'American Idol' Top 9: The Beatles prove hard for several Idols

american-idol-top-9-season-12.jpgIt's the Beatles songbook night on "American Idol," which we would like to think would be a great night because it's great music. But that is not always the case on "Idol."

Before we can start anything, Carly Rae Jepsen and Coke are asking YOU (all Uncle Sam-like) to help choose lyrics or stage effects for her songs? Hmm. Does anybody actually care enough to go vote?

Again, before any singing, we find out the 11th Idol to go on tour is ... Aubrey Cleland. Wow, it's pretty surprising she beat out tween-bait like Charlie. But good for her.

1. Kree Harrison, "With a Little Help From My Friends"

Interesting song choice for Kree. It wasn't what we would've first thought of, but it actually really works for her. She doesn't sound like the Beatles, she doesn't sound like Joe Cocker, she just sounds like herself, but it's not bastardizing the song in any way. Musically, the song doesn't go a lot of places, but she finds places to throw in some big stuff. Definitely not our favorite Kree performance, but it wasn't bad by any means. She's a great singer.

Keith and Nicki love that she's herself no matter what song she's doing -- exactly. She didn't imitate any version of that song we've ever heard. Nicki also praises her style, which is also true. We loved casual Kree, but dolled-up Kree is great too. Randy does a fake out, but he loved it too. What in the heck is on Randy's jacket? Is that a watch? Ship's wheel? No, Randy.

2. Burnell Taylor, "Let It Be"


It is very surprising to us that he doesn't know this song. We understand that with every passing year, we keep getting older and the Idols stay the same age (I.e., much, much younger), but ... really? Huh.

Anyway, Burnell sounds lovely on this. Thankfully, he keeps the vocal gymnastics to a minimum, because this song is gorgeous because of it's simplicity. The ending is particularly nice. We aren't in love with his coat made out of belts, but that's neither here nor there.

Nicki says he caressed the song and likes how delicate he was, which is a very astute critique. Also, it's interesting the judges are now taking turns on who starts, because Mariah Carey was really getting left with nothing to say as the always-fourth person. Though we argue that there is NO need for four judges, but anyway.

3. Amber Holcomb, "She's Leaving Home"

Wow, obscure Beatles choice, but beautiful. Amber looks smashing, she's got a real Billie Holiday vibe about her on this performance. We hope she gets votes, even if viewers aren't as familiar with this one because she sounds amazing. Her tone is gorgeous -- she doesn't need runs, she doesn't need to show off. What a good vocal. Not only does she sound great, but the emotional connection is palpable, which is pretty remarkable for someone so young.

Randy thinks it started slow and unsure, but we thought it was quietly beautiful. It's a slow song, dawg. What was she supposed to do? Hmph. Keith says this is his favorite Beatles song and we totally believe him. Keith Urban is smart and knowledgeable and we love him to pieces. But anyway, he loved how fresh Amber sounded on it. Nicki calls her vocal unmatched, but she thinks Amber was in her head, wondering why she's singing this song. Disagree. Totally disagree. We thought she was very connected and it's not fair for Nicki to attribute things to Amber that may not have been there.

Watch Amber's performance here.

4. Lazaro Arbos, "In My Life"

OK, this is a mess, you guys. Not only is Lazaro struggling with the tempo, but his pitch is all over the map -- the key change is terrible. Yikes. So, we've officially found the cute guy that voters are going to take all the way to the finals, right? He got the fourth-highest number of votes last week and was one of the weakest. And now he once again clearly cannot sing in the same league as the other contestants, but you just know he'll stay.

Especially because the judges are going to have to tell him how bad this was and that will send the tween girls rushing to vote for him. *sigh*

Mariah forgets that this is about singing and praises his courage and perseverance. Ugh. Keith says Lazaro should've started higher, but that wasn't the issue. Meanwhile, Nicki says he's not the Lazaro she once loved -- um, it's because you were blinded by his backstory and now you're realizing that he's not that good of a singer and that he's in over his head.

