March 13, 2013 at 11:07 PM ET
“American Idol” couldn’t have asked for a better night Wednesday in its season-long effort to put the focus on its women.
Between Candice Glover, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison, “Idol” has a trio of women with talent, poise and confidence that hasn’t been seen this early in the competition in ages. After two strong weeks in a row, Amber Holcomb isn’t far behind.
And with Nicki Minaj as a judge, “Idol” also has a woman who makes things interesting on the panel, epitomized Wednesday by her notably late arrival.
Women stand out
The theme for the night was “songs sung by former ‘Idol’ winners,” and the selections made it obvious why the show has been hyping its women. Every female winner had at least one season 12 finalist paying them tribute. Meanwhile, of the last six male winners, only Scotty McCreery got a shoutout. Taylor Hicks, David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee Dewyze and Phillip Phillips all went unloved.
It’s been all men, all the time over the last five seasons, but if Wednesday is any indication, that winning streak is in big trouble. The top women seem know exactly what they’re doing, a big departure from the struggles we usually see at this stage of the competition.
Angie was her usual solid self with “I Surrender,” causing Nicki to go stream-of-consciousness in her response.
“You look like a billion dollars today,” she said. “Your legs are giving me everything I need in life today, and I love how you walk in heels. You personify perfection. Your voice is flawless. I can't critique anything.”
Then Candice eclipsed her on center stage and earned a standing ovation from three of the four judges (Mariah Carey said her skirt was too tight) when she belted out "I (Who Have Nothing)."
“It would be in everybody's best interest to never ever perform that song ever again. You just destroyed and annihilated it," Nicki says.
“I’m telling you, this was one of the greatest performances on the show this season,” Randy said. Wow! All the way back to JANUARY!
Kree was the next woman to shine. She inspires Nicki to ridiculousness like no other on a weekly basis, and on Wednesday, Nicki compared Kree to a waffle with butter and syrup. Note to those avoiding carbs and sugars: That was meant to be praise.
“If you made a record tomorrow, I would go and buy that record,” Keith Urban added.
Amber closed the show with a flourish, though it’s not clear that her version of “A Moment Like This” deserved the standing ovation it got. Still, it’s the second excellent performance in a row from her, and if she’s not quite at the level of the top three at this point, she’s awfully close.
Janelle Arthur was more of a disappointment, and the problem with picking her Montgomery Gentry song is that it meant the title, “Gone,” was displayed in bright lights behind her as she finished. Not the best omen.
At least Janelle had the courtesy of all four judges at the podium when she began her performance. Nicki showed up after the first singer had already finished, and arrived in a black hoodie, sunglasses, and bangs that indicated she didn’t stop in the stylist’s chair first.
Blame the traffic, Ryan Seacrest said. Or, you know, make up your own theories as appropriate.
Guys? There were guys?
The “Idol” men paled in comparison, as they have all season.
The singer to watch on Thursday’s results show will be Lazaro Arbos. He picked “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson, a terrible song choice that he struggled with until closing strong with the last 15 seconds or so.
Based on Wednesday’s performance, Lazaro should be bottom three at best. If he’s not, that’s a great sign for him going forward.
Helping him out was a series of uninspiring performance from the rest of the men.
Curtis Finch? “I Believe” was solid, but not as memorable as his red jacket.
Devin Velez? “Temporary Home” was a dull choice that got mixed reviews and was easily forgettable.
Paul Jolley? “Amazed” was far from amazing.
Burnell Taylor was the best of the lot, but “Flying Without Wings” was at best the fifth-best vocal of the night. The women were once again the stars of the show, and if Wednesday showed anything it's that the guys have a lot of catching up to do.
Who's your pick to win this season? Tell us on Facebook.
More in The Clicker: