Thursday, April 18, 2013

American Idol 2013 : Top 5

Do people still care about American Idol after all these years?  Yes, many still do. American Idol still remains as a reality TV competition that has given birth to some of the biggest stars in today’s American music (Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Katherine McPhee, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert to name a few) and is continuing to do so as it celebrates its 12th year in the business. However, truth to be told, even with the star-studded judging panel this year, the ratings are dropping like nobody’s business. 

On the judging panel, Mariah Carey, initially a dreary I-love-everyone yawn, has stepped up her game and become somewhat bearable, finally up for sharing a tiny dose of her personality, which many doubt she even possesses at all after playing Miss Goodie two-shoes for too long since the show started. At least her comments make more sense now and she looks slightly more comfortable being on live TV. Nicki Minaj has a whole lot of entertainment value but the truth is… Why should the talented contestants, or anyone really, listen to her critique on "singing" considering that all she does professionally is rap while putting on weird costumes as if everyday was Halloween? Honestly, she seems rather unfit for a talent show like this. A pleasant surprise this season is Randy Jackson, the only remaining original judge since day one, who not only offers constructive criticism but also surprises the audience by proving that he knows expressions other than “Dude, you are in it to win it”. And last but not least, Keith Urban, the only judge in the competition who is worth every penny he was paid to do the job. Quiet, classy and he knows what he is doing. His feedbacks on contestants’ performances are always on point, professional and pragmatic. We thank God for that.

Anyway, the competition has been carefully filtered and sorted that it is now down to the Top 5. Personally, I couldn’t agree more with what America has voted for so far. The five remaining candidates, all girls, are one of the best Top 5 selections ever in the American Idol history. Not only are they versatile, raw and praiseworthy talents but also they sound and act like true professionals.  

But as we all know, there can only be one winner in the end. And here they are, my personal Top-5 pick.

5th) Janelle Arthur 

To me, she’s one-dimensional. She sings country and has this natural southern charm. Her twangy accent is partly the reason why America has kept her this long in the competition. That being said, her talent is not to be ridiculed, nor her bubbly persona that everyone could easily fall in love with. When she sings, even those who don’t like country music will stop and stare. Janelle has been consistently great in what she does best that even if she doesn’t win, she will have no difficulty landing a recording contract with some Nashville-based record company. 


4th) Amber Holcomb

Amber is a whole package; a beautiful face, a pair of sexy legs and a voice that could move mountains. Yet, she still finds herself often in the bottom three. Her gutsy performances of Beyonc√©’s “Love On Top”, Whitney Houston’s “I Believe In You And Me” and most recently Barbra Streisand’s “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life” not only showcase her willingness to experiment with different genres, stretching herself artistically but also highlight her glorious voice by effectively putting her signature stamp on such challenging songs. She struggles a bit when singing low but her strength lies in her big mammoth money notes. Though her days may be numbered on the show, she has proven enough that this won’t be the last we see of her. 


3rd) Angie Miller

An early favorite this season. All that talk about her eventually winning started when she played her own self-penned song and won judges’ adoration during Hollywood week 3. But the truth is there’s so much more to her than a great singing voice. She is a full-fledged artist. She’s ready to sell.  She performs with ease on stage, sometimes even taking on a dual task of simultaneously playing piano and singing gravity-defying high notes. She’s heading for the Top 3 and there’s no stopping her. She’s the most marketable among all five. Her tone is unique, recognizable and she could find audience in pop/rock genre like Kelly Clarkson and Pink. 


2nd) Kree Harrison 

Kree is a natural born singer. Her rich velvety tone is her biggest asset. Not to mention her ability to soar high and come down low when necessary to give emotive effects. She could sing Blues, Country, Rock, Pop and even Jazz, if she tries. Plus she has this wholesome all-American girl image that could propel her to victory. Her good old voice shines on “With The Little Help From My Friends” by “The Beatles”, Roy Orbison’s “Cryin” and Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart” – but to market her would be an arduous task as today’s mainstream music world is all about image rather than artistry. Artists like her, who rely solely on voice, may need a great song-writing team that churn out hits for her. 


1st) Candice Glover

Hands down the best vocalist in the entire season. Mary J Blige meets Whitney Houston; Candice can warble anything from soaring sappy ballads, high-strung R’nB numbers to soul-bearing slow jams like a veteran crooner who’s been doing this for a long time. Her delivery is almost always flawless and her fierce voice, on fire, getting the judges on their feet every time she graces the Idol stage. As it also seems Candice is Mariah Carey’s pet. (After her brilliant rendition of The Cure’s “Love Song”, Carey glitter-bombed her to show some love) If, Mariah Carey, arguably one of the top-5 best singers ALIVE in today’s music adores you, that means you are doing something good. And Candice never fails to acknowledge Mariah and her undeniable influence on Pop music by doing difficult melismatic vocal runs that nobody but only her and perhaps Mariah could do at every given chance. I’m sorry, folks, we clearly have a Jennifer Hudson 2013, only that this time, she is GOING to win.


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