There wasn't much good to say about the "American Idol" Top 20 results show other than the people who got through deserved to make the Top 10. Of course, a couple of people could have been traded for others, but it isn't as though they put through a bunch of Sanjaya Malakars or Megan Joys or anything. Still, during the reveal, producers had those making the Top 10 Thursday night (March 7) sing a "victory song." They shouldn't have. Ballad-heavy, the performances -- some good, some not-so-good -- were superfluous and bordered on the over-indulgent. Literally, the producers should not have done any of it...
First, the Guys:
Paul Jolley was the first one to make it through and perhaps the most questionable of all the choices. He's mediocre at best. Oh, he can sing and he's got looks, but he's way too clean-cut, too exasperatingly plain. Anyway, he sang Heart's "Alone." Poor song choice because he's not Ann Wilson and the difference in vocal talent is quite noticeable -- but the judges aren't about to say anything bad about the Top 10 on their night of triumph (although they really should have).
Burnell Taylor, a judges favorite and the prompter of Mariah Carey tears, was next to be named. He performed India.Arie's "Ready For Love" and the judges seemed transfixed, but there's no real quality in his voice. Nothing distinct. And his rendition of that poignant ballad was poignantly awful. Still...
Third to get through was Curtis Finch Jr. Finally, someone actually sounding like they belong in the Top 10 of America's premiere singing competition. Curtis sang John Legend's "So High," a great pairing with the song that got him into the Top 10 (R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly").
Fourth: Devin Velez. Another good voice. Performing Israel Houghton's "Power Of One," Velez put a nice spin on the song.
The fifth guy to get through was Lazaro Arbos. His emotion-evoking tones rang out in his version of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and was actually quite good. There's something there, something definitely likable about Lazaro, and it just might hold him in good stead for some distance in the competition.
But... the ballads... Four out of five thus far...
And then there were the Girls:
The first girl named to the Top 10 was Janelle Arthur, who did a great job in the first part of her rendition of Dierks Bentley's "Home." However, she began to get emotional, her voice getting thick, and she couldn't quite hit her notes. But the three-season veteran pushed on through it, so you have to give her credit for that (not to mention the perseverance of coming back for a third time to try out for "Idol" in the first place).
The second young lady through was another returning face, Candice Glover. For anyone doubting that she should be in the Top 10, her near pitch-perfect performance of Rose Royce's "I'm Goin' Down" had to have left them doubtless. Candice probably had the best performance of the night.
Third through: Angela (Angie) Miller. The Hollywood Week standout brought tears to the eyes of Judge Keith Urban with her version of Beyonce's "I Was Here." It wasn't pitch-perfect but it was gutsy and emotional. Both emotion-evoking like Lararo's performance and emotional like Janelle's. The difference, though, was that Angela's emotion-filled voice didn't nearly ruin her song (as was Janelle's case).
The fourth girl making it was Amber Holcomb. Amber has to be given props for doing the first up-tempo song of the night (Devin's was just mid-tempo). However, there was absolutely nothing good about the performance, from start to finish. She came in too soft, she was off-note here and there, off-key a lot. Chalk it up to the excitement of getting through...
The tenth and last person to get into the Top 10 was no surprise at all: Kree Harrison. Besides Candice, Kree just might have the strongest voice in the competition (for the girls; Curtis has the power for the guys). And, thankfully, she didn't waste any time on a ballad for her victory song, thus ending the March of Ballads. She sang Susan Tedeschi's "Evidence," a bluesy rocker that captured her vocal strength.
Ten finalists. Ten songs. Seven ballads. What were Nigel Lythgoe and company thinking? Surely they want viewers to tune in next week? Well, good luck with that after that 90-minute mattress commercial...
So, America voted (a massive 39 million votes in all). The Top 10 was pretty well chosen, not that it was much in evidence with the victory song-singing. But perhaps the overall poor performances form finalists that have otherwise been rather exemplary was due to strained emotions, relief at getting through, happiness, sadness at seeing friends cut, physical exhaustion, all the aforementioned combined. Whatever it was, what amount to vocal victory laps for some actually stalled out.
But none of that matters. What matters is that the Top 10 will perform for America's votes next week. Angie Miller seems to be the current frontrunner and not just in the eyes of the judges. She's also been the frontrunner among professional oddsmakers for the past couple weeks as well. But can she hold on to the top spot? If she wants to stay there, she will undoubtedly have to do a little better than her "victory song" performance (although it wasn't that bad), something more in keeping with "Never Gone." But with powerhouse voices come at her from Kree and Candice, not to mention Lazaro and Curtis and Burnell, she could have a tough time remaining queen of the "Idol" hill. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.
"American Idol" returns to its regular slots this week: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.