Friday, 17 May 2013

And the winner is...

So here we are at the Finale and it's the last show of the series.

Janelle Arthur looks fabulous and in her element matching The Band Perry in stage presence and performance of some rock country number.

Then the boys and Frankie Valli do some numbers from the past that suit their vocals, Deven providing most of the safe lead vocals and nice to see Curtis again, resplendent in white. Lazaros can't resist giving the girls in the front seats a closer view of his blue suit but that may have been part of the production so that he didn't need to sing.

Amber returns with Emeli Sande, sounding almost exactly like her. Amber was wearing some grey patterned tights with an unfortunately placed darker seam that I am pretty sure the cameraman was asked to move away from. Even Emeli seemed to be focused on that area throughout her song.

Mariah Carey entertained with several of her numbers, delivered standing still inside some mermaid outfit. You tend almost to want to feel sorry for this multi-billion dollar star - as if she has become disabled or something, Randy, who started the evening like a massive Pooh in a bright yellow-brown jacket, was playing guitar on stage with her. Nor was it live. What? How much is she paid?

Keith Urban proved he could sing well and perform with a great rock and country number. looking cool. That was his new single. Also pre-recorded. Come on, guys!

Candice Glover comes on stage now to sing an old-style number Inseparable very nicely. She introduces Jennifer Hudson and they demolish the track together. No-one should take on Candice. She is not a stage sharer.

I don't remember all this "and now, ladies and gentlemen, so and so..." in American Idol. I thought it was just an X Factor thing. Maybe my memory isn't functioning. The Candice and Jennifer thing developed well and worked out pretty impressively in the end. Not my kind of song but damn good performances for all that. Candice does strike me as the consummate star.

Now, the one who many thought is the winner, Angela Miller singing Titatium with the wonderful Adam Lambert and then along comes Jessie J with Domino. Angie looks pretty overwhelmed and gets an even bigger surprise when she gets a nice offer from Jessie J to come to the UK to promote her single. Apparently, she couldn't do her single on this show because Jessie had asked to come and sing with her and some last minute rearrangements to the schedule were required. All good stuff. Great to see Adam out there too.

By my calculations, that just leaves Kree.

There's a great sketch about the judges and then Randy and Keith take to the stage with Kree doing some Country number about kicking shoes off or something like that. This is not that good, to be honest, and you ahve to wonder how much better Janelle would have been at this stuff. I don't see Kree as the Country rocker. Even Kelly Pickler is more watchable and interesting, and she came 6th in Carrie's Season.

Will Nicky get to show what she can do? I can't see how they can avoid that now. And after the Deven impression, let's hope she's not in leopard skin tights! This is quite a good show - it does feel as if the result is being dragged out a bit but some worthy stars and decent quality performances this year are a great improvement on last year.

A mini tribute to Randy Jackson who leaves the judges' bench this year. I don't know why but he is the only surviving first judge so I guess his time is up. A bit amateur, with dogs doing stuff.

Aretha Franklin nearly announces Candice as the winner before performing at a distance over a video link with the Top 5 girls. This doesn't work very well. The five girls are merely backing singers (and that's being generous!) and the big video kinda makes Aretha remote. The Queen of Soul is also pretty old now and, frankly, shouldn't be doing this sort of show. There are plenty more super acts that have come along since the Sixties.

Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull perform their big hit and bring us into the 21st Century again with a smart act that only Amber could really have competed with. And that brings us, at last, one and three quarter hours later, to the result. Well, after some adverts for yoghurt, mayonnaise and hair colouring.

All my logical brain cells are saying it's Kree, with traditional huge Country state vote but watching the two of them on stage together, it seems so much more the case that Candice is the natural stage star. She looks the part. So who does win?

Kyran dim the lights. After the Nationwide vote the winner of American Idol Season 12 is
Candice Glover.

Good choice, folks, Well done!

The Finale: And then Candice sang I Who Have Nothing.

It's Kree v Candice. In the introduction they both seem surprised to be here - I am sure that each expected Angie to have taken their place but here they really are. Candice makes the comment that tonight is it - I either win or go home. Er, no, I don't think so! Runners-up often do as well if not better than winners, Candice! Remember someone called Adam Lambert? Uh huh. And who came 1st that year? No, nor can I.

So back to tonight. Kree starts with Angel. It's an ideally-suited country song that Kree just flowed through beautifully. That was a very believable performance. Not exciting or particularly different - just top quality and exactly what you'd expect to hear from her at concerts or on her album.

Candice does Chasing Pavements. Now this was a disappointing and unchallenging track for Candice. She made no mistakes but that didn't inspire me either. I kept thinking how other contestants could have done that or entertained, inspired us more than that.

Round 1 to Kree, whatever the judges may say.

Carly Rae Jepson is on stage next. Now she is 2013 and makes the two finalists seem quite 1993. A nice performance of her new single about her boyfriend taking pictures of her taking pictures of him. She's cute and her long legs seem extremely long for such a short girl which has nothing to do with singing but you just can't help noticing on a generally covered-up night for Kree and Candice. What I did admire, too, was the lack of false tan - she was distinctly pale and natural which added to her youthful appeal on a slightly 'older-style' evening.

