American Idol 2013 : Year You Were Born / Divas Week

Alternatively: “Ding Dong, The Boys Are Gone” Week. But they’d never play that on Radio 1.

Candice Glover: The attempts to turn Candice into an Angry Black Woman continued a-pace with her baby photos and parental testimonials, as they told us she was a bossy little brat who loved to beat her brother up. Then again…Candice herself readily admitted that, and seemed to find it hilarious so…more power to her. Also, as an older sibling…I can relate. After last week’s emotional excesses, this was the week that Candice had to dial it back down and prove she has a tempo other than full-tilt divadom. The result was a slowed-down rendition of “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, which really just read as an excuse for the current judging line-up to rag on America’s favourite NOT pill-poppin totally not alcoholic kooky aunt. And why not? It clearly wasn’t Candice’s vibe at all, and I’m not really grateful for any situation where I can legitimately say “Andrew Garcia did it better”. Fortunately Candice then got back on track by bellowing her way through “When You Believe”. I did like that she apparently agonised over whether it was sensible to sing a Mariah song in front of Mariah. This shows a level of sensitivity and strategy lacking in ONE AMBER HOLCOMB. Happily, Candice struck lucky with one judge in particular, as “When You Believe” apparently was a major event of Nicki Minaj’s childhood. As such it was a way for Nicki to soothe the trouble waters between herself and Mariah on the judging panel, whilst still rubbing in that she really is a lot younger than her. I do take exception to her comment that this sort of seismic pairing of iconic divas has never happened again since though. I mean…COME ON. I also take exception to Jimmy IVUnit hiding out under the stairs throughout the episode like some sort of leathery Gollum, spittling “I HATES IT!” after every performance but…who wouldn’t take exception to that? Year You Were Born: 6/10, Divas: 8/10

(At least Candice had the common sense to do a Mariah song for her “Divas” round, and not for “Year You Were Born”, AMBER. Year You Were Born: 7/10, Divas: 8/10)

Janelle Arthur: We can sit here for a bit and discuss Janelle’s performance in the first round, but it’s frankly irrelevant compared to the GLORIOUSNESS that followed. Anyway, due diligence obliges me to inform you that for her song marking the year she was born, Janelle chose to sing ‘When I Call Your Name’ by Vince Gill – apparently his voice was pretty much the only thing that stopped her from crying when she was a child, so she picked this to…stop America from crying? I dunno. I mean, if Angie and Nicki can make endless shoutouts to what happened in Boston this week, I guess Janelle can too. Anyway, Janelle took to the stage in what looked like a muumuu to deliver a plain and overly sincere version of the song, showcasing a lot of her most annoying quirks, and failing to modernise her song in the way that, say, Candice did. But that all paled into insignificance in round two, when Janelle decided to take on Dolly The Great Country Diva (complete with a brief potted history of Dolly for people who don’t have the internet) with a performance of ‘Dumb Blonde’, which apparently caused Janelle to COMPLETELY LOSE HER MIND. She interpreted this song as Dolly via Bonnie Tyler, ran around the stage shrieking like a banshee, completely lost her ability to look into the camera (and on the few occasions when she managed to, either by luck or design, she went completely cross-eyed) and she ran along to grab the hands of the front row without ever acknowledging they were there. It was a total trainwreck, and it is going straight into my Favourites folder on YouTube. Year You Were Born: 5/10, Divas: 7/10

(I actually started liking Arthur Janelle as a person by the time her elimination came, which I never thought possible. As a performer… Born: 5/10, Divas: 2/10)

