Let's start with a couple of clips ... Why are we even bothering to discuss who's the best singer on "American Idol"? It is, unquestionably, inarguably, listen-to-those-performances above Candice Glover. Case bleeping closed. Amber, Kree, Janelle, Angie -- all singers with some merit. But not remotedly in Candice's league. When I was listening to "Lovesong" again this morning, chills. Complete chills (aside from a weird audio glitch around 0:58). Then I watched it again. Holy crap.Her "Don't Make Me Over" was pretty killing, too.
But, as Malcolm and I have been talking about, "Idol" has a huge problem right now and his name is Lazaro. With an interesting, emotional show (which "Idol" played up) and a good-at-first-listen voice, Lazaro made the upper tier of the competition, but he has ever more demonstrated not only an inability to memorize lyrics but that he is not a good singer. Only he is the last man standing, and we are now at the point where he could start outlasting five women, all of whom singer better than he does. But, because of his story, the show has had to figure out how to criticize his singing without seeming to pick on Lazaro personally, which just encourages his fans to vote even more. A week ago, those fans put him in the top three.
This week, the judges' comments tried to make the separation between Lazaro the person, who we were told once again is so brave to compete, and Lazaro the singer, who is outclassed by the others. Only that, too, will seem abusive to Lazarophiles -- particularly when you get something like Randy using his praise of Kree to take another swipe at Lazaro. And Lazaro, whose ego and willingness to blame others for his problems are considerable, seemed unfazed by criticism, as if he already knew that his fans will protect him.
So it may well be a couple of more rounds before the field is small enough that fans rally around a single not-Lazaro performer to keep him from winning. The judges' praise of Candice, much as she deserved it, was clearly a message to an audience that had not top-three'd her a week ago: Don't let this woman slip away because you're voting for something other than amazing singing.
Speaking of the judges, it obviously took a couple of conversations with Mariah Carey to get her to abbreviate her loony ramblings. By the half-hour mark of the show, the judges' comments had gone on so long that the show was running way behind. And even as the other judges began to be more concise, Mariah -- who needs a LOT of time to form a complete thought -- was still babbling. It was only after the "Idol" music cut her off in mid-sentence that she began to tighten up, and even then the coherence, the groping for catchphrases ("A-plus-mazing"?), the attempts at talking music technically -- she was both interminable and painful. And it highlights that, in the Mariah-Nicki rivalry, Nicki verbally kicks MC to the curb.