What better way for "American Idol" to promote the brand than to a night of tribute to the top show of the decade -- itself? The theme? "Music of the American Idols." With a decade of shows spanning 11 season, hundreds of number one singles and catalog songs to choose from (the Top 10 finalists could choose songs from post-Idol recordings as well as songs performed on the shows), what could go wrong? As the Top 10 took the stage to sing live for America's votes on Wednesday, March 13, it was looking as if it was going to be a night of self-congratulatory self-indulgence on the part of the "Idol" producers.
Apparently, the producers either don't watch the show or they've given over more freedom to the artists to have more input into the song choices, because there's no way they thought the finalists would choose songs that they really shouldn't have...
But some of them did.
First, the bad: Devin Velez and Lazaro Arbos will be the reasons why Janelle Arthur isn't sent home this week. Who let Arthur sing Montgomery Gentry's "Gone?" Even Scotty McCreery didn't do that good of a job with it and then Arthur wants to tackle it? Not a good move.
But Devin Velez following up last week's rip-roaring Perry Como number (sarcasm intended) with Carrie Underwood's sad "Temporary Home" was not the best of choices, either. The judges let him know it didn't work as well. But give him credit for aiding a lady in distress (that would be Arthur, who performed second to his third).
And Lazaro Arbos just couldn't handle Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway." Simple as that.
Then there was Curtis Finch Jr, whose rendition of Fantasia's "I Believe" was almost painful. Not as painful as Lazaro, Devin, and Janelle, but painful. And it wasn't that he didn't sing well, it was just... there. Curtis also has to fight being in the death spot (he performed first), but others did worse and he shouldn't have anything to worry about -- this week.
Burnell Taylor suffered the same fate as Curtis with Westlife's "Flying Without Wings," a song covered by Ruben Studdard (his first single release). He was just there. Adequate. Passable. Nothing else.
The guy who did the best was, surprisingly, Paul Jolley. He performed Lonestar's "Amazed," also a song brought to the "Idol" stage by Scotty McCreery. Jolley's lacking a connective quality in his performances but he might have done better Wednesday in that regard than any of the other guys.
Amber Holcomb went power ballad again with "A Moment Like This," Kelly Clarkson's coronation song. She, too, did a passable job but she seems to be too much in the Pia Toscano and Jessica Sanchez mold. Attractive, powerful voice, but nothing to make her stand out; something that will see her sent home in a few shows (like Pia and Jessica, only Jessica got the Judges Save to keep her in the competition in 2012).
Angie Miller, the odds-on favorite to win Season 12 (at the moment) didn't hurt herself, taking Celine Dion's "I Surrender" (performed by Kelly Clarkson for her Top 4 performance in Season 1) and remaking it to suit her style. Although not the strongest vocal, Angie keeps showing that she has versatility.
Kree Harrison did a great job with Roy Orbison's "Crying," which was performed by Carrie Underwood on her run to the title in Season 4. She's showing why she's considered a contender for the finale.
And speaking of which, Candice Glover also showed that she was someone who had something to prove. She nailed Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)," a song sung by Jordin Sparks in Season 6, for the best performance of the night. Judge Nicki Minaj stated that the song should be retired after Candice's performance.
And that was that. So what started off as a self-indulgent pat on the back by "Idol" producers --with a nod to the show and the artists made successful by their association with the show -- became a lot of so-so and lackluster performances, with only a few shining through.
The results show on Thursday should be interesting. Power rankings lists putting Amber and Curtis and Devin at the bottom. Professional oddsmakers place Curtis and Burnell and Paul (tied with Devin) as having the longest odds of winning. But performance-wise, those Silver Stools of Uncertainty might see Lazaro and Janelle alongside a third unlucky colleague.
But who will America put in the bottom? Who will they send home?
The results will be revealed by host Ryan Seacrest beginning at 8 p.m. (EST) Thursday, March 14). "American Idol" Season 12 winner Phillip Phillips and Bon Jovi are the scheduled guests.