This week starts with some sentimental tosh about Brunel's departure. I think what everyone really wants to know is what the stats look like that have kept Lazaro on the show and may even see him sending one of the girls home this week - Janelle, on recent voting, which would evidence this show's voting having become as bonkers as X Factor UK's.
Songs from Bacharach and David are the first section's theme. Let's hope they drop the silly duets and things.
Angie kicks off with Anyone Who Had A Heart. So much better than the Cilla Black version we had to put up with here in the UK. She seemed to be straining on the top notes and it was still a bit clinical at the start. Keith Urban talked sensibly about wanting to feel some passion in her performance and in that respect he's dead right. She is good but everyone is saying the same thing and, although they say she'll be around until the final, I wonder whether that's going to be the case?
Amber is increasingly looking like a winner to me - the most natural performer who seems to have been doing this for years and looks fabulous too. I Say A Little Prayer was OK but not as impressive as I'd expected. In a way I'd apply the same criticism to her as they did to Angie as I didn't see much emotion in this. Nevertheless, I want to see her in the final. Nicky went over the top with her praise, however. Randy followed with a couple of 'Yows' and everything building up to 'In it to win it' which Mariah Carey actually voiced. They were impressed all right. I hope she gets the voters' support in the same way.
Angie must have been wondering just what she needs to do! Lazaro is next. He may only have to get through the track without falling over to get through to the Top 5. That's wrong but, as the only recipient of the girlie votes, he has a distinct advantage which only some major boob will lose.
Telling America he shoots ducks and owns a quad bike may have been one boob. His song is Close To You. Now that's a simple enough track and not particularly demanding so he made it through. There were some horrible wobbles and he is totally out of his league now but we'll just have to see how things go. Randy doesn't really know what to say. He likes the person, as I am sure we all do. But he is very honest and real and says it as he should. Mariah follows and reminds us that she has been criticised for her support for him over the weeks. This time she pulls him apart over what she says is quite a big deal - something about a key change that he didn't make. She was even more critical than Randy. This is interesting. They want him to go. Keith says the same. Nice guy but... They're probably hoping that he'll resign rather than let someone else go. Nicky makes an excellent point and tells Ryan to move on!
Difficult times for everyone - you can almost feel how embarrassed people are. I didn't actually think he made big enough mistakes to warrant all that and there is the possibility that all that will do is enhance his sympathy vote. I do hope that Kree, Candice, and Janelle in particular, put in super performances that also bring in enough votes as this week will be close I feel.
Kree says that all people in Texas do is go to rodeos! That won't do her Country vote any harm, though. Her track is What The World Needs Now Is Love and sings it very well as she always does. Pretty effortless and I'm not so sure she shouldn't get the same Angie criticism but she doesn't. For me it was just a bit bland. Mariah goes on almost as long - she is certainly making up for lost time in earlier editions this Season. Compliments all round, basically. She remains the favourite. Randy lays it on the line, almost pleading to America to vote for the singer - someone who can sing!
Janelle has a cool personality. I love her relaxed, friendly and so natural presence on stage. Her track is I'll Never Fall In Love Again. She looks lovely. Some notes were not perfect but she's highly likeable and the camera loves her. I just wish the judges would be more enthusiastic about her. If any girl is going this week, it's Janelle which would be sad.
Candice does Don't Make Me Over - a nice song, very professionally and accurately delivered. Again, I didn't get the emotion but that was a powerful and excellent delivery by yet another first class act. It is going to be really difficult to choose between these five girls. Whatever the judges say, or voters decide, I see them all with decent careers. Amber in the commercial market. Candice as the professional with big album sales. Kree as the Country artist that may win but I'm not convinced we'll hear that much more about. Janelle as the Country artist that, like Kellie Pickler, has that extra personality that will keep her on our screens longer than the others. Angie, possibly, as the big name in future if she succeeds in writing more wonderful tracks and, perhaps, gets some useful Broadway-type or even film support too.
For their second performances they choose songs they wish they'd written.
Angie's choice is not a track I recognise but it is a good choice for her. I Am Yours I think, Powerful and so well sung. I got her emotion too as she stayed at the piano and big support from Randy this time. That might see her through fine. Nicky laid it well on the line - most impressively - pointing out that Amber, Kree and Candice were walking away with the prize when she was away from the piano but, when she plays and sings, that;s when she wins. Fascinating. I don't know if Mariah got a look in! I really do not want to call it this week.
Assuming Lazaro isn't sent home, it can only be a surprise whoever goes. It will also probably be for all the wrong reasons. The Big Country vote will save Kree. I feel Janelle should survive too and believe Angie has a pretty loyal following. Between Candice and Amber, Candice is the least likely to have a big fan club but I am not sure how far Amber has actually reached out to people who vote. So, if pushed to make a prediction at this point, I would say Amber. I really do hope America sees sense and sends Lazaro home, though.
Back to the second songs. Amber does a Beyonce track Love On Top. It was a strange start and I was wondering where she was going but she sort of recovered and actually turned it round completely and seemed to enjoy herself whatever anyone might have thought. Totally natural. And those legs are good. She gets an 'In it to win it' from Randy and lots of love from the others.
Lazaro sings Angels. This is such a popular song that I can imagine his fans will love him for doing it. Oh dear. It was not very good, helped along to a large extent by the backing and backing singers. The judges really don't want to say anything. If only he could get sent home. If not then this show could start t get embarrassing. I can just about imagine the judges and audience letting Janelle go but anyone else? No, that would cause a riot. In my view, they should riot if Janelle goes too.
Kree's choice. I think she has a free pass though so it doesn't matter too much what she does. As it is, this is a classy Help Me Make It Through The Night which will go down as one of the great Idol Season 12 tracks.
Janelle sings Garth Brooks. She has to follow the judges saying how Kree was better than her. The Dance. That was beautiful. I do hope she doesn't go. That was the first time that I had heard the song - so too Mariah, which was quite surprising. She thought it was beautiful too. Keith reckons that it would have been great if she had just performed with a guitar and nothing else - and that's probably right although I will still say that the camera loves her so much more than it does Kree - which the judges don't see until later. He also tells us that someone else actually wrote it - Garth just sang it. Nice work, Keith. Nicky still thinks that she is 5th amongst the girls.
Candice to close the show. She chooses a number by The Cure. Now that I hadn't expected. Nor had they, I suspect, as quite a hefty performance cheque should be heading their way. Love Song is an interesting selection for sure. Wow, that was excellent, the song of the night. I didn't recognise that at all but that delivery was good enough to go out as an Adele-trouncing single tomorrow. A very impressive audience response too. Randy announces that as one of the best ever performances in all 12 years. That's saying something.