It's do-over night on "American Idol" as our four finalists go at it for a second straight time.
You'll recall that, based on votes that carry over from last week, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison come in with a lead (We don't know how much of one) over Candice Glover and Amber Holcolmb.
But based on tonight's efforts, Candice may have closed and/or completely wiped out that gap. She delivered two jaw-dropping performances that arguably ranked No. 1 and 2 for the evening. That's how dominant she was.
Tonight's "Now and Then" theme had the singers performing one current hit (something rarely seen on "Idol") and one time-tested classic. Helping them along the way was Harry Connick Jr., who is more detail oriented and hands-on than your typical guest mentor.
Here's how it all went down:
Round 1: Current hits
-- Angie Miller: Rihanna's "Diamonds": Harry is a little worried about Angie's choice, but likes how she's turned it into a "lullaby." She's back at the piano, which, as we've learned, is usually a good sign. But Keith Urban misses the "percussive, muscular weight" (Huh?) of the original. Nicki (who looks like the Queen of the Nile tonight) thinks it was a little "lackluster" and "bland." Randy Jackson agrees with Keith and then says he likes Angie's black leather shorts (Ew). Mariah goes on and on about something that makes Nicki interject and say that Mariah agreed with her. But, no, Mariah disputes that. We're off to a very weird start.
-- Amber Holcomb (Pink's "Just Give Me A Reason"): This is a great song, but I'm not hearing the pain and angst that Pink packs into it. There's a bit of disconnect. Nicki detects it, too. "Sometimes you were in, sometimes you were out," she says. Randy senses that Amber wasn't having a lot of fun with it ("That was not stellar.") Mariah agrees: "We need to see that confident Amber that we've been singing." Keith admits it was a tough song to do, but did enjoy "the clarity and bell" in Amber's voice.
-- Candice Glover (Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man"): Interesting. Candice doesn't bother to change the gender from Bruno's mournful hit. Instead, she's content with being a "storyteller," presenting it from the guy's point of view. Candice can sign anything, of course, and she sounds lovely here, bringing her usual doses of emotion and power. Bravo. Randy: "That's how you sing a song. I don't care about the gender. Congratulations. That was amazing!" Mariah agrees. "Candice has the musicality to change it up to suit her," she says. Keith: "That's a winning performance, baby." Nicki prompts the panel to give Candice a belated standing ovation. (And compliments the singer's looks).
-- Kree Harrison: Carrie Underwood's "See You Again": Kree says she has done some soul-searching after a couple weeks of solid, if unspectacular showings. She knows she needs to do a better job of "connecting" with the song and the audience. Harry really likes Kree -- and the arrangement. On stage, she delivers a clear, rich and unadorned vocal that goes down smoothly. Mariah thinks she made the connection she was going for. ("I felt you."). But Keith isn't quite sold. "It's a power ballad," he says. "There's a conflict between what I'm seeing and what I'm hearing." Nicki, though, loved it. ("I felt you believed what you're singing."). Randy calls it a "great vocal."
Round 2: Timeless standards
-- Angie Miller: "Someone to Watch Over Me": Angie dedicates this one to her mom, who used to sing it around the house. No piano this time, but lots of violins. It's lovely, but is it memorable? Keith calls it "beautiful." Nicki compares Angie to a "Disney princess" (Is that a compliment?) and says she can see her on Broadway. Randy didn't love the arrangement in the middle, but calls it an "amazing vocal." Mariah says she loved the song choice and then gets into another brief verbal scuffle with Nicki over an earlier comment. (Ryan Seacrest threatens to put them in a corner).
-- Amber Holcomb: "My Funny Valentine": Amber has done this song before, so she should know her way around it. The judges give her a standing "O." Nicki calls it "beautiful" and compliments her poise and Amber begins to break down. She's obviously feeling the pressure and the strain this late in the season. Randy thinks Amber made a believer out of a lot of people tonight ("You slew it"). Mariah raves about Amber's "spirit," and Keith calls the performance "stellar."
-- Candice Glover: "You've Changed": Wow. What more needs to be said? Just a gorgeous performance brimming with drama, emotion, and power. Randy calls it "stellar." Mariah: "There is no critiquing. ... I'm going to download that ASAP." Keith raves about Candice's power and control. Nicki says she has nothing to add. It was that good.
-- Kree Harrison: "Stormy Weather": Harry wants Kree to strip all the extra varnish off the song and she does so for the most part. But is it too sleepy? Too forgettable. And is Harry wrong? Mariah wonders if it might have been better for Kree to go more bluesy and less "loungey." Keith would have chosen a different song and tells Kree not to overthink things. Nicki: "I wish you had paid more attention to song choice. It means so much. Whether you put someone to sleep or give a memorable performance." Randy says she needs to stick to who she is. This all leads to a musical debate between Harry and Randy while poor Kree just stands there wondering what the hell is going on.