'American Idol' Top 10 finalists: Amber Holcomb rounds out a pretty strong night

amber-holcomb-american-idol-top-10.jpgTime to get serious, "American Idol" fans. It's the Top 10, singing songs of past Idols, so that ought to be interesting.

1. Curtis Finch Jr., "I Believe," Fantasia

We figured either Curtis or Candice would snag this song. It's not our favorite Idol coronation song, but it's actually a lot nicer in Curtis' lower voice than Fantasia's nasal shriek (sorry, we have never been fans of her voice). Wow, Curtis is busting out the gospel choir right out of the gates. Vocally, this is really nice. He's being very controlled and we love how he builds the song, instead of just going full-out right from the opening notes.

We aren't sure if that paisley jacket is the best thing ever, or if Curtis has been dumpster diving behind Randy's house. Maybe both.

Keith compliments his song choice, but cautions him to watch his pitch. Randy mentions the jacket first, because of course he does. He also wants Curtis to step outside his comfort zone, which is good advice, but for week 1 with the finalists, it's usually better to stay in your wheelhouse. We're with Mariah -- the choir and the song are exactly what Curtis is.

2. Janelle Arthur, "Gone," Scotty McCreery

Oh, so, they can sing any song an Idol has ever done on the show? Phffft. We thought they had to sing a song BY an Idol. Hmph. Any song any Idol has ever performed is almost as vague a theme as that one year where the theme was like "Songs Gwen Stefani Has (Maybe) Heard (Of)."

Anyway. This is not the song we would've picked for dear Janelle. She's got the entire Carrie Underwood catalog at her feet and this is what she picks? This is plodding and seems to really be lacking some oomph in a female voice. Janelle, we really want to like you, but you have some serious issues with song selection. It also sounds like it's getting away from her at moments, plus it's pretty boring.

Janelle is probably safe because she's a very pretty, blonde country singer, but she's gotta do better with picking songs.

Keith likes hearing a female sing that song, but we disagree. We're with Nicki -- last week was a much better song choice and she wants to hear the pretty parts of Janelle's voice. For sure. Randy also says the song doesn't go anywhere, which is also true. Not a great song choice, sweetie.

3. Devin Velez, "Temporary Home," Carrie Underwood

Interesting that he picks a country song. However, this is actually gorgeous in his voice. Wow. Devin's kind of a dark horse. He's not as showy as some of the other men, but gosh, he has a pretty tone. This is kind of making us want to cry -- it's an emotional song and he is doing a really nice job with it.

Keith didn't like it -- usually he's our go-to judge. What is happening tonight?! Whereas Nicki Minaj is totally on point tonight. She thought he sounded great, and she says he doesn't need to sing in Spanish every week, which he doesn't. Randy thought it was too safe, which is a fair critique, but it was also a beautiful vocal, y'all! You can't act like he did a poor job, because he didn't.

We hope Devin stays, we really liked that.

4. Angie Miller, "I Surrender," Kelly Clarkson

Thankfully her hair is curly, 'cause that straightened hair in her video package was not working for her. Anyway, this song is kind of a snoozefest -- it's so melodramatic. But vocally, Angie kills it. She has such a beautiful, pure tone and she nails the key change. The leather dress with chains on it is ... interesting. But that is neither here nor there.

Not the most exciting performance we've seen out of her, but definitely not a bad one. Keith loves her high register (yes), but says she made that song very current (no). That wasn't terribly contemporary. Still great, though. Minaj loves her dress, which is hilarious. Of course she does. Randy says she can sing anything, which is true, but this was not her best performance, we don't think. It's still the best tonight so far, but ... hmph.

5. Paul Jolley, "Amazed," Scotty McCreery

Thank goodness Iovine told Paul he oversings and compares him to Broadway. YES. Jolley needs to dial it back a little. That being said, this is a great choice for him because it forces him to start small, though his smaller stuff is a little breathy. Quiet does not mean unsupported, guys. Also, what is with his weird pronunciation - "thoughts" sounds like "thuuuuts." Vocally, this is fine. It's not bad, but it's nothing special. There also does not seem to be any emotional connection. He's like a singing muppet.

