'American Idol' Top 4 redux: The ladies run roughshod over some standards

american-idol-top-4-harry-connick-jr.jpgIt's the Top 4 again on "American Idol." The themes this week are Songs from 2013 and Standards. That's interesting. And it turns out we're going to be wrong about which one of those we think is going to be better than the other.

But it doesn't matter because Harry Connick Jr. is there! Love, love, love him. We were hoping he'd be a judge on this show when Simon Cowell left.

1. Angie Miller, "Diamonds," Rihanna

Great, great arrangement for her. At this point, since we know they can all sing their faces off, it's all about song choice, arrangement, connection and so forth. Angie is not only a good singer, but she's super smart. Back at the piano, making a current song her own -- smart choice. However -- the song stays a little static. It's a tad boring, honestly. She could've done more with the song. It isn't really showing off her voice that much.

The judges confirm what we were feeling about the song. It was kind of boring. She sounded wonderful, but she should've taken it somewhere.

2. Amber Holcomb, "Just Give Me a Reason," Pink


Hmm. If we thought Angie was boring, then we aren't sure how to describe Amber. This is one of her worst performances. She doesn't seem connected to the song at all and her voice is almost too pretty for this. The reason this song is interesting when Pink does it is because Pink has that raspy chick rock voice going on. This is like Whitney trying to sing Joan Jett or something. It isn't really working.

Nicki says the voice is there, but that the connection was in and out. Well, that's even a little generous -- the connection was completely out, for us. The judges pretty much all agree and they get boos, but they're not wrong.

We will say, Amber clearly doesn't know this song, which makes connecting with it hard. And who can blame her? The songs that have come out in 2013 have mostly come out since the girls started "Idol," so of course they don't know them.

At this point, neither girl has wowed, though.

3. Candice Glover, "When I Was Your Man," Bruno Mars

Interesting song choice, but it turns out to be a spectacular choice for her. The emotional connection is electric and her instrument is being displayed to its fullest, without her getting too carried away with runs. Fabulous. The night finally started.

The judges agree, they have nothing but praise for her.

4. Kree Harrison, "See You Again," Carrie Underwood

Another brilliant song choice and the staging is perfect for her. There is absolutely no reason Kree can't go on to have an outstanding country music career. We wonder if she thinks about her parents while singing this. That's making us get choked up just thinking about it.

Not quite as blow-us-away as Candice, but a very solid performance. Keith's conflict about the staging is a legitimate critique, though. We thought the song woudl stay quieter since it was just her and the guitar player who were visible (plus the guy on steel off to the side).

Either way, Candice and Kree definitely win Round 1.

5. Angie Miller, "Someone to Watch Over Me"

Not in love with this choice. We were totally on board at first. For the opening few stanzas, she was being so delicate with the song. So pure and simple and beautiful. However, all of a sudden this, like, rock arrangement roared up for the "tell him please to put on some speed" and she totally lost us. It got too big. This is not an arena rock power ballad and her singing it that way kind of ruined it -- especially that weird crescendo ending. She should've stuck with being vulnerable and quiet.

Angie's 0 for 2 tonight, y'all. The judges are complimentary at first, but then Randy actually says something smart with the arrangement being wrong and confusing -- then he immediately says something dumb about how if you can sing, you can sing anything. Well, yes. Her vocal prowess is not in question. But that arrangement was terrible.

And then -- wow. Who knew Mariah Carey's mom was Eloise Hawking?

6. Amber Holcomb, "My Funny Valentine"


Amber's back in her wheelhouse with an old standard. She really has a throwback voice. However, we call cheat on this one -- she sang it already, back during the Vegas rounds. At least this time around, she didn't go as R&B-slow-jam on the arrangement, which was a mistake that time around.

Still, she's got a stellar voice and that was a beautiful performance on a very hard song. She got a little carried away at moments -- some people like that, but we're with Harry Connick Jr. These oldies can just be sung for the beautiful songs that they are. They don't need all the vocal gymnastics.

Anyway. Is that enough to keep Amber, after that first performance? We aren't sure. Amber's goose might be cooked either way. She just doesn't seem as popular as the other three women.

7. Candice Glover, "You've Changed"


Tricky, tricky number. And Connick's right -- just sing it. Just show us your beautiful tone. We know you can do the runs. This song doesn't need it. The runs actually ruin the vulnerability and the delicacy.

But I digress. Candice takes his advice -- at first. She absolutely kills the beginning of the song. She should be, like, draped across the piano with a white flower in her hair. However, the middle part of the song gets a little carried away. Thankfully, she pulls it back in, but, man. She should've reined it in. Because she does the same thing every week. Show us your softer side, lady. Show us you can do it. Pull back for once.

Randy blathers some stuff about feeling what you sing and sing runs because you're a church kid and blah blah blah. Shut up, Randy. We know she can do it, but guess what we don't know? That she can hold it in. Not every song has to be sung until the speakers break, dawg.

8. Kree Harrison, "Stormy Weather"


This is one of our top 2 favorite old standards, along with "Lullabye of Birdland." This could be really great for Kree, if she'll take Harry's advice and not ignore it, like the other girls.

Except -- man, et tu, Kree? She just can't hold herself back. Honestly, we love Kree's country thing on most every song she does, but this song is better when sung straight. Just let the melody line and lyrics speak for themselves. Just have a moment. Stop doing so much to it. I mean, the melody is almost nonexistent on this performance.

Ooof. Really irritated with the old standards performances this week. Blech, ladies.

Does Kree actually know the words? Does she know what they mean? THat big note at the end? Terrible. Of course it wasn't terrible vocally, but it was a terrible choice. "Keeps raining all the time" should have such a sad, delicate sense about it.

Delicate. That word has been used several times in this recap. These ladies went stomping over the old standards like a herd of elephants. Not a delicate bone in their bodies. Boooo.

Interestingly, the judges agree with Connick on this song. But not on the other girls?! They all totally murdered these classic pieces. And we appreciate them being "who they are," but it's also -- don't be a one-trick pony. Show off different sides of yourself.

So, who's going home? At this point, it hardly matters. They're all good singers and somebody has to finish fourth. It's probably going to be Amber, based on being in the bottom before.

But wait, there's more! There's a group performance now -- with some kind of trashy backup dancers. Seriously, stop trying to do something untoward through the camera at me.

What do you think, "Idol" fans?
Photo/Video credit: FOX
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