Thankfully, Randy says it was out of tune from beginning to end. At least somebody's being honest. He wonders where did the vocals go and the answer is they were never there to begin with.

And Lazaro is visibly upset, so you know he's going to get a ton of votes. He seems like a very sweet guy, we are not criticizing him as a person, but he's not vocally strong enough for this. At all.

5. Candice Glover, "Come Together"

Nice to see Candice get a little down 'n dirty, a little outside her comfort zone. And vocally, it's really rockin'. However, it's even more obvious on this performance that the singer is not overly familiar with the Beatles. We just don't feel any kind of connection to the song at all. But what she does outside the traditional melody line is a lot of fun. Definitely not Candice's best, but still pretty strong. She stepped outside the box and did her best.

Keith loves to see this side of her and that she killed it, while Nicki says the vocal was insane, but she wants to see more connection and attitude. For sure. Randy says her voice is crazy, which it is, but it's fair to critique her connection to a song. However, Randy is also right in that it's nice to hear her go uptempo.

6. Paul Jolley, "Eleanor Rigby"

Now this is our personal favorite Beatles song, so Paul might win us over if he nails this. Unfortunately, he does not nail it. It's not awful, but there are some pitch issues -- this is a very tough melody line and he's playing it a little fast and loose with the minor key. In addition, Paul is doing his weird pronunciation business on "all come from." It gets better once he goes bigger, but only for a brief moment, because the ending is terrible. Very weak high note. Not a fan, sorry.

Nicki just lays it out there -- "I did not like your performance." She calls it safe, bland and forgettable. Those are not at all the words we would use, though we didn't like it either. Randy didn't like how disconnected Paul seemed, which -- yes. He seems that way every week. It's like he has no idea what the songs he performs are about.

That's Keith's second-favorite Beatles song. We knew we loved him. And he rightly says the falsetto note at the end was not the way to go.

7. Angie Miller, "Yesterday"

We hope she does this at the piano. Please do this at the piano. Aw, drats. But anyway, this is very pretty. She's on pitch (which is not easy on this song), plus she chose a very high key. Her tone is so pure. This actually sounds fairly current, which we didn't think it would. Also, her "I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday" is beautiful. She loses it just a touch on "game to play," but overall, really nice.

The judges love it. Randy compares her to the Evanescence singer, which -- wow, yeah. Totally. Mariah says it was respectful to the original while still showing off her voice. Nicki cites the high key, which is something we were nervous about for Angie, but she pulled it off.

Watch Angie's performance here.

8. Devin Velez, "The Long and Winding Road"

Great choice for his voice. The arrangement is different. We aren't sure we love the R&B feel to the song, especially all the runs at the end. But that's just a personal preference thing. Vocally, Devin is doing a nice job. He is on pitch, his tone is lovely. As far as the boys go, Burnell and Devin are significantly better than Lazaro and Paul.

Mariah loves it, while Keith needs to feel more heart and more connection. That's fair. Nicki gets all ridiculous with a penis joke. Oh, grow up, Nicki. We like how Randy cautions him on over-using runs. He does have a tendency to do that.

9. Janelle Arthur, "I Will"

A more obscure Beatles choice, too, but great, great choice for her voice. This sounds like a current country song. Her tiny runs are beautiful and the way she builds the song, going from so quiet to "love you when we're apart" big, then bringing it back down is really lovely. This should send some people voting for Janelle. The last note could've been stronger, but overall, very nice.

The judges love it. Nicki wants to renew her vows because Janelle pulled them in with such a subtle performance. Very true. This is 1000x better and a total 180 from last week's "Gone."

Watch Janelle's performance here.

So, what's the word? Well, it goes seven Idols and then Paul and Lazaro. They were by far the weakest. But they're the "cutest" guys, so will either of them go home? We don't know. Devin or Burnell could be in trouble, but all the girls should be safe.

As a whole, not our favorite week. Janelle, Amber and Angie really stood out, whereas Kree and Candice turned in maybe our least favorite performances by them.

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