OK, so this guy is going to ride his clean-cut good looks and country sound right to victory, isn't he? Even if he's nowhere near as good as any of the women on the show. Uh oh.

Keith is right in that Paul didn't oversing this time, while Nicki gets all up in his grill about how good he looks. Down, girl. Mariah cautions him not to hold back too much, but ... he's gotta find that middle ground.

6. Candice Glover, "I (Who Have Nothing)," Jordin Sparks

This was also our favorite Jordin performance, she gave us chills. It was heartrending. We feel like Candice is going to slay this. But first -- girlfriend looks amazing. Her hair and makeup is outstanding. Vocally, this is gorgeous, but it's lacking the raw emotion of Jordin's performance. The arrangement is part of the problem, we think. Her R&B runs are exquisite, but we would just prefer to hear this a little more stripped down, you know? However, that "window pane" and the ending were terrific. Candice can sing, y'all.

Keith says if we had more time, she'd still be getting a standing O. Nicki says, "It would be in everybody's best interest to never, ever perform that song ever again." Ha! That's amazing. Though it kind of shows her lack of knowledge of Jordin's performance. Randy and Mariah also loved it.

7. Lazaro Arbos, "Breakaway," Kelly Clarkson

Interesting choice. We don't think Lazaro has the chops to tackle Kelly. And then he starts singing -- yikes. The verse is fuzzy and not on pitch in spots, and it just gets worse on the chorus. This is honestly kind of terrible. Lazaro seems like a huge sweetheart, but vocally, he just isn't there with the other finalists. Also, the sweeping farm country backdrop can go away and never come back.

Keith immediately asks Lazaro a question that is going to have a rather lengthy answer. Dude. Just make comments. Anyway, at least all the judges are honest -- that was not nearly his best.

8. Kree Harrison, "Crying," Carrie Underwood

If anyone should be taking on Carrie or Kelly, it's this girl, so we're a little surprised at the song choice, as in not picking one of their big ol' numbers, though this is a beautiful song. However, she starts singing and we're kind of mesmerized. The little runs she puts in there are lovely and the way she goes into her higher register on "over you" is ... wow. This is excellent. Her control is stupendous. This girl could be a huge country star, you guys. The final line gives us goosebumps.

The judges love it -- we love how Keith just says it's her voice. She has the prettiest tone in the competition, for us. Randy calls her voice "infectious" and Mariah

9. Burnell Taylor, "Flying Without Wings," Ruben Studdard

When they teased a Season 2 finale moment, we were kind of hoping for "Bridge Over Troubled Water," but OK. He starts and ooooh, good low notes. Very nice. Huh. This is maybe our favorite Burnell performance. It's very subdued and quietly powerful, we love that he didn't get too crazy with the runs (which is so over done nowadays).

Keith loves the "timbre" of his voice and that right there is why we love Keith Urban as a judge.

10. Amber Holcomb, "A Moment Like This," Kelly Clarkson

Big song to take on, but Amber can handle it. She has a gorgeous voice. We'll say it again -- there is a Whitney quality to her tone, in some moments it's uncanny. Anyway, this song doesn't quiiiiite live up to Kelly, but there isn't the same emotional impact of the moment, so it's OK. The key change is beautiful and the ending is perfect, when she goes up high.

And, as an aside, lay off the wind machine, "Idol" production people. That was just silly.

Nicki's comparison to Whitney is not an exaggeration -- we completely agree.

So, who should go home? Honestly, Lazaro was easily the weakest, though Janelle is down there too, mostly due to song choice. Will Lazaro go home? Probably not, because he's cute and people feel bad for him. But he should be the one on his way out. Instead, we bet the lovely (but forgettable and not as cute) Devin Velez is in trouble.

Overall, though, this was a pretty strong night, you guys.

What say you, "Idol" fans?

Photo/Video credit: FOX
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