“American Idol” cut its field in half Thursday to reveal its 10 finalists for season 12. Surprise! There weren’t many surprises.
Paul Jolley, Burnell Taylor, Curtis Finch Jr., Devin Velez and Lazaro Arbos will represent the guys during the rest of the competition and on the summer tour. Representing the ladies are Janelle Arthur, Candice Glover, Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb and Kree Harrison.
Paul and Amber might have been mild upsets, especially given the judges’ praise for Elijah Liu and Aubrey Cleland, but it wasn’t anything worthy of outrage. And Charlie Askew again looked to be near tears with tension and disappointment, which makes it a kindness that viewers sent him home before the pressure really ratchets up.
(And if you’re furious about someone getting eliminated, you may get a second chance to see your favorite again: The male and female who finished sixth in the semifinal voting in their groups will take the stage once more next week. The winner of that match will get a bonus 11th spot on the tour.)
The format change this season saw the singers separated by gender, with the results being announced one by one as the anointed 10 got to go onstage and sing a victory song. In addition to killing the 90 minutes of airtime, this also kept the judges from offering their criticisms of the fans selections, which is good because that’s what Twitter is for.
The reveal of the finalists made it abundantly clear the women are a lot more prepared for prime time than the guys.
Let’s make allowances for the fact that the hopefuls undoubtedly spent 98 percent of their focus this week on their performances, and much less on a potential victory song. Let’s also make an allowance for the emotional swing that everyone felt leaving the tension of the offstage holding pen, walking with Ryan Seacrest to the spotlights of the sold-out stage, and then being handed a microphone. It’s not a recipe for a masterpiece.
Even with that caveat, the men have a lot of work to do if they’re going to give their gender a sixth “Idol” title in a row based on how they sounded Thursday. With the possible exception of Burnell’s cover of “Ready for Love,” the five best vocals of the night? The five women.
Janelle, who hasn’t been at her best in either of her last two performances, shined on her version of Dierks Bentley’s “Home.” Angie and Candice were predictably awesome. Amber knocked out “I’m Every Woman.” Kree was fantastic doing “Evidence” by Susan Tedeschi.
The guys? Meh. Singing Heart’s “Alone” is almost always a terrible idea given how well others have done with it in the past, and Paul’s attempt at the cover was brutal. Curtis and Lazaro were average. Devin was sweet but bland, and also caused Nicki Minaj to make a slip when she said that he was the first “Idol” singer she knew of to sing in both English and Spanish. (Nicki, season eight’s Jorge Nunez and season 10’s Karen Rodriguez say hello.)
The strength of the ladies might not mean much as the competition progresses. “Idol” voters have definitely favored the guys in recent seasons, and there’s a long way to go until the finale. The men better get to work.
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