So, remember last week when I said Classic Rock (No Ballads) week (did they really drop the “classic” and the “no ballads” from the theme just for Angie and Amber’s benefit? NEEERD RAAAAAGE!) would either be incredible or incredibly frustrating? Yeeeeah, it was the later. I don’t understand, it’s like the Idol finalists aren’t even taking time to read my blog… If they had, they would’ve had so many great, fresh suggestions at their disposal. Instead, they go with 10 songs which, collectively, have already been sung a total of 22 times prior to this evening on the Idol stage. Yes, I did the math, and yes, I know I’m showing my nerdface colors. I don’t care. Janis Joplin is one of my personal favorite artists and greatest musical inspirations, but Piece of my Heart needs to be taken out back and shot post-haste before it has to endure one more stupid Idol cover. Same goes for Queen and Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and Heart and What About Love. There are SO many great classic rock songs in the world, whyyyy do we need to flog the same ones over and over and over again?? Idol is trying to make all these changes to stay current, but their continual refusal to update their song list (because as much as I love to rag on the contestants for song selection, you know this issue is bigger than them) is making this show stale and boring. These contestants deserve better, Idol, PLEASE DO BETTER!

Though having said that, I have to again raise this question: we already know – and several of the already-offed contestants this season and other seasons have attested – that TPTB offer contestants a tiny, limiting list of songs to choose from, often give first pick of the most desirable songs to their own favorites, and even go so far as to push contestants to pick specific songs. But are we just going to accept that as an excuse from these contestants? I don’t underestimate how formidable the Idol machine must seem when you’re in the very heart of it, but I somehow doubt that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to fight it, especially knowing that contestants in previous seasons have somehow managed to do so. Thus I’m left to assume instead that the season 12 hopefuls lack either the inspiration to come up with their own out-of-the-box ideas, or the conviction to fight for those ideas. And even if we want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s not a matter of ignorance, I’m sorry, if they’re too meek to stand up to the Idol machine, the MUSIC INDUSTRY is going to eat them ALIVE. In the real world of music, everyone is going to try and tell you what to do and what to be, and the only way you’re going to survive is by UNDERSTANDING what’s happening around you, and really, really knowing who you are and what you’re trying to do within that structure. So no, I won’t let the contestants off the hook for these bad song and performance choices just because the show is pushing them in that direction. I don’t care how overwhelming this experience is, how young and inexperienced you are, how tired you are, you do not accept what they put in front of you. You do not take the lazy, risk-free, predictable route. You do not try to emulate those that have come before you. You come prepared and you do your damn homework so that when the time comes you can advocate for yourself, for your voice, for your future career. Your audience deserves better, contestants, PLEASE DO BETTER!

Now to business. I’m not going to bother gnashing my teeth about the fact that Lazaro made America’s Top 3 this week, or the much more infuriating failure of Keith, Nicki, Stupidface, Jimmy, AND America (whooda thunk I’d ever say this, but THANK GOD for you, Mariah Carey) to place Candice Fucking Glover in their top 3 (though, WAH-OW!). I have to assume that the judges and Jimmy were giving, as I do each week, their own purely subjective favorite 3, and not the three that are most objectively deserving, based on overall performance caliber. Given that, I can’t fault them for not loving my favorite as much as I do, any more than they can fault me for not loving their favorites as much as they do – to each her own, right? What I will say, is that I’m VEEERY grateful that the save is still in play going into this week. I have a long history of my favorites going home in sixth place (see: Elise Testone, Casey Abrams, Siobhan Mothafuckin Magnus, Carly Smithson, Phil Stacey, Kellie Pickler, Christina Christian) and I’m feeling more and more like one of my top 3 are on the way to joining that list. I feel relatively confident that despite their stated top 3s this week, the judges would still do the right thing and use the save if somehow Candice was the one left on the chopping block, but then I would also hope that this week’s results would energize her voters to make sure that doesn’t happen. I feel less confident that they would do the same for Janelle, especially since Kree is so clearly this season’s Chosen One. And I don’t know who is still voting for Lazaro, but I hope now that we’re into 2-songs-a-week territory they’ll finally see that the kid is drowning, and the kindest thing they can possibly do is just let the poor thing get the fuck out of the pool and back to dry land.

