Angie Miller, Candice Glover, Janelle Arthur, Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb
Now the competition on American Idol can really begin.
With everyone from Nigel Lythgoe to the judges acknowledging that the winner of American Idol's 12th season will be a girl, and with the field now narrowed to five ladies, it's time for viewers to start sitting up and paying attention. Here, we break down the field of competition — from least likely to win to most.
Not so long ago, the annual arrival of American Idol on the primetime schedule sent executives at ABC, CBS and NBC running for cover. The ratings dominance of Fox's singing competition crushed all comers and earned it the TV-industry moniker "Death Star."
This year, the execs have come out from under their desks. Idol is no longer the most watched primetime show — in recent weeks, thanks to NBC's The Voice, it hasn't even ranked as the most watched singing show. "The Death Star is now more like a water gun," says one former NBC executive.
The remaining six finalists each performed two songs on Wednesday's American Idol, one "Song I Wish I Wrote" and one from the Burt Bacharach songbook. (Way to tap into that young demographic, The Love Boat Idol!) This week, the "backstory videos" featured little-known facts about the contenders. Who would have thought Angie Miller was a fan of hardcore music? Or that Lazaro Arbos enjoyed hunting? And does Amber Holcomb's enjoyment of frozen "shrimpsicles" make you curious or gross you out?
But enough about those personal tidbits. How were the performances?
It's not uncommon for American Idol viewers to witness nervous delivery, a lack of self-confidence and awkward pandering on the show. Unfortunately, this season, much of that has come from the judges' table — or more specifically, from Mariah Carey. Who would have thought that someone who's built an entire public persona around being a capital-D Diva would suddenly turn into a shrinking violet when faced with a group of young aspiring singers?
The rankings got shaken up on American Idol Thursday night, and tears were shed during the elimination. Did the judges use their save? Keep reading to find out.
Candice Glover and Burnell Taylor
American Idol turned the amps up to 11 Wednesday night, with the Top 7 finalists performing classic rock songs. And the best part of the evening? No ballads allowed! The night also included cute, funny videos of the contestants describing each other, which gave us these fun tidbits: Kree Harrison is the mom of the group, Burnell Taylor's laugh probably damages his vocal chords, and Angie Miller may hold the world record for speed-clapping when she's excited. The contestants seem to be coming together like one big happy family, but of course this is still a competition at heart, so let's get to the performances:
OneRepublic, Katherine McPhee
The girls continued their domination on another American Idol elimination night Thursday, and the judges actually had to debate at length for once about whether or not to use their save. Did someone get sent home? Keep reading to find out.
Paul Jolley became the second casualty of American Idol's Top 10 last Thursday, when he was voted off of the show during Beatles Week following a performance of "Eleanor Rigby." Check out our interview with the 23-year-old Tennessee native to find out why he picked Heart's "Alone" for his farewell song and to get his unfiltered thoughts on the judges' panel...
Anyone who tunes into American Idol regularly knows that this season sometimes feels like The Nicki Minaj Show. Among the new blood that's been injected into the judges panel this season, Minaj is hands down the most polarizing. Keith Urban is the surprisingly astute critic, Mariah Carey is the softie who finds something positive to say about even the most dismal performances, and Nicki is ... well, Nicki. She's unprofessional (showing up late to a job that requires about five hours of her time every week), overdramatic (threatening to walk off the show after Curtis Finch, Jr. was eliminated last week), and often inappropriate in her comments to the singers (too many examples to pick just one).
She also may be the best thing that's happened to the contestants in years.
Curtis Finch, Jr.
The countdown begins! The Top 10 American Idol hopefuls performed Wednesday night in the first live show of Season 12. The evening opened with host Ryan Seacrest introducing the four judges — nope, make that three, as Nicki Minaj was "about seven minutes out" due to traffic. (Really?!?!)
The theme of the night was to pay tribute to the show's "legacy," in the words of Seacrest, with each contestant tackling a song that had been covered on the show by a former winner. (Interestingly, out of the previous 11 seasons, only six winners' songs were chosen.) Here's a breakdown of each performance: