American Idol Season 12 Review “Finalists Announced”

Ladies and gentlemen, this is “American Idol” and this is your top ten! Yep, they’ve finally narrowed this sucker down to much more manageable and stealthy ten performers, and none too soon. According to Ryan Seacrest, the voting numbers are up ten million from last year to a whopping 39 million, so let’s see who America decided, in its infinite wisdom, should make the final cut- and how it stacks up to my previous predictions over the last few days.

As has been the case nearly every step of the way this season, a new approach was taken yet again in this stage of the competition, this time in that the boys and girls were separately sequestered backstage to await the news of their respective fates. Unlike before, there was no maddening step-by-step process with Ryan going through each contestant one by one and telling them whether they were in or out. This always seemed needlessly cruel to me, so I applaud the newfound let’s just rip the band-aid off gambit.

Ryan simply told each of the finalists they made the cut one at a time before they had to even face the crowd, then off they went to the main stage to revel in the love of the audience and judges and sing a celebratory song. Though the journey from the front to the back again and again was a bit of a time waster, at least you didn’t have to watch certain contestants have their dreams dashed one at a time. You were in or you were out, simple as that.

The boys went first, and arguably the biggest surprise of the night was the inclusion of Paul Jolley in the final group. The judges have been split down the middle on Jolley seemingly every step of the way, with Jimmy Iovine even brought in as a tie-breaker at one point, the only time that happened during the semifinalist showdowns.

Of course, it wasn’t up to the judges anymore, so I guess America likes the guy just fine. He was not among my predicted five, so I was already off my game. He did a shaky rendition of Heart’s “Alone,” which is not a song for the, ahem, faint-hearted to take on. It wasn’t great, but hey, the guy just got the biggest break of his life, so we’ll cut him a little slack…for now.

Next up was Burnell Taylor, who did make my predicted list. He did a sexy take on India Arie’s “Ready for Love” that definitely justified the votes he got. Well done, America. Ditto Curtis Finch, Jr. who seemed genuinely humbled this time around to make the cut, so I will spare him any snarky comments like before. He gave another solid performance, this time taking on John Legend’s “So High,” which seemed appropriate.

My run of correct predictions continued with Devin Velez, who did a really solid take on “The Power of One,” which was funky and soulful in a way he has not been to date. As you might recall, his performances have leaned towards the old-fashioned in the past. I mean, Perry Como? Really? This I liked very much, and is hopefully a sign of good things to come.

Rounding out the guys was Lazaro Arbos, bringing my accurate predictions to a solid four out of five- not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Especially considering that there were a lot of potential wild cards in that bunch in particular. Arbos did a typically heartfelt take on “Bridge over Troubled Water” that was nicely done and really seemed genuine.

That means Nick, Cortez, Elijah, Charlie and sadly, the underrated Vincent, are homebound, and that seems about right. I’ll miss Vincent, but I get it. Besides, I already have more invested in the girls, anyway.

The ladies were up next, and as with Paul, they got the wild card out of the way first, with Janelle Arthur. I thought she might squeak in there, and I thought right. It must be said, though, that she is getting better with each performance, which is obviously what you want in a competition like this. She did a nice take on Dierks Bentley’s “Home” that was comfortably in her wheelhouse.

Candice Glover made the cut next, and boy, did she not waste time justifying it. Her version of Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down” was the highlight of the night. This girl did not come to play around. If she keeps this up, she might just win this thing. She was undeniably flawless, and you better be if you’re gonna tackle Mary J.

To no one’s surprise, I’m guessing, Angela Miller made the cut. What was a little shocking was her wobbly take on Beyoncé’s “I Was Here”– thematically it was the perfect song choice for the occasion, but her delivery left something to be desired. Given that she’s my overall favorite, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to excitement and/or nerves, which is perfectly understandable. Still, audiences can be pretty unforgiving of a bad night, so she should be glad it essentially didn’t count.

I was very happy to see my hope that Amber Holcomb would make the cut realized. I thought maybe that one was iffy at best, but there she was, and though she was shaky like many people that night, at least she actually celebrated her victory with one of the night’s only truly upbeat song choices, a fun take on Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman.” Chaka ain’t nothing to mess with if you’re not going to bring it, and though she was a bit out of her league, she at least seemed to be having the time of her life, which was nice to see.

I had a sinking feeling Kree Harrison might not make it, either, but in she went and I’m really glad she did. She may be the most humble of the contestants, with the least to be humble about: the girl’s got crisp, clean vocals for days. She rounded out the top five, which brings my predictions to another four out of five, though I did list Janelle as a possibility, so I wasn’t wrong there.

What I was wrong and genuinely stunned about, was that Teena Torres didn’t make the team. I suspected Janelle might sneak in there, but I thought for sure it would be at Amber’s expense. I thought Teena was a shoe-in after her knock-out performance but, oh well. Hey, there’s always the “alternate” team member spot on the tour Ryan mentioned at the end of the show. Apparently, the next highest guy and girl just below the top ten will compete for a spot in the next show. Maybe Teena will get one last chance to shine after all. We’ll see.

So, after lamenting that I never predict these things with any degree of accuracy, my first on the record predictions were actually pretty good, with a score of eight out of ten. Not bad, if I say so myself. Now if I only could successfully predict the winner, then we’d have something. I never have, so my track record there is awful, but maybe that will change this year. We’ll see soon enough.

What did you think of the final results on “American Idol”? Did your predictions line up with the actual ones, too, or were you way off? Are you sad to see anyone go? Did you giggle when Ryan told the also-rans to step aside to let the winners through? Did you halfway expect that wall of mechanical weirdness that the winners stepped through to open up into the Thunderdome, or at least that make-shift one on “The Walking Dead”? Now that would be a hell of a crossover!