of this; so I’ll skip power rankings.