Kree Harrison: First of all : dear make-up people. There was no need to put that much spackle on Kree. She’s not on Broadway. They don’t need to see her highlights from the back row. I guess anything to try to make her more interesting, as this week we learnt that Kree was even boring as a baby. Solid dependable Baby Kree. Three feeds a day, no crying, decent if unspectacular stage presence. In fact, the boringness of Kree has now become so apparent that she’s started actively rolling her eyes at herself during her performances. I mean… she was singing a song by The Black Crowes, so I can sympathise to a certain degree, but she does have to take responsibility for her choices at some point. The whole thing sounded a bit like something you’d hear towards the end of a particularly mawkish episode of Ally McBeal, where Ling/Richard/Nelle showed they DID have a heart, but at least it prompted Nicki to tell Mariah to “Simmer Down Sir” so it was good for something. And then she did another performance and it was EXACTLY THE SAME, except because the theme was “Divas” we had Kree pretending to be a diva because it’s funny when someone with as little personality as Kree has pretends that she possesses one. But even the dull vocally soothing competence of THIS performance had a purpose, in that it let the judges clap their hands and applaud how it was actually possible for a woman to be country whilst remaining classy and dignified. Not at all a burn on how Janelle had just run round the stage like a cross-eyed Jibber-Jabber burbling about nothing. Year You Were Born : 7/10, Divas: 7/10

(I swear, if I’d closed my eyes during that second performance, I’d have thought she was Katharine McPhee. At this point, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Year You Were Born: 6/10, Divas: 8/10)

Angie Miller: This week, American Idol decided to fat-shame America’s pre-pre-pubescent youth, as they showed pictures of Angie as a toddler and laughed at her HIDEOUS ROLLS OF FAT. It was all rather uncomfortable, but as uncomfortable as when they mocked her first attempts at songwriting. Mostly because “Little Sparkle Dress” is still better than anything Chrissie Hynde ever wrote, particularly “I’ll Stand By You”. To be honest I think the juxtaposition of yelling “THIS IS FOR BOSTON!” (perfectly validly, I mean she is from there and that) and then immediately cutting to “Why you look so sad?” was a little unfortunate, but then that line is pretty unfortunate to begin with. God I can’t stand The Pretenders. Especially “1000 Miles”. Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes, Angie. Fortunately for her Divas song, Angie chose “Halo” thereby tapping into what clearly is her biggest strength – songs that were probably written about guys, but which are clearly being SUNG about God. If she can just tap that strength and tone down the over-pronunciation a bit, a career in Christian Rock will be hers for the taking. Year You Were Born : 6/10 Divas: 8/10

(Angie’s over-enunciation was driving me mad in the first round, but she won me back with ‘Halo’. Now THAT’s what a Divas Night performance should look like. Year You Were Born: 4/10, Divas: 9/10)

Amber Holcomb: Shortly after this week’s theme was announced, a setlist for this week turned up on Wikipedia, and then promptly vanished again. Most of it was bollocks, as far as I can recall, but the one bit of it that I prayed would be real did in fact come true: Amber was singing ‘Without You’ for her song from the year she was born. Yep, she wants to remind Mariah that she is the same age as Mariah’s biggest international hit. Gurl the shade, the SHADE of it all. In response to having her baby photos aired on national television, Amber told us all how she had really chubby cheeks as a kid (stop stealing Candice’s backstory, Amber) and how she initially wanted to be a news reporter, so she’d make her own shows, only no one would watch her do them – and that provided an excellent training ground for appearing on American Idol in 2013. In terms of her actual performance of ‘Without You’, it hit similar notes to the last few weeks, in that I admired her balls for taking it on, but felt bad for her that the gamble didn’t pay off. She strained to reach the big notes, and the last third of it was genuinely quite unpleasant. Things went slightly better for her in round two, as she took on Barbra Streisands ‘What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?’ and talked in her intro about how it’s such a big risk doing Barbra because Barbra’s so amazing and you really shouldn’t try to take on Barbra (Amber, girl, Mariah Carey is RIGHT THERE. Think about what you’re saying), and then went on to display the most nakedly desperate attempt at having a “Candice moment” you could possibly imagine. Seriously, Amber’s entire story on the show this week is basically how she’s trying to single black female Candice. To be fair, it did give her much better results than her attempt at being Mariah, but as much as I enjoyed her Barbra number, and as much as I feel like a giant hypocrite for saying this, it felt like a triumph of staging far more than a vocal masterpiece. Year You Were Born: 5/10, Divas: 7/10

(That last performance was so desperate…so Amber. Born: 4/10, Divas: 7/10)


2 thoughts on “American Idol 2013 : Year You Were Born / Divas Week

  1. Fern

    Leathery Gollum lol so right, but I actually really like his sections because I nearly always agree!

    I hate the theme ‘songs from the year you were born’ because it never fails to make me feel old despite being 25.


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