Kree again and All Cried Out is the single to be released if she wins. A good one for her. It sounds very familiar and I can see it doing well across the charts. Hers is an understated but totally believable and honest performance that I like. It will appeal to the huge Country audience.

Candice's single is, I think, called I Am Beautiful - a more demanding track to listen too and, to be honest, quite tedious. Candice sings well enough but, no matter how much she puts in to this, it will remain a boring song that needs re-writing and has too many ohs.

That's two rather underwhelming tracks from Candice - sad, as she deserves better tracks.

Round 2 to Kree too.

The third performance is one of their favourites from the series and Kree starts with one that I think is called I Love You. She looks good in red and has the demaeanour of someone wh is expecting to win. Very confident and this is  marvellously controlled and an excellent performance. Much too short, though. I wanted that to continue. The song of the night so far.

And then Candice sings I Who Have Nothing. Well, until now it was Kree's night and I was writing the next post to congratulate her and wonder out loud whether anyone in the UK would ever hear of her again. And then Candice sings I Who Have Nothing.  Wow. That was superb. I wuld give her the title now for that performance alone. Brilliant. That was genuinely emotional and could be game-changing if the vote lines were not yet open. Kree may have easily won the first two rounds but that was what an American Idol should sound like and that, for me, was the song of the night and, possibly, the whole damn series.

So, it's down to the American voters now, who I seldom agree with, mainly because there are so many of them living in huge expanses of Country country and distorting the figures. That may well mean that Kree walks away with the title but... but Kree has not excelled this year and has been in the lower band of votes in the past. So Candice has a chance still.

We'll find out soon enough.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

America decides the two who compete in the Final

I missed these two shows. Here are the video recaps of three girls, all producing excellent performances.

Jimmy's thoughts on the Producers' Round songs:

Jimmy's thoughts on how they handled his own choices for them:

And Jimmy's thoughts on the Judges' Choices:

And, finally, the results. Who goes through to the Final, with some nice reminders of runners-up in the past.

So there you have it - farewell Angie and it's Kree v Candice next week!

Friday, 3 May 2013

The one where we see Constantine again

Top 3 decided tonight., David Cook and Harry Connick Jnr perform.

Only Angie and Amber looked comfortable doing Beyonce's Crazy In Love, not that that matters much really. The producers do like the sing-a-longs. The difference between Top 3 and 4 is that whoever goes 'home' doesn't get the 'homecoming' nonsense next week. They miss out on being filmed being carted around amongst screaming locals and being awarded various honours by strange, and usually shouting, local dignitaries that no-one would have heard of before. We have to sit through all that stuff next week. I guess it must be pretty special for the contestants but coming 4th still seems pretty reasonable o me and I am also sure that if someone hired a nice smart car for them and drove them through town and booked the local ball park it would fill up for the 4th place person in a matter of hours. So she could still have something pretty close to a home-coming after all.

Jimmy gets to air his views as they review the eight performances. He says that Angie had the opportunity to 'shut down the whole competition' but didn't chose songs that enabled her to take it. He had Amber sounding karaoke and he was right listening to the replay. Funny Valentine was 'magnificent'. Was that enough to pull her from 4th (where we all assume she was last week)? Candice he puts on top with both tracks which could well mean farewell Amber. Jimmy's not sure about Kree, though. So... nothing is set in stone at this point at all.

David Cook won in Season 7. A great performer, with his line in currently popular emotional rock and roll, with a couple of successful albums but nothing has caught on over here yet. This new track is a bit tedious - all well-intended stuff and some commercial bits here and there but just a bit too many oh wo oh wos for my taste. He was one of the few I have actually correctly predicted as winning. I always seem to get the runner-up. now shows people just what putting on a show is all about and this is a 21st Century track with a 30s feel and a touch of The Black and White Minstrel Show for good measure! Nice job. He's rushing back and forth a fair bit and will be on the Voice UK tomorrow. You have to wonder which of the four girls would be likely to give that sort of wild and modern original performance at some point in time.

I suppose Harry Connick Jnr's song was very well written and performed and it's difficult to criticise someone as expert as this guy but the backing seemed to be interfering at every junction and totally wrong for the track. It made a song with too many lyrics and song with too many lyrics and too many other things going on too. When he got up and started walking around that was almost too much to take in. Nice guy, though, with a great, instant sense of humour.

That's the entertainment done and dusted so next it's the vote results. Well, all we'll get told after whatever device Ryan is told to use to stretch it out at least to another ad break will be that Amber is in 4th place, probably...

Yes. Sad to see her go and she really shouldn't have attempted the farewell song but we'll remember her for the past great performances. And her legs.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The one where we discover that Ryan Seacrest doesn't watch Top Gear

Songs from 2013. Well that'll be something different. And standards. OK. That won't be. Harry Connick jnr is the mentor. I am struggling to think of anything he's had in the Top 100 recently. The guy's had a string of albums and written a pile of stuff in the past so I guess that qualifies him for the slot but doesn't fill me with confidence.