Hokey dokes! Geez, y’all, sorry, I guess I’m having a rant-y kind of week. Perhaps we should get right to it then, ey? Da girls, arranged by my own, purely subjective preference. (For the record, OBjectively, it goes Candice, Kree, Angie, Amber, Janelle, then – after a vast, seemingly-infinite chasm – Lazaro.) Top 6, as I said earlier, is a double song week, so we’ll be getting one song from the Burt Bacharach/Hal David songbook (groan) and one “song you wish you’d written.” Last season I quite enjoyed the later category, so I have some high hopes. Bacharach/David on the other hand… okay, here’s what we’re going to do, for funsies: instead of suggesting a B/D song, I’m going to predict which song they’re going to pick, and since I can’t guess what song the contestants wish they’d written, I’m just going to suggest contemporary songs that I think match the direction they’re going in. Good? Good. Let’s get started:

5: Angie Miller

Okay, this was a vaaaast improvement over last week for Angie in terms of vocal and performance caliber, but y’all know I cannot let the girl get away with this song choice, right? The theme was Classic Rock (No Ballads), and this was neither Classic nor Not a Ballad. Ang, baby, I know the uptempo thing bit you in the ass last week, but that doesn’t give you special permission to completely disregard the theme. David Cook not only survived but THRIVED through nearly consecutive Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, and Andrew Lloyd Webber weeks, and you’re telling me that you – an indie rock singer – couldn’t manage to find a single song within the entire genre of classic rock to work with? Bitch, please. Sure, you could argue that Angie was showing just the conviction I called for earlier in fighting for something out of the box, but to me it came off more like an example of that ignorance I was talking about. This is the game, people. They give you these themes, and they’re not all going to be in your wheelhouse, but because you’re an ARTIST, you know that music is music, and with just a whiff of imagination you can finagle it to fit into your wheelhouse.

This is the issue we keep running into, you and me, Angie. As I said earlier, OBjectively, I can’t argue that you’re not among the top 2 or 3 vocalists in this whole thing, I love your voice, I love your style, but week after week your naivete and bad instincts – the misinterpreting songs, the ignoring/misunderstanding sound advice, the id-i-otic song choices, and oh yes, don’t think I’ve forgiven you for that time you claimed to sing “AS WELL AS KELLY CLARKSON” – are putting me off such that I just can’t get fully behind you. But hey, prove me wrong, kid. You’re talented as hell, and I’d honestly love nothing more than for you to turn things around.

Prediction for Bacharach/David: Anyone Who Had a Heart

Song I Wish She Wishes She Wrote: Bright Lights and Cityscapes, by Sara Bareilles

4: Amber Holcolm

Aaaaand again, love me some Heart, love me some Amber, but if you think that a pumped-up rhythm section is enough to convince me that What About Love is NOT a ballad, think again. And okay, Amber gets points over Angie for at least chosing an actual classic rock song, but the lack of originality in this particular choice ALMOST completely negates those points. This song has been DONE and DONE and DONE on the Idol stage, which isn’t to say that no one else is allowed to do it, but if you’re going to make me listen to it again, give me something new, something I haven’t heard already from Erika Van Pelt, Janelle Wheeler, Melissa McGhee, and oh I don’t know, Ann and Nancy themselves. This gave me nothing, except that she’s a beautiful girl with great legs and a killer voice, but I already knew all that. Look, I actually LIKE Amber a lot – I spend so much time seething about her bad choices I don’t know if I’ve actually communicated that. Even beyond the whole crazy talent thing, she just seems like a classy, poised, professional kid and she’s trying so hard, and I love her for all that, but again, she needs to get smarter about this thing. It’s time to bring something new to the table. I’m not interested in Amber the karaoke queen or Amber the young Whitney look/sound-alike. I want to know who Amber the 2013 recording artist is, and I don’t believe we’ve seen that yet.

