Having dispatched with five underwhelming men, it's time for America to get down to the more difficult business of picking a winner from this extremely solid all-female Top 5. I could look at all of the remaining singers and make an argument for how they might score the "Idol" crown, but I could also easily list weaknesses for all five.
It's anybody's game. Let's get down to recapping!
8:01 p.m. Did you know that every member of the Top 5 was a GIRL!?!? Now you do.
8:02 p.m. We've got Clay Aiken and Fantasia coming up tonight. This is very exciting.
8:03 p.m. This week's Group Lip Synch is a Donna Summer medley. The nice thing about having a Top 5 in which everybody can sing is that they sing reasonably well together. Perhaps to mock the departed five men, the ladies have each been paired with a male backup singer/dancer. Some of the interactions are amusingly awkward, because a couple of the women in the Top 5 aren't capable of spontaneous on-camera flirting. Yes, Candice, I'm looking at you.
8:10 p.m. I can't articulate how much I hate the Ford Festiva Missions. So much. This week? A scavenger hunt. It's weird, because in the first "mission," they had to do community service of some sort. In this one, they have to hug Matthew Morrison. Ugh. So bad.
8:12 p.m. We're doing the results "individually" tonight, whatever that means. Angie Miller is up first. Jimmy bought Angie's first performance, but felt that she was less believable on her rendition of "Halo." Nicki is not impressed. "Jimmy has no idea what he's talking about," Nicki says, insisting that the performance of "Halo" was a 10-out-of-10.
8:15 p.m. So we're just doing recaps individually, not results. Because there are no results for Angie.
8:16 p.m. Candice Glover gets her recap next. Jimmy was worried about Candice's ability to top "Love Song" and he wasn't impressed with her first performance. He loved "When You Believe," however. Randy was unable to get Paula Abdul's feedback on Candice's rendition of "Straight Up" so he's forced to... OMG! It's Paula Freaking Abdul!!!! This is nearly as cool as last week's Dunkleman shout-out. Paula is a Candice fan. She also congratulates the judges and America for producing an all-female Top 5. Awww. Paula comes down and hugs Randy and hugs Mariah and lets Nicki Minaj show off her thong.
8:19 p.m. All hail Paula. And all hail the thong.
8:22 p.m. Fallout Boy is in the crowd, as is Jordin Sparks! And Jason Derulo! "When's the wedding," Ryan asks. Jordin Sparks puts the responsibility on Jason.
8:23 p.m. Clay Aiken Time! He's been doing work around the world on behalf of children. Go Clay Aiken. He put a lot of effort into mentioning UNICEF multiple times. Good on him.
8:26 p.m. Clay is singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Does this mean he doesn't have any new material coming at any point? Hmmm... I guess a couple of the returning favorites have sung classics, rather than new stuff. Clay Aiken's just fine.
8:32 p.m. Next to be recapped is Janelle Arthur. Jimmy Iovine thought "Dumb Blonde" was a strikeout when Janelle needed a home run. Oh well. Well, Jimmy may not have liked "Dumb Blonde," but Dolly Parton calls Janelle "talented and special," but doesn't say a word about the actual performance.
8:34 p.m. Amber Holcomb and her short-shorts is up next. Amber was so mediocre in her first performance last night and so good in her second performance. Will Jimmy agree? Nope. He loved both performances and expects that Amber will be "rewarded for her bravery." Mariah says Amber belongs some place above the Top 2.
8:36 p.m. Kree Harrison is last to get judgement. [And the Red Sox take a 3-1 lead.] Jimmy thinks Kree made bad song choices last night. I probably agree. Bring me Fantasia!
8:42 p.m. Ah, the Three Diva Bottom Three. Classic. And that's when America sent Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson packing. Tee-hee. Good ol' LaToya London. Where is she now? She did some theater. She was in a punk-rock band. And now she's trying to revive her solo singing career. There's something very touching and bittersweet in hearing LaToya reflect on how Fantasia and J-Hud's dreams have come true, when you know she wishes her own dreams were moving a bit faster.
8:44 p.m. As I say every time she returns: Fantasia remains my favorite "Idol" winner. I know that's not a popular opinion, but to me, she's the most unique and distinctive vocalist the show has ever produced. That's why some people hate her and that's why she hasn't necessarily had the success she deserved and deserves.
8:48 p.m. Fantasia remains Fantasia, which I find reassuring. She gets a rise out of Nicki Minaj's Thong and brings Keith Urban to his feet well before the end of the song.
8:52 p.m. Results now, please?
8:52 p.m. Dim the lights...
8:52 p.m. The first person safe is... Candice Glover. That works. The second person advancing is... Angie Miller. Yup. I think that even if this is "in no particular order," an Angie/Candice finale makes a lot of sense. They're joined by Amber Holcomb, who does an effective job of looking shocked at that result. Yup. That, to me, is the Top 3.
8:54 p.m. It's down to Kree & Janelle. Apparently The Save is still in play. Is there any reason why the judges wouldn't use it tonight just for fun? There's no way it's available next week, so why not just get another week out of this Top 5. What would be the point in NOT just using it? It's there. It hurts nobody. Go with it. We'll find out in a minute...
8:57 p.m. Kree looks like she's going to puke. Janelle is all smiles.
8:57 p.m. After the nationwide vote... JANELLE ARTHUR is in danger. You can't be shocked. And it's the right vote. And it'll be perfectly cool by me if the judges use The Save. Even if Janelle just ends up going home next week, we'd be none the poorer.
8:59 p.m. Janelle gives the judges lots to discuss and her fellow contestants are ever-so-supportive. It's up to Randy... Weird. The vote was 2-2, which means it wasn't unanimous. And that's it for Janelle Arthur. I guess they decided they wanted three performances apiece from the Top 4 next week? Maybe?
9:01 p.m. I think Janelle will, indeed, by just fine. She's still fairly marketable and had a good showcase. If Kellie Pickler became a star, there's absolutely no reason Janelle shouldn't have a solid career.
Everything: American Idol
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