The Top 10 contestants took the stage tonight pay homage to their favorite moments from past AMERICAN IDOL contestants. The contestants had the choice to either sing a song by an IDOL contestant or sing one of the numbers they made famous while on the show.
The show started off with a bang when Nicki Minaj was inconspicuously absent from the judging panel for the first few moments of the show. "I hear she's seven minutes out and there's some congestion on the 405, so she should be here momentarily," Ryan quipped, but continued to say, "The show must go on!" The Top 10 finalists made their appearance on the stage.
Curtis Finch, Jr. was the first up. Jimmy Iovine helped guide the Idols this week and we got a sneak peek at Curtis' session with the music great. Jimmy urged Curtis to not be so retro: "There's a difference between classic and retro." He went on to say, "Don't get yourself too caught up in the past." Curtis planned on running with Jimmy's advice during his performance of Fantasia Barrino's coronation song, "I Believe." While the classic crooner didn't plan on topping Fantasia's performance, the judges thought he did a pretty bang up job. Keith said, "you always pick the right songs." Randy loved the "re-styling" of his look, but wanted Curtis to try something "a little bit different." Mariah was all praise for the performance and urged him to have more "gospel."
Nicki Minaj came in at the end of the performance and Ryan rushed off the stage to let her in the studio. Oliver Springs, TN native, Janelle Arthur was up right after the commercial break. Janelle was super excited to work with Jimmy Iovine who told her that the big thing for her is going to be "song selection." Janelle picked "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry, which Scotty McCreery sang in Season 10 as her choice for the night. Janelle told the judges she had "cotton mouth" after her performance, but that didn't stop their praise. Keith told her she was "burning it up, up there." Nicki thought Janelle's song from last week was better for her. Randy thought the "song didn't lead anywhere" and agreed with Nicki about the song choice. Mariah wanted Janelle to sing a "ballad" that would show off her personality more.
Jimmy Iovine praised Chicago's own Devin Velez saying he had a "real strength that is rare for his show." Jimmy urged Devin not to get locked into an "adult game" of ballads. Devin chose Carrie Underwood's hit, "Temporary Home" in an order to step out of his comfort zone and sing a country song. Keith thought Devin's effort was "not one of your better performances." Nicki Minaj made faces throughout Keith's comments. It was no surprise when she announced that she disagreed completely with Keith! Nicki said she "loved the song." Randy thought it was "way too safe," and Mariah said the issue is that they "expect so much" from him.
Angie Miller was up next and she took on a hit that Kelly Clarkson sang way back in Season 1. Jimmy congratulated Angie for her performances so far, but then hit her hard saying, "Sometimes when you come on I feel like I'm tuning into a beauty pageant." Can Angie take Celine Dion's "I Surrender" beyond the pageant vibe? The answer from the judges was a resounding yes. Keith loved that Angie made the song feel current and praised her upper register. Nicki said Angie "looked like a million dollars" and told her that her legs gave her "everything I needed in life right now." Um. Okay. Randy thinks Angie is "in it to win it" and "loved every part of it." Mariah had one word for Angie, "stellar."
Paul Jolley loved that Jimmy Iovine told it to him straight, but was confused that Jimmy thought he sang with a Broadway vibe. Jimmy continued to caution Paul, telling him the theatrics would "kill him" in this competition. Paul Jolley tried to take that advice to heart when he sang "Amazed" by Lonestar, a song that Scotty McCreery performed in Season 10. Keith thought that Paul had been listening to Jimmy and that it was one of his "better performances." Nicki said that Paul stimulated her "sexual appetite" for the first time this season and thought he "did the song justice." Randy thought it "was a great song choice," and Mariah urged him not to "hold back."
The stunning Candice Glover was next. Jimmy praised Candice's "fabulous voice." Candice chose to sing "I Who Have Nothing" by Ben E. King, a hit that Jordin Sparks sang in Season 6. Jimmy teased her about who she might be singing about. The audience, Keith, Nicki and Randy gave her a standing ovation. Keith said "if we had more time, we'd still be standing and clapping right now." Nicki said it would be in "everybody's best interest to never, never perform that song again" because Candice "destroyed" it and it was Nicki's favorite performance from Candice. Randy said Candice "really worked that song out." Mariah said she is "transfixed" every time Candice is on stage and went on to say that the only reason she didn't stand up is because her skirt was too tight. Okay.
Lazaro Arbos was the next contestant to take his shot. Jimmy said it was cool that Lazaro has "a lot of fans," but urged him to know the melodies of his songs better. Lazaro chose Kelly Clarkson's early hit, "Breakaway." Keith thought the song wasn't in Lazaro's "wheelhouse." Nicki liked that Lazaro looked like a "cuddly Ricky Ricardo," but thought it was her least favorite performance from him. Randy thought the "pitch was all over the place" and said the song was "too big" for him. Mariah loved that Lazaro shows his "vulnerability" on stage each time and urged him to "keep doing what you're doing."
Kree Harrison's meeting with Jimmy Iovine went really well. He told her she had "an incredible shot with this show" and went on to say she has a "fabulous tone, the range and the confidence." He did urge her not to "over sing." Kree chose "Crying" by Roy Orbison, which is a song Carrie Underwood performed during Season 4. Keith told Kree she could "sing the phone book" and exclaimed that he would buy her record tomorrow. Nicki went on about waffles for a while and we got the feeling that she was giving Kree a great compliment. Randy said Kree's voice makes him "feel good all over" and praised her "subtle vocal." Mariah thought it was obvious that Kree can sing any song.
The pride of New Orleans, Burnell Taylor was up next! Jimmy praised Burnell's "great voice" and told him he could sing a lot of different things. Burnell chose Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings." Jimmy urged Burnell to "mix it up" and to not only perform R&B style songs. Keith praised Burnell's "unique" voice after the performance. Nicki loved Burnell's song choice and said she was "looking at an artist being born." Randy thought it was "very nice" and liked that he put his own twist on it. Mariah commented that Burnell could go "all the way" with his gift.
Amber Holcomb was the last to perform for the night. Amber was scared to meet with Jimmy, but he put her at ease saying she was "really pretty" and can "sing like crazy." Amber chose Kelly Clarkson's coronation song, "A Moment Like This" to perform. Keith thought it was "beautiful" and said he was a "fan." Nicki thought it was the "best performance of the night" and said that her voice reminded her of Whitney's first album. Randy said Amber "blew it out of the box tonight." Mariah responded to the performance with "hashtag pow" and praised Amber's "natural gift."
Who will get enough votes to make it to Top 9? Tune in Thursday at 8/7c on FOX.