Angie starts the evening, Nice bit of fun with Harry beforehand. Her choice is Rihanna's Diamonds. At the piano again and sounding excellent, She works the camera man well and seems comfortable on the stage. I think she would prefer to be moving around and showing off a little more but that was a great start.

The reviews were not so good. Interesting, as she was so far ahead of everyone last week. Having said that, the criticism is only about pretty minor aspects and nothing to do with singing, such is the standard this year at this stage. Any of these four could take on most of the previous winners and survive. Nicky spots that she's playing to the camera more than usual and Mariah agrees - one of the few occasions when they've said the same thing about someone (other than generally being complimentary).

If the votes are, indeed, carried forward from last week then my guess is that she'll have a big enough stash to get through this week. The real battle may well be between Candice and Amber. I think Kree's Country people will pull her out of trouble - provided, that is, she does actually keep them on board by picking some good ol' boy tracks.

Amber is the one in most difficulty, especially if Candice does the big gospel stuff. For now, she's doing a beautiful version of Pink's Give Me A Reason. Confident but a bit bash-bam-bash, emphasised even more by the drummer. Amber always looks wonderful but, as Nicky says, she's quite tense on stage compared to being so relaxed in preparation. Randy and Mariah pick up on this too - she's not enjoying herself as much as usual. Mariah does, however, hint at something to come next round! We'll see. Keith makes a fair point that Pink writes some pretty damn difficult songs so she did pretty damn well with that.

Candice is presenting Bruno Mars When I Was Your Man. That's tricky because the words relate to a bloke. It's a super track and her voice is great. This is a superb performance. She is totally in control and commanding the stage, the band and, unless Kree has something remarkable up her sleeve, it's Round 1 to Candice.

Good reviews too from the judges. Love Keith's suggestion When I Was Your Giraffe. She gets a belated standing ovation. But, what is it with Mariah? She seems to have trouble getting up. This week she seems to be in a sensible dress too and actually one that makes her upper half less wide and almost in proportion so why can't she stand up?

Ryan tells us that Kree will be doing a Carrie Underwood track. That's a good choice in many ways so maybe she will find a way to stop Candice stealing too far ahead of her. The track is I Will See You Again and she performs it immaculately. I don't agree with Harry that she sings it better than Carrie, And there's something about Carrie that is sensational that Kree simply doesn't get across. A nice performance - obviously perfectly in tune but Keith makes a good point about the ballad being a powerful track but it didn't come across that way. Nevertheless, that should have pulled in a good number of votes, And she gets Harry coming out on stage to congratulate her which the others didn't get.

In the second part of the show it's all about 'standards'. I do feel that they've already been pretty much done but it's a pretty broad range so hopefully they'll choose songs that they can really impress with. You just know that Candice will excel in this section, don't you? Why? No idea. Anyway, first Angie sings Someone To Watch Over Me. Beautiful red dress and they're finally getting her hair right. Just tone down the whiteness on the teeth sometime. This song suited the Broadway Angie so well. It's a bit boring and not likely to set the voters alight. It was a great way to show off her voice, if a little old-fashioned. Nicky talks about Broadway too! Whatever happens she'll be getting hundreds of offers. Nice work but she'll get through based on the overall tracks last week and this.

Keith is wearing an I Am The Stig T shirt and Ryan clearly hasn't watched Top Gear!

Amber is singing another oldie. Harry, fascinatingly, helped her (and me) understand the lyrics of My Funny Valentine. That helped in how she presented the song and she was made up perfectly for the period. Is that, though, where I'd have put her to garner votes this crucial week? She's lovely, and gets all four judges up on her feet (well done, Mariah). Some genuinely emotional reviews for this one. She is fearing that she'll go, which is a shame.

Candice is singing a Billy Holliday track. That was unexpected. Even older than some of the others. You've Changed. Fabulous. I was expecting a gospel church job but this was true classic and even beat Amber's period piece with marvellous notes picked out perfectly. Mariah is a huge fan. It now seems like Angie's track wasn't that old after all, and I would say they're all pretty even this Round, which gives Kree another great opportunity to steal this thing tonight.

Stormy Weather is probably the oldest of all. It's a tricky song and Harry tells her to sing it straight. She still seems to put a few bits in there that didn't belong but that was good. Odd choice, though, as if the others had picked the best tracks before her. So I'm not so sure she's advanced her cause tonight. The judges all respect her vocals and talent but wonder about the song choice too.

That all promotes a great debate with Harry Connick Jnr arguing well with Randy about wh and what Kree should be doing! Randy would do well to watch that back and learn!

All good stuff tonight, that's for sure. I would put Kree in 4th place but suspect the American voting public for this show will disagree and send home Amber or, shockingly some will think but still possibly, Candice.

My vote goes to Amber this week, for what it's worth and, in my view, it ought to be between her and Angie for the title this year.