Prediction for Bacharach/David: A House is Not A Home

Song I Wish She Wishes She Wrote: If I Were a Boy, by Beyonce

3: Kree Harrison

There are scarce few situations in which one of my favorite Idol contestants covering one of my personal musical idols would make me mad. This was one of those situations. Janis Joplin is a fascinating musician with, I think, one of the most compelling voices in contemporary music history. Janis was a rock star, but she had crazy soul, so naturally Kree would be drawn to her catalog for classic rock week. The problem is that this happens to be among the most overplayed songs in Idol history, and Kree is smart enough to know that. Janis has soooooo many great songs to chose from, why must it always be this one? The only answer I can think of is laziness. You’re better than that, Kree. I expect better from you. And okay, the pinched nerve thing is a legitimate excuse, it is, but Kree is good enough that we don’t need to judge her on a curve, right? We’re not doing her any favors by going soft on her, because she knows what she did and what she’s capable of. So let’s be honest and call it what it was – her weakest performance BY FAR to date. And beyond that, like I said for Amber, if you’re going to take on a song that’s been done to death, you’ve got to bring something new to it, and this was stale, stale, stale. Not only that but my god, when Janis Joplin sang a song, every word she sang was visceral, you can physically, gutturally feel her angst reaching through the music. Kree’s performance was the total opposite of that. She looked like she was trying to have a good time up there – which in itself is wrong because it’s not a joyful song – but even her joy felt half-hearted and compulsory. Y’all know how much I love this girl; she’s been consistently one of the best things about this season, so I’ll just chalk this up to the injury and look forward to better performances in the future.

Prediction for Bacharach/David: Walk On By

Song I Wish She Wishes She Wrote: WHAT’S UP, BY 4 NON BLONDES! HEEEED MEEEEEE!!! Or else Apologies, by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

2: Janelle Arthur

Janelle Arthur may not have the strongest voice of the season 12 girls, but god dammit if that girl isn’t just the most Hufflepuff-iest of them all. She is working so hard, she’s making all the right choices, and she has such a fantastic attitude, and this may be an unpopular opinion, but for my money, Janelle’s was the best performance this week. First of all, she picked a non-ballad classic rock song (yay for following directions!) that fit her voice like a glove, and as a bonus (and, for the record, for the third time this season) a song that had never before been performed on the Idol stage. She proved herself game by getting into the classic rock spirit, and at the same time completely inhabited the song, even though it was outside of her preferred genre. Again, pitch-perfect it was not, but side-by-side comparison between that and Gone; the last uptempo number she attempted? That was an astonishing improvement. I don’t think Janelle is getting anywhere near enough credit for what she’s accomplishing week to week and how very far she’s come since the start of the live rounds, and it’s a damn shame. I see you, Janelle, and thank GOD for you, my little Hufflepuff.

Prediction for Bacharach/David: I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (oh dear, that sounds terribly like a cheeky insult, doesn’t it? Let me assure you it’s not that, just a really good Dusty Springfield song….)

Song I Wish She Wishes She Wrote: Long Time Gone, by The Dixie Chicks

1: Candice Fucking Glover

Alright, let’s get into this. IN WHAT UNIVERSE IS CANDICE GLOVER NOT TOTALLY KICKING THIS SEASON’S ASS????? Hello? Judges? Jimmy? America? Are we watching the same show? This well might’ve been Candice’s weakest performance to date, that could well be, and that’s fucking NUTS because she fucking ROCKED! She was the ONLY contestant this week who actually rocked!! Also, lest we forget, who was it that KILLED that duet with Burnell? Oh and who was it that put the rest of the contestants to shame during Thursday’s group performance? Was it CANDICE FUCKING GLOVER? Damn STRAIGHT is was! BELIEVE ME when I say that I don’t make threats like this often and I don’t make them lightly, but if this girl does not AT LEAST outstay Lazaro Arbos, I am walking. Period. Re-fucking-diculous, judges(minus Mariah)/Jimmy/America. Get your heads out of your damn asses.

Prediction for Bacharach/David: (Always) Something There To Remind Me

Song I Wish She Wishes She Wrote: Fighter, by Christina Aguilera

BLEEERG! Sorry for all the hostility this week, nerds. IT JUST MAKES ME SO ANGRY WHEN THIS SHOW MAKES ME ANGRY!! But on the bright side, it can’t get any worse than this, right? Right???

Til next time,